by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Despite the understandable excitement surrounding their definitive new quarterscale Spitfire Mk. IX, Eduard have still found time to return to their excellent Messerschmitt Bf 109E in the same scale and release it in a new guise - the tropical-equipped 'E-7, previously only available as part of the Royal Class boxing.
The kit arrives beautifully presented in a colourful top-opening box, with each sprue and set of accessories bagged individually. The kit comprises:
151 x dark grey styrene parts (19 not required)
8 x clear styrene parts (4 unused)
51 x etched metal parts, many pre-coloured
A set of kabuki tape painting masks
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
As you'd expect, the bulk of the kit is identical to the earlier boxings, with the same crisply engraved panel lines and delicately embossed rivets and fasteners. True, the rivets are arguably overdone for flush-riveted surfaces, but they are about as light as can be reasonably moulded, and a coat of paint will soon knock them back. Likewise the fabric surfaces, which feature rib tapes and stitching - a bit too prominent for my taste, but easily taken back a notch or two.
As with the earlier kits, a dry assembly shows the fit of the major parts is excellent; the fuselage and wings go together very neatly, while the tailplanes are snug clip-fit. If you're careful, you can look forward to a trouble-free and filler-free build.
A few detailsThe cockpit comprises some 40 parts, offering a choice of 3 styles of instrument panel - colour photo-etched or moulded styrene instrument bezels, or a neatly printed decal overlay. One odd omission on the styrene version seems to be the lower arming panel - it's there on the etched and decal versions, but not shown as a plastic part in the instructions, and I can't find it anywhere on the sprues.
The rest of the cockpit is comprehensively fitted out, with trim wheels featuring etched chains, a full pre-coloured seat harness, and a choice of etched or moulded fusing panel and rudder pedals. One point to note: Kenneth Merrick's "German Aircraft Interiors 1935-1945 Vol. 1" (Monogram Aviation Publications, 1996) indicates that Bf 109Es fitted with a drop tank introduced the fuel pipe running through the cockpit, as seen on the later 'F, 'G, and 'K versions. This isn't included in the kit, but is clearly shown in an illustration from a maintenance manual included in the book.
You have the option to build the kit with a fully exposed engine and nose gun bay. If you go for the full engine, you won't be able to fit the cowlings later as, unlike most makers, Eduard haven't compromised by scaling down the engine to squeeze it in. If you want to build the kit with the cowls in place, the instructions suggest installing just a basic engine block to support the propeller and exhausts, and filing down a couple of areas where they stop the cowls fitting. This seems a shame to me, because the engine looks far too good to waste this way, so I'd probably add a couple of simple plastic card spacers to save the DB 601 for another project.
The wheel bays are well engineered to give a simple assembly while capturing the look of the full size areas with their zip-up liners. The mainwheels are unweighted (slightly a shame, as there are some "fun" angles to take into account when sanding flats on a '109), and come with 2-part hubs that give a convincing impression of the real thing. The maingear legs have separate brake pipes, but no connections to the hubs (which are simple to add). The tailweel is separate from its 2-part fork - a tad fiddly for beginners, but more convincing than a solid 1-piece moulding.
Note: with all the above areas - cockpit, engine, guns and landing gear - Eduard also offer aftermarket Brassin upgrades, available separately. As good as the styrene parts are, the Brassin versions take things a level further, with some truly eye-popping detail.
The drop tank attaches to a simple ETC rack. Surprisingly, in view of the comprehensive etched accessories included with the kit, Eduard haven't included a separate strap to hold it in place. Instead, you have a solid moulding in the standard kit, and a more realistic version will no doubt be on an upgrade set.
Of course, the main new feature of the 'E-7/Trop is the carburetor intake with its extended dust filter. This is a 2-part affair with a nice etched mesh over a basic styrene core. One point to check; the instructions show the standard intake fitted if you're building the kit with the engine exposed, whereas I'd always supposed the tropical filter totally replaced the original intake (i.e. not fitting over it). It looks that way to me in photos with the cowls off, but I haven't yet found a close-up shot to confirm it conclusively...
Finally, the transparencies. These are thin and beautifully clear, with crisply defined canopy frames and accompanied by a set of painting masks. The canopy is fitted with etched hand holds, lock and supports for the armoured headrest. It can be displayed closed or open, with an etched restraining line and spring for the latter option. This is arguably a bit "2-D" for this scale, but you can always build it up with a little carefully applied white glue.
Instructions & DecalsAs usual in an Eduard's "ProfiPACK" kit, the instructions are colour-printed as a glossy A-4 booklet. The assembly diagrams are very clearly drawn, with additional info-views to clarify any tricky areas. The stages aren't numbered, but the sequence looks pretty logical - just make sure you read the notes for the closed/open engine display options. Colour suggestions are keyed to most details, and these are matched to Gunze Sangyo paints.
Decals for five colour schemes are provided, offering a nice selection of standard desert camouflage, along with a couple of tropically-equipped Emils in European greys - one well-known example featuring some really interesting "tiger-stripe" over-painting on the fuselage:
A. Bf 109E-7 Trop flown by Oblt. Ludwig Franzisket, Stab I./JG 27, Ain-el-Gazala airfield, Libya, June 1941
B. Bf 109E-7 Trop, 2./JG 27, Ain-el-Gazala airfield, Libya 1941
C. Bf 109E-7 Trop, 2./JG 27, Ain-el-Gazala airfield, Libya 1941
D. Bf 109E-7 Trop flown by Hptm. Eduard Neumann, Gruppenkommandeure of I./JG 27, Ain-el-Gazala airfield, Libya, Summer 1941
E. Bf 109E-7 Trop, 3./JG 27, Ain-el-Gazala airfield, Libya, spring / summer 1941
The decals look excellent quality, being thin and glossy, with minimal carrier film. Two sheets are provided, with an extensive selection of stencils on the second. The yellow used for the "4" in Scheme E looks suitably dull, but the red stencils look a tad bright on the sheet, but they may tone down when applied.
ConclusionEduard's Tropical Emil looks an excellent kit, combining simple assembly with enough detail straight from the box to satisfy experienced modellers. At a shade less than £20 in the UK, it also represents excellent value, beating its main rivals in terms of price as well as accuracy and detail stakes. Recommended.