by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Among Wings & Wheels' Photo Manuals is a very useful study of the famous Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2 "Black 6" that offers a mass of detailed reference material that's ideal for anyone modelling an early Gustav.
Wings & Wheels' study of "Black 6" has been available for around 12 years, and it's much to my regret that I haven't examined the book until now. As a highly detailed and comprehensive "walkaround" of a mid-war Bf 109, it would have been a huge help to me in a number of builds. Still, better late than never, as they say, and I have no doubt I will use it often in the future.
The 72-page softbound book represents the combined efforts of a group of talents, with text by Andrew Simpson, František Kořán and Michal Šourek, and photos from Daniel and Petr Dousek along with František Kořán. The result is a compact volume, 24 x 22.5cm, which opens out to form a landscape format volume which sits neatly on your lap when you’re at the workbench. As such, I think it’s just about the ideal size and shape from a modelling point of view.
The study begins with a 12-page history of “Black 6” from its construction in September 1942, through its brief service with the Luftwaffe in North Africa and its subsequent long career in testing and trials with the Allies after capture, through to its eventual restoration to flying condition after many years of neglect.
"Black 6" was the star of the warbirds circuit for several years in Britain during the 1990s as the only genuine airworthy German WW2 aircraft. Tragically, it was seriously damaged in a crash-landing on what was planned to be its final flight before permanent static display in the RAF Museum. Following the crash, the future of the aircraft was once again in doubt, but thankfully the decision was taken to fully restore it once again. Extensive repairs were necessary, leaving the aircraft 70% original, but still a uniquely valuable reference for modellers. "Black 6" is now on display at Hendon, and it in this form that it is the subject of the book.
The core of the book is a very comprehensive and detailed "walkaround" that covers areas normally not visible to the public. The photography is excellent throughout and the photos are printed large on the page to allow modellers to make best use of them. I would rate this among the most useful photo studies I've seen of the '109, because the authors really have a modeller's eye for the subject, showing details normally missed and shooting from angles that are new to me in many cases. Along with the modern photos, the book includes a number of illustrations from original technical manuals showing the radio, the engine and its accessories, along with the tool kit issued to ground crew to service the aircraft.
The walkaround is easy to navigate thanks to clearly labeled tabs on the pages that break the coverage down into the following sections:
External Fuel Tank
Main Wheel Bay
MG 17 Guns
DB 605 tools
The detail included is exceptional, with many of the sections covering multiple pages. For instance, there are 13 pages devoted to the cockpit and 8 to the engine, with the kind of close-ups included that are essential for super-detailing.
Obviously, you need to be wary of any restored museum exhibit, but "Black 6" has been returned to as near "factory fresh" condition as possible with painstaking attention to accuracy. The only real compromise (noted clearly in the captions) is that the instrument panel was modified to accept some modern instruments during "Black Six"'s display career in the 1990s, resulting in some non-standard holes where they were removed when the aircraft was prepared for static display. There are also a few leftover English labels in the cockpit from its display flying days - but, basically, you can safely rely on the photos here to build a very authentic model.
The book rounds off with 2 pages of high quality profiles by Luboš Šimek showing the aircraft in its original Luftwaffe colours and following its capture by the Allies. Points of interest include the over-painting of the delivery codes once the aircraft joined its unit - something which hasn’t been replicated on “Black 6” in its restored paint scheme.
Special Museum Line No. 43 - Bf 109G-2 In Detail normally sells for 482 Kč (around Ł16.75) - which I think represents excellent value for the wealth of material it contains.
At the time of writing, Wings & Wheels are offering the title at a 38% discount, priced just 299 Kč (about Ł10.40). A "tenner" for the sort of detail here is almost unheard of in this day and age, so I would recommend anyone to snap it up while they can.
ConclusionWings & Wheels' photo study of "Black 6" is a really useful reference for anyone looking to add detail to an early "Gustav". A lot of the material is also suitable for other versions too, but you will need to check what changes were made, because the '109 became notorious for the myriad of small differences between variants (and sub-variants).
It definitely deserves a place on any Luftwaffe modeller's bookshelves. I'm tempted to say it will be among the first reference books I reach for whenever I tackle a mid-war '109 kit. Recommended.
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