Few planes achieve legendary status, but of those that do the Messerschmitt Bf109 has to be near the top of that list. With over 30,000 Bf109s built during its short career, the Bf109 went through more changes than just about any other plane in history. The original Bf109 differed from the more typical WW2 Bf109 in that it didn't use a Daimler Benz engine. The Bf109D had a Jumo engine with the radiator mounted underneath the engine, giving the fuselage a decidedly different look from the later variants. The Bf109D managed to see limited combat in WW2, but its main combat experience came in the Spanish Civil War, where it fought alongside Heinkel He-51s against Russian-supplied fighters to great effect. Several WW2 aces got their start in the Spanish Civil War flying the early Bf109s, including Werner Mölders, who achieved 14 confirmed victories flying his Bf109D-1 (although his rudder displayed 15 victories).
No plane has been presented in kit form more than the Bf109. Kits of this plane abound in all scales, ranging from small 1/144 to huge 1/24 scales. With all these kitsout there, you'd think that every variant has been done to death, and accurately to boot, but unfortunately that is not the case. In 1/72, the early Bf109s have been sorely neglected, with only a Heller kit of the Bf109B being available in injection plastic. The Sword kit is a welcome addition, then, and all that remains is the inevitable checking of accuracy. It seems that the Bf109's popularity has also brought out a great deal of research material on this plane, and as such there is quite a few pictures published with which to check models for accuracy and shape. There are plenty of drawings that exist, too, but they all tend to have their own little flaws here and there. So when I checked this kit for accuracy, I laid it out on a couple different set of plans, then checked the 'errors' with photos to see if they were really errors.
To start out, I'll give a brief overview of what you get in the kit. There's a 4-piece resin cockpit that is absolutely stunning, an injection-molded clear canopy that can be posed open or closed, and a small number of injection plastic parts. The quality overall is excellent, although the injection canopy will most likely need to be replaced because of massive fogging and thickness. The plastic parts are molded in a medium gray and have delicately scribed panel lines and very well done fabric ribbing on the flying surfaces. No fabric texture is present, which is another plus. The breakdown of the parts makes this kit a quick one to build, with the resin cockpit fitting flush into the fuselage sides and the one-piece wing ensuring accurate dihedral and minimizing the filling needed.
The quick assembly is coupled with a simple paint scheme of 70/71 over 65. The decals provide only one choice, that of Red 2 from JG 137. The decals are printed by MPD and include swastikas, albeit cut in half and requiring the modeler to assemble on the model. The decals look to be thin and should go on without any problem.
So now the big question is "Is it accurate?" Well, let's start with the cockpit. The resin parts are very accurate when compared to pictures. The sidewalls have just about everything right where it's supposed to be. The one-piece floor/seat/control stick/rudder pedals are also very accurate, with the seat featuring seat belts in the right places. The wings are spot on, as is the fuselage. The only problem area is the vertical tail and rudder. When I first pulled the kit out of the box, I thought that the tail looked small. After checking it with drawings and photos, I find that I was right. The tail is about 1mm short in height and about 1mm short in length. To fix the length problem all that needs to be done is to add a 1mm extension in front of the rudder, while the height problem needs to be fixed below the top rudder hinge line. While these seem like small numbers, when the whole tail assembly is only about 10mm or so high, 1mm becomes much more apparent. Luckily these are fairly simple fixes to do and shouldn't take too much work. The added benefit to fixing these problems is that you can then reposition the rudder to one side, too.
Even with the problems with the tail, this is easily the best early Bf109 in 1/72, and the detailing throughout the kit more than makes up for the small corrections needed on the tail end. With all the latest research coming out on the early years of the Luftwaffe, there are bound to be more marking choices for this plane coming out, and I am sure that plenty of these kits will be making it onto the shelves of Luftwaffe aficionados everywhere.