Messerschmitt Bf-110E

Published on
Review Author(s)
Scale
1/72
MSRP
$17.99
Product / Stock #
80292
Company: Hobby Boss
Provided by: Squadron - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

History

The Messerschmitt Bf-110 was an early attempt by the Luftwaffe to develop a long range strategic fighter for deep penetration missions. It was also intended as a long range escort for bombers, as an interceptor against enemy bomber formations, and as a light bomber and ground attack aircraft. The first prototype flew in 1936, but protracted engine development kept the Bf-110 from entering service until 1938 as the Bf-110B. In 1939, the Bf-110C went into production, and this was the first version produced in large numbers. The Bf-110C appeared in fighter, ground attack, reconnaissance, and “destroyer” versions. The Bf-110C was used to effect in the Polish campaign in 1939, and this gave Goring the impression that the type was unstoppable, the ultimate air weapon. After success in shooting down unescorted RAF Wellington bombers, the type was committed in Norway and Denmark, and later during the Battle of France. As a close support airplane, it was quite effective, but when used as a long range escort during the Battle of Britain, it became obvious that it could not survive long in the air with Hurricanes and Spitfires, and the Bf-109E’s wound up escorting the Bf-110’s as well as the bombers. The units were pulled back after heavy losses.

Subsequent developments included the Bf-110D and E, which were primarily close support types and long range “destroyers” intended for areas where there was little fighter opposition.

In the Russian campaign, the type was effective at first, but numbers tended to dwindle as its replacement, the ME-210, went into production. When the ME-210 turned out to be a failure, Bf-110 production was reinstated, with the E and F models dominating until the more efficient Bf-110G appeared. At first a heavy fighter, the Bf-110G wound up being a very effective radar equipped night fighter, and continued in this role, and in production, until the end of the war.

The Bf-110E, the subject of this kit, was essentially a Bf-110D with structural strengthening so that higher loads of bombs could be carried. “Jabo” and reconnaissance variants existed, and most were equipped with fuselage and wing mounted bomb racks. Many of these were used in Russia and in North Africa.

Capt. Eric Brown, in his book, gives a basic history of the type, along with his impressions from flying several variants. He stated that when used properly, the Bf-110 was an excellent airplane, better that its RAF counterpart, the Beaufighter, and that he never met a Luftwaffe pilot that didn’t like the airplane. His opinion is that the airplane was well designed, adaptable to upgrades, and when used properly, a very effective airplane. The Battle of Britain record of the plane, when used incorrectly, has given the type a bad name, but in the long run, it turned out to be a very good airplane, and a very effective weapon.

References

There is quite a bit of material available on the Bf-110. The old Profile is useful, as are the two Squadron softcovers, the In-Action and Walkaround series. One excellent publication is Capt. Eric Brown’s Wings of the Luftwaffe, which gives this RN officer’s impressions on flying most of the major German wartime aircraft. This is an excellent book, and should be in any serious modeler’s library, as the cutaway drawings are alone worth the purchase price. Many of the Luftwaffe historical books describe the history of the type, and a relatively new publication, Planes and Pilots: Messerschmitt ME-110 from 1939 to 1945,by Histoirie & Collections, appears to have a lot of material. However, looking closely at this text, I found it to be not as reliable as I had hoped, as the drawings are not always accurate. For example, none of the Bf-110E color profiles show any bomb racks, and the Bf-110F is depicted with the cowlings of the Bf-110G, whereas the actual difference between the BF-110E and Bf-110F is a modified oil cooler intake with props and spinners the same as the Bf-110E. There are a lot of color schemes depicted, however, and it does make interesting reading.

Instructions

The instructions are typical Hobby Boss: one small sheet of paper with a picture of the completed model, two 4 view color views depicting the two variations possible, and the inside with a sprue diagram and 5 exploded assembly drawings. The 4 views show decal locations, but some are confusing, as the drawings are so small that it is impossible to make out some of the detail, and the small maintenance marking decals are shown so small that they blend into the basic colors, especially on the all black version. A color guide is included, with RLM colors, Mr. Hobby, Model Master, Tamiya, Humbrol, and Vallejo colors.

The Kit

Consisting of approximately 40 light grey plastic parts and one very clear canopy, this kit is one of the Hobby Boss simplified kits that have become so popular recently. The kit comes carefully packaged, and some parts require wire cutters to get them loose from their packages. The two major parts, consisting of the fuselage and wings, snap together easily, and a central cockpit floor mounts the seats. Unfortunately, there is almost no useful interior, and even though there is an instrument panel decal included, there is no instrument panel to put it on, and this needs to be made from card. The parts fit quite well, and very little filler is required. Panel lines are recessed and crisply molded. The engine cowlings fit onto the nacelles very nicely, and the exhaust stacks just snap into place. Be careful, however, that you have the inboard stacks facing down, and the outboard stacks facing up. There is no IFF antenna for the underside, and also no pitot tubes, but all of these can be easily made from scrap. The interior includes two seats and control sticks, both facing forward, as if the airplane was a dual control trainer. Keep in mind that this kit was not designed as a high-tech, multi-detailed model, but rather as a simplified snap-together kit for new and inexperienced modelers. With that in mind, this kit does an adequate job of representing a famous and historically important aircraft, and will allow a novice to build an acceptable model of this aircraft, while allowing a more experienced modeler to use this as a basis for a more detailed model.

The cockpit has almost no detail, and since the canopy is very clear, a serious modeler will want to add some cockpit details, including an instrument panel, and nearly everything behind the pilot’s seat. The “machine gun” for the gunner is hopeless, and should be replaced by one from the spares box. Just paint the gun, drill a small hole, stick the barrel through the rear of the canopy where the original gun was supposed to go, and you’re set. Check a good cutaway drawing or reference for cockpit details. The tail wheel is a little small for the “E” model, but looks OK when the model is finished. Watch for sprue join points, as several on the fuselage and wings will sneak by you, especially the ones on the radiators. This is a common feature of hobby Boss kits. The bomb racks look good, but preclude you doing anything but the “Jabo” version. This mistake was also made on the old Monogram kit. They would be very difficult to remove if you wanted to do a different version, and they really should be molded separately as they are in other kits. They also make it difficult to locate the under wing cross markings if they are supposed to be where the bomb racks are.

Basic assembly is quick and easy, and after detailing, the canopy can be attached and the model can be painted. Masking off the canopy can be tedious, but the effect is well worth it. The landing gear and doors should be attached after the airframe is painted, and the exhaust stacks can also be attached at this time. The prop goes together easily, and the little washers snap into position in the nacelles, where they can be glued while still allowing the prop to rotate.

Painting and Finishing

I couldn’t find any references to match the painting instructions in the kit, so I decided to do one of ZG 26’s sand camouflaged Bf-110E’s in North Africa during 1942. It is a very colorful airplane, and several photos appear in Smith and Gallaspy’s Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings, Vol. 2. Besides, it was an easy scheme to do, with only two basic colors, and I didn’t have a Bf-110 in those colors. Some of the kit decals were useful, especially the smaller maintenance type markings, although the instructions were unclear on some of them. The size of the drawings in the instructions became a problem here, as it was impossible to tell where those little black arrows went.

Recommendations

For a novice modeler, this is a good place to start. It’s not Hasegawa, Tamiya, or even Airfix, but it fills a void in the modeling field, and if this is your kind of model, it has potential. Don’t be afraid to try one of these. They’re fun.

Thanks to Squadron and Hobby Boss for the review sample.

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