Maybe the letter "F" was simply lucky for Willi Messerschmitt? Just as the "Friedrich" is often cited as the sweetest-flying version of the Bf 109, so to the Bf 110F is regarded in many ways as the pinnacle of its twin-engined stable-mate's development. Cleaned up aerodynamically and with more powerful engines, the Bf 110F was faster than its predecessors and remained fully aerobatic since it wasn't encumbered by weight of the extra equipment that was steadily added to later versions.
First appearing in mid-1941, the Bf 110F was regarded as something of a stop-gap, and it was confidently expected to be replaced by the Me 210 so production wound down at the end of the year. However the debacle of the '210 forced production to be recommenced, and the Bf 110F was produced for a time alongside the later 'G (in turn delayed due to powerplant problems), soldiering on in diminishing numbers until the end of the war.
Eduard's Weekend Edition boxing of the Bf 110F is unusual a couple of ways. Firstly, it's the first time they have released a kit of this important variant (there's been no previous Profo-Pack, as is usually the case) and, secondly, it's perhaps one of the most complex in this range, even including a small photo-ectched fret - indeed whether most of us could hope to finish it in a weekend is debatable. To create a "Friedrich", Eduard have combined their earlier Bf 110E and 'G kits, and resulting hybrid fills a large box with a phenomenal number of parts for a nominally "back to basics" kit:
225 x pale olive styrene parts (plus a further 189 unused)
11 x clear styrene parts (plus 2 not needed)
5 x photetched parts
Decals for a single colour scheme
Eduard's Bf 110E
and Bf 110G
have been covered on Aeroscale in the past, and build into very fine kits. The moulding remains beautifully crisp with no signs of flash or sink marks, and construction is quite straightforward if you're careful. The rear fuselage is arguably a little slender, but this can be remedied with a thin spacer of plastic card. The only other point I think may be worth a little work is representing the fabric covered flaps, since Eduard (along with other manufacturers) have moulded them smooth.
Even in this cut-down "Weekend Edition", the kit still isn't really suitable for beginners on account of its complexity. For instance, there are over 90 parts devoted to the cockpit alone - and this is without the addition of the etched extras you'd find in a Profi-Pack version (except for the observer's woven bench-seat top). The kit gives the option of moulded instrument panel and console details or nicely printed decals. My only concern is that the background colour used is RLM 02 (although it appears darker on the scan opposite), whereas I would have expected RLM 66. However, I wouldn't want to make a definitive call on that and, of course, you could always use a punch and die to get the best of both worlds and separate the decal instrument faces to position them in the moulded bezels. No seat harness is provided, and with so much other detail already on display, you may want to add one to complete the job, and Eduard do offer a compact Zoom set to accompany this kit (Item #FE617), which also offers pre-coloured instrument panels and radio fascias.
Slightly disappointing is that, despite the impressive number of parts devoted to the cockpit, no radar receiver(s) are included. Going by the radar array on the nose, I would expect at least a FuG 202 console to be mounted above the main radio equipment, with the repeater panel (part J25) moved up to be mounted in the canopy roof.
A further 20 parts make up the battery of nose guns, which can be displayed thanks to a removable cowl. However, if you do that, you may want to add some cables running to the array of radar "antlers". These are supplied as etched pieces to bend to shape - again, probably a bit too fiddly for beginners, but the result should look quite effective in this scale.
The transparencies are crystal clear and the canopy may be modelled open or closed. A separate external armoured glass windscreen is provided, so you'll need to attach this carefully with white-glue (or similar) to avoid fogging. Of course, masking the Bf 110's "greenhouse" is major task and, unlike in the Profi-Pack kits, Eduard don't include any of their excellent die-cut kabuki-tape masks. But could always use Eduard's aftermaket masks which are available separately and could well be worth buying - particularly if you want to stand a reasonable chance of building the kit in a weekend.
Instructions & decals
This being a "Weekend Edition", the instructions don't have quite the gloss that Eduard's premium kits display, but they are still excellent and printed in B&W as a 16-page A4 booklet. The construction is broken down into easy stages with large, clear illustrations. The sequence is very logical, with all the delicate external details left until last, and colour call-outs are given for Gunze Sangyo paints throughout.
Decals are provided for a single colour scheme: Bf 110F-4, W.Nr 5084, flown by Lt. Ion Simion and Constantin Octavian of Escadrila 51 Vanatoare (12./NJG 6), Otopeni airfield, June, 1944.
The decals for the interesting mix of Luftwaffe and Romanian markings are excellent quality - thin and glossy, with minimal carrier film, and printed in perfect register on the sample sheet. As well as the main markings, the sheet offers a comprehensive selection of crisply printed servicing stencils. Swastikas are provided in both full and split forms (the former are on the corner of the sheet and will presumably be omitted for sale in some countries).
It's great to see the Bf 110F available - almost a "missing link" in Eduard's range of versions of this classic aircraft. Releasing it as a "Weekend Edition" is a rather neat twist, making it readily affordable, while still offering more than enough detail to keep all but the most dedicated "photo-etch junkie" well satisfied. Recommended.
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