Bf 109F-4/B

The Bf 109F series was the result of the Augsburg design team's program of aerodynamic refinement to the basic 109 design to take advantage of increases in power promised by improved versions of the DB 601 engine. Those changes brought the design to the peak of its development at least from the handling and performance standpoint. Later versions would increase in weight without increases in lift and only marginal increases in power resulting in a deterioration in handling characteristics.

The first F-1's left the production lines in November of 1940. Several crashes followed introduction into service evaluation units and it was found that the tail plane, now void of the bracing struts used on the E models was susceptible to high frequency vibrations at certain engine speeds causing structural failure. Stiffening plates were added to solve this problem. The F-2 was identical to the F-1 with the exception of the engine mounted cannon which was an MG FF/M on the F-1 and an MG 151 on the F-2. The arrival of the Bf 109F on the Channel Coast prevented the Spitfire V from gaining the edge. While it could still out turn the 109, the 109 could out climb and out dive the latest version of the Spitfire.  The F-3 version appeared around the beginning of 1942 as a result of the availability of the DB 610E engine which used 87 octane fuel instead of the 96 required for the 601N used in the -1 and -2. The -4 version, produced almost simultaneous with the -3, differed primarily in the caliber of the engine mounted MG 151 which was increased to 20-mm. Ammunition capacity was reduced from 200 to 150 rounds. Improved self sealing was applied to the fuel tank and pilot protection was revised comprising the usual armored windscreen, an armored glass rear head shield below which was a 6-mm. armor plate to protect the pilots neck and shoulders, a rectangular 5-mm. plate also being mounted above the armored glass shield mounted at 45º to protect the top of the pilots head.

During the first few weeks of 1942 a fighter bomber version, the F-4/B began service status and appeared on the Channel Coast shortly after. The F-4/B differed little from the standard fighter version apart from having a bomb fusing battery box installed in the fuselage and a ventral ETC 250 bomb carrier for a single SC 250 bomb.

Tip and Run

Tip and run was the name given to method of attack that the Luftwaffe developed in early 1941 and consisted of fighter bombers flying across the English Channel at wave top height to avoid British radar, then as they approached their target they would climb to 500 meters, level off then dive on their target at a 3º angle and lob their bomb at the target. An Adjutant with II./JG 2, Oblt. Frank Liesendahl, while recovering from injuries as a result of being shot down over Dunkirk, put his experience and tactics as a Jabo pilot onto paper and convinced the Geschwader Kommodore, Major Walter Oesau of the benefits of having a dedicated and independent Jabostaffel. Prior to this these attacks had been carried out by regular fighter pilots rather than those trained in ground attack principles. This resulted in 13./JG 2 being created in November of 1941 with Liesendahl in command. Initially shipping was the primary target with a number of successes. Targets were later widened to include port facilities, gasometers and other targets of strategic importance. This eventually lead to a wide open policy of attacking any target including civilians as a means of demoralizing the British public. In spite of the fact that the number of aircraft available for these operations rarely exceeded 30, British efforts to prevent these attacks were taxed all out of proportion to the smallness of the German effort and never were successful in preventing them. 13./JG 2 was later re designated 10.(jabo)/JG 2.

It was reading about these attacks and seeing a color profile, printed in a book on ground attack aircraft, of Frank Liesendahl's Bf 109F that influenced to want to build a model of it. The aircraft carried the emblem of 10.(jabo)/JG 2. which was a fox with a ship in its jaws and several of the staffel aircraft carried marking on their tails indicating the number of ships that the staffel had attacked, damaged and sunk.  Frank Liesendahl's aircraft, blue 1, was the one I chose to model.

The Kit

The Hasegawa kit comes in a two part top open box of typical size for their 1/32 fighters with their usually nice artwork on the top.  Inside the box one finds one large sealed bag with three sprues of parts molded in light gray. Another sealed bag has three smaller sprues also molded in gray and these sprues contain mostly parts specific to the 'F' variant. Another sealed bag contains the clear parts and a small bag contains some resin parts. One very small bag contains self adhesive metal foil pieces used to represent the reinforcing plates added to the tail section. This was a limited addition kit so some of the parts contained apply only to this kit.
The parts are typical of Hasegawa of late (the kit has a 2012 date on it) perfectly molded with no hint of flash, a glossy finish, finely engraved panel lines and fastener and rivet detail and raised detail where applicable.  Compared to some of their other 109 kits this one has the fuselage molded in one piece and has all the correct panels for an 'F' model. They also corrected the spinner which was an issue in the 'G' version kit and provided the correct propeller blades. The fuselage has some molded on detail in the cockpit area and there is some additional detail parts to be added but there are also some ejector marks that will show if not removed. The instrument panel has nice raised detail for the dials and the instrument faces. The main flight control surfaces are molded in the neutral position but the flaps and cooling flaps are molded separately as are the leading edge slats. The fabric control surfaces have rib tapes with simulated stitching which may be a bit heavy but looks OK to me. The inside of the upper surfaces of the wing have gear bay detail molded in and the lower wing half as the wheel bay enclosure molded in. A wing spar is included which will set the dihederal correctly. The tires aren't weighted but they do have separate inner and outer hubs which makes painting a lot easier. The landing gear struts have the brake lines molded on.
Ejector pin marks also show up on the inside of the gear doors but will be mostly hidden behind the struts. They are also present on the insides of the flaps and radiator flaps although these are not likely to be all that visible unless you display them fully open. The kit also contains a relatively nice pilot figure with three separate heads, one with no headgear, one with helmet and one with helmet and oxygen mask. The propeller has separate blades but they have alignment pins to set the angle correctly. The engine exhaust stacks are molded individually rather than as a single strip and the ends are slightly hallowed out. I found no surface defects on any of the airframe parts and the mold parting lines on parts so effected were light. So lets take a look at the sprues.

The kit contains some resin parts which are for the bomb and bomb rack. The bomb body is molded as one piece with half of the fins being separate is nicely done and one needs only to clean up the mold parting line and a couple small pour gates. The rack just needs the gates removed and cleaned up. Both the bomb and the rack had a lot of extremely small air bubbles on the surface in places. They may be small enough that primer will fill them. The ones on the rack will be hard to see with the bomb in place, the ones on the bomb may be more noticeable.

The clear parts are thin and fairly optically clear. There are a number of extra parts to satisfy a number of different versions. Also included are wingtip nav lights and clear armor glass for behind the pilot.

The decals look reasonably thin are in register and appear opaque. Amazingly the sheet contains complete swastika's. A fairly large number of stencils are provided along with seat belts and harness although they seem an odd color and style for German belts and a decal for the instrument panel. The sheet has markings for three different aircraft.

The instructions are are typical Hasegawa, one long sheet folded to create 8 panels. One panel has the history in English and Japanese and a color chart with generic names, RLM numbers where applicable and reference numbers for GSI Creos aqueous and Mr. Color paints. Assembly is done in 15 steps spread across three panels. Another panel has a parts map with parts not used darkened out and also the assembly of the bomb. Two panels have the painting and marking instructions and the last panel has instructions for installing decals, the metal foil parts, cleaning and prepping the resin parts and the usual safety warning.

After Market Goodies
Eduard has both exterior detail (32266) interior color (32682) and color Zoom (33075) and a mask set (JX116) I suspect there are other items if you search for them.

This is another nice and well executed kit by Hasegawa and if you follow the instructions you will be rewarded with an excellent model. Recommended for almost all skill levels.

Links to kit build or reviews
A review / build can be found here. Note: This is not this specific special addition but the basic kit is the same.

Warplanes of the Third Reich by William Green

Schlachtflieger - Luftwaffe Ground-Attack Units 1937 - 1945 by J. Richard Smith, Chris Goss, Martin Pegg, Andrew Arthy, Nick Beal and Robert Forsyth

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Updated 9/21/14