Perhaps it is serendipitous that I completed both my new Airfix Messerschmitts within days of one another. I certainly didn’t plan on it. The builds began about two months apart from one another; the 109 featured yesterday, on about the second or third of January, and the BF-110 discussed below, sometime in November of 2010. Why did this seemingly smaller and simpler kit take so much longer?
Lets call it user error 🙂
Airfix’s new mould 1/72 BF-110 C/D (and E) isn’t a bad kit. It isn’t a great kit (like the 1/48 BF-109), but it is miles ahead of their old 110, and in some ways it is better than the Fujimi BF-110 kits in the same scale. It is moulded in a light gray, soapy semi-soft plastic, with a slightly rough texture on the exterior which helps in paint adhesion I guess. There are some pretty egregiously heavily engraved panel lines which aren’t so much too deep as they are too wide. Some panel lines are missing, especially around the nose section.
Details are simplified in some cases, and finer elements, such as the aileron counter balances, and ventral antenna array are absent, as are the wingtip nav lights. The nose guns are a bit chunky, and the cockpit is far too spartan for a kit with such a large canopy. Inaccuracies also include misshapen rudders, engine nacelles which are too long, and though I can’t put my finger on it, something about the nose looks off to me.
On the positive side, Airfix gives you some very nice landing gear, with properly canted and weighted tires, good gear bays, a very nice rear gun, and a variety of external stores. Construction is relatively straight forward, and the lack of small fragile details makes the kit particularly robust. So once again, why did it take so long to build?
To begin with, I rushed the initial stages of construction. This led to some gluey fingerprints, and poorly masked clear parts. After a few days of slapping the main components together, I was not pleased with the model so I set it aside for a few weeks. I returned to the model this January, and successfully sanded and smoothed the sloppy pieces and began painting. I initially chose the Wespen nosed scheme provided in the box, but felt that Airfix erred in their color callouts and began to repaint the aircraft. I grew impatient and ended up with a true mess on my hands (see photos in an earlier posting on this blog).
Long story short, I purchased a nice set of Eagle Strike decals, stripped the paint, got a new canopy, and took another shot at finishing this thing. The new paint scheme turned out beautifully, but in the process I ended up breaking off two of the nose guns. This discouraged me and I set the model aside once again.
A week or two later I replaced the guns with brass rods. Not perfect, but it will do. The process was messy and required repainting of the yellow nose. Anybody who has painted yellow, knows how fussy of a process this can be. During the repaint, I managed to break off the left landing gear, and three of the four gear doors (don’t ask how). I glued them back on, but two of the four fell off once again, as did one of the bombs. At this point I was determined to finish so I endeavored to persevere (how Victorian, eh?). Finally, after a few nights of touchups and weathering, I had a completed BF-110.
The kit won’t win me any contests, but then again, I don’t really participate in any. It is not entirely accurate, as I built it generally out of the box, adding only one belly aerial, but it looks close enough. I should mention that the version I have built is not the 110C described in the Airfix instructions. In fact this is a very early -D with an extended duck-tail which contained an inflatable dinghy for water landings. The particular aircraft also had enlarged rudder trim tabs, but with all of the rudder shape issues already present, I didn’t bother with this minor detail.
I’m pleased with the overall appearance of the model, but it isn’t as nice as some of the other new Airfix releases. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest), I rate this kit a strong seven. The dimensional issues are not difficult to fix, should one choose to do so, and if I hadn’t of rushed things, I think my overall build experience would have been more enjoyable. Still, I can’t help but say that Airfix is capable of doing better.