Battle of the 109s in
by Bob Aikens
Matchbox 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf
Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Bf 109E is available online from
In apropos it must be
said that I no longer have these builds and had to rely on my picture
archives for illustrations. Some were taken a few years back with a Sony
Mavica 2 mp (disk), others with an Olympus 720 Zoom of 3
mp. Still others were scanned from SLR prints. I've labelled some, but
you'll probably be able to see right away which is which. Both of these
models were built ca. 1995.
If today can be called
the Golden Age of modeling then perhaps by analogy we might say that the
70s was the early Renaissance period; lots of Airfix and Heller 1/72
kits around; trickles of stuff here and there from Eastern Europe; the
colorful bursting of Matchbox onto the plastic modeling scene; and the
growing rumblings of the 1/48 scale revolution that was taking solid
shape, [Heller's 1/48 Jaguars, Fujimi with it's innovative WW 2 series;
and of course Monogram with their early WW 2 offerings. Lindberg was
also still around with regular and off-beat stuff!.] Why, I even
remember a 1/100 Tamiya 262 and 163.[Tamiya had only a handful of
aircraft kits then].
By the mid-70s the surging Hasegawa Co. had a new crisply-packaged and
arted 1/32 WW 2 series going head-to-head and eventually overtaking the
well-established Revell series. Indeed this original Hasegawa stable is
still on inventory. Our 109E is from this series.
Matchbox's 1/72 series of the same time frame was very successful. In
retrospect, 'quirkily innovative' might be an apt description; colorful
packaging and plastic, and subjects with a sycopated English flavour.
They were sort of the' Monty Pythons' of model companies. Many the
modeler honed their building and painting skills on this well-remembered
series. And not wanting to be left behind in the growing 1/48 market,
they came out with a few of their own among them an AD-5 Skyraider, an
SH-2F Seasprite helicopter and an FJ-4B Fury.
Then, wanting to tap into the still popular 1/32 scale niche, Matchbox
released several that had not been covered- A Dauntless, a Mk. I-III
Lysander, a Sea Venom, a Spitfire XXII, and our 109E-3.
The Main Event
These two kits are
united in their modeling fates as they are the still the only two 109Es
[3/4/7] in their scale.But then, Hasegawa's P-51D is also alone in it's
scale [although it's rivity Monogram cousin still pops up occasionally].
You've just got to think that with what's been going on lately in the
larger scales, we'll soon see a new 1/32 Mustang, and a new 109E-3/4/7.
Clearly, there are probably some veteran modelers who have already
picked their favorite among these two. The Hasegawa build you see here
was my 2nd try at this kit- I had done the tropical version in the
mid-70's. I was delighted to come across the Matchbox kit as it seemed
to be quite elusive-besides, I had always wanted to do a comparison
The Hasegawa model
pictured here was built straight from the box, i.e. it has no
after-market additions. I did do some considerable surgery on
it-dropping the flaps, repositioning the elevators, cutting out the
gun-cover and engine cowls.[re-forming the front for a bit more accuracy
when removed]. It was painted with ModelMaster RLM 76, 71,72 and 02. The
decals come from the kit.
The Matchbox 109E-3 was also built straight from the box (I used the
rather strange kit decals, and it was a battle). My example was a
re-release molded in Poland. For painting I used the XtraColor RLM
series- 74, 75, 76. If
the gun covering and cowling look like they're popping at the seams,
you're right. With some sanding and thinning, I got them to slip on over
the engine and guns like a pair of Capri pants on a 1950s starlet. And
thus they stayed-frozen in time. But underneath there's really quite a
lot of detailed gear [see illustrations].
With all the after-market stuff out there now from True Details, Grand
Phoenix, and Verlinden, this venerable Hasegawa kit has become a base
point of some wonderfully detailed builds.Mine was meant to be a
out-of-the-boxer. There was little or no weathering done as it's
original display caption was: 'The Paris Air Salon, Le Bourget, Spring
The Matchbox kit is-well, really something else! It's unique in almost
With it's engraved panel
lines [trenching, to some], and highly-detailed interior, it's really
sort of an evolutionary piece. A preview of what the well-detailed model
of the future might look like.As far as building it goes, I think it
ought to be approached the way you would Turkish coffee or straight
Scotch,-just do it for the sake of doing it 'cause that's the way it was
supposed to be'.
In a perfect imaginary
world these two kits would battle to a draw every time-one wins over
your intellect and the other wins over your heart !
Cheers & Bonnes Maquettes,
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