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Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2

Building a 1/32nd Bf109F-2 using the
Aires Conversion Set

by Erik Whipple

Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2


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Aires' new 1/32 scale conversion set offers modelers the opportunity to create a Bf109F-4, or even a Bf109F-4z, using Hasegawaís 2002 release of the Bf109G-6 in 1/32nd scale. Aires also provides the parts to make a tropical version.



I also added the beautifully crafted spinner from Eagle Editions, and the rudder and elevators from a Cutting Edge set.



Conversion / Construction


The following is a summary of the steps required to complete this conversion.

The parts in the Aires set include resin, photoetch metal, acetate instrument insert, and both closed and open vacuform canopies from Falcon.

The Aires instructions are clear and well drafted, but in some areas the modifications that are required for the Hasegawa parts is oversimplified. Certain features that appeared on the Gustav also require filling and fairing, although the Aires instructions do not mention them. Parts required to create some of the Friedrich subtypes are not included.

Test fitting is the key to success when using this set; it appears that all of the Aires pieces were intended to utilize the same connection points as their Hasegawa counterparts wherever such features are present on the Hasegawa plastic.



Cowl and Supercharger Intake

The portion of the cowl above the exhaust stacks needs to be removed back to the vertical panel line that represents the trailing edge of the cowl. To facilitate this cut I found it helpful to saw through from the inside to separate the top shelves of the exhaust stack inserts beforehand. The Aires instructions indicate a straight horizontal line for the shaded area to be cut away, but this is not advised. Compare carefully the lower edge of the Aires cowl and the uneven features of the kit panel line as it angles down from the firewall, comes up behind the exhaust, moves forward across the top of the exhaust framework, then zigzags over the small square panel ahead of the exhaust cutout and up across the bottom of the oil reservoir cover. These are features you will want to preserve.



The lower front of the Aires cowl was a couple millimeters narrower than the corresponding surface of the kit, so I placed a piece of sprue in it to act as a spreader bar. The fairing for the oil cooler intake and oil cooler insert dropped right in to replace their kit counterparts without any modification.



The supercharger intake and tropical filter are engineered as single pieces, fit easily, and there are resin and photoetch metal parts included for the filter support. The versions supplied in the Aires set look accurate for an F-4. I wanted a non-tropical F-2, so I first glued a 4mm long section of Evergreen styrene tubing into the bore of the intake, then sanded the outside down to the straighter, narrower shape and filed out the tubing until I was happy with the narrower bore. The weld seam on the outer edge of the intake was restored by gluing a piece of synthetic salon hair along the side, fairing it in with a bead of CA glue.

Although the Aires set includes the small slender scoop that many Friedrichs and early Gustavs had behind the hole for the starter crank, the instructions do not mention it. I used it on my model because a starboard side photo of another plane from the same flight shows the feature; the scoop is not evident in some of the photos that I have seen of other Friedrichs.


Cockpit and Canopy

The cockpit sidewalls and corresponding fuselage halves require some thinning, but the Aires cockpit tub has notches for alignment with the forks in the Hasegawa fuselage halves. I found this arrangement very helpful in test-fitting the cockpit tub.

In order to achieve a good fit for the instrument panel I found it was necessary to cut away the kit backing from the fuselage halves and thin the coaming over the panel against which the forward edge of the windscreen is to rest. It is also recommended that the resin back piece provided for the Aires instrument panel be sanded to thin it down some.

Cockpit lamps are provided and the Aires set indicates that these should be glued into holes in the sidewall upper edges. It is my impression that they would be in the wrong position and that the lamps should be glued to the inner windscreen trim at the bottom. The flap selector wheels seem to be represented better by the Hasegawa parts than the Aires photoetch metal replacements, so I used the former.

The Falcon canopies have nicely formed external features, are quite stout and easy to work with; I used thin styrene strip to build framing on the inside since I wanted the canopy open. Modelers must check their reference photos to determine which type of head armor to install in the aircraft they want to portray. The curved type is provided in the Hasegawa kit, but early Friedrichs often had the simple flat variety. I simply cut the bottom of the curved piece off and glued it to the main armor piece, then faired it in to form the truncated pyrimid shape of the early flat armor.


Moving onto the wings, the spent cartridge ejection chutes must be filled in on the bottom of the fuselage between the wheel wells. The Hasegawa kit also has seven attachment points on each lower wing half intended for Rutsatz weapons packages that require filling.



I attached the kit mounting piece for the FuG 16ZY Morane mast, put CA glue around the edges and faired it in.



On the port and starboard sides of the cockpit section there are rectangular features to represent cockpit vents that require filling. Moving aft, on the fuselage spine there are oval access covers, one on the left and two on the right, that should be filled in. The attachment points for both the whip antenna (on the starboard fuselage underside) and the vertical leg of the wire aerial (just in front of the vertical stabilizer on the port side) must be filled in. The large oval inspection panel on the fuselage under the left horizontal stabilizer should be filled in. The tailwheel bay must be cut out to restore itís shape and the panel line and rivets around it should be filled in as I believe they are there to represent the coaming found on the Gustavs. I neglected to fill in some of these features before painting and had to deal with the task of filling and sanding them back out. That was one lesson in research and preparation that I hope I never have to repeat!



If the Aires set has a toad in it, it has to be the single-piece tailwheel. The set includes only the larger retractable tailwheel used on some of the F-4s, F-4/z, and early Gustavs. To its credit, however, the tailwheel leg fits very well into the kit attachment points.

In order to gain some semblance of an F-2 tailwheel I first carefully removed the molded in wheel from the yoke by sawing, drilling, and sanding. Then I sanded down a tailwheel from the Cutting Edge G-6 detail set until it approximated the smaller diameter of the F-2 variety.

It is still a bit wide, and I could have sliced it down the center, thinned the halves and glued them back together, but then my yoke would be too wide for a sound fit and I didnít want to go there! The main wheels provided by Aires are exquisite, but I donít recommend drilling them out- I shortened the pins on the Hasegawa gear legs instead to avoid risking damage to the outer wheel hub details.

If the one so desires, I believe that a convincing Bf109F-4/z or F-4z/Trop could be easily made by using the kit supercharger intake, propeller blades, oil cooler pieces, and the Aires tailwheel.



Paint and Markings


I used photos along with the excellent profile painted by Jerry Crandall as a basis for the markings of the Kommandeur II/JG54 machine, W. Nr. 4773, flown by Dietrich Hrabak in the summer of 1941. I used Mike Grantís decals for the Lion of Aspern badges, work number, and certain stencils. The badges have the correct design for the lions, but the yellow upper field should be painted out in white. As far as I know, there are no Gruppenstab markings available for this machine in 1/32nd scale, so I made tape stencils to paint in the outer black trim, then applied white and black decal strips (cut from some surplus invasion stripes I had handy) to fill in the chevrons and bars. Stencils from Tamiya tape were also used to paint the white victory marks and red wingwalks. Insignia were cannabilized from an Eagle Strike set.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Paints used for the camouflage colors are RLM 02/74/75/76 and 70 from the out of production Floquil enamel line.





This was my first kit conversion, and although it was not as ambitious as, say, making an Ilya Muromets bomber from leftover Nieuport and Eindekker parts, it was the perfect challenge to push my modeling techniques up a notch. I would recommend the Aires set to anyone who loves the Friedrich enough to do a bit of extra work to get there.



Many thanks go out to the forumites on the 109 Lair and here on HyperScale for the encouragement, constructive advice, and corrective input they provided in the course of this project.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2002 by Erik Whipple
Page Created 21 September 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

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