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In-Box Review
Messerschmitt Bf 109E
New quarter-scale Bf109 Emil from Airfix
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by: Neil Page [ FALKEEINS ]

Originally published on:

Aficionados of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 have so far this year enjoyed some great new kits - Eduard, Zvezda and Trumpeter have all produced fantastic 109s in various scales in 2010. Airfix eases into the frame just in time for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the airshow season with this new quarter-scale kit of the iconic Emil. Now given recent Airfix releases, the hard-bitten Luftwaffe enthusiast might be forgiven for thinking that a new Airfix Emil is unlikely to be worth investigating. One thing is sure, Airfix will have to come up with something special to make any sort of impression.

And I think they have. While some of Airfix's recent offerings have attracted the brickbats for their heavy panel lines and somewhat coarse detail, this latest release shows some real finesse among its 107 parts, notwithstanding some of the trade-mark 'clunkiness' here and there. I was keen to start this kit as soon as I got it home as you can see here. Using the Kagero plans published in the excellent 'Top Drawings' series the accuracy of this new Airfix Emil certainly stands up to close scrutiny and shows exceptional promise right out of the box.

Consider whats on offer - separate slats, flaps, rudder and control surfaces, one-piece upper and lower cowl, a neatly moulded engine, a choice of different canopies, separate gun bulges and leading edge inserts, optional bombs and racks, a drop tank, alternative spinners, bulged wheels ... in fact everything you'd need in one box to make any Me 109 E variant from an E-1 right the way through to an E-7. The E-1 carried two 7.92 mm MG 17s above the engine and two more in the wings. The E-1B became the first operational Bf 109 fighter bomber. These were fitted with either one central bomb rack, carrying one 250 kg bomb, or the larger racks carrying four 50 kg bombs. All included. The E-3 was armed with the two MG 17s above the engine and one MG FF cannon in each wing. The E-3 was replaced by the E-4 (with many airframes being upgraded to E-4 standards starting at the beginning of the Battle of Britain) which was different in some small details, most notably by using the modified 20 mm MG-FF/M wing cannon and having improved head armour for the pilot. All these options are possible out of the box. And no special boxings required here if planning a Tropical version - the filter intake is in the box - although there are no 'Trop' options on the decal sheet! Airfix also include an "engine" with some decent detail as part of the fuselage halves. While some will turn their noses up, it has to be said that if that block of plastic wasn't there the fuselage halves would be weak and flexible and very hard to build with the separate top and bottom cowlings. And any representation of an engine looks a lot better than an empty space behind the vents in the upper engine cover. It is very difficult to find anything to get too seriously hot under the collar about in this box - by which I mean the rivet-counters will have meagre pickings. At a push you might comment on the cowl gun troughs which look slightly too pronounced - nothing that can't be sorted with some wet-and-dry. The cockpit detail is a little soft perhaps, the oxygen regulator undersized and the belts moulded on the seat are not particularly convincing. But the throttle quadrant is a separate part as are the rudder pedals and bar. Just about everything else appears spot on. The bulged wheels with their separate hubs will look excellent when painted as will the fabric effect on the control surfaces. Very subtle. All too often that sort of thing is overdone. There are no less than four different windscreens. I haven't worked out yet what they are all for, but one of them is the modified windscreen for Adolf Galland's machine. The ordnance racks come complete with the attachment lugs as separate parts. The weakest parts of the Tamiya Emils - the engine exhaust ejector stubs, the prop and the undernourished tailwheel - are much more convincing here.

The small decal sheet enables three subjects to be completed and includes full stencil detail, but while the decals themselves are well printed, they have a matte finish which doesn't bode well and I imagine most Luftwaffe modellers will want to replace them with something else.

The acid test will be in the build of course, but I don't envisage any problems here. The only potential issue I can see is the location of some ejector pin marks on the cockpit walls and one pin mark in the roof of each undercarriage well which will be pretty hard to fill (see photo) Parts break-down almost exactly replicates the Tamiya Emils and those kits virtually build themselves as we know. In fact the fuselage/wing assembly holds together very securely with no tape or glue - or gaps ! (see photo) The more I look at these new Airfix sprues the more I'm inclined to think that this potentially rates up there with the Tamiya Emil E-3 boxing I'm currently finishing off. However Airfix go further and are to be commended for putting literally everything in the box for a bit less ..hopefully I'll get to finish my first one this week.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Everything is in box to complete any Emil variant
Lows: Only three options on the decal sheet
Verdict: Great value
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: A05120
  Suggested Retail: 13.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 20, 2010

About Neil Page (FalkeEins)

Aircraft enthusiast & 'basic modeller'. I spent my formative years on the base at RAF Marham (my dad worked Victors). I was an Air France dispatcher for 8 years on B737, A320 & F100 types. My first article for Scale Aircraft Modelling was published in March 2001 (a fifteen-page research feature on...

Copyright 2021 text by Neil Page [ FALKEEINS ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Hi Neil Nice job! It looks great with the new decals. All the best Rowan
JUL 04, 2010 - 08:40 PM
Great review build Neil, and I love the finished article. That set of markings is striking, and the paint job is very well done. Now that I've finished my first 109, I might have to have a go at the quarterscale Otaki "G" that I have in the stash. The only thing scaring me off is that there is only one set of markings (and I really like them) but it will involve mottling. Never done mottling, scary stuff
JUL 04, 2010 - 08:51 PM
..thank you guys. The kit decals were just a little bland and limited to BoB subjects. I hesitated over greens vs. greys for the camo, and then there's the 'old' III./SKG 210 vs. ZG1 or E-4/B vs. E-7 argument. All in all this build/finish is a bit of a 'dogs dinner'. Bit like the kit itself I suppose - and it looked so good in the box ! @ Damian - achieving a mottle finish is really straight forward - the difficult bit is doing it at the same time as trying to follow your reference image !
JUL 04, 2010 - 11:57 PM
Thanks for the very useful review Neil. I've turned up late to this party, having only just bought one of these and started it almost immediately. I like the kit, though my tendancy is not to compare it to the Tamiya kit, as i've always prefered the Hasegawa versions. I was not at all happy with the clear parts on the Airfix kit- the only serious problem in my opinion. I don't like the oversized frames. I also don't like reworking canopies either- mainly because i always make a disaster out of them. But here is my solution: This is a test fit of the Hasegawa clear parts. They fit almost perfectly, only being slightly too wide at the front bottom part of the windshield piece- which i'm confident to sand down and polish- or i could just use the kit part for the windshield. I'm not suggesting for a minute that anyone should go out and buy a Hasegawa kit just for the clear parts, but many of us have built the Hasegawa kits and have spare sets of clear parts anyway- as they usually come with both E-3 and E-4/7 parts in the same kit (but not always, it depends on the kit). I'm planning on finishing this one as a tropical aircraft. Hopefully Airfix will tool a new clear sprue for the next production run- afterall both Tamiya and Hasegawa made two attempts for their Emils, if Airfix do the same they will end up with clearly the prefered kit in my opinion. Andrew
JAN 04, 2011 - 12:22 PM
..thanks for tip Andrew! ..unfortunately digging out a Hase 109 will mean venturing deep into the stash...
JAN 06, 2011 - 07:57 AM
There are a set of 109E canopies in Zvezda's 109F-2, and they fit Airfix very well. Sergey.
JAN 06, 2011 - 10:42 AM
..thank you for that tip too Segey ...I haven't opened my Zvezda 109 boxing yet, but at least I haven't got so far to dig to get to it..
JAN 07, 2011 - 06:38 AM
I finished this one a couple of days ago. It's a very easy model to put together...big locating pins and almost snap fit like Neil mentions. I even managed to get the leading edge gun inserts fitted without filler...i just used LOTS of solvent and simply pushed then in hard until the soft platic oozed out. When they set, just sand- no filler. I swapped the canopy with a spare Hasegawa item, i think if Airfix only ever address one thing with this kit then it should be the clear parts. I also shortened the gear legs by removing the section between the the two middle "collars", the gear then seems to sit at about the correct spacing. I also swapped the wheels with a pair set of HobbyCraft wheels that i had (believe it or not the HobbyCraft/Accademy Bf109 wheels are the best in 48 scale!). I left the prop alone and i don't think that in the end it is all that noticeable. The only extra thing that i noticed, and that i'll address in the next build is the upper fuselage profile aft of the cockpit. I think the upper corners on the spine are too sharp with a flat spot on top- very similar to ICM's 1/48 Bf109F series. It should be more egg shaped i believe. If anyone agrees then the good thing is that it's a very easy fix, just over engrave the effected panel lines and sand down the corners of the spine. The plastic is very thick, so i see no problems in getting the more rounded shape. I think overall though it's a good effort by Airfix and i will probably buy more at the cheap price they sell for. I still like the Hasegawa kits better though, especially the cheap Revell boxing. Gunze paints. Revell decals from their Hasegawa boxing, i believe it was an early Marseille aircraft. Andrew
JAN 15, 2011 - 04:23 PM
.. very nice work indeed Andrew (as usual!).. looks very sharp ! I'm surprised we haven't seen more of these to be honest..
JAN 16, 2011 - 11:52 AM

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