Messerschmitt Bf 109G
Reviewed by Brett Green
Many Messerschmitt Bf 109Fs and Gs were converted to the reconnaissance role by the installation of up to three cameras in the lower rear fuselage. Film was loaded through the radio access hatch for the small rearmost cameras, and through the pilot's stowage hatch for the large RB50-30 camera. These aircraft usually deleted some or all of their armament in an attempt to reduce weight and maximise speed. Occasionally, 300 litre drop tanks were fitted to each wing for long-range assignments. They were not mounted on typical ETC racks, but using a short, simplified wing mount with four sway braces.
J.Rutman Productions has released a reconnaissance set that permits the modeller to reproduce a long-range reconnaissance version of the Bf 109F or G.
This set comprises 31 parts in pale cream coloured resin, 2 strips of lead foil and a half-page of instructions.
The resin parts include all three cameras, the raised base plate for the RB50 camera, both 300 litre drop tanks, their mounts and sway braces. The parts breakdown could hardly be simpler. Cameras are provided as one-piece units, and the drop tanks are supplied split into front and rear halves. All of these parts are well cast and require very little clean up. There are some tiny casting flaws on top of the camera film pack, and also some very minor uneven scribing on the drop tanks, but the quality is generally very good.
The tiny drop tank mounts, sway braces and windows for the small cameras are cast onto a wafer of resin. This should be gently sanded to free the parts from their backing.
The drop tanks join along the recessed line that accommodates the metal mounting straps. The straps are supplied as lead foil strips of the correct width. This thoughtful touch means that the join will effectively be covered by the separate strap.
Some additional parts must be provided by the modeller including the clear windows for the resin frames, a length of tubing for the extended fuel dump pipe and a camera switch panel for the cockpit. These should all be well within the range of the average modeller. To get the maximum value out of this set, the more ambitious modeller might want to cut out the radio access hatch and add details including the compass, radio, actuating rods and other structural details to the fuselage interior to provide a suitable setting for the cameras.
Instructions are typically sketchy, but cover most of the major aspects of construction except the exact position of the base plate for the big camera on the lower fuselage in relation to the centreline.
J. Rutman Productions design their detail sets for experienced modellers. Who else would have tackled the older generation of 1/32 scale kits? The target audience is reflected in the relatively sketchy instructions - it is assumed that the purchaser will have adequate reference to finish the job accurately.
Given this minor limitation, J. Rutman's R-4 conversion will make a big impact on your large-scale Bf 109, whether it be Revell or Hasegawa. Considering the cameras are almost invisible under the rear fuselage, it was clever to have included the wing-mounted drop tanks even though they are seen relatively rarely.
However, when they are fitted they are very conspicuous.
This is another valuable release for large-scale modellers to add some variety to your 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109. If the trouble is taken to cut out the radio access hatch and add some details to the fuselage interior, this will be a very impressive conversion indeed!
Recommended to moderately experienced modellers.
Thanks to Jerry Rutman for the review samples.
The full range of J. Rutman's kits and accessories may be viewed and ordered from his new website at http://jrutman.playnet.com/
Review and Images Copyright © 2002 by Brett