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Cyber-hobby 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4

Cyber-hobby’s big-scale model kit abounds with detail. The well appointed cockpit includes a nice instrument panel and controls, and the gear legs are modeled correctly as mounted to the fuselage frame rather than the wing. The Daimler-Benz engine and machine guns finish the front.

Kit:No. 3204 // Scale:1/32 // Price:$46.95
Cyber-hobby, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322
Nice detail; mostly good fits (except cowling panels); great decals with five choices of markings
Confusing instructions; finicky/tiny photoetched-metal parts
Injection-molded, 301 parts (43 photoetched metal, 2 vinyl), decals
Icon of the Luftwaffe, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 first flew in 1935 and continued in one form or another into the 1960s, when the Spanish air force finally retired the last of its license-built Hispano Ha 1109s.

Cyber-hobby’s new 1/32 scale fighter is a Bf 109E-4. The kit comprises eight sprues of light gray styrene, or, as Dragon calls it, “Dragon Styrene 100,” a cross between polystyrene and PVC vinyl. You also get two frets of photoetched metal, mostly for the hinges on the control surfaces. These work fairly well but can be fragile and finicky. I don’t know why Cyber-hobby used vinyl liners for the landing gear bays — they could have been done in plastic.

Decals provide five sets of markings for Battle of Britain planes; I chose Adolf Galland’s plane. There is a second windscreen with a hole molded on the right side for the ZFR-4 telescopic gunsight. (Someone forgot the cigar lighter on the instrument panel.)

Step 1 pertains to the instrument panel and machine-gun deck. Painting instructions for the instruments are fairly detailed — for the rest, not so much. You’ll need to collect good color references. They give you the basic colors, RLM 02 gray for the interior colors, black for the engine, but not a lot of detail-painting guidance.

Back to the assembly: When gluing the machine-gun stabilizer arms to the gun deck (Part F2), dry-fit the machine guns to the arms check they are level and square.

In Step 3, parts F44 and F43 are shown installed upside down; they’re supposed to close the gap between the fuselage sides and the cockpit floor. Also, parts A12 and A13 are shown being installed on the inside of Part A19, the fuselage bottom. This is way wrong. These parts belong on the wing roots about mid-chord on the fuselage halves; you’ll see the dimples where they belong.

The engine is gorgeous and builds up very easily.

The photoetched-metal hinge work for the control surfaces is tiny and delicate. The aileron hinge parts include a tiny peg (Part C37) that holds the hinge together. Take care gluing the peg in place. You’ll have to use super glue, but just enough to secure the peg. Too much and you’ll seize the whole hinge.

The same goes for the landing flaps in steps 13 and 14 and the hinge assembly and peg (Part C38). If all goes well, these assemblies are fairly sturdy if a little floppy (especially the landing flaps).

The rudder assembly (Step 17) also features photoetched-metal hinges. However, the locator holes in the vertical tail that are supposed to accept the hinge pins on the rudder don’t match up. You’ll have to drill a hole in the tail for proper location. The control horn and rods for the rudder are also photoetched metal. Leave the rudder off and paint and decal before installing it — you’ll save time and masking.

In Step 19, the headrest/armor plate should be glued inside the canopy, not to the decking in back of the cockpit. The armor-plate braces (photoetched-metal parts MB5 and MB6) are shown bent the wrong way. They should be bent to the rear and glued to the canopy’s rear framework.

In Step 18, Part A1 sits way too high. I had to use a motor tool to thin down the inside of Part A1 where it meets the instrument panel and shroud (Part F28 from Step 1). I even had to file the shroud down a little to make Part A1 sit properly. Once that fit and I went to fit the windscreen, that sat too high. I had to file and taper the area in front of the windscreen so it would blend with Part A1. The mistake I made was gluing A1 in place before mounting the engine on the firewall. If you do as I did, you’ll be working blind; there’s no way of knowing if the motor mounts are seated properly. I don’t think I got it right because the engine cowlings aren’t flush on the right side. Don’t glue A1 until the engine is mounted on the firewall. Test-fit everything first (including the cowl panels) to make sure everything mates. I figured this out too late.

(Another note about Part A1: Part F19 in Step 1 have to be snipped off to get A1 to sit properly. This whole area was a mess. I’d probably have to do another one to figure it out.)

The kit provides a bomb and fuel tank but they weren’t often seen on Battle of Britain 109s. The decals went on great, finishing my 33 hours on this kit. The vagueness of the instructions contributed to assembly errors — not saying some weren’t my fault, but it was a factor. Be careful: Test-fit, test-fit, and test-fit some more.
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