Zvezda caused something of a storm when they released their quarterscale Messerschmitt Bf 109F
. At a stroke, this Ukrainian company had pretty much rendered every previous 1:48 model of the Friedrich semi-redundant, as their new kit was not only the most accurate and detailed available, but also amazingly low priced!
But, of course, even the best kit can benefit from aftermarket extras, and Eduard released two sets for the Zvezda model, now combined into a single BIG-Ed package.
The main set contains two frets, one of which is partly pre-painted and self-adhesive. All told, there are 150 new parts spread across the Friedrich, inside and out.
Work begins with the nose guns and engine area, adding details to the gun feeds and handles for the ammunition containers. The engine gets lifting rings, ignition wiring and a carburettor intake filter.
Not surprisingly, the cockpit comes in for most treatment, and Eduard's beautifully pre-painted parts really come into their own here with a new multi-layer instrument panel, side consoles and a 9-part seat harness. The oxygen regulator face, and various straps, switches and levers are all pre-painted. Additional parts add trim-wheel chains and brackets, a document case and rudder pedals, plus a clear reflector for the gunsight with an etched bracket to hold it. The combined effect of all the extra details should be spectacular in Zvezda's already nicely fitted-out cockpit.
Turning outside, both the nose and wing radiators come in for extra parts. There are new faces for each radiator core, and the kit's fixed wing radiator outlets/flaps are replaced with folded etched versions. This is probably the trickiest part of the upgrade, involving a little surgery, number of small folds and parts for the operating mechanism. I'd advise anyone unused to working with etched details to assemble the new flaps and be sure you're happy with the results before hacking at the kit radiators.
Brake lines are supplied for the undercarriage. Some would argue that it's a bit too 2-dimensional for 1:48, but I've found that similar items in other Eduard sets look surprisingly effective if built up with carefully applied paint or white glue to give them a bit of roundness.
The last stage covers the canopy, with a new armoured headrest, handles and locking catch, plus an optional exterior rear-view mirror.
The instructions printed in black and white, and are clearly illustrated and laid out, breaking the work down into easily handled stages. A colour version is available on Eduard's website (as shown here), which does really highlight where kit parts need modifying, but the monochrome instructions are quite adequate.
Item # EX310
The second part of this BIG-Ed package is a useful set of painting masks. These are die-cut from Kabuki-type paper tape, which I find is just about the best material for the job, conforming to compound shapes well, and staying place without the risk of damaging paint when you peel it off. The set contains masks for the wheel hubs and canopy – and with the Friedrich's relatively complex multi-panels cockpit enclosure this will be a handy time saver.
Eduard's BIG-Ed set for the Zvezda Bf 109F is a very worthwhile addition to an already fine kit. The work involved shouldn't be too complex for modellers with a little experience and the cockpit, in particular, will look pretty spectacular as a result. I'd put the painting masks in the "useful" rather than "must have" category, but the beauty of the BIG-Ed package is that it's priced exactly the same as the etched details bought on their own – so you could call the masks a free bonus, and that can't be bad. Highly recommended.
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