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1:32 Desktop Bf 109F

James H

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1:32 Desktop Bf 109F
Catalogue # IMCZ-003
Available from Hobby Link Japan for ¥30,000




This is one we have seriously been waiting to see for what seems like ages, yet it was only a few months ago that Imcth announced they were releasing a Messerschmitt Bf 109F in their amazing 'Desktop' series of all-metal kits. If you've been living under a rock for those last months, check out our reviews of the jaw-dropping Desktop Mustang and Desktop Zero. I do warn you though, prepare to have your wallet seriously dented in the process. Admittedly, these kits aren't cheap, but you are paying for quite a niche item, and one which will never let you see these aircraft in the same way ever again.


When you buy something from Imcth, you are getting something which they have obviously poured their heart and soul into. First impressions are everything, and the packing box in which this kit came was also adorned with their 'Desktop Bf 109F' logo, hidden amongst the various address labels and invoice sheets. This study box, once opened, revealed the actual kit box, produced in a glossy white cardboard, with a metallic product sticker on the lid. This rather substantial box is then opened via a large side flap which then lifts the lid to reveal a number of other boxes within.




On top, two smaller boxes contain the various white metal parts, wire, vac form canopy etc. These are safely held in situ by a couple of rolls of bubble-wrap around the internal box perimeter. Remove all of these, and underneath is a much larger box, securely fastened with tape, and containing the instruction manual, and various large sheets of stainless steel photo-etch parts. If you've read our previous reviews on the Mustang and Zero kits, you'll know that these aren't simply a flat, two-dimensional affair.....they are actually STAMPED to curve wing panels and fuselage sections! I don't recall seeing any other kit that includes such an innovative idea as this.

Whilst we are in this particular box, we'll start to take a look at the various components on these sheets, interspersed with any specific findings on the instruction sheet which might help to colour things in a little for you. Then we'll work onto the white metal parts and other accessories in this release. The PE sheets themselves are quite fragile due to the pre-shaped parts, but thankfully, these are separated from each other with plenty of bubble-wrap. The flat sheets are packaged into a clear sleeve, protected from each other with tissue paper.





One thing you will notice with these kits is that the stainless steel PE sheets are actually a thicker gauge than you will be used to. This is obviously because it's more to scale with this being a 1:32 model. Whilst I'm explaining this, I will say that there are various parts within this kit, more namely bulkheads, which you will build up from laminated parts in order to achieve the desired thickness, but I digress.


This first PE sheet contains wing components, and is laid out so that it is obvious that one half of the sheet is port, and the other starboard. Every wing rib in the 109F's svelte wing is immaculately recreated here, all individually. There are full ribs, sub-ribs to allow for wheel bay placement etc, and also partial ribs where they weren't full depth in the real aircraft. In short, if you could really peel back the skin on one of these iconic fighters, then what you would see, has been beautifully recreated here.








This sheet contains the dual upper/lower inboard radiator flaps too, which will actually move on this model, so you can pose them as you wish. The landing flaps are built up from an exterior metal skin and a number of rib-lets, whilst the ailerons start life as a single piece of PE in which you need to twist the various ribs 90 degrees to the upright. As these are still too thin at the leading edge, they will be supplemented with white metal upper and lower frames which will give these parts their aerodynamic shape. Simplicity, but neatly executed. A wing needs spars of course, and this is where you will find them.


Wing tips are actually supplied as cast metal parts, and we'll look at those later in the review. These comprehensive wings will eventually be fitted with ammunition, wing slats and slat actuators etc, all from white metal.





We take a break from the wing at this point and look at a sheet which contains the lion's share of the fuselage parts. All formers are presented here with various notches into which longerons and stringers are inserted. I did mention earlier about laminated formers. You will find these here. These notable go to the front and rear of the cockpit module, and the middle lamination of three is notched to allow the external framework tabs to slide into the recesses cut into the middle lamination. Everything is extremely well thought-out during the design process.








This sheet contains those longerons and stringers, as well as various frameworks that exist within the fuselage, and also items such as the sloping plate to the rear of the pilot's head. Whilst we are in that specific region of the aircraft, the cockpit module itself is formed from a single piece of PE which starts at the cockpit wall, bends to form the floor and forward bulkhead, then back on itself to produce the upper framework, extending to the rear cockpit fuselage frame. This clever way of creating the basis onto which every fits, ensures that all the various extra frameworks and internal details should fit perfectly.





Now we're talking! I mentioned those pre-shaped PE parts, and here you'll most certainly see them in the form of upper and lower wing panels. These contain the caps to the wing ribs and other major wing structural elements. The curvature of the wings is superbly captured here.










Apart from the wing panels, spars and ribs are also supplied here for the horizontal stabiliser, as well as a couple of vertical fuselage formers for the construction of the vertical fin.





This is the last of the PE sheets in this kit, and again it contains pre-shaped parts, namely the fuselage belly, cockpit module side frames, and undercarriage doors. Other parts on here include the elevators and rudder, supplied as per the ailerons with twist ribs and a structure that will be 'bulked' with white metal castings, as well as exhaust plates, nose radiator meshes and a number of other smaller airframe detail, as well as seatbelt buckles.


All photo etch is produced to the very highest of standards, with no defect. I'm particularly impressed with the loop tags that Imcth now use to hold the shaped parts on the frets. The previous straight tags could break, meaning a small piece of tape was added to hold the part in place. These looped ones are designed to open up when the fret is stamped into shape.














Now, onto the white metal parts. All of these are supplied in grouped bags in one of the smaller boxes. All white metal parts are expertly produced by Model Factory Hiro, who produce some of the very best castings seen in our hobby. There are no horrible pitted textures here, and poor, soft detail as seen on white metal undercarriage legs that we see from a particular manufacturer. These are sharp, smooth and perfect. Nowhere on my sample did I see any parts bent out of shape either. A little clean-up of parts will be required. Some cast parts will have the faintest of mould paring lines that a quick tickle with a fine grade sanding stick, will eradicate. The cloudy appearance of the parts is also only mould release residue, and a polish with a rotary tool will show these parts to be as sharp, if not sharper, than contemporary plastic kit equivalents.




E – Propeller Parts



This is a simple packet containing just three parts. These are a full piece propeller and boss, and a main spinner with a separate back plate. The propeller locates to the rear spinner plate by means of a cast pin. As with the majority of these white metal parts, you will need to open up most locating holes with a small drill bit, as indicated on the instruction sheet. A hole in the rear plate allows the hub cannon aperture to seat neatly, and the spinner itself falls neatly over the top of everything. You will need to open up the central hole in the spinner as this is cast closed. A little clean-up of the prop edges will be required.




F – Engine Parts



There are FIFTY-TWO parts which go to produce the Daimler Benz DB 601E engine. That's pretty impressive, as is the design of this area. All parts are split between THREE bags, stapled closed. I would use some cheap zip-lock bags to store the parts, until you come to use them. Of course, you need to check everything to ensure it's all there, and you don't want those parts rolling loose in the box.






A very traditional method of assembly is used for the engine, and one that plastic modellers will immediately recognise. What is particularly neat are the cylinder banks. These are supplied as halves, with the cap casing separate. The banks themselves are designed so that the inner half inserts within the outer, meaning there is no horrible and awkward joint line at the front and rear. Another example of how Imcth are evolving their design work.




The breakdown of the engine is very traditional, with supercharger intake, engine bearers, oil and glycol tanks, fuel injector block, supercharger induction pipework, ignition conduits, magnetos, hub, prop shaft, and split crankcase. Some parts are supplied on casting blocks with a paired part. These are easily identified as left and right parts with L and R being cast.




Even the fragile looking engine bearers are die-straight with no bending. Congrats to Model Factory Hiro for getting this so darn right!


G – Main Wing Parts



All of the structural elements of the wing that can't be reproduced with PE are here, as well as parts to give the ailerons their correct profile. The latter is achieved by means of adding a half aerofoil section to both upper and lower faces of the flat PE ailerons. This specific group contains TWENTY-THREE parts. Here you will find wing slats, slat actuators, wingtips, radiators and housings, wing ammunition bay, control surface horns, and aileron mass balance etc.










H – Cockpit Parts



For the detail connoisseur, the cockpit is always a main area of focus, and I think Imcth know that, because this rather detailed and busy group of white metal contains no less than FIFTY parts. In all fairness, not all of them are strictly in the cockpit, but are more concerned with what can only be described as the cockpit module, incorporating the undercarriage unit and forward weapons bay. This kit actually comes with two sets of undercarriage legs; one for deployed, and the other for retracted. You CANNOT change these once you install them, so you need to decide how you will pose your model when complete. Those legs include the bracket/pivot assembly as part of the leg itself, and this is what dictates this move.




As it comes, the PE cockpit tub is devoid of any detail except for a number of holes which are used to locate the various white metal components. It's now you really begin to see the level of detail afforded to the modeller. There are THREE bags of white metal included here. These include forward ammunition bulkhead/feed, machine guns, oleo scissors, control column, rudder pedals and rudder pedal spacing bar, foot plate, fuel tank, various instrumentation and avionics units, two part pilot seat, two part trim wheel (to be supplemented with PE), lower fuselage support framework, and instrument panel. That is by no means a comprehensive list, as you'll see from the photo of the parts. The instrument panel is so designed that two colour printed paper inserts fit into a recess from behind to form the dials. On top of this sits a plate depicting the rear instrument area.










Those instruments themselves are better than the previous release. The larger panel is very good, but the smaller could do with some Airscale decal magic.


I – Tail Parts



The TWENTY-FIVE parts included here are concerned with the rear fuselage, right down to, and including, the tail area. Detail in this rear fuselage area isn't often depicted, unless you super-detail using resin aftermarket sets, but here, absolutely everything is included. Here you will find two bags containing compass, radios, compressed gas bottles, choice of retracted or extended tail gear leg, tail fin and stabiliser parts including the elevator and rudder surface profiles, junction boxes and socket plates. All I think could be added as a little extra is some lead wire to wire things up.






That's the end of the metal parts. Now we look at the last box in this kit.


J – Sheeted Parts & Rubber Parts



Vac-form parts are supplied for the canopy. Please don't let that put you off as these are exceptionally clear, and with superb frame line definition. Rubber tyres are provided, but they don't look quite right for a 109. Perhaps these can be replaced with an aftermarket item. For your information, the hubs are separate to the tyres. Some resin parts are supplied for the wingtip lights and gun sight reflector. These are milky in appearance, so I would look at replacing these with clear plastic. The box also contains a fabric material which is for the seatbelts. The parts are pre-cut, but as the sheet is a little thick, I would perhaps use some HGW or RB Productions seatbelts here. As well as the instruments printed sheet, there are two self-adhesive foil sheets which are pre-cut, and contain the canopy framing. These also have laser etched riveting on them. This can be a tricky area, hence the reason you have been supplied with two sheets of parts. Take your time. This sheet also contains gun barrel jackets, designed to be wrapped around wire. Again, I would replace these with barrels from the MASTER series of products.










The last remaining parts in this box are some lengths of piano wire and some tubing.





These are about as comprehensive as it can possibly get. Firstly, there are A3 two sheets which contain parts maps and also an explanation as to the different fold styles employed. The assembly drawings have different symbology which refer to things such as 'valley fold', and 'mountain fold', referring to whether parts are to be internally or externally folded. Instructions are also given on how to eradicate any pouring nubs and paring lines on the cast parts.
















As for the constructional sequences, there are MANY! Whilst this project isn't quite as complex as the Mustang and Zero with regard to airframe (nature of the beast!), it is still a complex model which deserves your time and patience. Construction is broken down into various areas, such as engine, wings etc, as you would imagine, but there are TWENTY-FOUR pages of A4, double-sides diagrams which you need to carefully study, and explain all aspects of that construction, including memos for when you need to fold, drill and file etc.


The drawings themselves are actually very clear when you look at them in relation to the parts, and start to mentally visualise the skeletal form of the model.


Model Stand



My sample was sent with an acrylic stand which simply plugs together. The clear acrylic is protected by paper sheet which needs to be peeled off. Bearing in mind that the narrow undercarriage is white metal, this would probably be a good idea to use, and of course, it's unobtrusive.


As I just mentioned, the Bf 109F airframe doesn't have the same level of overall complexity as that of the Mustang and Zero, but it is faithfully reproduced here for you in mindboggling detail. You still have a LOT of work to do to complete this model, and the results, from the finished images we have, or staggering. Yes, I would replace the seatbelts, barrels, and the clear resin parts, but that is something and nothing. The wheels and hubs seem simplified too, but there are so many accurate and cheap ones on the market that these can easily be replaced. My only other minor niggle is the lack of weapons tray for the MGs mounted on the upper fuse. This area is faired off with a cowl panel. If you wanted to make something representative here, which I may just do, you'll need to employ a little scratch-building. You may not bother too much about this, and it certainly is no deal breaker for this amazing kit.


Where else can you get something which contains all this detail such as fuel tanks etc? Also of note are the wing to fuselage connection points. These employ lugs and pins, as per the real aircraft. The level of detail is simply that good.


This is a brand new release, and it just seems that Imcth are getting better and better. If you liked the Mustang and Zero, this will blow you away!


VERY highly recommended


James H


Our sincere thanks to Imcth for this review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.

















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