While the "Friedrich" is often said to have possessed the finest flying characteristics of any version of the Bf 109, the new version was widely criticised when introduced for its light armament. Adolf Galland, then commander of JG26, considered the armament totally insufficient and used his considerable influence to have three aircraft specially modified for his personal use. One of these retained its nose guns, but added a pair of 20mm MG FF cannon in the wings. The remaining two aircraft replaced the nose-mounted MG 17s with more powerful 13mm MG 131s, and it's this latter configuration that has been modelled by Sergey Kosachev in his Vector conversion set for the popular Zvezda 1:48 kit.
Set VDS48-040 arrives in a zip-lock bag and comprises 5 grey resin parts and 1 clear. The casting on the review sample is basically perfect and preparing the parts for use will be quick and painless.
The main items are new cowlings with the prominent bulges over the breech covers. These are very neatly sculpted and come with separate parts for what I assume were small deflectors to prevent spent shell links hitting the canopy. No instructions are included, and although the conversion is largely self explanatory, a note of which piece goes on which side would be helpful. I imagine the muzzles of the MG 131s would have been larger than those of the standard MG 17s, but the conversion uses the kit guns.
One of Galland's aircraft was fitted with a glazed armoured headrest and this is provided in clear resin and makes an interesting contrast with the standard sheet metal version.
Note: For best results, I'd recommend using Vector's Galland conversion in conjuction with their Bf 109F Correction set
. This provides a number of improvements over the standard kit parts, including a better shaped supercharger intake to complete the "Galland" cowling.
No decals are included, but markings for Galland's aircraft, including his distinctive Mickey Mouse emblem sported by one of the MG 131-armed machines, shouldn't be too hard to source from kit or aftermarket sets.
Vector's conversion set should be very simple to use and will result in a radically different Friedrich. I hope Sergey also considers producing a companion set for Galland's other modified aircraft armed with cannon in the wings. The completed model will stand out among any collection of standard Bf 109Fs and of course raises one of the great questions surrounding the aircraft; as it clearly could be modified to carry heavier armament, why wasn't this done on a wider scale? Highly recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE