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Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4


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Model review

Hasegawa 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4 (JT63)

Box cover and painting guide

Kit

Hasegawa's old Bf 109 kits have withstood time well against newcomers and even today one can bild a good Bf 109 model from Hasegawa's kit. Though Hasegawa lacks the superior surface detailing that we are used to with Eduard's latest offerings. I purchased my Bf 109K-4 nearly 20 years ago and finally desided to built it. The kit is moulded in typical Hasegawa's type grey and quite hard plastic. Panel lines and details are sharp and finely engraved. In the box there are seven sprues of which three sprues have parts to built the Bf 109K-4 version. Rest of the sprues have parts from Bf 109F and -G kits and only few parts are needed from these sprues to built the K-model.

Hasegawa has made a totally new fuselage for the Bf 109K-4 so hatches on the fuselage and panel lines are in right places. Wings are from old Bf 109F kit and they have round wheel well openings. This is also noted in the instruction sheet and it is easy to correct the wheel well openings with hobby knife and file. Also one missing panel line has to be scribed to each wing's upper surface what is also mentioned in the instructions. Hasegawa's kit has been found accurate in scale and shape in many sources and one can built a gorgeous Bf 109K-4 model out of it. But also this kit has small faults and imperfections which are listed below and which I corrected on my model.

The kit includes painting instructions and decals for two different planes:

11./JG 3, Feldwebel Strebel, "Yellow 4", Passewalk Germany, March 1945.
II/JG 27, unknown pilot.

Building the model

I started with building wings and correcting wheel well openings. I also scribed missing panel lines to the upper side of the wings. The bigger rectangular bulges for the bigger wheels of the Bf 109K-4 comes as separate parts. From above they look fine but from underneath not very realistic so few improvements are needed to inside of the wheel wells bay. From inside of the wing half's upper surfaces in the wheel wells some material have to be buffed out near to outer skin of the wings. To the upper parts of the wheel wells a "roof" with semi-circular hole and some framework has to be added from styrene sheet and -strips. The "roof"-part is glued directly over the kits landing gear well brims. Take a look from below in "work in progres" section.

Bf 109K-4 had a retractable tail wheel with doors to cover the wheel well. According to Messerschmitt Bf 109 in action part 2 book the tail wheel doors were open only when the tail wheel was retracting or lowering and they were closed on the ground. On the other hand there are photos of the planes on the ground with tail wheel doors open. Maybe a faulty mechanism or aircraft's overhaul? Tail wheel retracting mechanism was not reliable and often it was locked permanently down with doors closed. I also closed the tail wheel doors on my model.

Under the plane's belly I made 30 mm cannon's cartridge removal ejector chute which is missing from the kit. I replaced kit's droptank rack with Eduard's Bf 109G-10 rack which is better than Hasegawa's part. Also Eduard's part missed the clearly visible holes on the surface of the rack which I drilled out. Droptanks were often used with Bf 109K-4's and their racks were often in place allthough the droptanks were not used. The rack was placed little left of the plane's center line. I also added drop tank to my model from Eduard's Bf 109G-10 kit. It is better detailed than that of the Hasegawa.

If you want to depict your model with flaps down it is good to notice that there's a notch at the upper edge of the landing flaps. The notch should be filed and sanded down because in a real plane there were no such notches. The front end of the flap was rounded and smooth. I added missing frame structure of thin Evergreen strips inside of water cooler's trailing edge flaps. Texture of the kit's water radiator's front side is wrong. I sanded the kit's part smooth and glued Eduard's Bf 109G-6 PE radiator's front plate to it. Outer wheel well doors has too prominent bulges which I sanded thinner and smoother.

Kit's cockpit is quite spartan and have some faults and shortcomings. The most visible is a battery box aft of the cockpit which is wrong for the K-4 model. It has to be replaced with a hatch. I made the hatch of paper according to photos and drawings and glued it in place with CA glue. I also added a missing bar to aft of the cockpit. I used kit's instrument panel. Kit's gun sight is Revi 12 as it ought to be Revi 16. I corrected kit's gun sight according to photos to look alike Revi 16. I also added missing components made of styrene sheet and copper wire to cockpit's empty sidewalls. As reference I used photos found in internet. It also pays attention to check antenna wire's front end fastening point's situation. According to photos it varies between canopy frame and DF antenna's base.

Faults and shortcomings that I corrected on my model, "work in progres" photos can be found farther down.

- Wheel wells corrected for Bf 109K-4
- Removed notches from the upper lips of the landing flaps
- 30 mm cannon's cartridge ejector chute added to underside of the fuselage
- Water coolers front flap actuating rod's added (2)
- Added missing frame structure inside water cooler's trailing edge flaps
- Added a support strut to front edge of oil cooler
- Battery box is removed from rear wall of the cockpit and replaced with a hatch and a bar
- I made a missing triangular shape to seat's back rest of styrene sheet and putty
- I shaped cannon's back cover rounder at the cockpit
- Cockpit floor is corrected smooth
- Tail wheel doors are closed
- Rudder trim actuating rod changed to brass tube
- Horizontal stabilizer's panel lines corrected
- Landing gear well outer door bulge's sanded shallower
- Kit's Revi 12 gunsight corrected to Revi 16 gun sight
- Two struts added to windscreen's upper corners

Extra parts used on the model:

Eduard Seatbelts (FE1170)
Quickboost Exhaust (QB 48 269)
ResKit Bf 109K Wheels (ResKit 48-0360)


Painting and decals

My model depicts Feldwebel Hans Strebel 's plane Yellow 4, “Ingeborg,” of 11./JG 3 at Pasewalk Germany in May 1945. Hasegawa erroneously states that Strebel's unit was II/JG 3. I found only one photo where Strebel stands in front of his plane with a newly awarded 2. class Iron Cross on his neck but only small part of the plane is visible. This photo shows cockpit area of the plane and it is clearly visible that canopy frames were painted darker color than surrounding fuselage. This was quite common practise in late war period and many Bf 109's had their canopy frames painted with darker color. The color was RLM66 black grey and it was used inside of the cockpits including canopy frames.

A photo where the whole plane would have been visible I could'nt find from the internet nor anywhere else. In the internet I found many color profile drawings and decal sheet's painting instructions of the Strebel's plane which differed a little from each others of paintings and markings of the plane. Despite of numerous drawings in the internet I could'nt clarifie to myself which of them is historically correct. So this time I decided to trust Hasegawa's painting instructions.

Kit's decals had turned a bit yellow but two weeks in summer sunshine cured the problem. From the kit's decals I used only yellow number four, name "Ingeborg", plane's serial number and stencils. National markings and stencils come from Aeromaster Decal's sheet 48-494 and Print Scale's sheet 48-104. Kit's wing crosses are only white corners for upperside but according to Hasegawa painting guide inner areas of the wing crosses shoud be dark green RLM 83. I masked the wing crosses inner areas and painted them with RLM 83 green. I added plane's Werke numbers to the rudder of the plane, they may or may not have been carried on the tail of Yellow 4, depending on the sources you consult.

When all decals were fixed I noticed that Print Scale's white crosses on the upper surfaces were translucent. I masked them with Tamiya tape and sprayed thin white layer of paint over them. I did the same with the plane's numbers "Yellow 4" which were too pale yellow and over sprayed them with RLM04. Tapes were removed without any troubles.

Paints used:

The first figure which indicates sheen level of a color on FS number is dropped off. Ak=Akan, X=XtraColor, LC=LifeColor, HU=Humbrol, R=Revell, WEM=White Ensign Models, MrH=Mr Hobby Aqueous, Tam=Tamiya. (Alternative paints between brackets).

RLM 75 Grey violet FS - xxxx Mr Hobby A H-69 Camouflage top side
RLM 83 Dark green FS - xxxx Mr Hobby A H-423 Camouflage top side
RLM 76 Light blue grey FS - xxxx Mr Hobby A H-417 Camouflage under side
RLM 66 Black grey FS - xxxx Mr Hobby A H-416 Cockpit, cockpit canopy frames inside and outside
RLM 02 Grey FS - xxxx Mr Hobby A H-70 Wheel wells, landing gear struts and door interiors

Summary

A good Hasegawa's kit from a year 1999 but a little bit aged compared to Eduard's latest Bf 109 offerings. Surface details are not as good as on the Eduard new kits. Anyhow a good Bf 109K-4 model can be built out of it with a little extra work. And at the moment when I am building this model there is not better kit of Bf 109K-4 in 1/48 scale.


Photos from different stages of the work

Hold mouse cursor over a thumbnail for a while before clicking






History

Willy Messerschmitt's Bf 109 was the Luftwaffe's benchmark fighter throughout the WW II. It was the mount of the vast majority of the German aces and scored more kills than any other aircraft. Major Erich Hartmann was the most sucsesful ace with Bf 109 with 352 kills. The top scorer in the world in all times!

Bf 109V2
The prototype won a fighter desing competition declared by the German Air Ministry (RLM ) in 1936 and was chosen to the premier single-engined fighter for the Luftwaffe.

Bf 109B-1 "Berta"
The first production plane (341 planes were produced) flew it's first flight in July 1937. 39 B-1's were sent to the Spanish Civil War.

Bf 109C-1 "Cäsar"
Was introduced in 1938 (58 planes were produced) powered now by Junkers Jumo 210 engine but the latest versions of it. Took part in the Spanish Civil War with the Legion Condor.

Bf 109D-1 "Dora"
Was introduced in 1938 (647 planes were produced) powered by Junkers Jumo 210 engine but the latest versions of it. Took part in the Spanish Civil War with the Legion Condor.

Bf 109E "Emil"
The first with the new Daimler-Benz DB 600-series engine (1100 hp) and with 3-bladed variable-pitch propeller came in production in the end of 1938. It was armed with two fuselage mounted machine guns and two wing mounted cannons. 2294 were produced. It became the main fighter of the Luftwaffe for the first few years of the war. Bf 109E took part in the Spanish Civil War with the Legion Condor.

By the beginning of the WW 2 the Luftwaffe had already equipped all it's fighter units (Jagdgeswader JG) with Emils. The greatest test for the Me Bf 109E and for the Luftwaffe was the Battle of Britain in July - September 1940. Bf 109E proved to be better fighter than Hawker Hurricane and it was approximately as good as early Supermarine Spitfire. The worse agility was compensated by better climbing rate and better reliability of the engine wich had direct injection fuel system and had no problems with negative G-forces. The vast majority of the 1172 planes that the RAF Fighter Command lost during the battle were victims of the Bf 109Es. Luftwaffe lost 1792 planes of which 610 were Bf 109E type.

Bf 109F "Fredrik"
The next main version during the years 1941-1942. It was totally re-designed plane. It had new wings, cooling system and aerodynamic fuselage. Wing armament was deleted and concentrated to fuselage. It was powered with 1159 hp DB 601N engine (F-1, F-2) or 1332 hp DB 601E engine (F-3, F-4). Bf 109F was the main fighter type when Germany attacked to Soviet Union and in African Theatre. Many pilots considered it as the peak of the type's development. Total production was 3446 planes.

Bf 109G "Gustav"
Was developed out of the Bf 109F in 1942 around the new Daimler-Benz 1475 hp DB 605 A engine and entered in service in late summer of 1942. It was the most produced version of the Bf 109 and it was the true workhorse of the Luftwaffe's day fighter units to the end of the war. Dictates of the air war forced the designers sacrifice handling and maneuverability in order to increase maximum speed. Because of the more powerful engine local strengthening was required which increased weight. Wing loading increased and maneuverability decreased little compared to F-model.

However the Bf 109G had very good climbing rate and it was very stable gun platform. Bf 109G was the true workhorse of the Luftwaffe's day fighter units and over 10 000 planes were built in basic 10 variants. The G-models had the ability to use many different conversion kits, "Rustsatze". The most used of them were R-1 which was a bomb rack for SC 250 bomb, R-2 was a bomb rack for four SC 50 bombs, R-3 was a 300 litres external fueltank, R-5 two MK 108 30 mm cannon gondolas under wings, R-6 two Mg 151/20 20 mm cannon gondolas under wings, R-7 DF-loop antenna. The "Rustsatze's" varied according to the subtypes of the Bf 109G.

Bf 109K "Kurt"
The final producton version and the second attempt to remove bottlenecks of the production. When the more powerfull DB605D engine entered to serial production an attempt was made to incorporate all the refinements of the G-14 and G-10 into a single model. Externally the K-model was almost similar to G-10. Notable differences compared to G-10 were retractable tailwheel with doors and wheelwell covers for the main wheels. Wider main wheels and the large rectangural upper wing bulges were made standard. The K-4 was armed with two 13 mm MG 131 machine guns and with one 30 mm MK 108 cannon. The jamming problems of the gun were lastly ironed out. The K-4 was the fastest serial produced Bf 109 model achieving the speed of 710 km/h. Deliveries to the Luftwaffe units began in October 1944 and ended in April 1945. In all 1700 planes were built.

Bf 109H
Was a high-altitude fighter based on F-model and DB 601E engine. It had longer span and GM-1 boosting system. It's maximum speed at 10100 metres was 750 km/h. The type didn't enter serial production.

Bf 109T
Based on E-model and was designed for the German aircraft carrier "Graf Zeppelin" which never materialized. It had longer folding wings and a hook for carrier landings. It had also the ability to use catapult at take-off. When the Graf Zeppelin was cancelled the planes were delivered to the Luftwaffe's land based units. In all 70 pre-production and production machines were manufactured in the years 1939 - 41.

Technical data of Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4

Engine Daimler-Benz DB 605 DB/DC; Output: DB 1850 hv; DC with MW50 2000 hv
Dimensions Lenght 9,02 m; span 9,92 m; height 3,04 m
Weights Max. takeoff 3362 kg
Performance 670 km/h 9000 m, (MW50 710 km/h 7500 m)
Armament (fixed) 1 x MK108 30 mm cannon; 2 x MG131 13 mm machine gun
Production Bf 109K-4 1700+ to end of March 1945 (All Bf 109 variants 33984)

Sources:

Messerschmitt Bf 109 in action part 2 by John R. Beaman, Jr. / illustrated by Don Greer. Squadron/signal.
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, A Comprehensive Guide "F to K" Variants by Lynn Ritger. SAM PUBLICATIONS.
Wikipedia: Messerschmitt Bf 109 variants
Wikipedia: Messerschmitt Bf 109


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