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In-Box Review
148
Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-2

by: Jean-Luc Formery [ TEDMAMERE ]

History

With the "Emil" version, the Messerschmitt 109 reached it's limits in the Battle of Britain against the Spitfire and it was necessary to improve the design since no replacement fighter was available at that time in the Luftwaffe. Modifications were made to four Bf 109 E airframes resulting in a better aerodynamic. The entire engine cowling, including the spinner, was streamlined so to accept the new and more powerful DB 601E powerplant. Other modifications were made to the oil cowler, supercharger intake, underwing radiators, wings, tailplanes, rudder etc...
Even fitted with an "old" DB 601N engine (the 601E wasn't ready), a Bf 109F-0 proved to be more maneuvrable and faster than it's predecessor, the E-4.
However, despite the fact that many consider the "Friederich" to be the best (and most beautiful) of all Bf 109s, it was only a transition plane and only 3400 were produced (1600 F-1/F-2s and 1800 F-4s) from a total of 35.000 Bf 109s built.

The Kit

ICM's new 109 kit comes in the typical flimsy side opening cardboard box of the Ukrainian manufacturer (picture 1). The kit is composed of three grey plastic sprues, one small transparent sprue, one decal sheet and the instructions.

Before examining the plastic parts, I must warn you: the kits produced by ICM have a bad reputation. They are often plagued with moulding issues such as sink marks, flash and a rough plastic texture. To sum up, their kits are not the best in the market, certainly not up to Tamiya, Hasegawa or Eduard's standards.

So does the new Bf 109 kit represent an improvement over older kits by the same manufacturer? Well yes and no... At first glance, it seems that the plastic used for the injected sprues is of better quality (picture 2) but on closer inspection one can see the surface of some parts is pretty bad! The left wing for example is constellated with small holes (picture 3). It seems as if the plastic was too thick during the moulding process and didn't filled up all the metal mold. This is typical of ICM's quality control. Any other mainstream manufacturer would have trashed this sprue. I don't know if it was only bad luck or if this is common to all kits but it's annoying, even if filling these won't be a big problem.

Surprinsingly, other parts are much better (picture 4) and surface detail is generally pretty good as you can see on the tail details (stiffeners) and the rudder (fabric structures). The latter is way overdone though, and one will probably want to add filler to smooth that area a little to achieve a more realistic effect. As it is, it looks like the rudder lost it's fabric surface! On picture 4 you can also see the rough surface of the plastic on the two oil coolers and the big amount of flash. This is sadly common to most of the parts of the kit. As a side note, the deeper oil cooler was fitted to the tropicalized versions and the F-6 reconnaissance version and is not used in this F-2 kit.

I noticed another issue on the horizontale tailplanes (picture 5). As you can see on the left one, the aileron's separation is marked by a deep line but on the right one the line is almost not visible!? The fact that this was left like that in the final product is beyond me. The wheels are not the best parts of the kit neither. They are not perfectly round and have no structures.

The cockpit interior is basic and some details are molded directly on the fuselage interiors (picture 6). But it's not too bad except for the instrument panel which is a little flat (no decals are provided for the dials). The propellers (two versions in the kit) are too pointy and will need to be sanded to shape (picture 6). Some detail parts are very well done such as the machine guns and the complete engine which is included in the kit (picture 7). With some additional wires it will do the part. Other good surprise are the transparent parts which are very clear (picture 8).

Decals are provided in the kit for four different aircraft (picture 9):
- Bf 109 F-2, Lt. Detlef Rohwer, Tech. Offz. of 1./JG 3, Bila Cerkva (Ukraine), Summer 1941
- Bf 109 F-2, Oblt. Egon Mayer, Staffel Kapitšn of 7./JG2 "Richthofen", St Pol (France), Summer 1941
- Bf 109 F-2, Lt. Max-Helmut Ostermann, Staffel Kapitšn of 7./JG54, Siwerskaya (Leningrad area), Autumn 1941
- Bf 109 F-2, Geschwader-Adjudant of JG54, Baltia, Summer 1941

The decals are typical ICM with a matt surface. If they are as good (I should write bad) as the ones provided in the kits I build from the same manufacturer, you can throw them in the dustbin without any regret. They are nicely printed though, and in perfect register, but trust me, getting them to conform to the model's surface is another story!

Instructions are made out of two A3 sheets folded so to make two booklets of four pages each (picture 10). The first booklet has the building instructions printed one (eight steps assembly guide, parts layout, brief history, Model Master color chart, etc...), while the second one has the painting and decaling guide for the four options. On the back of the box there is also a color guide. Strangely, it represents the plane on the cover with different colors (two tone grey paintsheme on the boxart and two tone green on the back).

At this point, my overall impression about the kit is quite mixed. On the good side you have no sink holes, no ejector pin marks in wrong places and a good level of detail. On the bad side you have the grainy surface of the plastic, some flash and some odd issues due to the bad quality control of ICM. In fact the kit looks as if it's a pre-production sample! A little more work and it could have been really good.
My opinion is that the guys at ICM thought the kit was good enough like that and, probably more important, that it was about time to make some profit with the new molds. At the end, it's up to the modeler to do the extra work like filling, rescribing, scratchbuilding, etc...

Accuracy

I'm not a Luftwaffe expert and I often can't make the difference between similar versions of the Bf 109 without checking my references. Having said that, there's one important thing to note about ICM's new kit: the wheel well openings have an angular form. On most of the F versions, they should be rounded (see picture 11 to make a comparison with the Hasegawa kit). In fact, only the early planes of that version (F-0 and F-1) had these kind of openings to accomodate hypothetical wheel covers which, in the end where never used. F-2s had the round openings but maybe not all. Remember, the F is a transition version and F-2s and even F-4s may have had the angular openings. It is appropriate to use the well known sentence here: "check your references!"
The same dilemma is true for the tail stiffeners (picture 4). These were added to the airframe after some Bf 109 Fs crashed due to the weakness of the tail. On the kit, the stiffeners are represented and they are typical of the early Friedrichs. Later, they were fitted inside the airframe. However, I saw picture of F-4s with these stiffeners and it may be possible that early airframes were transformed to later variants. Here also, I you want it the most accurate possible, "check your references!"
I've added two more pictures (12 and 13) for comparison with the Hasegawa kit... no comment. I will only add that the ICM kit is NOT in any way a copy of the one made by the Japanese manufacturer. Overall dimensions are pretty close but the tooling is definitely different.

Conclusion

ICM's new Bf 109 kit is not perfect but it will represent a cheap alternative to the Hasegawa version. It has is shortcomings, mainly due to the low quality control of the Ukrainian manufacturer, but will make into a good representation of the "Friedrich". However, I won't recommend it to beginners, as additional work is necessary. For Hasegawa there's no need to worry, their Bf 109 kit is still the best choice on the market in 1/48 scale. To be a little ironic, I would say ICM's kit it is a good choice if you want to build a short run model for the first time.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AeroScale.
SUMMARY
ICM's long awaited 1/48 scale Bf 109 F-2 kit is available at last. Announced a couple of years ago, expectations were high that it could represent a real alternative to the Hasegawa kits. Did ICM manage to succeed like Eduard did with their Fw 190 kit? Read the review and make yourself your own opinion!
  MOULDING:60%
  DETAIL:80%
  VALUE:90%
Percentage Rating
75%
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 48102
  Suggested Retail: 20Ä
  PUBLISHED: Dec 03, 2006
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.63%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 84.60%

About Jean-Luc Formery (TedMamere)
FROM: MOSELLE, FRANCE

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

Copyright ©2019 text by Jean-Luc Formery [ TEDMAMERE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



Comments

Hi Jean-Luc Guess what kit I was preparing to review today! Nicely done! Your own experience with the kit pretty much matches mine exactly and, at times our texts almost paraphrase each other! We always joke we're twins! Rather than bore everyone with a second full review, I'll just quote a couple of bits from my own that might add to the overall picture: " Sadly, after the Spitfire fiasco, the obvious question that springs to mind with a new ICM kit is "What about sink-marks!?", so let's get that out of the way first. Basically, there are none at all in my sample! (Brief pause while the shock sinks in...) That's right - none. That's certainly not to say all's perfect moulding-wise - there is a bit of flash here and there and the nose radiator door isn't fully formed, as though the styrene hasn't completely reached into the mould. There's also an odd ridge along the base of each fuselage half that will require sanding off. The surface has a semi-matte finish which should polish-up quite well, given the soft styrene used, but there a few pock-marks in places (whether that's a technical moulding problem or a sign of damage to the moulds, I don't know). Panel lines are neatly engraved for the most part (if perhaps a little on the heavy side), but do vary somewhat; for instance, those on the top panels of the wings are much heavier than elsewhere and one elevator hinge-line is scribed much deeper than the others. The depiction of fabric surfaces is similarly mixed, with the ailerons and elevators looking quite good, while the rudder is grossly overdone. ... Although I'm always very wary of published plans when I have no way of verifying them, comparing the ICM and Hasegawa kits with Kagero's plans is interesting. ICM's cockpit is positioned slightly further forward, matching the plans rather better than Hasegawa and the rear fuselage is slightly "chunkier" - again a better match. The angle of the fin is slightly raked back on both kits, but ICM's tailplane seems a better match for span. The leading edge slats are slightly longer than shown by Kagero but, overall, the wing seems a fair match. The wingtips are often a bone of contention and neither kit quite captures the shape shown on the plans. The propeller blades are very peculiar, being shorter and far more pointed than shown any reference I can find. A test fit is a rather mixed bag. The fuselage halves match up well enough, with panels all lining up and the tailplane is an excellent fit. The wing is another matter... the upper halves include quite nice interior detail (for the circular-style wheel-wells!), but this is actually slightly too large for the openings in the full-span lower wing and prevents the parts closing without modification. The separate wingtips are much thinner than the wings, so a lot of careful filing and sanding will be needed to blend them in. The multi-part nose obviously defies a test fit - but I'd be prepared for some extra work lining it all up..." On the subject of the decals, I think there could be a fair bit of variation in quality. While you say your sheet was perfectly in register, mine certainly isn't - a bit of a moot point really, as I doubt many people will want to apply the ICM items anyway, given their dubious reputation in use... There could be similar quality-control issues with the clear parts. Although, like you, I found the canopy thin and very clear, my example is spoiled by flow-lines. All the best Rowan
DEC 02, 2006 - 04:24 PM
Hi Rowan! Damn! Sorry for doing the same review! I got my kit Friday and wanted to publish it yesterday... but little Vincent came in the way so I did it today! I hope you didn't wanted to review the REMI vacform base as well! :-) Anyway, it would be nice if you incorporate your text to the review. Your english is far better and you pointed out things I didn't saw. I think saying we are twins isn't a joke anymore, it's a fact! :-) Rowan, below is a picture of the aftermarket set you've sent me lately. The fit is perfect! Thank you very much again! Jean-Luc
DEC 02, 2006 - 06:12 PM
Hi Jean-Luc No - fear not... I wasn't going to review the vacuform base! I was almost ready to review the '109F a couple of weeks ago, but work got in the way - so I'm quite chuffed you saved me the trouble of typing out all of my text! (I'll see if I can dovetail my notes into your excellent review). Vincent looks a fine lad in his all-blue Aeroscale flying suit! He could start a new craze for modelling in mittens! All the best Rowan
DEC 02, 2006 - 07:41 PM
Hmmm...am I the idiot uncle locked away in the attic the rest of the family only whispers about? J-L- Vincent is a fine looking young man! I look forward to his graduation from L'…cole de l'Air ! You ought to scratchbuild his carrier into a Martin-Baker replica!
DEC 02, 2006 - 08:56 PM
I must be a bit strange (read as idiot) because even though I've read the review and it's not the most favourable I still would really like this kit. I'm currently building the ICM Mustang III (kit no 48123) and the parts don't fit that well but....I'm quite enjoying it!!! I'm certainly no master modeller especially as I've only just returned to the hobby, but I'll probably buy the 109, and probably the Spitfire MkVII that ICM do. I must be a sucker
DEC 04, 2006 - 04:01 AM
Hi Howard You're certainly no sucker! ICM's is the most accurate mid-period Spitfire on the market! - it's just not the easiest to build... Likewise the new '109 - as I say, it scores over the Hasegawa kit in a few areas, but ICM do have a huge hurdle to overcome in terms of their reputation for quality control. That may sound harsh and even unfair - believe me, I'm on their side - but it's a simple statement of how they're viewed by many modellers. All the best Rowan
DEC 04, 2006 - 04:09 AM
I was handed my copy of the ICM 109 F-2 on Saturday for a magazine review that I will be doing on the kit and to tell the truth I hadn't even opened the box when I read Jean-Luc's review. As soon as I had finished reading however, I raced away to see if my copy contained the same flaws (little pits in the wings etc) and I must say that mine was identical to the kit reviewed by Jean-Luc unfortunatley. I must say that even with some of the little flaws and issues mentioned, I'm definitaley going to build this one, although I will be replacing the wheels, decals, prop and adding some detail to the cockpit. Cheers Darren
DEC 04, 2006 - 06:31 AM
Thanks Rowan I understand they're not the most expensive kits, but I quite enjoy them. One thing I've noticed with the Mustang is that the parts really do need a good wash before you try to put any paint on. Thanks for the reply. H
DEC 04, 2006 - 05:34 PM
   

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