Hobbycraft 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf-109 E-3

Model, Text and Photos by: Jose Lucero

The Cockpit

The build started with the cockpit. Hobbycraft did a nice job in providing nicely detailed cockpit sidewalls as separate parts, this makes it a lot easer to use a replacement resin interior. I use the cockpit of my 109 E-3 using the kit parts with the addition of the Eduard Zoom Photo etch set for the Hasegawa 109 E-4. The sidewalls, cockpit floor and seat were painted with Gunze Sangyo RLM 02, all the knobs and levers were picked up in the appropriate colors. The dashboard came from the Eduard set, with the backing acetate sheet for the dials of the instruments.

This is how I paint a photo etch dashboard, first I paint the part with the color of the faces of the instrument panel, in this case it was white, but some dials were painted with red, yellow and green. After the paint has dried I gloss coat the piece with Gunze Sangyo Clear Gloss and wait until it hardens. Then I spray the instrument panel color, in the case of the 109's dashboard it would be flat black for witch I used Gunze Sangyo paint. Before the black paint dries, I slightly wet a small brush with a little alcohol and gently rub each dial in the photo etch instrument panel until the face of the dial shows the white underneath. At the end of this process you'll very nicely defined instrument faces in your instrument panel. I then painted the back of the instrument dials acetate sheet with flat white and placed it behind the painted photo etch instrument panel with CA glue. The end result gives you a nicely detailed instrument panel.

I used the kit seat which in my example came with nicely cast in seat belts and shoulder harnesses. The cockpit floor is a simple affair and was enhanced with a photo etch piece and the rudder pedals that came form the Eduard detail set were added.The cockpit was now done and waiting to be inserted in the fuselage from beneath.

On the next time, I would use a resin replacement cockpit. The cockpit floor lacks any detail and would benefit greatly from aftermarket.

The fuselage

The fuselage has nicely done recessed panel lines that are accurate according to the scale drawing in Squadron's 109 in action book which I used for reference. I dry-fitted both sides and fit was not good at all. On my kit, the left side was a bit taller than the right side so a lot of filler and sanding was used to get the proper shape of the spine of the 109. The radiator lacks any detail and you need to use a blanking plate to prevent the see trough effect. I used the photo etch grill provided for the radiator for this purpose and I added the radiator flap that I made from sheet styrene. The fit of the engine cowling wasn't that good, so some filler and sanding was needed here also. I rescribed all the panel lines that were lost during the filling and sanding process. I applied Mister Surfacer 1000 the fill the minor scratches and seams and sanded it with 600 grit wet sandpaper until it was smooth. The photo etch oil cooler grills were added before the assembly of the wing, as well as scratch made cooler flaps.

The wing to fuselage joint was very good and no filler was needed just a small amount of Mister Surfacer. I first glued the upper surfaces of the wing to the fuselage and I then glued the lower surface of the wing witch one piece to the fuselage and the upper wings already attached. This guarantees that you'll get a a very tight wing-fuselage joint but you have to be very careful to get the popper dihedral angle. A lot of dry fitting must be done to achieve this. Hobbycraft provided posable full span flaps, witch were applied after the wing assembly was complete. With this kit a 109 E-1 can also be built. One of the differences between the E-1 and the E-3 was the wing armament. The E-3 had a 20 mm cannon installed in each wing. Hobbycraft provides the the bulges as separate pieces that must be added. That's another nice touch from Hobbycraft. I then glued the horizontal stabilizers but the support struts are too big and do not give the popper alignment. They were trimmed and repositioned so that they would align properly.

Painting

I decided to do the 109 E-3 flown by Werner Molders during the Battle of Britain. This machine, according to the Superscale decal instruction sheet, retained it's RLM 70 and RLM 71 splinter pattern, the undersurfaces where in RLM 65, and here is the odd part (at least to me), the fuselage sides were painted with RLM 02 and mottled with RLM 71 and 72. I couldn't find a photograph to confirm the accuracy of the pattern, so I decided to go on a slightly different aproach. I painted the under surfaces and the fuselage sides with Aeromaster enamels RLM 65, as was common practice during the Battle of Britain. I then applied the splinter pattern on the upper surfaces of the wings and fuselage with Gunze Sangyo RLM 71 and RLM 70. Then I mottled the fuselage sides with RLM 70, RLM 71 and RLM 02, all from the Gunze Sangyo range. I really liked the end result I love how Gunze Sangyo paints flow from the airbrush. The model was then given a gloss coat using several coats of Future.

Decals I used Superscale sheet 48-702 for Bf-109E-3 Aces which includes 2 options with enough markings to do both. The other aircraft on this sheet was an E-3 flown by Heinz Bar during the Battle of Britain. It also has a splinter pattern but this time in RLM 70 and RLM 02. The undersides and fuselage sided are in RLM 65 with out any mottling. The decals are very nicely printed and were applied with no problems. The decal placement guide provided was of great help.

Final assembly

The undercarriage legs were then added, I used bare aluminum foil for the oleos. The kit supplied wheels are adequate and were flattened before being applied. I weird thing is that there is no pitot tube supplied in the kit, at least in my example, so I made one from scratch. I always leave the dreaded clear parts for last. I read in some reviews of this and other Hobbycraft 109Es that the kit canopy doesn't fit, well, on my model it fit perfectly and after being dipped in Future its thickness wasn't that much a problem. As I wanted to display the cockpit I decided to use the Squadron Vacu-form Three piece canopy which fit very nicely to the model.

Conclusions

At the end, this wasn't a difficult model to build and it only requires a bit of modeling skills. For what it's worth I prefer the Hobbycraft 109Es over the Hasegawa and Tamiya versions. With only a little aftermarket you can get the most from this kit. Highly recomended!

AfterMarket used: Superscale 48-702 for Bf-109E Aces HC1569 Messerschmitt BF-109E-3


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I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.