I've always liked the looks of the Bf110. It has nice lines and looks like it really means business - unfortunately looks were about all these early models had when it came to its original Zerstorer (Destroyer)/Heavy Fighter role. Born of a requirement for an aircraft that could do it all - fly long distances, engage fighters, and even drop bombs - the Bf110 was handicapped from the start. The aircraft was initially rejected as the Messerschmitt team opted to ignore the bomb carrying requirement in favor of aircraft performance, but it was eventually approved. After some early successes in the Polish and French campaigns, the Bf110 suffered heavy losses in the Battle of Britain when matched against the top fighters of the day. While not successful as a pure fighter aircraft, it did find more success as a fighter bomber in the Mediterranean and Russian theaters. However, the aircraft really found its element as a night fighter.
The Bf110D model is often associated with the huge "Dackelbauch" fuel tank that was attached to the bottom of the fuselage. However, most Bf110D's were similar to the "C" model, with the exception of the extended tail which could house a life raft.
Dragon entered the 1/32 aircraft scene with their P51D kit, and then released their first of the Bf110 series, the "C" model in 2008. While the Mustang received mixed reviews, the Bf110 has been very well received, with the exception of the instructions. Other review(s) are available here:
Bf 110D/E Nachtjäger
The good news is that it appears Dragon has address some of the complaints about the kit instructions, and this kit now features improved and more detailed color callouts, which were not present on the "C" kit instructions. Unfortunately, there are still a few parts that are missing installation instructions - fortunately, a Google search will yield an errata for the "C" instructions that can be used with this kit.
The kit itself is beautifully molded, and features restrained panel lines and subtle rivet detail around some panels. This is the fourth 1/32 Bf110 kit that Dragon has released, being preceded by the Bf110C-7; Bf110D-1 and Bf110D/E Nachtjäger kits.
The main difference between this kit and its predecessors is the inclusion of the 900L long range fuel tanks, included in Sprue "P". A nice touch is the option to have the pilot's side windows open or closed. Finally, a piece of fine pre-bent wire (visible in the photo showing the decals and PE), with PE loop attachments is provided for the cable that ran from the rear cockpit to the tail dingy compartment.
The only error I could find in this kit is that according to my references (John Vasco's excellent Messerschmitt Bf 110 C,D,E book in this case) on the 110, the D model had a different air intake on the inside of the starboard engine nacelle. The kit provides the same version that is provided in the "C" kit, part F8, while the "D/E" had a curved fillet plate that extends forward over the exhaust stack to keep any fumes from entering the intake.
The kit comes with markings to build the aircraft featured on the excellent box art, a Bf110D-3, 3U NT with 9./ZG 26, based in Sicily during 1941. This particular aircraft had previously served in the Balkan campaign, as it still sports the yellow campaign markings. Other options include another 9./ZG 26 machine, 3U OT as well as two ZG 76 machines - M8 AP with 6./ZG 76 based in Greece during 1941, and a 4./ZG 76 machine based in Raschid, Iraq with Iraqi markings in 1941. Decals are clear and in-register, as usual from Cartograph. Note that swastika decals and stencils are not included, so the modeler will need to source those on their own. While I can understand the lack of swastikas due to political sensitivities, the lack of data stencils, especially when included in the smaller 1/48 kits is inexcusable.
Dragon's 1/32 Bf110D-3 is a well engineered kit with excellent parts detail due to their slide mold technology. As with other high-end model manufacturers, the use of computers makes tolerances extremely tight, meaning that thorough and careful parts clean-up is essential to a well-fitting, trouble free build.
While it would have been nice if this later release had benefited from some of the improvements made when Dragon scaled down their 110 kit to 1/48, such as separate leading edge slats and control surfaces, I usually build my models in a fairly clean configuration, so it is not a deal breaker for me. For those that prefer to reposition their slats or control surfaces, it should be fairly easy to do so.
Clearly the kit is designed so that any version of the Bf110 can be created by changing out a few components. I really look forward to the day that Dragon releases the Bf110G Nachtjäger version! In the meantime, look for my build blog for this very kit coming to the forum soon!
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