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Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6

by Brett Green

 

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6
Anton Hackl, Gruppenkommandeur, III/JG 11

 


Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Bf 109G-6 is available online at Squadron

 

Introduction

 

I built a few 1/32 scale kits soon after I returned to modelling in the mid 1980s. One of these kits was Revell's ancient Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6. 

I was initially inspired to build this model by the colour profile of Anton Hackl's Bf 109G-6 on page 102-103 of "Planes of the Luftwaffe Fighter Aces - Vol. 1". My inexperience at the time left me blissfully unaware of the shortcomings of the Revell kit, but I always knew that I wanted to return to this subject.

Many years after my first effort had been dispatched to the garbage bin, I started collecting information and resources to build a recognisable Gustav from Revell's 1/32 scale kit. I was overjoyed that Hasegawa saved me from this potentially torturous project by announcing their 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 late in 2001. When Eagle Strike released their 1/32 scale markings for Anton Hackl's Bf 109G-6, it seemed that I had a modelling date with destiny. 

I could finally have another crack at this very attractive Gustav.

 

 

Hasegawa's Bf 109G-6 in 1/32 Scale

 

Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 is an admirable representation of the most produced fighter aircraft in history. The model is accurate, displays state-of-the-art surface features, offers alternate armament, dropped slats and flaps and much more.

Unlike recent 1/32 scale releases from other manufacturers, Hasegawa's Gustav is entirely conventional in its presentation - you will only find plastic in the box. The parts breakdown is no more complex than a 1/48 scale fighter aircraft model. The kit comprises 107 parts in grey styrene, 11 parts in clear and 4 polythene caps. 

 

 

The relative simplicity and reasonable price of Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Bf 109G-6 makes it appropriate for beginner modellers, but its accuracy and potential for extra detail will ensure its popularity with plastic connoisseurs too.

Furthermore, Hasegawa has made a genuine effort to correct some of the shortcomings of their 1/48 scale Bf 109s with their new 1/32 scale Gustav. 

A more detailed examination of the model "in the box" may be seen by following this link to my FirstLook Review 

 

 

Construction

 

Cockpit

Summary of 
Modelling Resources

The following accessories were used to complete Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Bf 109G-6:

  • Gunze paints
    H70 RLM 02 Grey; H417 RLM 76 Light Blue; H69 RLM 75 Grey Violet; H68 RLM 74 Grey Green; Gunze H65 RLM 70 Black Green; H94 Clear Green; H90 Clear Red; H20 Flat Clear. 

  • Tamiya paints
    X-18 Semi Gloss Black; XF-1 Flat Black; XF-2 Flat White; XF-3 Flat Yellow; X-7 Red; X-21 Flat Base; XF-57 Buff; X-11Chrome Silver.

  • Testors Metalizer paints - Burnt Metal; Gunmetal

  • Rustall

  • Eagle Strike Decals: 32038 - Augsburg's Flyers Part IV

  • EagleCals Decals: EC32-36 (for national markings and stencils)

  • Aeromaster Decals: 48-460 - Augsburg Eagles Part X

  • Cements, Fillers and Finishing Products:
    Testors Cement; Tamiya Extra Thin Liquid Cement; Selleys Super Glue; ZIP Kicker CA Accelerator; Squadron White Putty; Gunze Mr Surfacer 500; Gunze Mr Rubbing Compound; Tamiya Masking Tape (6mm and 10mm); Tamiya Abrasive Paper (400-1000 grit); disposable nail files.

Hasegawa's 1/32 scale front office looks a little bland in the box, but the 19 parts depict all of the key details in the real cockpit.

The oxygen regulator, auxiliary instruments and throttles are supplied as separate parts. The seat pan is also provided separately. The seat back was not usually installed in these later 109s, and the kit reflects this configuration. A six-piece pilot is included but I decided not to use him.

The omission of a harness would be very obvious in this large scale, so I "borrowed" a set of buckles and mounts from Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Fw 190D-9. These were added to straps cut from foil-backed paper.

Click the thumbnails below to
view larger images:

Cockpit tub with paper harnesses and rudder foorstraps in place.

Cockpit tub after painting.


The remaining cockpit components were assembled and painted after the harness was glued to the seat pan and rear bulkhead.

The instrument panel is a single plastic part with raised detail. A decal is supplied as an alternative to painting. I decided to combine these options by punching out individual instruments and applying the decals to each dial. This was time consuming but the results looked promising.

However, impatience was my undoing. I applied a coat of MicroSol to each of the decals to help them conform to the uneven surface. After brushing on the solvent, I decided to speed the task by lightly pressing the instrument decals onto the dial detail. Imagine my horror when I found 5 wrinkled, ruined instrument decals on my fingertip. I really should have known better, but impatience has a way of causing temporary amnesia!

I stripped off the remaining decals and painted the details on the dials instead. A few thin coats of Future were painted on top of the instruments to depict lenses.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


 

Fuselage

The fuselage is supplied in four main parts to simplify tooling for the tall-tail variants - two forward fuselage halves and two halves for the rear fuselage/tail section. Each fuselage section was taped and clamped separately. When I was satisfied that everything was perfectly aligned, I flowed Tamiya Liquid Cement along the outside of the join lines. This ultra-thin adhesive is drawn into the minute gap and provides a very strong bond. The use of liquid cement also minimizes the risk of excess glue being squeezed out from between plastic parts.

 

 

Two filler ports on the starboard fuselage are not applicable to the Bf 109G-6, so I covered the engraved ovals with Super Glue. A spot of ZIP Kicker Accelerator instantly cured the cement. The resulting lump was sanded first with a coarse sanding stick, then with 400 grit and 1000 grit abrasive paper, and finally polished using Mr Rubbing Compound. 

The port fuselage side includes two "pips" below the cockpit. These are the mounts for an umbrella that was sometimes used in tropical environs. The instructions make no mention of removing these "pips", but they were not installed on most Gustavs so check your references carefully. The "pips" were not installed on Hackl's aircraft so they were sliced off with a sharp knife.

When the fuselage components were thoroughly set, the large tongue on the tail assembly was inserted in the main fuselage section. The fit was good but there was still potential for slight movement, so I spent a few minutes ensuring that the tail was aligned from all angles before committing the parts to glue.

Inspection of the fuselage revealed hairline join marks on the centreline of the upper breech cover, the upper front nose, and the lower cowling. These are the exact areas I always have problems with Hasegawa's 1/48 scale kits too. The minor flaws were quickly covered with Mr Surfacer and sanded when dry. The panel lines on the rear fuselage spine and underside looked good, but I lightly scribed both to ensure consistency. The vertical panel line at fuselage station 7 (where the fuselage components meet) did not require any filler. Even so, the whole mid-rear fuselage was sanded and polished to eliminate any tiny steps or other irregularities.

Hasegawa supply a horseshoe oil tank as a mounting base for the propeller shaft. This circular part locks securely in the forward fuselage with a twist. The fit is so good that I considered not applying glue, but in the end I did brush some liquid cement onto the mounting arms when the part was in place.

The instrument panel was now installed from below. The cockpit tub was inserted straight afterwards.

The lower centre section of the wing is supplied as a separate piece. A plastic wing spar is glued to the top of this part, and then sandwiched under the cockpit and wing root. The result is a very sturdy support for the wings that sets dihedral to the correct angle. Don't forget to drill out the locating holes for the drop tank rack before the spar is glued to the centre wing section.

I added a short length of brass rod to the middle of the oil cooler housing intake. Hasegawa has moulded location indentations for this strut, but do not supply the part (or mention it in the instructions).

Optional top cowls are supplied. One has a pressed-style gun trough and the other has the insert style. This is another area that has caused me problems with the 1/48 scale Gustav and I had similar issues with this model. Each side of the part displayed a tiny "step", and the front of the part rode high. I sanded the top-front of the part before gluing it on the fuselage. With the top cowl in place, I then sanded along the side of the part to eliminate the step.

The remaining details for the fuselage include the gun bulges, supercharger intake and exhausts. 

Hackl's aircraft is usually listed as a Messerschmitt Bf 109G-5, but it does not feature the vertical head armour and desiccant capsules in the canopy. It is more likely that this was really a G-6 with the G-5 "bulge" installed. This was a fairly common variation. I therefore used the starboard side bulge with the additional blister for the compressor. The small scoop on this bulge was hollowed out with the tip of a hobby knife blade.

I drilled out the end of each exhaust stack using a dental burr in my Dremel motor tool. The muzzles of the cowl guns were also hollowed out.


 

Wings

Wings were prepared by drilling holes for the upper wing bulges. To their credit, Hasegawa has moulded a concave bulge on the inside surface of the upper wing to correspond with the top wing bulges. The locating holes for the bulges intrude into the upper wing. I filled these with Squadron White Putty. The concave surface and surrounding raised detail make it difficult to sand the putty smooth, so I simply wiped the excess from the hole and painted the wheel well. The upper wing bulges were then added. A thin line of Mr Surfacer was painted around the edge of each bulge to blend in the parts.

The lower wing is apparently a generic part to be shared with Bf 109F kits. This is suggested by the circular opening for the wheel well - a feature of the Bf 109F and early G. The openings were squared-off with a sharp hobby knife. I painted the radiator faces black, then highlighted the raised detail with a silver pencil. The wing halves were then clamped and glued.

 

 

The assembled wings were slid onto the wing spars. The fit at the upper wing root was totally free of gaps and the dihedral looked perfect. I had a slight gap at the lower wing join, but this was quickly dealt with using Mr Surfacer. With the wings sitting solidly in place, I simply brushed liquid cement along the join lines to make the bond permanent.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The wings and fuselage are assembled separately. Note the prominent wing spars

The wings are slid onto the spars. Dihedral is positively set.

The join at the wing root is almost flawless. The parts are not glued in this picture, but the fit is solid and gap free.


Flaps and slats are secured with the aid of tabs. These pre-set the amount of "droop" on the parts, although the enterprising modeller may slice off the tabs and reposition the parts to taste. I was happy with the kit configuration, so I locked the flaps in place with superglue, and improved the bond with liquid glue.

My model was destined to depict an early production Bf 109G-6. This particular aircraft did not have a Morane mast under the wing, so I filled and sanded the insulator and surrounding panel on the lower wing.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The Morane mast was not present on Hackl's Bf 109. The clear base and surrounding panel lines were filled with super glue...

...and sanded smooth. A coat of dark grey was sprayed over the top to highlight any imperfections.


The horizontal tail surfaces were added to the fin. Trim tabs need to be pruned shorter for this kit. Pay attention to the instructions because it is easy to overlook this detail.

 

 

The tail parts display the same positive engineering as the wings. The location tab of each part is "keyed" so that they lock in place where they meet inside the fin. This "key" sets the tail at a 90 degree angle to the fin. The result is effortless alignment of the wings, fuselage and tail surfaces.


 

Finishing Touches

Summary of 
Additional Work

Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Bf 109G-6 is quite complete straight from the box, but I did undertake the following additional minor work:

  • Added seat harness from paper and buckles from Hasegawa 1/32 Fw 190D-9

  • Drilled out machine gun and cannon barrels

  • Drilled out exhaust stacks

  • Drilled out scoop on compressor bulge

  • Added FuG 25 IFF antenna under fuselage

  • Filled and smoothed base for unused Morane antenna

  • Added support strut for oil cooler air intake

  • Added canopy release lever and cable; dive angle indicators and sliding window knobs to canopy

  • Removed the mounting "pips" for the tropical umbrella below the cockpit

The canopy parts are crystal clear straight from the box.

Click the thumbnails below to
view larger images:


The rear canopy sat a little high on my model, so I sanded the bottom of the part. This cured the height problem but effectively pushed the clear part slightly forward, narrowing the gap between the windscreen and the rear canopy. In fact, the gap was now marginally too small to accommodate the main canopy. Fortunately, my canopy would be posed open, but some careful planning will be necessary if a closed canopy is on the agenda.

I added some extra detail to the hinged canopy section. Short lengths of plastic strip were glued to the sides of the Galland Panzer armour to represent mounting arms. A canopy release lever was built using scrap styrene sheet and rod. Stretched sprue was used for the canopy release wire and for the diagonal red dive angle indicator lines. Knobs for the glass sliding section were punched from clear acetate and secured with a drop of Future.

For some reason, the locating point for the under-fuselage FuG 25 IFF antenna is indicated but the mast itself is not supplied. I drilled the hole with a pin vice, then cut a length of steel rod and secured it with super glue.

The propeller assembly, undercarriage, tailwheel and other small details were all added per instructions.

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

Paint

My Gustav was destined to wear the markings of Anton Hackl, with the yellow Reich Defence Band (RVD) of JG 11 and a white tail. Gunze acrylic paints were used except where otherwise noted, and my airbrush is a Testors Aztek A470.

Painting commenced by spraying panel lines with Tamiya Flat Black. Next, the vertical fin was painted RLM 76 Light Blue. A diamond shape corresponding to the position of the swastika was masked off, then the fuselage band and tail were painted yellow and white respectively. I mixed my own shade of RLM 04 Yellow. I like the Gunze colour, but it seems to take forever to dry so I blended a few spots of red and some white with Tamiya's acrylic Flat Yellow. When dry, the tail and fuselage band were carefully masked and an overall coat of Gunze RLM 76 was applied. 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

As is my usual practice, the paintjob starts by painting the panel lines black.

Next, the yellow and white for the Reich Defence Band (RV Band or RVD) and the tail are applied. Note the diamond masked for the swastika decal

The RVD and the tail are now masked...

...and the fuselage gets a coat of RLM 76 Light Blue.


Upper surface camouflage comprised RLM 74 and 75 Greys in a hard-edged pattern on the wings, and a heavy irregular mottle on the fuselage sides. I sprayed the RLM 75 Grey-Violet sections first. The Gunze RLM 74 seemed too dark, so I lightened the colour with a generous dollop of Grey-Violet.

The upper-wing camouflage pattern was masked with self-adhesive Post It notes. I sprayed RLM 74 lightly up to the edge of the Post It note, then removed the mask before retracing the outline of the camouflage pattern freehand with the airbrush. This maintains the hard edge but provides a slight overspray effect. 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The lower surfaces are painted RLM 76...

...and the upper fuselage gets the treatment too.

Fuselage camouflage is underway. The mottling and paint on the spine is applied freehand.

The "splinter" pattern on the wings is painted with the assistance of self-adhesive "Post It" notes.


 

The camouflage mottle was sprayed freehand. I carefully followed the camouflage pattern observed in the photograph on page 69 of "Planes of the Luftwaffe Fighter Aces Vol. 1" by Bernd Barbas.


 

Decals

I finished painting the model before the Eagle Strike decals for Hackl's aircraft arrived, so I used EagleCals' national markings and stencils from a different decal sheet while I was waiting. I usually only apply the bigger stencil markings in 1/48 scale, but I used all of the applicable stencils for this project. EagleCal's stencil decals were crisp and legible. In this large scale, they look very convincing on the model too - not too dominant as is sometimes the case in smaller scales.

Eagle Strike decals (sheet number 32038 - "Augsburg's Flyers Part IV") were used for the tail markings and lower wing crosses. The victory markings are very impressive. Each of the victory bars for British aircraft is topped by a tiny red, white and blue roundel. I needed to use a magnifying glass to align the red decal for the roundel centres, but the effort is well worthwhile.

 

 

I was surprised to find that the double chevron decal looked huge on the model. Checking my reference photo confirmed that the chevron marking was proportionally correct, but too large by about one third. 

One third? That got me thinking. I also owned the Aeromaster sheet covering the same aircraft in 1/48 scale. 1/32 scale is one third larger than 1/48 scale, so if the same basic artwork had been used for the smaller scale decal sheet I might avoid the chore of hand-painting these markings. Sure enough, the 1/48 scale decal was an almost perfect match for my interpretation of an accurate 1/32 scale chevron.

All the decals settled down nicely with the application of MicroSet and MicroSol.


 

Weathering and Final Assembly

A light wash of thinned black oil paint subtly highlighted the panel lines. The port-side wingwalk was "chipped" using Tamiya silver enamel paint in a wedge-shaped pattern noted in my reference photo. I painted the exhaust stacks with Testors Metalizer Burnt Metal, then brushed Rustall onto the stacks to take the "new metal" sheen from the paint.

 

 

Wheels were masked using circles cut out of self-adhesive "Post-It Notes" using an Olfa Circle Cutter.

The entire model was sealed with an overall coat of Gunze Flat Clear. However, I was disturbed to see that this top coat had bestowed a cloudy finish to the colours and markings. I carefully but firmly polished the model with a slightly damp, soft cloth to restore the original shades. 

Hackl's aircraft was reasonably clean except for a short, black exhaust stain. I sprayed this stain with a mix of Tamiya Flat Black and Flat Base.

The main wheels were first sprayed Semi-Gloss Black. The hubs were masked and the tyres painted a grey-brown-black mix. I was not satisfied with this weathering of the tyres, so I added a light dusting of pastel chalk.

The wingtip "light globes" were painted Clear Red and Clear Green over a base coat of white. The transparent lenses were secured with white glue. The formation lights looks very authentic after this treatment.

Finally, gun barrels, pitot tube and the tall antenna mast were glued to the model; and the aerial wire was added using smoke-coloured invisible mending thread (monofilament).

 

 

Conclusion

 

Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 was very satisfying to assemble and looks great when it is finished. It was also a surprisingly quick build. Basic construction took no more than 12 hours, painting and decals another 15 hours, and 4 more hours to add the finishing touches.

I enjoyed the kit so much that I ordered two more even before I had finished building this one. The inevitable avalanche of after-market decals and accessories has already started. This will add even more choices for a large-scale Bf 109G-6.

 

 

Hasegawa has already announced a 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109G-14 to be released in the coming months.

I hope that they apply the same straightforward engineering, accuracy, terrific detail and affordable price tag to more WWII subjects in 1/32 scale. 

 


Text, Images and Model Copyright 2001 by Brett Green
Page Created 27 December, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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