by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
BackgroundI was very excited a year or two ago when Striped Fighter announced an injection moulded 1:32 kit of the Messerschmitt Bf 108. With its design clearly rooted in Eduardís fine 1:48 model, it promised to be a great kit of this important aircraft.
Then everything seemed to go quiet. I donít know if it saw a limited release, but I certainly never spotted it for sale in the UK. Thankfully, itís now widely available under the Eduard banner - and its first boxing comes complete with photo-etched and resin accessories.
The KitThe kit arrives in a very attractive Eduard ProfiPACK-style box, so it's quite a surprise to open it and find the main parts presented in a decidedly non-Eduard way. Instead of the crystal-clear resealable bags we've grown accustomed to, the runners are packed in thin, open polythene bags (and rather crumpled ones at that). Nothing was any the worse the wear for that (and, in fact, I rather like the "low-tech" bags), and the kit arrived perfectly intact.
However, the Eduard-produced accessories are in resealable bags, and the difference in presentation is quite striking, giving a slight "split personality" overall feel to the kit.
The Bf 108 comprises:
126 x dark grey styrene parts (plus 3 not needed)
6 x clear styrene parts
2 x grey resin parts
xx x photoetched parts (some pre-coloured)
A sheet of washi-tape painting masks
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
The parts are cleanly moulded, with no signs of flash or other problems. The exterior surface finish is quite textured (for want of a better description, a "heavy satin" finish). I'll polish it smooth to make painting and applying the decals easier.
The actual surface detail comprises neat engraved panel lines and a few embossed fasteners and rivets. Fabric surfaces are very subtly depicted and lack rib tapes - which is probably no bad thing, because they are usually far too heavily done in kits. If you add them with decal strips, it will give a nice scale effect.
Test FitOverall, the kit seems very much like it's been scaled-up from Eduard's 1:48 Taifun, and the breakdown of the parts and sub-assemblies is almost identical for the most part. The fuselage and wings go together without any fuss at all, and all the panel lines line-up precisely. Dry-fitted, I found a slight gap at the wing roots, but bear in mind this is without the interior parts which may spread the cockpit sides a little. Even if they donít, Iím confident the gap will close up neatly when glued.
Tailplanes are often a sloppy fit in kits. Not so here - in fact they are excessively tight in the sample, so you may need to ease the joints a bit.
The big change compared with the smaller Eduard Bf 108 is that this 1:32 kit features separate ailerons, flaps and elevators. That's a welcome touch, so it's a little disappointing that the designers didn't take the opportunity to add separate leading-edge slats too.
A Few DetailsConstruction begins with the cockpit featuring, just like the Eduard 1:48 kit, the extra fuel tanks for the Sonderkommando Blaich colour scheme. The cockpit is nicely fitted-out, comprising over 50 styrene and photo-etched parts. The original styrene parts include quite a decent moulded instrument panel, but Eduard offer two alternatives - a decal overlay or a two-part pre-painted photo-etched panel. Thereís really no competition as far as Iím concerned - the etched version is gorgeous - but the decal should snuggle down nicely over the plastic panel, because the raised details are quite shallow. There are pre-painted multi-part seat harnesses, plus throttle levers and trim wheels etc., so the completed office should look very good straight from the box.
The same is true for the engine - some 30 parts in total. To be honest, this will be almost entirely hidden once the modelís finished so, while you could obviously add a lot more in terms of plumbing and ignition cables, the kit engine is more than adequate unless you open up the cowl panels.
The undercarriage is adequate, but the treads on the unweighted tyres are a bit soft. This obviously stood out as a weak point for Eduard, because theyíve released a pair of Brassin upgrade sets (to be reviewed separately) which are a huge improvement.
The kit includes a choice of propellers; a styrene metal-bladed prop and a Brassin wooden fixed-pitch prop. Not surprisingly, the Brassin propeller is beautifully produced.
The kit offers parts for open and closed canopies. The parts are wonderfully thin and crystal clear, and they really do have that ďWow!Ē factor. Even with the canopy closed, youíll be able to showcase all the care youíve put into the cockpit. And thatís a real plus, because it isnít at all clear how youíre meant to attach the folded panels for the open canopy without scratch-building some hinges. I almost always like to build my kits with canopy open, but I think Iíll model the Bf 108 closed-up to show off its clean lines, confident that the ďofficeĒ will be fully visible.
Eduard provide a set of die-cut washi tape painting masks for the wheels and canopy. Another case for keeping the canopy closed is that youíd really need masks for the insides if you open it.
Instructions & DecalsEduard provide a high quality 16-page A5 colour-printed set of instructions. The construction sequence all looks logical, and I canít foresee any potential pitfalls (except, as noted above, the vague way the canopy is shown in its open position).
As usual, Eduard give colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints.
The five featured decal choices provide a very interesting mix of colour schemes, with everything from standard splinter camouflage, desert and winter schemes, overall RLM 02, and even an unusual ďday-fighterĒ style paint job:
A Bf 108, GK EM, Sonderkommando Blaich, Tripoli, Libya, January 1942
B Bf 108, BK ZS, Hungary, 1942 - 1944
C Bf 108, NF MS, Stab I./JG51, Soviet Union, Winter 1942 - 1943
D Bf 108, 4E RM, 4.(H)/Aufkl. Gr. 13, Romania, April 1940
E Bf 108, PJ NG, I./JG 54, France, June/ July 1940
The decals look to be excellent quality - thin and glossy with crystal clear carrier film and pin-sharp registration. Swastikas are included both complete and with separate centres. The complete versions are in one corner of the sheet so they can be snipped off for markets where thereís sensitivity over the symbol.
ConclusionItís great to see the Striped Fighter kit of the Bf 108 widely available, and I think Eduard are likely to have a real success on their hands with it. Priced at just over £30, it's great value for money and it promises to build into a very attractive model. Iím really looking forward to starting it as soon as Iíve finished Eduardís superb new 1:48 Spitfire Mk. I.
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