by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
HistoryIn 1941, it was obvious a new version of the Bf 109 was needed by the Luftwaffe. Dictates of the Air War forced the Messerschmitt design people to sacrifice handling and manoeuvrability in order to increase maximum speed and fire-power. The more powerful but heavier "Gustav" was therefore to replace the lighter "Friedrich" which was later considered by many pilots to be the best of all. The "new" Bf 109G was built around the new Daimler-Benz DB 605A engine and was the most numerously produced variant. From 1942 to 1945 this version was to become the true workhorse of the Luftwaffe's Day Fighter Units.
The K version was a late attempt to simplify and streamline the Bf 109 production. It was externally similar to the G-10 but fitted with a DB 605D engine. Only 700 units were produced, far less than the 10,000 of the G variant!
The kitThe Fujimi 1/48 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109G-K kit is presented in a small cardboard box with a nice illustration by Shigeo Koike (picture 1). In it you will find the following contents:
- 4 sprues made of light grey plastic (fuselage, wings, two tails, detail parts) (pictures 2 and 3)
- One clear plastic sprue (picture 11)
- A decal sheet (picture 18)
- instructions (picture 15 and 16) and profiles (picture 17)
The quality of the moulding is good and I found no sink marks and little flash. The overall detail is also very nice with precise recessed panel lines and subtle raised rivet detail all over the fuselage and the wings (picture 4 and 5). But some areas are a little bit on the thick side. The exhaust covers for example should be replaced by thinner plastic or PE replacement parts. The detail is the weak point of the kit. Though not too bad (see the instrument panel in picture 6) some parts are simplified (picture 7) while others can be considered a joke! (picture 8) The exhausts will also give you some work as they are very crude (picture 9). The tyres are ok and you have separate parts for spoked or smooth wheels (picture 10). Additional "bonuses" are two underwing racks, a 300 litre drop tank, a 250 kg bomb, two MG 151/20mm underwing gun pods, two underwing 210mm air-to-air rocket launchers and a tropical filter.
The clear part's quality (picture 11) can be considered as average. Though not as crisp and transparent as, say, Hasegawa or Tamiya ones, they will do the job.
The instructions (only in Japanese!) are printed on a big sheet of paper. In them you will find a precise step by step guide with colour indications in English (picture 15) as well as a misleading table with the G and K sub-variants (picture 16) and decal placement guide for the plane's various stencils. Also provided is a colour guide with some profiles (picture 17).
Measuring and dry fitting the kitHow does Fujimi's kit stand up against other Bf 109G kits? When compared to Hasegawa's version (picture 12), one can notice the overall dimensions are pretty close... except for the tail which is a little bit too small. With the later style rudder fitted and compared with Revell-Monogram's G-10 (picture 13) it is even more noticeable! The lower additional trim tab is also too long on the latter one. These are certainly major issues for accuracy fanatics. The horizontal tailplanes have also small shape inaccuracies when compared to plans but sanding them to match the real thing will be easy. The most disturbing "anomaly" are the two wing bulges (picture 14) which are nothing like the real thing. Removing them shouldn't be a big deal though, but doing this without loosing the nice rivet detail is another kettle of fish entirely!
The main parts (fuselage and wings) fit together very well and should only require a minimum of filler. While dry fitting the lower and upper wing parts, I noticed there is a 1mm gap in the wheel bay. This will have to be filled.
There are no clear drawings in the instructions that show the difference between the G and the G-10/K-4 versions. In fact, with the kit's parts, you can't build a G-10 or K-4 without major modifications (see red arrows in picture 13 for comparison). This variant has refined cowl bumps covering the MG 131 guns, two bulges on either side of the lower cowling, a larger supercharger intake and a deeper nose oil cooler. Strictly speaking, this kit is only a Bf 109G!
The decal sheetOne of the kit's most interesting feature is its big decal sheet (picture 18). To be honest, I mainly purchased the kit because of it! Included are a full set of various stencils, 8 pairs of German crosses in 5 different styles, 3 different pairs of swastikas, 30 numbers in different colours and designs, 7 different pairs of rudder kill markings, 2 fuselage bands, various rank markings (chevrons, bars and circles), 16 "Werknummer" in two sizes and numerous unit and personal insignias (over 80!)... a real gift for every 1/48 WW2 Luftwaffe modeller. The printing is excellent and everything is in register despite the high number of colours used. This is one of the most incredible decal sheet I've ever seen in a regular plastic kit! But you must have some reference material to be able to get the most from it, as the kit's instructions aren't very precise.
ConclusionFujimi's Bf 109G-K kit is a real bargain! I found mine at my LHS for 17.50 € and, considering what is provided in the box, it's more than a fair price. The beginner will find in it an opportunity to experience the world of late war Luftwaffe camouflage without spending too much money. The result will be a nice, though not perfect replica of the famous German fighter. But I would recommend the use of more serious reference drawings than the ones in the kit's instructions.
More experienced modellers will be delighted with the huge decal sheet and the numerous bonus parts. With the addition of spare parts from other Bf 109 kits to correct the inaccuracies, this Ugly Duckling can be transformed into a beautiful Swan!