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The Dübendorf Brothers

Converting Tamiya's 1/48 scale Me Bf 109 E-3 kit to prototypes V-13 and V-14 as seen at the International Meeting at Zürich-Dübendorf in July 1937, using a home-made resin conversion set.

When it comes to scale modeling, searching for an original subject can be a difficult task considering the large variety of kits produced over the years. With the addition of limited editions, short run and resin kits as well as aftermarket conversion sets, it is possible to build almost everything... almost.
Reading a book, I came across the story of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 V13 and V14 prototypes. The latter, in particular was very attractive as it wore a very eye catching and unusual red color scheme with white code letters and a racing number! Wanting to model that particular aircraft, I searched for a 1/48 conversion set, firmly convinced that someone would have produced one... but I found nothing! There was no conversion set for this fantastic red Bf 109 V14 prototype! This just couldn't remain like that any longer, so I decided to produce my own resin parts!
Early in 1934, the Luftwaffe issued specifications and development contracts for a single engine fighter to Arado, Focke-Wulf, Heinkel and BFW (Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke). Willy Messerschmitt decided to build an aircraft incorporating all the latest technology: the Bf 109. Cutting metal for the prototype began in late 1934 and by September of the following year, fitted with a Rolls-Royce Kestrel V12, the first prototype made its first flight. The engine, however, was a provisional solution and it was planned to use the Junkers Jumo 210 and later the Daimler Benz DB 600, both under development, for the production models.

The Bf 109 was first shown to the world when the V-2 prototype was flown over the 11th Olympiad in Berlin in August 1936. During the following month, three Messerschmitts (V-3, V-4 and V-5) were sent for combat evaluation in Spain, where they outclassed all their opponents. The first pre-production models were delivered in February 1937 and the B variant saw combat with the first operational unit to be equipped with the Bf 109; 2./J.88 of Legion Condor. But the definitive Jumo powered production aircraft was the Bf 109 C which was fitted with a more powerful Jumo 210G engine.

The newer D variant was meant to receive the better Daimler Benz DB 600 powerplant but that already equipped the He 111 and the bomber had priority. In fact no Bf 109 D ever saw the DB 600 and the planes were fitted with Jumo 210D engines instead. However, two airframes were modified with Daimler Benz engines for test purposes. They can be considered as the first "Emils" as they paved the way for the famous Bf 109E. These two planes were essentially racing prototypes and the V-14 was specially prepared for the famous Ernst Udet himself. The E variant finally entered into service two years later, but that's another story...
The Zürich-Dübendorf Meeting
The Zürich-Dübendorf meeting of 1937 was for the Swiss Authorities a way to test potential fighters for their own Air Force. The Luftwaffe, eager to impress the aeronautical world, sent their most modern aircraft to Switzerland. Amongst them were the Bf 109 V-13 D-IPKY (picture A and B) and the Bf 109 V-14 D-ISLU (picture C). Both were apparently identical expect for the color: RLM 63 for the former and a dark shade of red for the latter. Unfortunately, Ernst Udet crash landed the V-14 prototype during the Meeting because of engine failure. On picture D you can see him caricatured near his plane. Udet himself made the drawing!

The color of V-14 was, for a long time, believed to be blue (picture E). But recent research resulted in thinking that it was in fact red. The confusion started because it was compared with the Me 209 prototype which was painted blue. Both planes having the same appearance on Black & white pictures, it was thought they shared the same color. But why adding two small white stripes on V-14's red rudder band if not to delimit two almost identical colors? Furthermore, two newspaper articles (Neue Zürche Zeitung N°1336 and N°1357) mentioned the plane as being "Rouge Carmin". It is also well known that Udet's favorite color for his own planes was red... and this since WW1!

The reputation of the Bf 109 did not suffer from the crash landing of Ernst Udet. To the contrary, the Swiss were impressed to see that he escaped the wreck with no injuries. They concluded it was because of the solid design of the airframe and, wrere broadly satisfied with the overall performance of the plane, they ordered 80 "Emils" in the following years! This was no surprise as the opponents of the Messerschmitt, such as the Dewoitine D510 and Avia B.534 were all obsolete in design even for 1937 standards. In picture F you can see Ernst Udet (third from the right) in conversation with "Armée de l'Air" officers in front of a D510. The propaganda war was already won by the Germans against the French, as the real war would be a few years later...
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About Jean-Luc Formery (TedMamere)

I'm mainly interested in WW2 aircraft and I build them in 1/48 scale.