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Craftworks 1/32 scale Bf 109K-4/K-6 "Kurfurst"

Kit: No. 32109
Scale: 1/32
Manufacturer: CraftWorks, 872 SW 174th St., Seattle, WA 98166, 206-242-8272, www.craftworks.com
Price: $125
Comments: Multi-media, 123 parts (41 resin, 70 photoetched metal, 8 cast metal, 4 plastic), decals
Pros: Good detail parts
Cons: Fit is troublesome, some air bubbles in major resin castings, decals are fragile, canopy framing doesn't fit

The Bf 109K was the ultimate "109." It had the best top speed of any 109 variant (452 mph) and was flown by several veteran Luftwaffe fighter units in the final European air battles of World War II.

CraftWorks' new Bf 109K adds to the limited number of 1/32 scale 109s. The main components are beautifully molded in cream-colored resin. The wing is a single casting, and the fuselage is one large central section with the cockpit hollowed out. The fin and lower cowling are molded separately.

Smaller detail parts are produced in resin, white metal, photoetched brass and steel, wire, and plastic rod. Optional wing guns for the proposed K-6, a four-bladed spinner for the follow-on K-14, and a pilot figure are provided.

I built the cockpit first. The photoetched instrument panel with its photo-film backing looks convincing. The "office" detail is extensive, capturing the busy nature of this aircraft. A good portion of the detail is featured on two cockpit-side panels. I spent considerable time painting and test-fitting these parts. Good fit is required here to avoid problems mating the fuselage to the wing. I didn't sand the side panels enough and had trouble installing the other elements. The seat harness is photoetched brass.

I sanded away some mold flash to install the wing to the fuselage. My sample had tiny air bubbles in the leading edge of the wing and along the bottom of the fuselage. I filled them with super glue and sanded them smooth. The wing/ fuselage joint was OK at the front and back, but the fuselage was narrow at the mid-point of the wing root. I filled the area with epoxy putty and carefully blended the putty to the contours while it was still pliable.

There was a significant gap at the rear of the separate lower cowl, so I filled it with a combination of epoxy putty and gap-filling super glue. The spinner is neatly molded, effectively capturing the correct contours of this often-incorrect item. The propeller blades are molded separately.

The ailerons, flaps, elevators, and rudder are separate parts, too - a nice touch for displaying a parked 109. When I checked the fit of the rudder, I noticed the fin's rudder line was a few degrees swept back from vertical. But once the rudder was installed, this was not very noticeable.

The landing gear comprises white-metal struts and resin wheels. I had to drill deeper holes in the wing to accept the gear pins, and did the same in the fuselage for the tail wheel. This produced a solid fit to help support the heavy model. I glued the gear with a combination of epoxy putty and super glue. Optional parts are provided for the seldom-used main-gear wheel-well doors and for portraying open tail-wheel doors.

Moskit-brand metal exhaust pipes are added after installing the upper and lower photoetched heat shields. The pipes add a realistic appearance to the model.

A pair of basic vacuum-formed canopies are provided, along with a male mold should you need to make more on your own. There is no external framing molded on, but separate internal frames are provided in the kit. I had trouble getting the canopy to fit over them, so I left them out and used painted tape for the external framing. I'll try to figure out a better solution later.

I painted my model with Gunze Sangyo Aqueous Hobby Colors' late-war Luftwaffe acrylic paints. Prior to painting I used Gunze's special aerosol resin primer.

CraftWorks' large decal sheet is jammed with markings for six 109Ks and bonus decals for a Bf 109G-10. The decals were extremely thin and fragile. I destroyed several during application and had to replace them with spares.

There are a number of good Bf 109K references available, though some are out of print. I used John R. Beaman Jr.'s Last of the Eagles and JaPo Publications' Messerschmitt Bf 109K Camouflage & Marking. The overall dimensions of the model are fine, except that the fuselage is not deep enough at the cockpit when compared with photos.

I completed my Bf 109K in 33 hours, typical for a multi-media kit. Experienced modelers will find everything they need in one package to build an impressive late-model 109.

- Jim Zeske

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