Revell have added a re-boxed version of Hasegawa's Bf 109K-4 to their range of 1/32 scale aircraft. The kit arrives in a typical large Revell end-opening box (Revell seem determined to continue with this style of packaging, despite its widespread unpopularity among modellers...) and consists of 5 x main sprues and a separately bagged sprue of clear parts. For its size, the kit is surprisingly simple in terms of the number of parts:
100 x pale grey parts
8 x clear parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
As you'd expect with what is, essentially, a Hasegawa kit, the moulding is excellent. Although the Bf 109 series is a few years old now, there's still hardly a trace of flash and the moulding is very crisp throughout. The only flies in the ointment are a little sinkage where heavy details are moulded on the inner faces of parts - this is particularly noticeable on the wings, where Hasegawa have included locators for a "spar" to ensure the correct dihedral - and a few poorly placed ejector pin marks. The surface finish consists of scribed panel lines and embossed fasteners. The fabric surfaces are nicely done, with rib tapes and stitching.
Thanks to the way Hasegawa original designed the kit, you get a number of spare parts - propeller blades, slim-style wheels and wing bulges, plus 20mm underwing cannon and an alternative windscreen and head armour.
Construction is a little unusual. To get the maximum number of '109 versions from their moulds, Hasegawa split the the fuselage behind the cockpit. The front and rear sections join with a hefty internal block to keep things aligned. I found the fit is good - but not perfect, as the tail has a tendency to sit slightly low on my kit. Trimming the internal guides should sort out the problem easily enough.
The wing is split into outer panels and a separate belly-panel. To maintain the correct dihedral, Hasegawa have included the aforementioned "spar". The fit of the wings seems pretty good, although this arrangement obviously means more joints to watch out for than with a full-span lower surface. Strangely, in my kit, the internal guides on one wing were broken, leaving the top and lower surfaces unsupported. I don't know if this is confined to my kit - and, anyway, it shouldn't prove much trouble in assembly.
The instructions are clearly drawn and break assembly down into no less than 42 stages(!) which seems rather excessive in view of the small number of parts. Painting notes are included throughout for Revell's own paints range.
Rather than go through each stage slavishly for a kit that's probably well-known to many, I'll just cover some of the key areas.
The cockpit is reasonably well detailed and consists of 14 parts. Obviously, in this scale, there's masses of scope for adding more detail - and it's well worth the effort, because it'll be clearly visible on the finished model. However, out of the box, the kit features a very nice instrument panel which matches the layout of the original well. Revell provide a decals for the instruments, but the colours they've chosen seem very odd, with olive green faces. Seeing as it'll be very hard to get the decals to settle over the raised bezels anyway, I'd just scrap them and paint the details.
The moulded details on the side-walls is a bit basic. There's a replacement part for the starboard side, which means removing all the existing details to fit it. The kit includes a 6 part pilot figure. The moulding on the torso is pretty good, but the face is rather expressionless. However, most modellers don't fit a figure in their kits - preferring to show off the cockpit - and, if you don't, it will immediately show that there's no seat harness provided.
Stage 11 is quite complex, dealing with the modifications needed to the lower centre section to represent the 'K-4. There are a number of holes to drill and details to remove. Revell give dimensions for everything and there's also a nice on-line description of the neccessary modifications by Vincent Kermorgant here
The wheel wells represent the earlier circular style, so they must be trimmed to shape ready to accept the new doors. The gear legs are moulded complete with brake lines and the kit includes new "fat" tyres with distinctive radial ridges - a bit overdone, but they can be sanded down for a more scale appearance. Revell provide stencil decals for the tyres and wheel hubs.
There are stencils too for the drop tank, which is a bit basic and has too many weld seams. The tank is moulded with a solid retaining strap, which looks very clumsy and overscale. The ETC rack is much better than it's counterpart in Hasegawa's 1/48 scale '109s, but far superior aftermarket versions of both the tank and rack are available, should you wish to replace them.
The propeller is provided with new paddle blades. The shape of the spinner is always something of a bone of contention in late-mark Bf 109 kits. Hasegawa's isn't bad, but fitting a replacement like Eagle Parts resin version
, which is based on measurements of an original spinner, makes a subtle but distinctive change to the appearance.
Painting and decals
Revell provide a well printed decal sheet which is packed with markings and stencils. The items are printed in excellent register and have a very matte finish. I've had poor experiences with Revell decals in the past, with major silvering problems and finding them hard to settle over moulded details, so I'd definitely recommend doing a test with some spare items from the sheet before committing to any of the featured colour schemes:
1. "Red 7", 12./JG27, Prag-Kbely, 1945.
2. W.Nr -355, "<<", flown by Hptm. A. Borchers, Stab III./JG52, 1945.
3. W.Nw 332579, "Black 15", III./JG53, 1945.
Revell cover each scheme in some detail and give RLM colour references for the main camouflage colours and patterns for painting masks for one of the schemes. The camouflage applied to Bf 109Ks varied greatly in the chaos at the end of WW2. A highly recommended reference for anyone wishing to study the subject in more depth is:
Messerschmitt Bf 109K - Camouflage & Marking, by Ing. Tomáš Poruba and Kees Mol, published by JaPo, 2000.
Revell's Bf 109K-4 will build into a very impressive straight out of the box and will provide an excellent basis for super-detailers to work on. Thanks to the original Hasegawa kit having been available for some time, there are already a considerable number of aftermarket sets available for anyone wishing to add extra detail or seeking alternative colour schemes - and I'll be looking at some of them on Aeroscale in the near future as part of a series building and detailing the 'K. Perhaps the only real surprise with Revell's kit is the price; while it's quite fair for a kit of this size and detail, in the past Revell's re-boxed Hasegawa aircraft have been a lot cheaper than the originals, but in this case (in the UK, at least) the saving is marginal and you may well wish to consider the Hasegawa versions for their alternative decals.
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