Hasegawa 1/48 Bf-109 G-10
Model, Text and Photos by: Tony Bell
The Messerschmitt Bf-109G-10 was the penultimate
incarnation of the 'Gustav", featuring the asymmetrical streamlined cowl
bulges to accommodate the DB605G engine with its larger turbosuperchargers and
MW-50 methanol-water injection. It also featured beefier main wheels and their
attendant wing fairings, tall tail wheel and tall wooden rudder.
The late-model Bf-109 series of kits represent
everything that I like about Hasegawa: simple construction, good fit, fine surface
detail and thin, clear canopies. They also represent Hasegawa's primary weaknesses,
i.e. simple cockpit detail, minor accuracy issues (spinner shape, prop blades
length and oil cooler scoops location) and thick, cream coloured decals. The
strengths far outweigh the weaknesses though, making these kits perennial favourites
for WWII aviation modellers.
As usual, construction started with the cockpit.
No wait, not this time. Sorry, force of
Actually, I started construction with the fuselage, as the design of the kit allows the cockpit to be inserted after the fuselage has been assembled. The Bf-109's construction was typically Messerschmitt, in that there was a join line running along the top and bottom of the fuselage. In order to duplicate this, I eased the edges of the fuselage halves by gently sanding them at a 45° angle. To join the halves together I ran liquid cement along the inside of the fuselage so as to avoid melting the panel line.
The top of the engine cowling is a separate piece that took a bit of careful sanding and dry fitting to get it to appear integral with the rest of the nose. I brushed some Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1000 into the panel lines and wiped the excess away with rubbing alcohol after it had dried for 15 approximately minutes. This results in panel lines of a uniform depth and makes them look consistent with the rest of the fuselage. The fit of the chin radiator was a bit off so I worked some epoxy putty into the seam and wiped the excess away with a damp Q-Tip.
At this point I started the cockpit, which was sprayed with Tamiya XF-63 Dark Grey, followed by a coat of Future, a wash of gloss black Testor's enamel, a coat of Polly Scale flat and a light drybrushing of medium grey artists' oils. Chipping and scuffing was drawn on with a silver coloured pencil to give the cockpit a lived-in appearance. The kit supplied instrument panel decal was applied whole and doused with liberal amounts of Gunze Mr. Mark Softener. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the seemingly thick decal conformed to the sharp relief of the instrument panel. After spraying PS flat on the panel, the individual gauge faces were painted with drops of Future to give them a glassy look.
Because I wanted to do this kit as an IPMS rules Out Of the Box build, I made the seat harness out of Tamiya masking tape painted XF-57 Buff and XF-58 Olive Green with silver buckles and stitching drawn on with a sharp pencil. Positioning tape belts is easy because they can be stuck to the seat and pulled up repeatedly until an acceptable drape is achieved, unlike etched belts that have to be bent to shape first and then attached with glue, affording only one chance to get it right.
The rest of the construction was very straightforward, with only minor trimming and dry fitting required to achieve a perfect fit between the rear of the lower wing and the fuselage. No filler was used anywhere.
In order to allow for commonality between their Bf-109-F, -G and -K kits, Hasegawa has you square off the wheel well openings and scribe a line on each outboard upper wing panel. My favourite scribing tool is a No. 24 X-acto blade with a miniscule portion of the tip ground away. Using a piece of electrical tape as a guide, I drew the blade backwards for a few light passes until I had cut to the correct depth. I then brushed a small amount of liquid cement into the lines and let it dry, whereupon I sanded them smooth with 800 grit sandpaper. The result was a panel line that is indistinguishable from the others.
Painting, Weathering and Decals
After a dip in Future, the canopy parts
were masked and attached with liquid cement. The entire model was then washed
with dish detergent, rinsed and left to fry for a day.
The model was first primed with Tamiya flat white followed by a light coat of Future. Not content with the thick, creamy coloured kit decals, I applied the fuselage crosses and "44" to a sheet of Frisket masking film and carefully cut around them with a new X-acto blade and straight edge. The masks were then positioned on the fuselage and burnished down with a toothpick. The reason for over coating the white with Future is that the adhesive of the Frisket film tends to attack the Tamiya paint, pulling it up when the masks are removed. The Future eliminates this problem.
The model was then pre-shaded by airbrushing Tamiya flat black along panel lines and in areas of deep shadow. The yellow RDV band (Tamiya flat yellow plus a drop of red) was airbrushed and masked, followed by the red (Tamiya red with a drop of yellow) which was also masked off.
The RLM 76 light blue, RLM 75 grey violet and RLM 83 (or is it 82? I can never remember. Curse you Official Monogram Guide!) were all mixed from Tamiya paints, using Aeromaster and Polly Scale colours as guides. Why didn't I just use the pre-mixed paints, you ask? Well, I've never had much success with either brand when it comes to fine control required to do Luftwaffe mottling, whereas with Tamiya I have.
I painted the undersides with heavily thinned (3:1 isopropyl alcohol to paint) RLM 76 applied in light coats, allowing the pre-shading to barely peek through. I enlarged the instructions' painting guide to 1:48 on a photocopier, glued the pattern to some heavy paper and cut out masks. I sprayed RLM 75 on the wings and horizontal stabilizers and then stuck the masks down with little rolls of Blu Tac so that they were held a few millimetres off the model surface in order to provide a slightly feathered edge. I then sprayed the RLM 83 on the wings and stabs, taking care to keep the direction of the spray perpendicular to the spaced paper masks. The upper and lower wing crosses were airbrushed on using Frisket masks.
The fuselage mottling was considerably more diffuse that the camouflage on the wings, so I elected to spray it freehand. I wanted to somehow mark the demarcation lines between the colours, but I didn't want to use a pencil as it would show through. Then I had a little brainwave and hit upon the idea of using Future and a fine brush to mark out the pattern. The glossy lines of Future were nicely visible on the matte surface, but would disappear under the subsequent clear coats.
The colours were sprayed heavily thinned (6:1 alcohol to paint), gradually building up a greater density on the top with a more diffuse look on the sides of the fuselage. The inevitable boo-boos were fixed with touch ups of 75, 76 and 83.
I removed the masks for the fuselage markings and airbrushed a coat of Future prior to applying the decals. I used Aeromaster's generic Bf-109F/G stencils and the kit Werk No. I managed to mangle the kit spinner spiral, but William Lawlor came to the rescue after answering my plea for help on Plane Trading. In true Hyperscale form, he sent me two spiral decals, refusing to take anything in return.
A thin wash of dark brownish grey mixed from Windsor and Newton burnt umber artists' oil paint was applied to the upper surface panel lines. A similar colour mixed from Tamiya paints and thinned 90% with alcohol was then airbrushed in a random, streaky manner over the entire model. The model was sealed with a coat of Polly Scale flat and some light chipping around the high wear areas was simulated by gently tapping with a silver coloured pencil.
Yet another mix of the same dark grey/brown colour, this time from MiG pigments (Soot Black, Ashes White and European Dust), was applied to the wing roots and undercarriage and fixed in place by brushing on clean turpentine. Finally, the exhaust stains were airbrushed with a mixture of Tamiya black and brown, thinned 90% with alcohol.
The pitot probe, aileron mass balances and the under wing antenna were attached, and any glue glossies touched up with Polly Scale flat. On the advice of 109 cogniscentus Vincent Kermorgant, the ADF loop was painted Humbrol Metalcote steel with a reddish brown bakelite base. The radio antenna was nylon thread painted Humbrol steel, with insulators made from sections of stretched Evergreen styrene tube. To make the insulators, I heated the tube over a candle and stretched it thin, after which I cut the insulators to length with a new X-acto blade. These were then carefully threaded onto the antenna which was then superglued into anchor holes made with a No. 80 drill bit. After tightening the antenna up with hot air from a paint stripping gun, the insulators were fixed in place with a small amount of Future brushed on. The little round insulator was made from a dab of superglue painted white.
Since taking the pictures, some folks of the ever-helpful Hyperscale community pointed out (with backup references to boot) that there should be a lead-in for the antenna where the red portion of the RDV and is. It's now there on the model, so just squint your eyes and look off to the side of the pictures and pretend it's there!
Of any kit in any scale, there has to be more reference material, aftermarket decals, resin and photoetch available for the 1:48 Bf-109 than for anything else. Yet in spite of this embarrassment of riches, the Hasegawa 109s are a near perfect choice for an Out Of the Box build because of their simple, viceless construction and nice detail.
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