Format & Contents:
64 pages with 150 colour illustrations. 248 x 184mm, soft-bound.
The book follows the established format of the series and begins with a short history of the Bf 109, which includes a useful table of of the various Rustsatze (field conversion sets) which could be fitted. This is followed by a survey of some of the Bf 109 kits which have been produced over the years. This can't hope to be comprehensive, but it does give a good idea of what was available at the time of publication (2001).
Then it's on to the builds, with models in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scales. The photo coverage throughout is excellent, with crystal clear pics of each model at each stage of construction.
First off is a pair of Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Bf 109F-2s.The author adds a number of small improvements to the standard kits, which are neatly illustrated with detailed sketches. All this is topped off by superb paint jobs, including JG54's distinctive "patchwork" camouflage and Russian-theatre markings. The only point I would question is the attachment of the aerial to the rudder rather than the fin, because I can't find any find any photo evidence of this - but beautiful models, nevertheless...
The next chapter features another 'F, but this time in 1/32 scale. The book pre-dates Hasegawa's new series of kits in this scale, so this is a major conversion of Revell's old 1960s kit. This definitely falls into the expert category, with a lot of work needed to correct the kit's inaccuracies, but it really shows what can be achieved by a skilled modeller.
After this daunting conversion, it's back to something more manageable with Fujimi's 'G6/U3 in winter camouflage. The model is spruced up with some Eduard photoetched accessories before a two-stage paint job. First of all the standard camouflage is applied, before a coat of white "distemper", which is then sanded gently to reveal some of the original colours underneath - very effective and subtly done.
Fans of 1/72 scale are in for a real treat with the next model - a superb Mistel combination. The detail here is astounding - it's hard to believe from the photos that this isn't 1/48 scale... The build is a kit-bash affair, with Hasegawa's 'G being backdated to an 'F, while the Ju 88 is a combination of AMT and Italeri models plus photetched details.
The final chapter in the modelling section is a diorama, with Revell's heavily modified kit returning for a great desert scene of Marseille's aircraft being refuelled. The chapter includes helpful detail on constructing the base and palm trees, plus a brief description on how the fuel bowser was modified from an Italeri Opel Blitz. The diorama forms the front cover of the book, but the pics can't give a sense of size - in 1/32 scale this must be a really impressive diorama.
After the models comes the reference section, starting with a very useful set of walkaround photos of Bf 109Es and a Finnish 'G. Then a series of profiles show some of the major '109 variants and this is followed by a useful description of Luftwaffe camouflage schemes. This stops short of the infamous "late War greens" but, otherwise, gives a good overview of standard camouflage.
Finally, there's a roundup of accessories and references, with an extensive list of what's available from short-run producers, plus museum addresses and dealer contacts.
This is a very good introduction to modelling the Bf 109. It's a little surprising not to see any Battle of Britain aircraft among the models, but a volume like this can't cover all the extraordinary diversity of versions and camouflage schemes of Messerschmitt's most famous creation.
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Thank you to Osprey Publishing for kindly supplying the review sample.
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