AIRFIX 1/72 Bf 109E-4 RETURNS WITH NEW DECALS

The pleasing 1/72 Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 first issued by Airfix in 2012 hits the shelves again with a fresh Luftwaffe livery, as CHRIS CLIFFORD discusses.

AIRFIX 1/72 Bf 109E-4 RETURNS WITH NEW DECALS

If you’re in the market for a wallet-friendly Messerschmitt Bf 109E, you’ll surely welcome the re-release of Airfix’s 1/72 E-4. Last available six years ago, this tooling offers great detail for the money and now comes with a scheme never before matched with an actual kit (although the now defunct Cutting Edge offered it as an aftermarket sheet many years ago). The markings are for the E-4 Wk Nr 1506/White 5+I, flown by Uffz Hans-Georg Schulte, of 7./JG 53, while based at Le Touquet, France, in September 1940. The atmospheric box art depicts said pilot in the process of crash-landing at Manston, Kent, on September 6.

AIRFIX 1/72 Bf 109E-4 RETURNS WITH NEW DECALS

Above: Airfix's 1/72 Bf 109E-4 offers impressive detail, despite being a budget option.

Interesting livery

The colour scheme with kit A01008B is notable in several ways. It eschews the usual standard Luftwaffe splinter pattern in favour of overall RLM 70 over RLM 65, but with extensive RLM 71 mottle on the existing top colour. The demarcation line is interesting too, as it curves up from the trailing edge of the wing to follow the line of the lower fuselage. White paint, rather than yellow, covers the engine cowling and rudder, and the noted red band (faded in this instance) is applied to the cowling. Supposedly, this device was painted on all JG 53 E-4s to cover the unit’s famous ‘Pik As’ (ace of spades) emblem – by order of Hermann Göring – on discovering the wife of JG 53 Geschwaderkommodore Hans-Jürgen von Cramon-Taubadel was of Jewish ancestry. In protest, the unit painted over the Swastikas on all its aircraft.

AIRFIX 1/72 Bf 109E-4 RETURNS WITH NEW DECALS

Highlights of this tooling include fine recessed panel lines and rivets, tyres with integral weight effect, a basic engine moulded with the fuselage halves, and reasonable cockpit features. Also evident are delicate aileron mass balances, a pitot tube, radio mast and separate wing gun barrels. The depiction of fabric covering the flying control surfaces is admirable, although the propeller blades may be a little too thin chord-wise… but it’s negligible. Separate flaps are provided for versatility and even the pilot figure is good. So too are the clear parts, with the E-4’s more angled cockpit glazing being well replicated. The decal sheet is well printed, offering markings with thin, gloss carrier film.

AIRFIX 1/72 Bf 109E-4 RETURNS WITH NEW DECALS

At just £8.99 this is a bargain option, the tooling only being bested by Special Hobby’s more recent and impressive Bf 109, whose E-4 boxing currently costs around twice as much via Hannants in the UK. Airfix’s is splendid value if you want to build a collection, employing aftermarket decals to portray different airframes. It’s available direct from Airfix and its official stockists.

AIRFIX 1/72 Bf 109E-4 RETURNS WITH NEW DECALS