Eduard's Royal Class kits are always something special - so much so that each new release is anticipated eagerly to to what they have up their sleeve by way of bonus extras. With the Royal Class Messerschmitt have set a new standard for themselves; it's their biggest Royal Class yet and includes not only include a pair of complete kits, along with parts for a previously unreleased version, a bundle of etched and resin accessories, plus (depending where you live) either a replica medal or more accessories - but, for the first time, they have included an entirely new "kit within a kit" in the shape of a 1/4 scale Bf 110 instrument panel.
The large sleek black top-opening box was so full that it was actually bulging slightly when I unpacked it! It's hardly surprising, because it's absolutely stuffed with sprues (surprisingly, the main sprues aren't bagged separately, but no harm had come to anything) and the parts-list is quite phenomenal:
The Bf 110s:
615 x pale olive styrene parts
24 x clear styrene parts
4 x resin parts
668 x etched metal parts (some pre-painted)
Decals for 12 x colour schemes
A 15-piece etched maintenance ladder set
1 x dark grey styrene part
99 x black styrene parts
28 x clear styrene parts
61 x pre-painted etched parts
21 x coloured stickers
Germany - 4 x resin exhausts, plus 2 x sets of resin ammunition drums
Rest of the world - a replica Iron Cross
Once you've recovered from the shock of the amount packed into the box, you can begin to look closer at the contents. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the plastic parts are shared with Eduard's earlier Bf 110s, but there are two new sprues. The first holds new fuselage halves featuring the extended tail that held a life raft. The second new sprue contains new cowlings with deeper oil coolers, fins with protruding rudder trim tabs, plus pointed spinners and new-style drop tanks.
The moulding is precise as ever, with no sign of flash or sink marks and beautifully refined exterior finish. Internal detail is quite extraordinary - the kits feature one of the most complete cockpits yet included in this scale in a mainstream kit (so much so that, when the Bf 110 was first released, some modellers actually complained that there was too much detail! - hence Eduard's move to the more manageable Grumman Hellcat). See the review of the original release for a full description HERE
The Royal Class Bf 110 takes full advantage of the etched sets that Eduard have released separately to accompany the original kits. So, along with the obligatory alternative instrument panels and extras to pile into the already highly detailed cockpit, there are also a plethora of parts to superdetail the nose gun bay and wheel wells. See the review of the original detail set for the Bf 110E HERE
The maintenance ladders are very neat - but be warned, they are also flimsy. I've assembled a set in the past and would definitely recommend adding some form of supports for extra strength, particularly on the steps which are twisted to the correct angle and have tiny attachments. The metal used is quite thin and the items don't have much rigidity, even when finished. Ideal for dioramas and vignettes, they are best assembled just before you need them, because they'll easily become damaged if left laying around.
Resin Parts and other extras
Standard to all versions of the kit is a set of highly detailed resin tropical air intakes. For the German market, Eduard have included a beautiful set of resin exhausts and ammunition drums. The exhausts are hollowed-out and will save lining up the individual stacks included among the plastic parts. The only shame is that the resin exhausts are only supplied for one of the two kits.
The same is true of the other German-market extra - a vacuformed canopy. The quality of this is excellent - crystal clear, with crisply defined frames. It's thick enough to make trimming it from its backing sheet quite straightforward and it's moulded closed, which will make life easier than the 8-part original (although I'm not sure how many modellers will want to close the canopy if they've piled in all the cockpit detail included in the kit...)
Elsewhere in the world, modellers receive just the tropical intakes, plus a nicely produced replica Iron Cross.
the instrument panel
The real surprise when this Royal Kit was announced was the inclusion of a 1/4 scale instrument panel. The nearest equivalents I've seen are Propagteam's 1/4 scale panels, although they don't produce one for the Bf 110. It's a real beauty, with the basic panel moulded in a good match for RLM 66 as a single piece which forms a substantial foundation for the build.
Added to this, every knob, switch and bezel is a separate part. Some switches can be made to operate and each instrument is constructed from 3 or 4 parts - a printed face, a separate "glass" trapped behind the bezel and, where appropriate, etched metal hands for the dial. The front of the panel is festooned with miniature etched placards and data-plates - each held in place by a tiny screw-head.
The layout of the panel for the Bf 110 C, D and E was largely unchanged and the kit matches diagrams and photos in Monogram's "German Aircraft Interior 1939-45 Vol. 1" and Schiffer's "German Aircraft Cockpits 1911-1970" very closely. One item that caught my eye as unusual is the instrument fitted in the rectangular panel on the left hand side. In many references, this space is occupied by a Lku 4 gyro compass, but there are photos in both books of Bf 110Cs with what appears to be exactly what Eduard have modelled - the course selector for an Askania distant-reading compass.
My first reaction on seeing the panel was to ask Eduard whether this was the first of a series. Surprisingly, they don't have plans for any more, but I think the interest in this first release might cause them to think again - especially when they release their 1/32 scale Bf 109E...
Instructions and decals
The main instructions take the form of a 32-page A-4 booklet with the construction broken down into logical stages. Some of the etched details details (such as the instrument panels) are illustrated here, but the bulk of the items are shown in their own separate set of instructions, so you'll need to do a bit of cross-referencing if you wish to make full use of what's available. As usual with Eduard's kits, colour matches are for Gunze Sangyo paints. There's a full page stencil placement guide and each of the twelve colour schemes is shown as a colour 4-way view (with additional scrap views where needed). The schemes included are:
A. Bf 110C, 6./ZG 2, Eberhard Heinlein, Gyancourt, France, 1940
B. Bf 110C, I.(Z)/JG 77, Theodor Weissenberger, Kirkenes, Norway, September 1941
C. Bf 110C-7 Trop, W.Nr. 3100, 6./ZG 1, Russia, 1942
D. Bf 110D, W.Nr. 3406, 9./ZG 26, Sicily, 1941
E. Bf 110D-0, W.Nr. 3170, Lt. Felix Brandis & Uffz. Guntram Weigl, 1.(Z)/JG 77, September 1941
F. Bf 110E, 7./ZG 26, Mediterranean, 1941/42
G. Bf 110E, 1./Erg. Zerst. Gr. Deblin-Irena, Poland, December 1942
H. Bf 110E, Stab II./NJG 1, Deelen, Holland, Spring 1942
J. Bf 110E "Dackelbauch", 5./NJG 1, Deelen, Holland, Spring 1941
K. Bf 110E, W.Nr. 3866, Hans-Joachim Jabs, Staffelkapitän 6./ZG 76, Argos, 1941
L. Bf 110E-2 Trop, 1./ZG 1, Russia, 1942
M. Bf 110E-2, 7./ZG 26, Libya, 1942
The decals are beautifully printed on two sheets. The registration is perfect on the review sample and the items are thin and glossy, with minimal carrier film. The swastikas are provided in two forms - full and sliced in half - and, for the German-market version reviewed here, the full versions have been trimmed off the sheet. The "split" variety should line up perfectly well but, of course, there are plenty of aftermarket swastikas available if you prefer.
Eduard's Royal Class Messerschmitt Bf 110 is a phenomenal kit and represents a massive modelling project that will keep anyone busy for weeks (or months) if you use all the extra detail parts included. $185 is a lot to splash out in one go, but when the sheer quantity of parts included is taken into account, the Royal Bf 110 represents good value for money - with the proviso that you are skilled enough to make the most of all the extra details. It's hard to do a direct comparison, but the standard kits and accessories alone would cost around $175 dollars bought separately - and that's before you add the new fuselage and nacelle sprues, resin and vacuformed parts (or replica medal) and, of course, the unique instrument panel kit which (based on the price of Propagteam panels) would probably sell for $50 or $60 in its own right.
It's certainly not a kit for beginners - Eduard's standard Bf 110 straight out of the box is a complex kit that demands a degree of skill to get the most out of it. If you add all the etched extras included here, it's really a project for experienced modellers - but the results should be fantastic! Highly recommended.
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