Good day, Dear Friends
Among the 84 new items being released for June, the 72nd Limited Edition kit dubbed “Wunderschöne neue Maschinen” stands out. This “Wonderful New Machines” kit centres around the Messerschmitt Bf 109F, which, when introduced into the arsenal of the Luftwaffe at the beginning of 1941, brought an increase in the performance and quality of German fighters committed to aerial combat. It could not have come at a better time, when, after the end of the Battle of Britain, the RAF went on the offensive and took the fight to over German-occupied Western Europe. The Luftwaffe, as of June 22, 1941, was weakened in the West by the transfer of a large number of its units to the east to support the ill-fated attack on the Soviet Union. It had faced British pressure for a long time with success, causing the RAF significant losses. Fighter units were also successful on the Eastern Front, in this case enormously so, thanks to the inferior qualities of the Soviet fighting machine. We know today that a future collapse was hidden in all those initial successes, but that does not change the fact that the Bf 109, in many different developmental versions, would have a profound impact on aerial combat and would become an undisputed legend of world aviation.
The new Bf 109 F and its new design features
Our development of these new kits took over three years. This may seem like an unreasonably long gestation period, given the fact that we have the 1:48th scale kits under our belt. However, this fact carries much less weight than one would expect. This is because there are so many changes in the design process from those larger kits, mainly because technology has changed so much since the 48th scale versions were released some ten year ago. These changes are recognized as being for the better, because they have opened up so many possibilities in terms of design solutions. For the Bf 109 F/G/K series, we focused on overall simplification of the kit, reducing the number of parts used and strengthening the sprue gates. Some solutions are interesting and even unique. For example, the main landing gear assembly, where the main landing gear legs are molded together with the oleo scissors and include seating elements that allow the connection to the landing gear covers without the need to search out optimal, symmetrical spatial relationships. And most importantly, it has a dedicated anchoring element that anchors the leg in the wing so that the tongue slides into a corresponding groove in the wing, behind the wheel well. Three walls of this groove are part of the cockpit floor, and after the wing is glued to the fuselage, the feature is closed off by a fourth wall, formed by the lower surface of the wing. At the end of the construction, it is enough to insert the landing gear legs into the groove which, at the same time, gives the landing gear legs a precise position in relation to the wing. So there is no need to monitor and adjust the geometry of the landing gear in any complicated way. It is the same with the tail wheel, which is also installed by way of insertion using a similar tongue and groove system. The design of the tail surfaces is also an innovative feature. The fin and rudder is molded as a whole with a tongue that widens as it extends away from the part. This then fits into a groove of the same shape that is molded in both halves of the fuselage. Then when the tongue is inserted into the fuselage halves and the assembly is sealed off, the physical shape of the seating elements sort of pulls and pinches the fin toward the fuselage, perfectly seating it with the correct geometry. But be aware that the fin must be glued to one half of the fuselage and closed with its corresponding other half, and can’t be inserted into the assembled fuselage per se, because that won’t allow the positioning system to take over and line everything up correctly. To glue this assembly together, it is a good idea to use classic solvent glue, which keeps the glued joint active for some time. This will allow the rudder to be retracted into the hull. There are certainly alternative options for gluing this assembly, but in any case, it’s good to know about this feature, which is unusual but I’m not sure any reviewer will even notice it. You then insert the single piece elevator into the cut-out in the rudder assembly. This is a tight fit by design. The fact that the two parts have practically no play means that they settle into each other in a precisely defined and correct position. And it is also one of the sub-assemblies of the model where there is practically no need to use glue, as it holds together on its own very nicely. The whole thing is sealed off with the rudder and voila! – you’re done. To the contrary, the cockpit assembly is inserted into the assembled fuselage, sliding in from below and you don't have to worry that it won’t fit. It fits precisely. I just don’t recommend pressing too much on the sides of the fuselage when gluing in the cockpit, the glue will soften the material and the fuselage will narrow in that area and could create a gap between it and the wing. This happened to me while test gluing one of the two models I built. It is best to glue in the cockpit and cover the joint with a quick flashing type glue and leave it alone without any pressure. It will settle in by itself. You will find other similar details and assemblies on the model, for example the oil cooler does not need to be glued into the fuselage, and the wing dynamics allow for a very good fit as well.
The new Bf 109 as an easy build
Specific issues come up with the Bf 109F series due to the evolution of many small but nagging variations throughout its development. The F mods went through a rather complex development and the pace of innovation was frantic. And so it wasn’t too simple, they were produced in five factories with their own little trademark elements sprinkled liberally on individual aircraft. As a result, we have two different wingtips to cover different position light arrangements, fuselages with or without rear reinforcements under the tail, two types of seat and two shapes of the main landing gear well, round or square. An aircraft that even boasted one round and one square well made it to our marking options. This may prove to be a challenge for less experienced modellers and we won’t get into how you should execute the arrangement, suffice to say that the experienced ones will tackle this without the need to bombard us with desperate emails over this spicy little point of interest. The design of the kit takes these distinguishing features into account. Most of the small parts are on the U-sprue which is common for all upcoming versions including all Bf 109 G and Bf 109 K releases. Your first glance at the kit may give you the impression that it is a complicated … dare I say “fiddly” … affair. But in reality, the opposite is true. This kit is relatively simple in terms of construction and is especially very user friendly and inviting to the modeller! I’ve already built two of these little gems, so I can state this with complete sincerity. Among other things, this is manifested by the fact that some small parts, such as the position lights for the F-4, the sight, the antennae or the aileron balance horns are duplicated on the sprues. Yeah – you know how it is, and so do we. You pick up a small part with your nifty little tweezers, press just a little too hard, and the thing gets sucked up by the vacuum cleaner at some future point without you ever seeing the damn thing again.
There is a total of fourteen marking options, carefully taking into account the physical attractiveness of the markings, balanced with a strong consideration for historical significance. This latter point focuses on areas of operations, of which there were three for the Bf 109 F, i.e., the Western Front over occupied France and the English Channel, the Eastern Front over the Soviet Union, and the Mediterranean theatre with emphasis on North Africa. To be honest, it will not be possible to build any combination that includes one specific subtype from the two kits included in the “Wunderschöne neue Maschinen” package. But this is usual with such Limited Edition Combo kits, and this is why the Overtrees option exists. These are of course available.
The new Bf 109 – what´s next with it?
The future looks great for the Bf 109 in 1:72nd scale. In August, we will release the ProfiPACK version of the Bf 109F-4, and it will be available as a new release at the US IPMS Nationals in San Marcos, along with the FM-2 Wildcat in 1:48th, along with the Limited Edition F-104C in the same scale (Kinetic plastic). The ProfiPACK version of the F-2 will follow in September, and at the end of the year, probably in December, we’ll see “Wundeschöne neue Maschinen” Pt 2, dedicated to the Bf 109 G-2 and G-4. After the New Year, the G-6 will arrive, and this will lead is to the G-14 and G-10 to K-4. This year, however, there will be one more project dedicated to the Bf 109. This will be the Bf 109 K-4 1:48th. Among other things, it is interesting in that, just like the actual article, it will bring significant changes to the original design of the kit, in many ways similar to the 72nd version released today. The new Bf 109 K-4 will not include a single mold used for the Bf 109 F and G kits. When introducing the 72nd Bf 109 F, we received some disgruntled feedback on Facebook, because according to their authors, it took a long time, and we make promises that are hard to keep. But without apology, we try our best to keep up with our release schedules, and yes, our projects can take a long time. That’s because we try to do them right. You wouldn’t like them any other way, would you?
We are used to the fact that modelers are never satisfied, and we understand that. One of the favorite pastimes of modellers is that when we announce something new, for example the Bf 109F in 1:72, immediately there are statements made that, great, but why not in 1:32nd ?, or why not something completely different, like a Catalina in 1:48th. Or even the currently active Bf 109 K-4 or G-12 in 1:48. We would like to comply, but within the full range of modelling demands, it’s just not humanly possible. We are only people and Superman and Spiderman already have ventures elsewhere, regardless of the fact that we unfortunately could not afford such capable people.
Nevertheless, we have one more kit premiere for June, the naval Camel 2F.1 in 1:48th scale. It is the last of the Camels we are releasing as part of the current Camel project. It is undoubtedly an interesting machine, standing at the birth of naval aviation. Among other things, its wing did not fold like that of later and contemporary ship borne aircraft, but the fuselage did. The path of progress is full of dead ends, is it not? There are six marking options, mostly of birds operating off of Royal Navy ships, although not always carriers. You can read about the 2F.1 Camel and their deployment in Jean Laffite’s article in the historical section of today’s newsletter, and about the most famous action of naval Camels in the Boxart Story by Richard Plos. And if you buy the naval Camel, remember we have a 3D printed wicker seat. It’s a little older print, but still a little gem!
We still have a 48th scale ProfiPACK, a late version Bf 109 G-6 reissue. This is an interesting kit for several reasons. It is commercially one of the most successful kits we have ever had, features a box art by maestro Shigeo Koike, and it is a version that the producers never paid too much attention to. In short, even this older thing has something to it. And while I’m on the subject of pointing out interesting accessories, the simultaneously released printed cockpit complements this kit very nicely. This new printed item replaces the older cast resin counterpart. I have already explained the advantages of printed sets compared to cast resin ones several times in the past, now you have a unique chance to try them out in person. The new cockpit has the catalog number 648843.
The range of new kits is complemented by two older items in 1:48th scale. There is the Tempest Mk.II, and, perhaps more significantly, the A6M2 Zero Model 21. We paid a lot of attention to this, especially the boxart image and the color scheme and marking options. Even though the Zero may, perhaps, be considered, at least in terms of the service schemes, to be a rather boring aircraft. I dare say that there are some damn interesting machines in the new Weekend version of the kit. And in addition to these there are also interesting stories to go with them to boot, the most epic of which is the boxart subject. You can also read about that specific aspect of the kit in the Box art story in today's edition of our newsletter. I would also like to remind you that you can buy the new Zero 21 in our e-shop with a bonus, the Space set, just as you can have the “Wundeschöne neue Maschinen” kit with printed exhausts. The event is on while stocks last.
With respect to the new accessory sets, I would like to draw your attention to several large 3D printed sets. In addition to the already mentioned cockpit for the Bf 109 G-6, there is a new Fw 190 F-8 cockpit and a radio equipment set for the Bf 110 G. All sets are designed for the appropriate Eduard kits and are in 1:48th scale, as is the engine for the F4F-3 Mid Production Wildcat. In June we are also releasing a printed cockpit for the Tamiya F-35A, also in 1:48th. The objection I often encounter with accessory sets for stunning models like this F-35 is that these virtually perfect models don't need any improvements and aftermarket items for them are unnecessary. However, our sales results argue differently. Modellers tend to invest in aftermarket accessory items for the best kits of a given subject matter available The reason, I think, is that well-made accessories are almost always better than top-of-the-line plastic, and will potentially push the model to absolute perfection. Often, in fact, little is enough for this, perhaps just an exhaust nozzle or a well-made seat. The cockpit is just a higher league. To the large set category, I would add the engines for the equally high-quality B-25J Mitchell from HKM. In addition to these, there are also a number of smaller sets on offer, including for the new Bf 109F in 1:72nd and 2F.1 Camel in 1:48th.
Interesting new releases are not limited to the prints, and can also be found among photoetched sets, masks and Space sets. Among them are sets for the 32nd Spitfire MK.I from Kotare, the 48th scale Mi-8MT from Trumpeter, the F-4E Phantom II from Meng and the 72nd MiG-29 from GWH. There are also new kits for the old but still excellent Do 335 kit from Tamiya and the PV-1 Ventura from Academy.
In the historical article section of this month’s Info, in addition to the already mentioned article about the 2F.1 Camel, we have a historical-technical article about the development of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 F. I wrote it myself. It follows in the footprints of other similar articles, such as the one outlining the technical development of the Spitfire. Series on Air Combat over Ukraine by Miro Barič continues with another two continuations, as we had to skip the No. 14 part in the previous English issue. So, there is double batch of the information about what was happening over Ukraine during the last months. Things are getting interesting in Ukraine, and I think Miro’s series has interesting times ahead of it as well. Large articles are complemented by smaller but no less interesting Boxart Stories. Richard Plos writes aforementioned story about the raid from the aircraft carrier HMS Furious on the Zeppelin base in Tondern, Jan Zdiarsky describes the fate of Major Eberle, the Bf 109 G-6 pilot from the boxart by Shigeo Koike, and Jan Bobek describes the epic story of the downing of Major Swenson’s B-17 during the landing at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 which is the event depicted on the boxart of the Zero 21. This was an event that was a scene that even made it into the famous movie Tora! Tora! Tora!. It’s a scene that still runs chills up and down the spine!
I won’t keep you anymore. You’ve got some reading to do!