Messerschmitt Bf-110E “Weekend Edition”
The Messerschmitt BF-110 has received a lot of bad press in recent years, mainly because it was not able to contend with comtemporary RAF fighters during the battle of Britain. However, following the Battle of Britain, the type continued in production, and actually was quite successful in the close support role, especially against the Russians, and later, with more powerful engines as the “Gustav” model, as a night fighter it was very useful against RAF night bombers.
The “E” model, which entered production in 1941, was an upgraded Bf-110C, with strengthened structure for heavier loads, and additional armor. Equipped with a center line bomb rack in addition to the four ETC-50 bomb racks under the wings, the type was used for close support and for reconnaissance. There was almost no information on the “E” variant in the kit instructions (only a brief general history of the type), but Profile No. 30 provides some data, including the fact that the BF-110E-1 was a “Zerstorer”, the Bf-110E-1/U had space for a third crew member, the Bf-110E-1 Jabo had an extended rear fuselage for dinghy storage, and the Bf-110E-3 was a reconnaissance variant. Many were used on the Russian Front, and the kit in question is listed only as a Bf-110E, flown by Lt. Herbert Kutscha, of 5/ZG 1 “Wespen”, in Russia during 1942. My suspicion is that it was a Bf-110E-1.
This kit, which has already been issued by Eduard with all of the bells and whistles, is being marketed as a “Weekend Edition”, apparently meaning that an experienced modeler should be able to complete the kit over the weekend. I found it a little more challenging than that, although possibly if I did nothing else on the weekend, it might have been possible to do it in that short a time period. I took several weeks, but was interrupted several times by work (flying airplanes—who could pass this up), and a very understanding wife who likes having a social life. Be that as it may, it was a very enjoyable experience building this kit, and my overall impression is very favorable.
The kit consists of eight sprues, including one clear plastic one, with over 160 parts, and has a lot of extra parts, including wheels, a fuselage, drop tanks, and other parts intended for other variants. These are clearly marked on the sprue diagram, and I started by cutting these off and putting them in a plastic bag to get them out of the way. The parts are excellently molded, with almost no flash and only minimal trimming required. The instructions consist of 11 pages of drawings, plus a title page with the history of the type in English and Czech. A very useful color guide is provided, along with a good three view of the plane. The color painting on the box cover is also helpful.
Along with this kit, IPMS also provided three “after market” parts to use on this kit, as they were newly issued and designed for this kit. These included the QB Exhausts (QB #72-387), the QB Bf-100E Gun Barrels (QB #72-386) and the Scale Aircraft Conversions (#72058) white metal landing gear for the Eduard Bf-110 kit. To comment on these, I will say that the QB parts, which were resin, were comparable or slightly better than those in the kit, although neither unit was absolutely necessary, as the gun barrels and exhausts included in the kit were entirely adequate, although the QB units were drilled out, whereas the kit parts were not. As for the SAC landing gear, the main gear struts were exact duplicates of the kit parts, while the metal strut parts didn’t provide as much detail as the ones in the kit, and required superglue. Two tail wheels are included for some reason. I decided to use the kit parts for the main gear, and will save the aftermarket parts for the next Monogram, Bf-110E I build. I did, however, use the SAC tail wheel, which was identical to the one in the kit.
The instructions give excellent pictures of the assembly process. The cockpit interior is quite detailed, and decals are used for some of the panels, although I wonder about the instrument panel behind the pilot’s seat, which might have been more appropriate for the Bf-110G night fighter with a third crew member. However, I question the use of RML 02 as the cockpit interior color, as many aircraft at this time had RML 66 gray. Nevertheless, I used 02. Very little filler is required for the fuselage. The wings are excellent, easy to assemble, and the separate ailerons fit into their positions very tightly. The only problems I encountered were the engine nacelles, which had to be clamped into position. The radiators were well done, and the tail unit goes into place with minimal effort, although some filler was required. The real problem was the fit of the engine nacelles, as quite a bit of filler was needed to round out the shape where the engine meets the wing surface. Once the basic airframe was together, the detail work began.
The nose guns, which were excellent, were replaced by the QB units. These were designed to slide into position after the nose cone is assembled. To avoid painting the guns, I spot glued the nose cone to the fuselage and then painted the entire airframe after masking off the cockpit and wheel wells. I then removed the nose cone, slid the guns into place, glued them, and replaced the nose cone. Otherwise, some tricky painting would have been needed. After painting, I assembled the kit landing gear, which was well designed for a close fit inside of the wheel well. The landing gear doors lack any kind of secure mounting, and were a chore to fit. There was a little strut at the front end of the gear structure what apparently holds the gear doors in the proper position, and this is faithfully provided in the kit. Before painting, of course, I glued the canopy in position, leaving the pilot’s windows off, as I intended to leave the canopy open. After masking, I painted the airframe. The props consist of three parts, including the three bladed prop, the spinner base, and the spinner tip. These go together very easily, and line up perfectly.
Once the airframe was painted and the landing gear was installed, I added the finishing details.
There was a small ventral mast that was not in the kit (one is there, but it doesn’t look like those in photos of the real aircraft), and the small antennas behind the DF loop antenna under the rear fuselage are missing entirely, although I suspect they are part of the PE sheet provided in the more expensive form of the kit. I’ll scratch build these later. The aileron balances are very small, so be careful with these. They’ll pop out of your hand and you’ll never see them again. Although the wing should have holes for them to fit into, the kit only has a small tab where each one goes.
Painting and Finishing
Only one aircraft can be built from this kit, using kit decals. This is a “cruddied up” snow camouflaged airplane with its 74/75/76 color scheme covered up by a layer of white paint.
According to the drawing on the box, the paint is worn somewhat, so some of the base colors show through. Perhaps the intellectually honest thing to do would have been to paint the plane in the original scheme and then add the white paint over it until the right degree of fading and wear is achieved. I’ve never been accused of being intellectually honest, however, so I just painted the yellow theater markings in RLM 04 (a fuselage band and the wingtips) and then painted the bottom side RLM 76 blue,. After masking, I then painted the topsides white, after which I sprayed some thinned out 74 gray to simulate the faded areas and exhaust stains. It looks fairly convincing.
The decals, however, were a real work of art. I don’t know how they did it. On most of the markings, no trimming is required. The hard part, the curved surfaces of the nose, is covered with two large “wasp” decals consistent with this unit. If you trim them right, and cut where they tell you to cut, and decals slide onto the nose, and don’t wrinkle up or distort. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I was totally impressed. This is a marking that a lot of modelers avoid because of the difficulty of getting the decals to fit, but these decals really did the job, and I thought that the results were very impressive.
I have only built this kit and the old Monogram kit of this variant, and although the Monogram kit has its uses, this one wins hands down, mainly because of its recessed panel lines and the excellent decals. I’m looking forward to building some of the later variants offered by Eduard, as the parts sprues indicate a Bf-110F and maybe a Bf-110G. But this one is a little jewel. Don’t miss out on it. Get one today. This kit is highly recommended.
Thanks to Eduard for the review kit.