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Battle of the 109s in 1/32 scale
Hasegawa vs. Matchbox

by Bob Aikens


Matchbox 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109E

Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Bf 109E is available online from Squadron




A Retrospective

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.

The Preliminaries

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 [companion] piece.

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 neat-looking
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 1940'

The Matchbox kit is-well, really something else! It's unique in almost every way.



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'.




The Decision

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,

Bob A.


Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright 2006 by Bob Aikens
Page Created 24 April, 2006
Last Updated 24 April, 2006

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