When Airfix first announced a new mould BF-109 E in 1/48 I wasn’t particularly taken by it. I thought, there are plenty of nice 109 kits out there already, what might Airfix provide that they don’t? The answer it turned out, is very simple. Options and a low price.
There are actually two kits available, and they differ only in decal options. I picked up the “Tropical” boxing, but as I understand, the parts in this, and the Battle of Britain boxing are identical. Here is a breif summary of what you get. Standard or tropical air filters, raised or lowered landing gear, a nice pilot figure, drop tank or three options of bombs (including a quad bomb rack), three propeller-spinner types (with or without cannon), the option to display the engine (which is admittedly waaaay under-scale), an auxiliary radio panel for the cockpit, the ability to pose the cockpit open or closed (easily), at least three canopy types, options to build the kit with or without wing guns, and my favorite; all control surfaces, including flaps, are positionable. Thank you Airfix!!! In a nutshell, from this kit you can build just about any of the 109E sub-variants from the E-1 to the E-4, and maybe even the E-7 with a bit more fuss. I chose to build mine as a Romanian E-4 from the Battle of Stalingrad
The kit is moulded in a somewhat chunky and semi-soft light gray plastic, which is easy to cut, shape, and takes well to Tamiya Extra-Thin cement. The surface is somewhat rough, which some folks cry foul about, but I find that it helps in paint adhesion, as it gives it some tooth. It is not at all visible once painted. The panel lines are recessed, and are not as heavy as on some of the other recent Airfix kits.
The build itself is very straight-forward, and there is little to say about it. The only changes I made was to drill out a small hole in the belly in order to mount the model on a clear acrylic rod. I also inserted a small brass tube behind the cockpit to act as a sleeve for the rod, and allow me to remove the model from the stand for transportation purposes.
I also drilled out the wing guns and exhausts. Once again, the soft plastic, made this a quick and painless process. The guns could probably even be hollowed with a pin if you do not own a small enough drill and pin-vice.
I positioned all of the control surfaces to reflect an aircraft that is climbing and banking. Flaps were lowered to combat level, and the pilot was positioned with one hand on the stick, and another reaching for the throttle. Though not much can be seen through the somewhat thick clear parts.
The last changes I made included rounding out the tail wheel and adding antenna wires. Airfix provides you with flattened, weighted tires, which look great, but are unrealistic in for an aircraft posed in flight. No problem, and easy to fix. The antenna wires are from elastic thread, which as far as I’m concerned, is the best modeling accessory since Future (Klear for you Brits) Floor polish.
I have read gripes about the decals, but I found them to be alright. They settled down well over a coat of Future, and once dry I cut them along each panel line and applied some MicroSet so they snugged down into the recesses nicely. Again, no big deal for any modeler worth his or her salt.
The decals were sealed with a second coat of Future, and the whole kit was given a raw-umber oil wash. A clear flat coat followed, and then final weathering was done with some pastel chalks. This is not a difficult kit to build. I only used a little bit of putty on the wing gun mount pieces, and just a smidge at the back of the lower wing. Airfix has really produced a classic with this model. I think I’ll purchase a second one just to build the Spanish Civil War E-1 version also on the decal sheet. This is an easy to build, very forgiving model, with tons of options. Sure, some of the details are simplified (and not much really), but thats what the aftermarket PE and resin sets are for. Beginner and expert alike, will have a good time with this kit, and with just a minimum of effort, a real gem of a model can be produced. I can see people 20, 30 years from now, spending silly money on the future version of e-bay, trying to track down this classic. Yes, it is that good.
Now go out and support your local hobby shop, and show Hornby/Airfix that you appreciate what they’re doing, and buy one or two of these. With the low low asking price, there is little reason to say no.
Thanks Airfix, more models like this please 🙂