by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
After months of tantalizing us with of first the 3-D computer renders, then the test-shots and, recently, a built-up pre-production kit - Eduard have released their long-awaited Messerschmitt Bf 110E. It's easily Eduard's most ambitious project ever and will undoubtedly build into a superbly impressive model.
The sturdy box is packed to the brim with separately bagged sprues. This is a complex kit and consists of:
331 x pale olive styrene parts (55 un-used) on 7 sprues
13 x clear parts on 2 sprues
80 x etched steel parts - some pre-painted
1 x resin part
Decals for 5 x colour scheme
One look at the number of parts should be fair warning, but it's probably worth stating anyway - this isn't a kit for beginners! Some of the construction is quite complex with multiple sub-assemblies each made up of a number of parts in themselves. For instance, the cockpit alone comprises 130 parts - making it quite possibly the most detailed cockpit yet in a mainstream kit.
The parts are crisply moulded. I found no sign at all of any sink-marks, but there is a slight fringe on the mould lines on some of the smaller parts (visible in the photo of the undercarriage leg) and an occasional hint of fine "flash". However, this should clean off easily enough. The surface finish consists of precisely engraved panel lines and delicate embossed riveting. This is most pronounced on the wing topsides between the nacelles - elsewhere, the rivets merely follow the panel lines. Fabric surfaces are depicted with just lightly done rib tapes.
The ailerons are separate, while other control surfaces are just marked by heavier engraved lines. The leading edge slats and flaps are moulded shut and raised respectively, but this isn't too much of a loss, as this matches most of the period photos I've checked.
Test FitThe breakdown of the basic airframe is pretty straightforward, but with a separate nose section and nacelles to allow for future versions (an early-style nose gun-cover is on the sprues). One thing that's apparent immediately is that the parts are quite thin, with a tendency to flex a bit. The wing halves in the sample kit are slightly warped, making them splay apart towards to tips, but the gap closes with minimal pressure and the trailing edge is straight and thin thanks to the lower panel joint being inset slightly from the edge itself.
The wings are an extremely tight fit to the fuselage, so the slots for the tabs will need easing a little. While checking the fit, I noticed that the wing-roots have a faintly "milled" surface and slight step near the trailing edge. A few moments' work with wet & dry paper will take care of this. Because the fuselage halves are so thin and flexible, test fitting the wings tends to pull them apart. Hopefully, adding the cockpit tub will provide the necessary rigidity to bear the weight of the wings and maintain the correct dihedral.
The nacelles seem a fair fit - better below the wings than above. Again, they have a tendency to flex, which makes dry-fitting difficult, but it looks like a little filler will be needed on the top-side joint. But remember - this is without the internal structure to give any strength to the thin parts.
The tail surfaces fit very neatly and have impressively thin trailing edges.
Highlights of the kitWell, there's obviously the cockpit! That phenomenal parts-count certainly isn't wasted, with excellent detail in the pilot's "office", the underfloor cannons and the equipment in the rear cockpit. The ammunition drums are all made up of several parts, which obviously complicates things, but gets over any possibility of sinkage on thick parts. The centre seat can be modelled raised or folded and most of the instrument panels and consoles are supplied with the option of moulded or etched versions.
The nose-bay is detailed with machine-guns, ammunition feeds and compressed air bottles, while the inside of the cover itself has separate stiffeners and air vent.
The undercarriage and wheel wells are nicely handled, with detailed liners for the wells and no less than 9 parts for each main-gear leg. The wheels have good hub detail and tyre treads, while there's a choice of tail wheels with a one-piece version or a separate wheel and fork. The wheel are all moulded "un-weighted".
The kit is supplied with 250kg and 500kg bombs with excellent thin tail fins. The under-fuselage ETC 500 rack is very nice indeed with almost the kind of detail I'd be happy to see on a resin aftermarket part.
The canopies are really impressive and can be modelled open or closed. There are etched frames to add to the inside of open panels and, above all, the clear parts are very thin and clear - probably as thin as can safely be injection moulded. Accompanying the transparencies is a set of kabuki tape painting masks - a real plus with the number of individual panels to tackle.
Instructions and decalsThe assembly instructions consist of a 20-page A-4 booklet. The diagrams are clearly drawn and the construction is broken down into manageable chunks (there are no numbered stages, as such). Gunze Sangyo paint numbers are keyed to most parts.
Decals are provided for 5 colour schemes:
A. S9 NN, 5./ZG 1 "Wespen", flown by Lt. Herber Kutscha, Russia, 1942 in winter camouflage.
B. G9 JM, 4./NJG 1, St. Trond, Belgium, February 1942, with interesting RLM 72 upper surfaces.
C. LN LR, 1.(Z)/JG 77, Lt. Felix-Maria Brandis, Malmi, Finland, 1942.
D. W.Nr 4035, Sonderkommando Junk, Iraq, May 1941 wearing Iraqi markings.
There's a fifth scheme illustrated on the front page:
S9 HP, 6./ZG 1 "Wespen".
Backing everything up is a comprehensive set of stencils with a full-page placement guide. The decals themselves are thin and glossy with minimal carrier film. Swastikas are included and there's an additional sheet with upper-side crosses that escaped the main sheet. The registration looks excellent throughout.
The resin part?As a bonus, each Bf 110 kit includes one of 3 resin dachshunds that depict the mascots of 1.(Z)/JG 77. The dog is very nicely sculpted and cast in 1/48 scale so, apart from its obvious use with the Bf 110, it'll make a nice change from the obligatory Alsatian included in sets of Luftwaffe figures.
ConclusionEduard's Messerschmitt Bf 110E is a beautiful kit and deserves to be a huge success. It certainly isn't going to be a kit that "builds itself" and its complexity and detail means it's most suitable for modellers with a bit of experience. That said, the end result should be absolutely superb. It easily surpasses the old Fujimi kit in every department - there's really is no comparison - and sets new standards for the kind of detail that can be incorporated into a mainstream kit cockpit. I can't wait to start building it! Look out for updates in the Forum.
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