Grand Messerschmitt project: Super-detailing the “Emil”, part 1

I have built the Airfix Bf 109E-7 a few years ago, and found it to be a nice, accurate, and well detailed kit. As I was studying the same kit now on my workbench, it struck me that perhaps this could be a small “super-detailing” exercise. I have the True Details resin cockpit set, designed for the Hasegawa kit, but I figured I could make it work here as well. It certainly offers better details than the Airfix kit, although I have to say the details from the Airfix offering are quite nice and indeed I even built my earlier “Emil” with the canopy open.

The whole exercise could consist of the following:

  • Resin cockpit (from True Details), seat belts are part of the seat in this set so it will be better to use the seat from the kit with Eduard photo-etch seat belts,
  • Lowered flaps (the kit offers this),
  • Open engine cowling (in the E-model the entire upper cowling came off as a single part – the kit offers this possibility as well), more details added to the engine (perhaps), and
  • MG 17 guns on top of the engine – for this, I can use a leftover part from the FineMolds’ G-2 kit, as I intend to replace the gun barrels on that one with brass parts from Master Model.

Sound good? I think so. Should I also get weighted main landing gear tires? Probably not. My kit is actually missing its wheels, I used them for my Me 209 V1 since they are better than what the Special Hobby kit offered. Again I can grab spare parts from a FineMolds’ kit – their G-6 kits come with wheels for G-2 as well, and these are similar to the E-variant wheels.

Airfix (gray) and True Details (yellow) parts for the Bf 109E cockpit

My inspiration for super-detailing is the book “Messerschmitt Bf 109 Versions B-E – Classic Aircraft No.2, Their history and how to model them” (Cross, Scarborough & Ebert), published by Patrick Stephens Limited in 1972. It offers a wealth of detail information (photos, drawings) on how to super-detail early Bf 109s; the book uses the old Airfix 1/24th scale model as its starting point. The book “German Aircraft Interiors 1935-1945, Vol.1” (Merrick) published by Monogram Aviation Publications in 1996 was also very useful in figuring out some of the details and colors. Why is it, though, that I can never find good enough detail pictures of how the seat belts (or more generally, the seats) are arranged?

True Details’ resin parts installed

As expected, the True Detail’ resin cockpit fits reasonably well, but of course some surgery was required particularly for the side panels. I filed off all the detail from the kit fuselage to thin the walls, and then superglued the panels in place. I airbrushed them with RLM 02, did a light wash with AK “aircraft engine oil”, and painted some details. The instrument panel needed some 20 thou styrene sheet support to attach it to the front firewall.

Interior parts painted and ready for assembly

I use the kit seat and added seat belts from an Eduard photo-etch sheet for various German fighters, choosing the “early 109” belts. The shoulder belts come through a hole in the seat back, this was done by drilling a couple of thin holes and removing the material from between them. I will not install the seat until very late in the project, so as not to mess up the seat belts when sanding and painting the fuselage.

Kit seat with Eduard seat belts, before bending/folding them in place

In my next post I will discuss what needs to be done to open up the cowling. Some surgery is needed, at least to accommodate the MG 17 guns on top of the engine.

Previous: Cockpit detailing | Next: Towards complete airframes

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