The BF-110 was designed in the mid-1930s by the legendary Willy Messerschmitt at the directive of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium
(RLM), principally because Göring believed twin-engine fighters were the future of air combat due to their greater range. As it turned out, the limitations of weight vs. piston-driven power-plants prevented every twin-engine fighter in WW II except the P-38 Lightning from ever matching the performance of the best single-engine monoplanes. This truth wasn’t apparent at the outbreak of the war when the BF-110 decimated the antiquated and poorly-used Polish and French air forces. But the plane was humbled badly during the Battle of Britain escorting the Luftwaffe’s bombers. Slow and lacking the nimble acrobatics of the Spitfire especially, the BF-110 escorts ended up requiring escorts of their own. As a result, it was converted, first to ground-attack roles, then found its real niche as a night fighter in the F and especially the G variants.
The switch to nighttime bombing over Germany by the RAF revealed a need for nightfighters, and several were tried. The BF-110-G proved to be the best solution. Its slowness and lack of maneuverability in daylight were no problem after dark against the lumbering, unescorted bomber formations. Its large airframe easily handled the heavy, bulky radar arrays and electronics equipment, and the requisite 3-man crews (pilot, radar operator, rear gunner). In fact, the Luftwaffe’s leading defensive ace, Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, had 121 kills in BF-110s. The G-4 was the most-produced version.
Revell of Germany has issued and re-issued the G-4 several times in different scales, but my focus is on the 1/32nd scale versions which live on at swap meets, on the Internet and especially eBay. It’s not difficult to pick one up for under US$30, a price at which it’s worth buying. I have included photos of two different kits picked up on the Internet. Overall the same in almost all respects, neither is up to today’s standards. Perhaps Dragon will eventually extend its BF-110 C/D line to the Gs, but until that day, the RoG kit is the only answer outside of scratchbuilding. Despite its old mold technology, the kit holds up pretty well, and preliminary building shows it going together without too many issues.
The design has some notable inaccuracies, including raised panel lines and minimal detailing in areas like the cockpit (which lacks the radar equipment or any cables along the interior walls). The control surfaces are molded-on and not separate or well-scored, but a little work with a scoring tool will remedy that. Eduard has both interior and exterior PE upgrades, along with seat belt sets, too.
Other known issues with the kit include the props (too short) and the rear rudders (wrong size) which have been addressed by resin AM upgrades available from Jerry Rutman
. The cost for fixing the known issues from Rutman runs about US$65. The engine nacelles lack the characteristic “hump” of the G-series, but I know of no corrective to this problem, nor is it easy to correct on your own.
The sprues come in different colors depending on the date of the re-issue; the two kits I own are either pale lime green or the usual gray. Flash is pretty bad along the edges, and seam lines will require extensive work on the engine exhausts. The fit is fair overall, though typical for a kit of this era. I doubt most modelers today would want to build this plane out-of-the-box, which is why I have mentioned the various AM options. There may be others I'm not aware of, as I'm not primarily an aircraft modeller.
The G-4 carried several different radar arrays— this kit has the FuG 220 Lichtenstein. Schatton Modellbau
has FuG 218 arrays primarily intended for the ME-262, but which were carried on at least one plane of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 late in the war. As for armament, the 110 had various combinations of 2 20mm cannons, 4 MG 17 machine guns and an MG 15, along with under wing-mounted rockets (G-2) and a dual array of cannons mounted obliquely in the rear of the cockpit so as to fire upwards into the belly of an unsuspecting bomber. Known as schräge Musik
(“jazz" or "oblique music”), this option unfortunately is not available with this kit.
DECALS & MARKINGS
Unlike with today’s kits depicting actual aircraft, this model’s instructions give just general painting guides (the earlier version doesn’t even reference RLM colors). G-4s were usually painted some version of grays, light blues and white, but neither version of this kit gives any specific plane. Fortunately there’s a terrific site with most of the Nachtjadggeschwadern outlined
, so modelers can recreate some very specific planes, as well as the Squadron series Messerschmitt BF 110G Walk Around
. The decals included are either good quality, but minimal (no stencils) and incorrect for size, or yellowed, generous and with thick transfer film. The only after-market decals for the G series are a set specific to one of Schnaufer’s planes from Peddinghaus costing US$35. As with all kits produced in Germany, there are no swastikas included on either sheet of decals.
While this kit lacks the recessed panel lines and details of current models (e.g., the Dragon BF-110 C/D), and has several known inaccuracies, it represents a visually-arresting build of the Luftwaffe’s most important night fighter. Correcting its many faults will send the price out of the range of all but the most-dedicated BF-110-G fan, but there currently are no other alternatives on the market.