Kit No. 48104
Decals: 4 versions – all Luftwaffe
Comments: Engraved panel lines; multi-part engine; detailed cockpit; separately mounted rudder and cowling; three-piece canopy
The Messerschmitt BF109 was the most advanced single-seat, single engine fighter in the world upon its introduction in 1937. An all-metal, low-wing monoplane, it was a state-of-the-art fighter with two 7.92mm machine guns in the nose and capable of speeds in excess of 300 mph. The Bf109B (“Bruno”) saw action in Spain with the Condor Legion, fighting in support of the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Development of the Bf109F began in 1939, as the Luftwaffe was rapidly re-fitting with the more heavily armed E version for the campaign in Poland. The “Emil” carried one 7.92mm machine gun in each wing. These guns were eventually replaced with MG FF 20mm cannon.
The Bf109F, or “Friedrich,” entered service in 1940 with an improved Daimler Benz DB601E powerplant. It was also more aerodynamically efficient in that it had a smoother, more rounded cowling than the E version. It incorporated a new ejector exhaust arrangement that deflected exhaust gases away from the supercharger intake by means of a metal shield on the left side of the engine. The more fuel-efficient engine and improved aerodynamics combined with the introduction of light-alloy drop tanks extended the F version’s range to 1,060 miles (compared to the Emil’s range of 410 miles). The tail section of the aircraft was re-designed, as was the entire wing. The new wing had a more elliptical shape, with a slight reduction in total wing area and new leading edge slats. Early Bf-109F variants were armed with two MG-17 7.92 millimeter machine guns in the cowling and an MG-FF/M 20mm cannon firing through the propeller hub. Earlier versions of the Bf109 had experimented with this armament arrangement, using instead a third 7.92mm machine gun firing through the hub, in response to the eight-gunned Hurricane (and later the Spitfire) of which the Luftwaffe became aware from 1937 on.
Some pilots, including ace Adolf Galland, criticized the F version’s firepower as inadequate, whereas Werner Molders saw the centerline gun as an improvement. The difference of opinion may be rooted in the fact that two different cannon, a 15mm and and 20mm version, were employed as the centerline gun in the Bf109F, and the 20mm packed considerably more punch. Those fitted with the 15mm version were subsequently retrofitted with 20mm guns in the field. The Bf109F was the Luftwaffe’s main fighter at the time of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. 576 of the F-4 version were retro-fitted with tropcial filters for service in North Africa in early 1942. The general consensus among Luftwaffe pilots is that the F series of the Bf109 was the best handling aircraft of the entire line. The Bf 109 was produced in greater quantities than any other fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945.
ICM’s BF 109F comes in a resealable clear plastic bag, is molded in grey and consists of 121 injection molded parts. There is a 3-piece canopy, and two additional clear parts representing the gunsight and a sheet of armoured glass. The kit bears engraved panel lines, a highly detailed cockpit (10 parts) and engine (23 parts), separate parts for the engine mounts and cowling, and a choice of belly palattes for bombs to be carried along the centerline. The fuselage consists of seven parts, with a separately mounted rudder and four-piece cowling. The wings bear separately mounted wingtips and leading edge slats.
There are decals for four versions: 1) Bf109F-4/B of Oberleutnant Frank Liesendahl, Staffel Kapitan of 10. Jabo/JG2, France, March 1942 (black spinner); 2) Bf109F-4/B of 10.Jabo/JG 26, France, Spring 1942 (black spinner); 3) Bf109F-4/B of 2/JG51, Russia, Summer 1942 (black and white spinner); and 4) BF109F-4/B of 1/JG54, Russia, Winter 1942. The first three aircraft bear a splinter camouflage paint scheme of Graugrun RLM 74 with Grauviolet RLM 75, mottle pattern sides and Lichtblau RLM 76 undersides. The fourth aircraft is painted in a winter scheme of overall white with a red spinner, Lichtblau undersides with a yellow underside to the cowling.
ICM’s kit of the “Freidrich” version of the Messerschmitt Bf109 is a detailed example of what may have been the best of the series of fighter aircraft that is perhaps the most famous in the world. The complete engine and multi-part fuselage alone will provide a challenge for any modeler. Recommended.