Despite the perennial popularity of the Bf 109, the "Emil" - so famous for its role in early battles of WW2 and beyond - has been largely overlooked as a 1/32 scale kit in recent years. As far as I know, the only mainstream kits produced were Hasegawa's 109E-3/'E-4 (which also appeared in the UK under the late lamented Frog banner) and Matchbox's 'E-3 - both dating back to the 1970s. Over 30 years on, and a new kit produced to the latest standards has long been overdue - and Eduard have stepped up to the mark with a brand new series of Emils, starting with the Bf 109E-1 which has never appeared in this scale before.
The kit arrives in a very solid conventional box and, as we've come to expect from Eduard, the presentation is excellent - the main sprues are packed in two bags, the clear parts are in a separate zip-lock back and the etched details come with two layers of card to preclude any chance of them being bent in transit. The instructions take the form of a full colour 19-page A-4 booklet printed on high quality paper. The kit comprises:
162 x pale olive styrene parts (plus 12 spare for future versions)
5 x clear parts (1 spare)
50 x etched parts on a pair of frets - one of them pre-painted
A sheet of painting masks
Decals for 4 x colour schemes
The moulding is excellent - with one exception in my kit. The cowling isn't completely formed, so I'll contact Eduard for a replacement. I'm pretty sure this must be a one-off, because I've seen shots elsewhere showing the part correctly moulded. I can't really criticize Eduard's quality control either, because I examined all the parts and even took a photo of the cowling(!) - and still didn't notice the fault until I started the build and began to work on sub-assemblies.
Getting back to first impressions, I found a very slight trace of flash in a couple of areas, but what really impresses is the surface finish. This comprises lightly engraved panel lines and a few raised panels and fasteners, plus beautifully delicate embossed riveting which puts most most efforts to shame. Fabric surfaces feature ribs and stitching - perhaps a touch heavy - but the overall effect should look superb when painted and weathered. The main components for the airframe are quite thin and Eduard have been rather clever in the way they've tried to avoid moulding any heavy detail on the inner faces that might cause sink marks - e.g. the tail wheel mounts are separate parts to fit into the tail. Ironically, the only place they have strayed from this tactic is for the main undercarriage locators and these have produced a pair of shallow sink marks, but they'll only take a moment to fill.
The major parts don't have many locating pins, but a basic test fit is encouraging, with the main parts lining up well and a nice tight fit at the wing roots. The kit features separate control surfaces, landing flaps and leading edge slats. A very nice touch is that Eduard haven't relied on separate panel inserts for the 'E-1's wing armament configuration - an entire new wing is provided, so there's no danger of any poor fit.
The details throughout look set to be very impressive. The cockpit is built up from a mixture of styrene and etched parts - 47 or so, depending on whether you go for pre-painted etched or moulded plastic instrument panels. Personally, I'll definitely go for the multi-layer etched versions, because the pre-painting is excellent (they don't suffer from the speckled effect that's occasionally visible) and the bezels on the plastic alternatives are moulded plain with no decals for the instrument faces included. The cockpit also features an 11-part etched seat harness.
The kit can be built with a closed cowling or to display a well detailed engine and nose-gun assembly. There are 21 parts for the DB 601, plus individual exhaust stubs with hollowed out ends. The gun bay features ammunition containers and a neatly moulded deck for the pair of MG 17s. Some wiring is moulded on and purists may want to replace this with soft wire and stretched sprue. The undercarriage is nicely tackled with separate wheel hubs and tyres, crisply moulded gear legs plus separate brake lines. The wheel wells have moulded ribs on the inner surface and inserts for the liners, while the nose and wing radiators feature etched faces. I note that Eduard have already announced an etched aftermarket set for the kit, so we can look forward to additional details beyond those provided in the standard kit.
The canopy parts are beautifully produced - crystal clear, with crisply defined framing, an optional armoured headrest, and a smaller details like hand grips are included. The sprung restraining cable is an etched item, which might look a bit 2-dimensional in this scale, but will serve as an excellent pattern for a wire replacement. A set of painting masks is included.
Instructions and decals
As noted above, the instructions are supplied as a large booklet. The drawings are very clear and the assembly sequence seems logical, with Gunze Sangyo colours keyed to most details. There's a full page stencil placement diagram and each of the 4 featured colour schemes is treated to a colour 4-view painting guide:
A. "Yellow 11", Fw. Artur Beese, 9./JG 26, Caffiers, France, August 1940 (also depicted on the front page with speculative yellow tactical markings).
B. "Red 1", Hptm. Hannes Trautloft, 2./JG 77, Juliusburg, Germany, September 1939.
C."Red 13", Ofw. Kurt Ubben, 6.(J)/Tragergruppe 186, Wangerooge,, Germany, March 1940.
D. "Yellow 2", 6./JG 52, Husum, Germany, 1940.
The decals are supplied on two sheets and the printing by Cartograph looks superb, with perfect registration and minimal carrier film. Swastikas are provided in two forms - full and sliced in two, depending on market restrictions. There's a very comprehensive set of stencil; markings included on the second sheet.
Eduard's first 1/32 scale kit looks a real beauty! Although the construction looks pretty straightforward and it's not overly complicated in terms of the number of parts, I'd recommend it to modellers with a little experience because of the use of etched details in a number of areas. I'll be getting the kit straight onto the workbench this weekend, so watch out for the build log to follow.
I've started a Build-Log HERE
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