12. Messerschmitt Bf 110 - 1936
Hans-Joachim Jabs - Eduard
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Kit: 1/48 Eduard Messerschmitt Bf 110C
Decals: Straight out of the box
Date: Jan 2013
History: During World War I the concept of a “strategic” fighter that could fly deep into enemy territory and clear a path for friendly bombers, attack enemy bombers, and also carry out some bombing and strike missions on its own, began to evolve. The technology at the time did not permit the concept to move past the drawing board, but when several nations began to re-arm during the 1930s, the idea was brought to the forefront once again. By the mid-1930s Hermann Goring was so taken with the idea that he made its development one of his top priorities. Specifications were soon issued to Germany’s leading aviation companies calling for an all-metal, two-engine monoplane with a heavy load of cannon as well an internal bomb bay. Henschel, Focke-Wulf, and Messerschmitt all submitted proposals, though Messerschmitt chose to ignore several of Goring’s specifications and instead focused more on performance. As luck would have it the RLM dropped the bomber role from the specifications and focused instead on the fighter-destroyer role – the exact role that Messerschmitt had been designing for all along! Consequently the Bf 110 was won the competition, and the first prototype was constructed during the fall of 1935.
The Bf 110 saw initial success over the skies of Poland and France and it soon developed a fearsome reputation. Once it came up against more formidable adversaries over the English Channel however, its poor maneuverability and rate of climb were soon exposed. Against the aggressively flown Hurricanes and Spitfires the Bf 110 was badly outclassed, and the Luftwaffe soon realized that not only could the Bf 110 no longer fulfill its bomber escort role, but that it needed a fighter escort of its own. Withdrawn from frontline units, the fighter later found success in the Balkans Campaign, the North African Campaign, and the Eastern Front where it was heavily used in the ground support role. Its true role would of course be that of night fighter however. During 1942 the British started their night-time bombing campaign against Germany and the Luftwaffe needed a platform that could not only catch up to the bombers but also carry sufficiently heavy armament to bring them down. The Bf 110 fit the bill perfectly. Bf 110s of the F-series and later G-series were equipped with several different types of radar to help them locate the British bombers in the night sky, and the Bf 110 would be used to great effect in that role for the remainder of the war – ironically the very role it was originally designed for.
With the Allied invasion of Europe in June 1944, many of the German ground radar stations were soon overrun, and the constant bombing of the German oil industry began to ground all but a few of Germany’s aircraft. By the fall of 1944 British Mosquitos were escorting the RAF bombers during their night attacks, and the Bf 110s were hopelessly outclassed and hunted down wherever they appeared. Losses of the Bf 110 began to mount alarmingly as their fate became a foregone conclusion. Still, for an aircraft that was nearly out of a job in the fall of 1940, the Bf 110 served valiantly until the end of the war.
Still in the grip of a Battle of Britain fever, I chose to model a Bf 110C that was flown by Hans-Joachim Jabs during the summer of 1940. Jabs was perhaps the leading Bf 110 ace of the campaign, and he would go on to even greater success with the Bf 110 as a night fighter pilot later in the war.
The Kit: Fresh off my build of Eduard’s new 1/48 Bf 109E-4, I decided to try one their Bf 110s. Eduard launched its line of 1/48 Bf 110 Zerstorers in the fall of 2007 with the E variant. Since that time they have followed with virtually every other Bf 110 variant including the C, D, G-2, and G-4 in various boxings. Per usual for Eduard, the contents of the box will delight any modeler. There are six sprues of finely molded parts in Eduard’s typical olive-beige plastic, two sprues of transparent parts, a fret of color photo etch parts, a set of yellow “kabuki” tape cockpit masks (a must given how much glass there was on the Bf 110), and two sheets of decals - one for stencils and one for the markings for five different Bf 110Cs. The surface detail on the fuselage and wing surfaces is superb, featuring crisply recessed lines and rows of tiny recessed rivet heads. The instruction booklet is very thorough and includes full four-view, color painting instructions for each of the featured aircraft that can be built out of the box.
To further enhance the kit and deplete my wallet I added a set of resin wheels from Eduard’s Brassin line, and a set of resin exhausts from Quickboost.
Construction: Construction began with the cockpit as usual, and with the Bf 110, there’s a lot of it. Eduard doesn’t skimp on the details either, mixing its color photo etch parts with finely molded plastic parts to build a very busy office. My plan of attack was to first build up all of the interior subassemblies that were to be painted RLM 02, spray them and weather them, and then proceed to add the other details one by one.
Following the instructions I began with the pilot’s compartment. The seat, throttle controls, and sidewall details were glued to the floor plate. I then moved onto the aft compartment, and once the basic interior parts were glued together I airbrushed those two subassemblies and the cockpit sidewalls Testors Acrylic RLM 02 Grey. That was followed up by a wash of MIG Productions Dark Brown and a quick post-shading by airbrushing a very thinned mix of Tamiya Black and Red Brown into the interior’s cracks and crevices. I then began adding the various parts, plastic and photo etch, as prescribed by the instructions, painting each by hand as I went until the interior was completely built up and painted. The end result is a nice, busy looking interior with many intricate and delicate details.
When the cockpit subassemblies were finished I sandwiched them between the fuselage halves and closed them up. The fit was very good on the upper spine, but the lower seam needed some putty and sanding. Once I had the fuselage in good shape I moved on to the nose cone parts, where Eduard gives you the parts to fully detail the machine gun bay in the upper part of the nose. Like the cockpit area the parts and assemblies are remarkably delicate and detailed – built up, painted, and weathered they would look fantastic. I chose however (wrongly, as we’ll see) to close the nose up and just leave the gun barrels protruding from the nose. Problems arose when I tried to glue the completed nose to the fuselage – the fit was horrendous. The sides of the nose bulge out much further than the fuselage, so much so that I had to use my Dremel to grind them down. After the requisite puttying, sanding and rescribing I was ready to move onto the wings.
The wing halves glued together nicely, and Eduard took a novel approach to ensure that the trailing edges would be very sharp. Instead of the edges of the upper and lower halves mating at the trailing edge, the trailing edge of the lower half is inset into the upper wing half. This leaves a seam that needs to be filled and sanded smooth, but that was no big deal.
Once that was done the engine nacelles were next. I glued the halves together, and then fitted them to the wings. The fit was fairly good except for where the nacelle mates with the wing’s upper surface. Here the “hump” in the wing was quite a bit higher than the nacelle. I used my Dremel to sand it down and then rescribed the panel lines that were lost in the process.
With the wings now complete Eduard next has you detail the main landing gear bays. Separate side wall pieces fit perfectly, providing a high level of detail to the wells.
It was now time to mate the wings with the fuselage, and here the fit was a bit troublesome. I had to file the attachment points down a bit and do a lot of test fitting, but the work was worth it as the joint turned out to be tight and clean. The elevator and twin tails also fit very well, a dose of liquid cement being all that was needed to assemble them.
The assembly stage was now largely complete. Using the excellent masks provided by the kit, I masked off the large greenhouse sections and attached the front windscreen and large middle section to the model. The other open areas of the cockpit were masked off with Tamiya masking tape. With the landing gear and other various fiddly bits left off, I headed for the spray booth.
Painting and Markings: After a wipe-down using Polly S’ Plastic Primer, I sprayed the model with a primer coat of Tamiya Surface Primer. This revealed a few seams that needed to be touched up, which took a couple of nights. Once that was done I preshaded the panel lines with some Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black, and then lightly airbrushed the bottom surfaces a 50/50 mix of Tamiya XF-23 Light Blue and XF-2 Flat White. I then masked that off using Tamiya masking tape and airbrushed a mix of Tamiya XF62:6 + XF58:2 + XF2:3 to simulate RLM 71 Dark Green on the upper surfaces. That was then masked off in a splinter pattern (using the kit’s instructions as a guide) and a mix of Tamiya XF62:6 + XF58:2 + XF1:1 was used to simulate the RLM 70 Black-Green. Once the colors had dried I removed all of the masking tape and sprayed Future over the whole model in preparation for the decals.
I used the kit’s decals, which are very comprehensive, and they behaved well with some Walthers Solvaset. The kit provided all of the markings I needed except for the yellow “N” in the “M8+NP” fuselage codes, but I was able to cobble that together from the yellow “A” that comes with the kit’s decals. The shark jaw decals on the nose needed some attention to make them cooperate, and even then there were some areas to touch up with paint. When the decals were dry I sealed them with another coat of Future.
Final Weathering: A pin wash of Mig Productions “Dark Wash” was applied to all of the panel lines and rivets, and then I airbrushed a coat of Testors Lacquer Flat Finish onto the whole model, lightly diluting it with a few drops of Testors Lacquer Thinner. I assembled the landing gear and painted and weathered them at this point as well.
I post-shaded the panel lines and added engine exhaust stains with a very dilute mix of 50/50 Tamiya XF1 Black and Tamiya XF64 Red Brown. Up next I removed the canopy masks, and then I added some paint chips around the nose and the wing roots using a Silver Berol pencil.
With the weathering finished all that was left was to glue the final fragile parts in place, of which there were quite a few. I posed the canopy sections in their open positions and attached them using Testors Clear Parts Cement. The radio mast and landing gear went on without a hitch, as did the props. I added the tiny aileron mass balances and then painted the wingtip lights Tamiya Clear Red and Green respectively. I painted the Brassin wheels and weathered them with pigments, and then glued them to the model. I painted the Quickboost exhausts Vallejo Chocolate Brown and then dry brushed them with Testors Rust before gluing them to the nacelles. The final step was to use EZ Line to simulate the antenna wire, and with that the model was done.
Conclusion: Eduard’s 1/48 Bf 110C requires you to work a little harder than you may be accustomed to, but the end result is an excellent looking kit. The level of intricate detail that Eduard has engineered into the cockpit, machine gun bays, and wheel wells is museum quality. Their ability to combine finely molded plastic parts with their color photo etch has raised the look of those areas to a new level, and as long as you don’t mind using your modeling skills, you will enjoy building this model. I highly recommend this model, and look forward to what else Eduard has in store for us!
- Osprey Publications, Aircraft of the Aces #25, “Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer Aces of World War 2”
- Osprey Publications, Duel #29, “Hurricane I vs. Bf 110, 1940”
- Squadron/Signal Publications, Aircraft in Action #30, “Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer in Action”
- Wikipedia, the Online Encyclopedia