Eduard 1/48 Bf109F-4 ProfiPACK
By Chris Cowx
I will avoid a complete rundown of the history of the Bf109 series, since most here probably already know as much as they care to about this classic aircraft. Suffice it to say that the most produced military aircraft of all time and perhaps THE iconic Luftwaffe fighter aircraft has been well served by historians.
Eduard's new kit represents the F-4 series. The F-4 variant was used post Battle of Britain on the Channel front, though it truly gained it's place in history for it's role in Operation Barbarossa. The Friedrich is the "plane of victory" in the Luftwaffe, unlike the later Gustavs: many of the Luftwaffe's top aces flew the Bf109F during the period of the Luftwaffe's most famous successes.
The Friedrich was also considered by many to be the ultimate development of the type, as far as a straight-up dogfighter is concerned. It possessed the best combination of aerodynamic refinement, power, and lightness and was flown by the Luftwaffe's best pilots.
It also does not hurt that there are a bazillion interesting schemes, markings, field applied colours, etc. Most of Germany's allies used the Bf109F and on virtually every front from mid '41 until early '43. This means everything from classical Channel front markings to captured Russian paint, winter distemper, desert schemes and who knows what. And if that is not enough variety, there are always the various lesser Axis powers that used it.
While it is fair to say that this was the quintessential variant of the type in service, it is also probably the favourite of modellers, 75 years on!
First of all, the kit has been gone over by the "Experten" and declared to be accurate overall, with the usual few little nitpicks that every single kit ever created has. Others have done this already and better than I. My observations will be more focused towards the kit's overall detail and engineering.
Impressions in the box are excellent. The molding is very fine, with sharp details, thin edges, full riveting and of course no flash whatsoever. The finish is very smooth without quite having the glassy finish of some Tamiya kits. There is a fret of color photo etch, primarily the seat belts, radiator faces, instrument panels and some smaller cockpit details. It is a small fret, but the details are calculated to get the most bang for the buck. Between the PE and the excellent plastic there is not much more needed for a museum quality model, straight from the box.
There is a set of pre cut canopy masks included, made from what appears to be a crepe tape similar to Tamiya's excellent product. The instructions are in the same format that Eduard has been using for the past decade or so. They are printed with some colour to clarify some points in construction, with full colour markings guides in the back. They are clear and easy to use and will be a pleasure to work from. If ever a kit screamed "build me" from it's box, this is it!
The 109F is actually one of the less confusing variants, since it did not undergo the trauma of being constructed and upgraded while on the losing side of a long War. There is nothing like the mixing and matching of parts that the G-6/10/14 versions endured. A bit of research to find out exactly what combination of details are correct for the plane you want to build will be time well spent, but not with the wild array that the Gustav displayed. The main variant differences that are relevant to the production of the Friedrich are the supercharger intake, tropical filter and the presence or absence of the tail reinforcements. Between the plastic and photoetch parts all of these differences are covered. The sprues also contain many of the variations of rudder, fin, prop, etc that are relevant to the various Gustavs.
The kit is a bit more complicated than say a Hasegawa kit, but it is well thought out. The slightly larger parts count is due to details like separate cowling piano hinges, five parts for the horizontal tail surfaces, three for the fin/rudder, three pieces for the supercharger intake, etc.
The engineering is smart and the result is both better detail and also some functional benefits. For example the control surfaces are positionable. They have a recess for the elevators and rudder to sit in, formed by each part's bevels. The flaps and radiator outlets are posable and the mounting tabs are a nice touch.
The panel lines are as perfect as I could ask. They are crisp and deep enough that they will show up well under paint, without being overdone. The rivets are there and they are perfectly in scale. This kit has the entire aircraft riveted, rather than just doing the rivets on the cowling and other prominent areas as some kits do, . They will barely show, under a coat of paint, just as they should.
I appreciate Eduard's new "slide molding" technology. This allows gun barrels, vents and exhaust stacks to be molded with the ends indented. This is generally sufficient to create a hollow effect and is an excellent start if you wish to drill them out further. The fabric detail is quite crisp, with the rib tapes and even stitching represented. It will be slightly over scale, but I think it will look good under some paint. Overall, Eduard's 109F-4 is as near to perfect as you will likely get.
The cockpit is also very nicely represented. The plastic is well done with the smaller parts such as control sticks, trim wheels, etc all molded commendably thin. They look very much in scale and don't have the flat look that photo etch can have in such items. The instrument panel and some side consoles are in color p/e, which eliminates the need to paint, but I would not hesitate to use the plastic parts. They will look just as nice if well painted and the panel has a very nice 3 dimensional effect that would look good with some instrument decals and a drop of clear gloss in the faces.
One major detail that is different from most other 109 kits is that there are no separate sidewalls: the detail is molded directly on the inner fuselage halves. This gives a more "in scale" appearance, with a bit less of the thickness you see in some kits. The p/e detail bits includes the trim wheel chains, canopy braces and the microphone wire.
These small items are well planned to give maximum benefit without bogging down the builder with a bunch of tiny metallic fly specks that only he will know is there. My own choice would be to paint the instrument panel and consoles, to keep the 3 dimensional effect, while using the chains and seat belts That is just my preference, and if one prefers the painted details on the photo etch then you can go that way. The instructions leave it up to the modeller,and so will I!
One piece of pretty slick engineering is the clear plastic molded fuel line. This is a very prominent feature of all 109s. It was painted bright yellow with a clear part for verifying fuel flow. If you leave the clear section bare and paint the rest, it will look great. I must say, having a 1" thick high pressure fuel hose running about a foot from my right elbow would not give me much comfort in a combat aircraft! Overall, a brilliant effort that can be done with all plastic or can be enhanced with the p/e.
The wheel wells are a real highlight of the kit. These have been done to various levels of detail in the past, but Eduard has put as much effort here as anywhere else in the kit. The plastic has the fabric dust shields molded in, and the openings into the wing interior are also properly represented. There are four pieces to each wheel well interior and the wing upper surfaces have the correct bulge in place to accommodate the tire. This eliminates the "flat roof" look from inside. The wheels themselves, always a kit trouble spot from the standpoint of accuracy, seem pretty good. They also have separate hubs to make painting easier.
The fit of the gear leg is pretty positive, which will help alignment and make a sturdy model. The gear doors are commendably thin and have a good positive attachment point. This model will look equally good sitting on a mirror on a contest table, or overturned in a crash diorama!
The clear parts are gorgeous! Unlike the Gustav and even the Emil kits produced by Eduard, there is only one set of canopies included, for the simple reason that only one set was fitted to the Friedrich. The framing is crisp, the glass is distortion free and the rivet detail that I praised above is continued onto the framing. There are also clear parts for the wingtip lights, which can be glued in either before painting or after. I have nothing but praise for the clear parts, well thought out and well executed!
The kit comes with 5 marking options. All are colourful, interesting and are from various theatres and units. Two are in the standard RLM 74/75/76, one is overall temporary white, two are in wild field schemes and the last one is a 78/79 desert bird. The decals are extremely complete, with full stencils and all other markings supplied.
The instrument panel is also supplied as a decal, though I would punch out the instruments individually and put them in the dial faces. As expected, the decals are thin, in register and colorful From the look of them, they should work as well as any aftermarket available.
This is a fantastic kit and a very worthy follow on for their earlier release of the G series. Very impressed! It has detail, fit, surface detail, accuracy and excellent clear parts. It will make a fair modeller look good and a good modeller into a rock star.
Highly recommended! I would like to thank Eduard for the review sample.