Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4
Reviewed by Brett Green
The Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4 has been kitted on a number of occasions in the last decade.
Revell Germany added a small extra sprue to their well-established Bf 109G-10, while Hobbycraft and Fujimi both released new kits. The Hobbycraft kit was a major disappointment in terms of fit and accuracy, the Fujimi kit was expensive and (in my opinion) over-engineered and the Revell kit, although the most accurate in outline, suffered from its age, its lack of detail, thick clear parts and it Bf 109G origins.
Now it is Hasegawa's turn.
The parts breakdown of Hasegawa's Bf 109K-4 will be familiar to anyone who has seen the earlier Bf 109G-6 and G-14 releases. Out of seven grey plastic sprues, four are common to the Bf 109G-14 kit. This is not to imply that Hasegawa has skimped on the engineering of the kit. It simply represents a sensible use of readily available, high quality parts.
The three new sprues contain all of the parts that characterise the last of the 109 line. These include
The fuselage is specific to the Bf 109K-4 variant. Radio and filler hatches are all in the correct positions - there is no need to fill or rescribe lines on the fuselage. The tail has been re-engineered too. The trailing edge of the rudder seems somewhat thinner than earlier release and it now includes the small triangular antenna mount on the top of the fin. Don't forget to drill a tiny hole just behind the canopy if you are adding an aerial wire.
To their credit, Hasegawa have moulded the tailwheel doors open on the fuselage halves. This certainly simplifies construction. However, most photos of Bf 109K-4s on the ground show the tail wheel doors closed. Even Hasegawa's marking instructions illustrate both aircraft with the tailwheel down and the doors locked shut! The determined modeller can always cut the doors off and reposition though - it's not a big deal. If the doors are left open some extra detail may be advisable as the closing mechanism was quite prominent.
The new outer gear doors are a bit basic too. Check your references carefully - these doors were often removed in the field.
A strange box shape is moulded onto the panel behind the pilot's head. It is too small to be a bulge for the MW50 tank, and in any case the K-4 did not feature this bulge. It should be removed with a sharp knife.
The shape of the conformal cowl has been the subject of much discussion on HyperScale. See Bob Rinder's photos of the "Evergreen" Bf 109G-10 here on HyperScale for an impression of this complex shape. An accurate asymmetrical cowl has eluded manufacturers for years, but it looks to me as if Hasegawa have got this fundamentally correct. The round bulges at the lower forward corners of the cowl (required to accommodate the Fo987 oil cooler) also look good.
The top cowl is very well done too. It features a crisp hinge running down the centreline and deep gun troughs
A new windscreen incorporates the appliqué panels and reversed "scoop" typical of the type.
The cockpit is basic, but the main features of the Bf 109K-4 are there with the exceptions of the control switch and fuse panel for the MK103 cannon, plus some boxes, switches and instruments on the starboard-side cockpit floor. Anyone concerned about the shortcomings of the cockpit will probably use one of several after-market sets already available from quality players including Cooper Details, Aires and CMK.
The wing sprue originates from the Bf 109F releases of the early 1990's. This means that some minor scribing and cutting is necessary to modify the wings to the later standards. The instructions clearly mark the modifications required. These generic wings feature separate slats and flaps. The new, big wheel bulges are admirably thin. The locating holes in the wings have been thoughtfully positioned so that they will not be visible when looking up into the wheel wells.
Surface detail is by way of crisply engraved panel lines. Ejector pin marks are, in the main, restricted to the unseen inside surface of parts. Watch out for the marks on the mainwheel hubs though.
Hasegawa do not propose the installation of either of the supplied drop tanks or their mount. However, my references show that the fuselage mount (part D17) was frequently fitted, and the 300 litre tank (parts D4 and D5) was also commonly seen in place.
Markings are supplied for two aircraft - Yellow 4 of II./JG 3 (finished in 75, 83, 76) and Yellow 1 of II./JG 7 (in 81, 83, 76).
I have already dry-fitted the major components and there are no apparent problems so far. The top cowl insert is almost a snap-fit.
I have also built and painted the Aires cockpit (curiously, also doesnt include the supplementary panel for the MK103) in anticipation of the delivery of the new model. I have test-fitted the instrument panel and the cockpit tub to the kit fuselage - perfect!
This is a beautiful kit from one of the world's leading manufacturers. I can't wait to build it. At last we have a worthy late Messerschmitt Bf 109 in 1/48 scale!
Review Copyright © 1999 by Brett