1/48 Messerschmitt Bf-110G-4 Night Fighter
Kit Number 5933
Reviewed By Floyd S. Werner, Jr., #26266
With the launch of the British night offensive the German night fighter force was found wanting. There were no dedicated night fighters and no plan to deal with the incursions. Originally slated as a heavy fighter the Bf-110 was pressed into service. Its shortcomings were to become its strong points in dealing with the British. It had a long loiter time, lots of firepower, and an extra set of eyes. The lack of maneuverability was not an issue early on as there were only limited British night fighters to contend with. When it was determined that the Kammhuber line had serious issues, the technical development of an airborne radar system brought the Bf-110 into its own. The large antenna slowed the airplane considerably but the heavy armament, including the slant angle firing Schrage Musik cannon, made the Bf-110 a force to be contended with. Originally intended to be replaced in 1943 by the Me-210/410, the Bf-110 was produced until the end of the war. Radar equipment and armament varied throughout its career. The Bf-110 was an adaptive airframe that was capable of doing the job until better suited airframes, such as the Me-262 and the He-219, became available.
The ProModeler kit is molded in light grey plastic with a sprue of clear parts. The instructions contain some detail photos and tips that will help in building. The decal sheet contains markings for two aircraft.
The plastic does have some flaws that caused a major uproar when it was released in 1997. Truthfully, the flaws were easily taken care of with a little bit of filler in spots and careful trimming of parts in others. Basically it is a great kit of an important airframe. There are, however, some issues that canít be taken care of without some advanced modeling skills. The engine nacelles are undersized by at least 2mm. This is rather noticeable and will require the Cutting Edge correction set, CEC48416, to correct this problem.
The Aftermarket Stuff
Cutting Edge Correction Set- CEC48416-With the undersized engine nacelles a known and glaring problem, I decided to use the Cutting Edge correction set. The correction set includes all the parts necessary to make the change to a larger nacelle and wing bulge. The instructions are very good, and despite the large areas that need to be cut, the set will present no major problem to the modeler who has worked with resin parts before. The parts are free of bubbles and blemishes.
Cutting Edge Flying Control Surfaces- CEC48430-provides a complete set of flight controls for the Bf-110G-2. Check the aircraft that you are modeling as the G-2 has a slightly smaller rudder than the G-4. Most (but not all) G-4ís had the larger surface area rudder. These control surfaces are very nicely done, with the trim tabs offset in the opposite direction as they are suppose to be. The best part is that the slats, which as just on any other Messerschmitt product at rest, should be extended. This is easily done with this set. Donít forget to reposition your controls in the cockpit.
Aires- Bf-110G Detail Set- 4091-offers the modeler the opportunity to have both engines exposed, detailed wheel wells, and cockpit. As I was using the Cutting Edge correction set the engines were not necessary, but the wheel wells and cockpit were better than those offered in the kit. Molded in cream colored resin, there was some breakage in the packaging and some bubbles but nothing too bad. Aires gives you some of the tightest fitting (read accurate) parts of any aftermarket manufacturer. You will have to reduce the kit parts to paper thin, but the results are well worth the effort.
Black Magic Canopy Masks- CEBM48035- This makes the whole process of masking the canopies so much easier. I did have some problems with the masks conforming to the compound curves but the whole tedious task was done in a fraction of the time.
Construction starts in the cockpit as usual. The Aires cockpit fits great as long as you cut the base to the same dimensions as the kits. I did elect to replace the wicker seat with the seat out of the Verlinden set which I thought was more interesting as it had a flare pistol, map, and belt. Painted in RLM 66 with detail painting, the cockpit comes alive. I didnít have to thin anything in this area. I did have to cut back the shelf behind the pilot to fit the Aires radios, but this is easy. Pay attention to the instructions, especially around the Shrage Musik and MG81. The fit is very tight and exacting. The fit of the cockpit in the fuselage halves is exceptional with no problems noted.
The only filler needed on the fuselage was the molding imperfection on the spine. I elected to leave off the nose section until later. I figured the antennas would become an issue and they did.
The wings are next and that means the Cutting Edge conversion set. This set looks daunting but it really isnít as bad as it looks. All the cuts, with the exceptions of one, are along panel lines. I hate to trivialize this set as it is so large, but really the parts fit very well. My oil coolers had a little excess resin but it cleaned up easily. The one thing that is wrong with the kit is the supercharger intake scoop on the right nacelle is angled improperly. I fixed this by cutting the intake front off and repositioning it properly.
While you are at it donít forget to open up the holes for the drop tanks. I had to cut the ailerons. The wings are strangely engineered, the underside of the right wing includes the center section and the left wing butt joins the center section. This is a recipe for a problem. I tried something different. I attached the wings separately, allowing them to dry completely. This allowed the wings to be aligned properly. This was harder than it sounds but the results were good, besides some of it is hidden by the bomb rack anyway.
The tail represented a problem. When I first put it on it was horribly canted. I was able to straighten it with some shims. I did not cut the rudders as I couldnít reposition the pedals when I built the cockpit. Somebody will look in there and see that. Even though the shims were required the fit was still pretty good.
The wheel wells and landing gear were next. Additional parts, including bulkheads, replaced the kit parts in the wheel well. The landing gear legs when mounted were too vertical so I added a shim to add a little bit of an angle to them.
The antennas were next. It was time to select the aircraft I wanted to model. I went through a lot of decals and finally decided on an aircraft NJG 3. It had a different antenna setup than was offered by ProModeler. I had to get the parts I needed from an old Mauve kit. It had the proper supports and the antennas were brass tubing. It was not a big issue to add the supports to the ProModeler nose. I could only find one picture of the subject airframe. The antennas were added and the nose was set aside.
I tried to use the Aires wheels for the Bf-110G but I could not get the fit of the wheels to work so I resorted to the kit wheels which were quite acceptable.
Using the Black Magic masks, I masked off the canopies in preparation for painting. The masks had a little difficulty sticking to the curves but while they didnít work they did provide the answer. I used the shadow of the masks on the sheet with Tamiya masking tape. While this seems to defeat the purpose of the masks it doesnít. The time to cut the masks out was nothing compared to the hours I would have spent trying to mask the canopies. There are a lot of canopies to mask there. The whole task took only a few minutes, which includes making Tamiya masking tape masks.
The whole airplane, including the canopies, was pre-shaded with RLM 66. Using Model Master Enamels throughout I painted the lower right wing a coat of Flat Black. This was followed up with RLM 76 on the lower surface and the side of the fuselage. RLM 75 was added to the top surface. This color was lightened slightly with flat white and was applied front to back on the wings and top to bottom on the fuselage. The camouflage was applied free hand with the RLM 74. Again this was lightened and thinned down. Some patches of RLM 71 were added to the sides and tail.
I used Cutting Edge decals from CED48045 Bf-110G Part 1, which has markings for EIGHT airplanes. They fit like a champ and snuggled down perfectly with Micro Set and Sol. Once the decals had a chance to dry overnight, the whole model was given a highly thinned coat of Tamiya Buff again streaked from front to back and top to bottom. This blends the decals and ďattachesĒ the model to the base.
I used a silver pencil and pen for the chipped paint. This was followed up with a wash of burnt umber artist oils in the panel lines. I then used Tamiya Dark Tan and Flat Black to represent the exhaust streaks. I start out with a mix of two drops of Dark Tan, a drop of black and a lot of thinner. Once I have the pattern built up I add another drop of flat black. To this I used some pastels to give the exhaust more color.
I added all the little parts that were left, which mostly consisted of antennas, doors and articulated sections of the canopy. I added the antenna wire. Finally I added the nose with the deer antler antennas and then it was done.
This kit is not as easy to build as I would have liked, but it is easily within most modelersí capabilities. If you elect to add the Cutting Edge correction set I donít think that it is too far beyond the capabilities of your average modeler who has worked with resin before. It actually was the easiest part of the construction for me, very anti-climactic. The Aires set, especially the interior, is superior to the kit offering and adds a lot to the look of the airplane. The Cutting Edge flight controls added a lot to the look of the finished model. The Black Magic masks are essential as far as Iím concerned. I was happy with the finished results. In summary, all the aftermarket stuff did what it was intended to do and they add considerably to the finished model. All are highly recommended.
Walk Around Messerschmitt Bf-110G, Ron Mackay, Squadron/Signal Publications, 2000, ISBN 0-89747-420-1
Aero Detail 21 Messerschmitt Bf-110G, Dai Nippon Kaiga, Aero Detail,1998, ISBN 4-499-22680-5
Modelling the Messerschmitt Bf-110, Brett Green, Osprey Publications, 2003, ISBN 1841767042 (very inspiring work)
Monogram Close-Up 18 Bf 110G, George Hopp, Monogram Aviation Publications, 1986, ISBN 0-914144-18-9
Model Art No 480-Luftwaffe Night Fighters, Model Art Co., 1996, ISBN 00140-6-196313
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