Although the Me 509 can trace its roots back to the Me 309, very little information has survived. The aircraft was to be of an all-metal construction. A new fuselage was designed, with the pressurized cockpit being moved well forward near the nose. The Daimler Benz 605B 12-cylinder engine was buried in the fuselage behind the cockpit, and drove a three-bladed, Me P 6 reversible-pitch propeller by an extension shaft which passed beneath the cockpit (similar to the US Bell P-39). The wing was tapered and had rounded wingtips, and was mounted low on the fuselage. Other Me 309 components were to be used, such as the tricycle landing gear, and the vertical tail assembly was similar to the one used for the Me 309 V1. Armament was not decided upon for the 509, but it is thought that two MG 131 13mm machine guns and two MG 151 20mm cannon were to be used. Although there were advantages of better cockpit visibility and relocation of the engine weight from the nose gear (important, since the Me 309's nose gear often collapsed), the Me 509 design and development was stopped when the Me 309 program was ended in mid-1943.
Source: Luft '46.com
Trumpeter's Me 509 arrives in a solid and compact conventional box, with the main sprues and accessories bagged individually. A nice touch is that the clear parts are wrapped in foam for further protection. The kit comprises:
74 x grey styrene parts
6 x clear styrene parts
12 x etched brass parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The first thing that strikes you is that Trumpeter seem to have finally retired "Rosie The Ship Riveter"! Gone are the ghastly overscale rivets that we've seen all too often, and instead the surface finish consists of very lightly engraved panel lines and a few embossed fasteners. Ironically, a few lines are perhaps too light, as the control surfaces are all moulded in situ and the hinge lines are marked the same way as the rest of the panels so I'll actually make those lines a bit heavier on my model (I know - modellers are never satisfied!). The overall finish is nice and smooth, but I found the fuselage halves a bit rough along the top and bottom seams, so they could do with a bit of a polish there. As you'd hope with a new-tool mainstream kit, the parts are essentially flash-free, with just few light mould lines here and there to take care of, however I found a couple of sink marks on the top surface of the wings where the undercarriage locators are moulded on the inside.
Some of the sprue attachments for the major parts are on the gluing surfaces, so you need to take a moment or two to clean them up before assembly. With that done, the fuselage halves fit together perfectly - as do the wings, although the trailing edges really need thinning down a fair bit for a better appearance as they are a couple of scale inches thick as moulded. The full span lower wing half includes not only the belly of the aircraft (or rather, a large hole for the enormous retractable radiator), but also the lower section of the nose with the nosewheel well opening. The latter fits pretty well, but might need a touch of filler.
The tailplanes avoid the thickness problem of the wings by being mould in top-and-bottom panels with the joint along the elevator hinge line, ensuring a nice sharp trailing edge.
A few details
With little to go on as to how the full-sized Me 509 might have appeared had it been built, the kit's details are largely a matter of "educated guesswork".
Construction begins with the nosewheel, with a nicely busy roof to the well that features structural details and cabling. The leg is crisply moulded, while the wheel itself resembles that of the Me 262.
The cockpit is quite well equipped with a floor and sidewalls, photo-etched rudder pedals. Any notion of "accuracy" is probably a bit of a moot point on an aircraft that was never built, but the seat looks a little odd in being reminiscent of that fitted in the Me 262, but without anywhere for the parachute to fit (and it certainly doesn't look like an ejector seat seat that some sources suggest might have been fitted), while the photo-etched harness doesn't really match the standard Luftwaffe type. Similarly, the crisply moulded instrument panel is a bit odd, with buttons and knobs seemingly projecting from instrument bezels. It also has a very jumbled layout, whereas I'd opt for the standard "blind flying" grouping of the basic instruments as fitted in the Bf 109, Me 163 and Me 262 as more likely - in fact, the reconstruction of the Me 309 panel in Kenneth Merrick's "German Aircraft Interiors 1935-1945 Vol. 1" is probably a good basis to go by.
The exhausts have to be fitted from the inside. The instructions show this before joining the fuselage halves, but they can actually be left of until later and inserted through the hole for the radiator, which will make painting simpler.
The mainwheel wells are boxed in, with structural detail moulded on the inside of the wing upper panels, and the wheels again seem based broadly on the Me 262, albeit slimmer with far longer undercarriage legs. In fact, the gear legs seem much too long - too long to even fit in the wells. Bearing in mind that they would be under compression with the aircraft stood on its wheels, they really need a fair amount removing to make any sense.
Photo-etched faces are provided for the radiator, which is a perfect fit in the opening in the belly. The instructions only show it lowered, but it's a perfect fit if you want to model it closed. If you do pose it open, it'll be best not to look too closely, because there's a yawning empty space beyond it.
Finally, there's the propeller, neatly moulded in one piece, ready to install in the enormous spinner. As noted on Luft 46.com, the Me 509 was to be fitted with a P6 reversible pitch propeller, but I've yet to find a detailed picture of what it one looked like to confirm the blade shape. For what it's worth, Trumpeter's interpretation is an almost exact match for the propeller included in Czech Models' Me 309. (Alternatively, if you're delving deeper into the depths of Luftwaffe '46 lore, you could scrounge a paddle-bladed propeller out of the spares box if you want to mount a more standard late-war German type as a potential "Plan B" if the P6 prop proved too complex for service use...)
The transparencies are crystal clear and the canopy can be modelled open or closed. A gunsight is included, along with covers for the wingtip navigation lamps.
Instructions & decals
The assembly guide is nicely presented as an 8-page booklet, with construction broken down into six simple stages. The diagrams are clear and easy to follow, and the low number of parts and neat fit mean this kit should be suitable for all modellers from beginners onwards.
There's no mention of noseweight in the instructions, but the dry-assembled basic airframe seems very tail heavy, so I expect you'll need to cram plenty into the nose area. The spinner can be fitted to the open nose at the very end of construction, which will make it easier to judge what's needed.
The painting guide gives RLM matches along with Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol model paints. Two notional colour schemes are depicted in full colour on a separate sheet. The decals appear to be quite good quality, being thin and glossy, but the actual unit markings depicted seem quite spurious compared with standard Luftwaffe practice - but I guess we are talking "Luftwaffe '46" here, so you can let your imagination lead you somewhat.
Flawed, but great fun. I really like Trumpeter's Me 509 despite a few negative points - and how seriously one takes them is totally subjective; one could equally well build it OOB as quick enjoyable project, or get hung up on replacing parts with "best guess accurate" alternatives. However one tackles it, for me it's one of the most surprising kits to be released this year. With the market for "Luftwaffe '46" types relatively limited, it's a bold but very welcome move to release such an aircraft as a 1:48 mainstream kit. If the kit proves a financial success, who knows what else Trumpeter might bring out to accompany it - how about a Triebflügel?
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