by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
HistoryDuring the early spring of 1940, the Messerschmitt team at Augsburg set about updating and refining their progeny. Designed to take full advantage of the more powerful 1350hp DB601E engine, the resultant Bf109F series has been claimed by many to have carried the fighter to the "crest of its evolution".
Shortly after the F-1 began reaching operational units, the faster firing 15mm MG 151/15 cannon was certified for installation in the engine mounting of fighters. Appearing in April 1941, the F-2 was almost identical in appearance to the F-1 except for the engine gun. Early production F-2s still retained the external stiffeners on the rear fuselage. Local internal strengthening however allowed the deletion of these stiffeners on all but the earliest production F-2 aircraft. Some early production F-1 aircraft had retained the square-shaped wheel wells, in anticipation of wheel well covers that never appeared. All F-2 aircraft had the round well as did the late production F-1 aircraft. The F-2 was produced, at first, simultaneously with the F-1. Priority for re-equipment went to those units in combat on the "Channel Front". Units that were earmarked for the Russian campaign were given a somewhat a lower priority, but many were equipped, at least partially with Fs, in time for Operation Barbarossa.
(Source: Squadron/Signal publications)
The KitThe first thing which came to my mind when I was presented Zvezda's new 1:48 scale Messerschmitt Bf109 F-2 kit was the word "Puzzle". Indeed, packed within a sturdy top opening cardboard box are four sprues made of grey injected plastic and one sprue made of clear plastic holding no less than 268 parts!? 26 are not used in this kit but there will be still 242 left, of which some are optional. Provided as well are the instructions and a decal sheet for 4 different markings options.
The overall quality of the moulding is good. I found some sink marks on the parts were there are some inner details (fuselage, engine cowlings and upper wings) but they are only visible in very particular lighting conditions and I wouldn't worry about them at all because they will be hardly visible on the finished model. There are some ejector pin marks here and there. The ones located on parts A30 and A31 will have to be filled if you want to represent an aircraft with the flaps down. An other one is visible in the middle of the seat and should be removed if the pilot figure isn't used.
The surface finish is variable. Most of the parts are smooth but the bigger ones (fuselage and wings) have a slight roughness on them while the horizontal tailplanes and movable surface are grainy. This is not a big problem and some light sanding will suffice to obtain a more consistent finish.
It is hard to find were to start if one wants to enumerate all the features of the kit and chances are high that something will slip under the radar, but here is an attempt anyway:
- Detai led engine.
- Two sets of exhausts (one not used in this kit).
- Two different left engine bearers versions.
- Detailed machine gun installation.
- Detailed cockpit interior with fuel line included.
- Two different variants of instrument panels.
- Two flat instruments panels if decals are used.
- Three forward cockpit deck (2 variants).
- Two pairs of wing tips (two style of formation lights).
- Separate rear fuselage (tailplane)
- Detailed landing gear bays with representation of canvas covers.
- Wing interior partly detailed.
- Four different windscreens and separate armor glass.
- Two canopy hoods.
- Two pilot rear armor plates.
- Two different tailwheel forks (one not used).
- Two different ventral panels (one not used).
- Separate movable surfaces.
- Separate flaps.
- Separate wing leading edge slats.
- Two pair of engine cowlings (one with inner detail).
- Separate front part of the fuselage.
- Detailed rear spinner plate.
- Pilot figure included.
As you can see, Zvezda have been quite ambitious when designing the kit. Some will probably say it is over-engineered. However, provided the fit is good, we could also say it is just super-detailed. Anyway, if you are looking after a kit of the Messerschmitt Bf109 F-2 with plenty of options, no need to search any longer!
The transparent plastic parts are distortion free and clear but one of the canopy hood was badly warped in my sample. I don't know if this can be fixed (hot water) but it is annoying. Very strange indeed is the presence on the sprue of an early rounder E-1/E-3 type of canopy but photo evidence show that in rare occasions Friedrichs were actually fitted with the early style of canopy. Probably a field modification.
The instructions are printed on a big panoramic sheet of paper folded in A4 format. I don't think this is very practical but the construction drawings are clear and easy to follow. I would have liked to have the painting and markings guides printed in color, especially given the complexity of some paintshemes, but this is unfortunately not the case. Four marking options are provided on the decals sheet:
1 - Bf109 F-2, Eastern Front, Summer 1941.
2 - Bf109 F-2, Maj. Hannes Trautloft, JG54, Summer 1942.
3 - Bf109 F-2, Hans-Ekkehard Bob, June 23 1941.
4 - Bf109 F-2, Hans von Hahn, JG3, July 1941.
The decal sheet appears to be acceptable but the black is a bit on the heavy side. There a not many stencils provided and wing walkway lines are missing.
Let's the discussion begin...The problem with the early F series is that the aircraft went through numerous detail changes and sometimes the choices made by Zvezda can be questionable. The kit features the correct early smaller supercharger intake and the smaller oil cooler, but also the external tail stiffeners that didn't appeared on all F-2s since they were fitted inside the airframe early in production. However, they will be easy to remove so this is an acceptable choice by the Russian manufacturer.
More problematic are the square-shaped wheel wells. These were present on early F-1s and some F-2s in anticipation of wheels well covers that never appeared. It would have been nice to make these openings modular in the kit and propose alternative round wheel wells parts as well, in case this was a feature of the aircraft you want to do. Hasegawa did something like that, albeit in a rudimentary form, on their Bf109 F model. In Zvezda's kit you will have to add some plastic card to obtain round wheel wells which is more difficult to achieve. The Russian manufacturer also decided to do upper wings surfaces without a single panel line on them. I must say that I was a bit surprised by this but when looking at photos of original aircraft it doesn't seem wrong. This is definitely something open to debate.
Two types of wing tips are provided. According to my references, the ones with the uncovered formation lights were fitted on most Fs but the instructions ask you to use both types depending on the aircraft. In this case I would say check your references and try to find a good picture of the subject you are building!
ConclusionOverall this is a very fine kit and most certainly the best of this variant in this scale. The options provided and the level of detail are amazing for such a small model. Provided the fit is good, I foresee many enjoyable building hours with this Bf109 F-2 model. However, some choices made by Zvezda may be questionable and the model is quite complex, so I would only recommend it to Luftwaffe experts with good references on the subject
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