Hasegawa's 1/32 Bf 109G-6
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 family of fighters was designed in the latter half of the 1930s and went on to fight throughout the Second World War, even after it had become outdated as a design. The Bf 109 also has the distinction of being the most-produced fighter of all time, with over 30,000 being produced.
The Bf 109G-6 had a sharp starting point but a very blurry ending point and likely was the most-produced variant of all the Bf 109 types. Characterized by the pronounced bulges on the cowling, the G-6 featured an improvement in armament over the earlier G series.
Much has been written on the Bf 109 family and I would recommend many of the titles under the reference section for more information.
Just when I think I'm safe in my 1/72 world, someone comes out with something that makes me want to change scales. This is just such a kit. Hasegawa has clearly built on their excellent 1/72 and 1/48 Bf 109 kits and are now using that knowledge in this latest release in their 1/32 range. The box is large and the painting on top is worthy of a frame, but once you open the box up you'll be impressed by the contents. There's several sprues of classic Hasegawa light gray plastic, plus a good-sized sprue of clear parts. The decal sheet is good-sized as well and offers a pair of choices. Enough with the overview, let's look at the innards!
Starting with the cockpit, there's quite a bit of detail here, as should be expected. The floor has a fair amount of detailing molded in place and also includes a part of the rear bulkhead. The front bulkhead is separate and onto this basic assembly fits lots of smaller details. You get separate rudder pedals, control stick, cannon breech, trim wheels, seat pan, seat, radio, throttle quadrant and a five-piece pilot figure. With the pilot figure in place not much will be seen, but leaving him out will show off all of the extra bits Hasegawa has provided.
The fuselage construction clearly shows plans for other versions down the road. The tail section is completely separate and is well-engineered. There will be no problems with alignment on this piece as there is a very large and thick peg on the completed tail that fits into a matching hole in the fuselage. The front end also shows potential for other options, with two styles of gun troughs included in the kit. The prominent bulges are molded separately as well, so conceivably you could build a G-4 or earlier from this kit without any additional effort.
The nose is the one area that has an unfortunate error, and that deals with the small scoops that are right above the exhaust stacks on the extreme forward end. Hasegawa has these depicted as being offset, the rear being higher than the fore. This was also the case on their 1/48 kits as well. These should actually be in line with one another, and the photos on page 118 and 119 of the Model Art Special (see reference section) clearly shows this. Interestingly, Hasegawa got these right on their 1/72 kits.
The spinner features separate blades fitting onto a hub, with the spinner covering the assembly. This will make painting that spiral a bit easier as you don't have to work around the blades. This assembly fits onto a two-piece shaft assembly that also represents the horseshoe cooler in the nose. The supercharger intake is also nicely done, with detail molded into the fuselage side that will be seen through the two-piece intake. The exhaust stacks are separate and also feature separate pieces for the covers.
Looking at the wings you can see the planning for other variants. The instructions have you open holes for the wing bulges, again making it very easy for you to do an earlier G variant if you wish as the small bulges didn't show up until the G-4 variant. Check your references if you plan on doing an earlier version, as there are lots of small details to cover (I'd recommend Prien & Rodeike's excellent F, G & K book listed in the reference section below).
The wing radiators are well done with inserts providing the radiator faces for both the front and rear. The wings also feature separate slats and flaps as well as clear wingtip lights. There is a sturdy spar provided and the wing center section is molded separately. The kit is designed to have the cockpit inserted through the wing opening into the assembled fuselage, with this spar and center section making sure everything is in the proper place. This is a nice way to do things as it allows you to get all the fuselage seam work taken care of without having to worry about damaging all the work you did on the interior.
The landing gear is sturdy and comes equipped with square pegs so there's no question as to alignment. The oleo scissors are separate and the wheels are molded in two halves. The wheels are the appropriate style for the G-6 which means you'll have to come up with a new set for earlier G versions (or just wait for Hasegawa to release a G-2). The tailwheel assembly is also well done and comes in right and left halves. Other bits to go underneath include the flaps and the drop tank. Only one style of drop tank is included, and the Bf 109G-6 carried several different styles. I'm sure this is one area that we'll see plenty of aftermarket examples of very quickly.
The decals provide a pair of choices, both big aces. The first is an example flown by the biggest ace of all, Erich Hartmann. This is the example shown on the boxtop and features all the classic Hartmann touches: the heart under the canopy and his victory markings on the rudder, as well as the partial yellow band, the Gruppe wavy bar and the yellow 1. The second choice is one flown by Hptm. Gerhard Barkhorn and is depicted in the profile below. This example is for those who don't want to mess with fuselage mottling, as it's got solid colors extending all the way down the fuselage sides. The decals are well printed and in excellent register.
Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 flown by Hptm. Gerhard Barkhorn of II/JG 52.