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Dragon 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 110C

Kit: No. 3203
Scale: 1/32
Manufacturer: Dragon, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322,
Price: $99.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 370 parts (20 photoetched-metal), decals
Pros: Extensive detail; ingenious engineering
Cons: Poor instructions; lack of color callouts
Issue Published: February 2009
The Bf 110 was based on the "heavy fighter" concept to which many World War II air forces subscribed. Such aircraft provided long range and heavy armament, but at the cost of lower performance - as demonstrated in the Battle of Britain, which exposed the Bf 110's faults against more-nimble Hurricanes and Spitfires.

Dragon makes a bold move in selecting this Messerschmitt type for a 1/32 scale kit. Revell's 30-year-old kit was the only other model available in this scale. I was amazed by the large number of parts in this big box. The molding and execution are flawless, with excellent surface detail and no sink marks or flash whatsoever. Included are two complete engines, bomb armament, a nose-gun compartment, and a highly detailed cockpit. A small photoetched-metal fret is provided for seat belts and DF loop antenna.

Starting with the cockpit, I was impressed by the amount of detail, including 20mm cannons, drum magazines, fuselage structure and rear gunner's station. The completed cockpit aligns neatly to the fuselage sides with the help of several positive attachment points. The photoetched-metal seat belts are great to have, but the shoulder harness appeared a bit long.

The fuselage assembly features an H-shaped wing spar. The assembled wing neatly attaches to the fuselage by sliding down the rails of this spar. Way to go, Dragon!

The fuselage nose component is molded in one piece to be removable, allowing the gun compartment to be seen. In reference photos it appears only the top cover of the gun compartment was actually removed. You may want to consider modifying the kit part in this manner, as there is no detail below the compartment floor.

I deviated from the instructions in assembling the various components of the engine nacelles. Instructions have you building the complete engine, wheel well, and cowling module, then attaching it to the lower wing. Through several dry runs, I came up with a sequence of installing the wheel wells to the wing, then attaching the assembled engine with bearers to the firewall, and finally installing the cowling parts. The parts breakdown allows the engines to be exposed if desired.

The cowling had a few parts that were a tight fit due to the engine assembly they enclose. It took several dry runs to note these areas. Super-fast glue and a bit of finger pressure resolved this issue. Also, I deviated from the instructions and left the rather prominent exhausts off until after the engine/cowlings were assembled. This simplifies painting.

The neatly molded canopy parts were very clear and I appreciated the option of posing the pilot and gunner positions open.

Despite the fine engineering, the instructions were exasperating! The errors are numerous, and the color callouts are very limited for both interior and exterior painting. I painted my 110 with Hobby Color and Tamiya colors.

Decals are provided for two aircraft. The printing is good, and the decals applied well over gloss.

My primary reference was Famous Airplanes of the World, Vol. 41: Bf 110 (Bunrindo). Also, Squadron/Signal's Bf 110 In Action was useful. The completed model matches the references well, although I think the wingspan comes up slightly short.

I completed my Bf 110C is 20 hours and found it to be an excellent project. I hope Dragon will issue another version (perhaps the G), as I would enjoying building the kit again!

Given the large part count, I would recommend this kit to those of intermediate modeling skill at least. If you are a 1/32 scale Luftwaffe modeler, you won't be disappointed by Dragon's new Messerschmitt.

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