Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Pro Modeler + UMI + Aires 1/32 scale
Bf109G-0 V-tail Prototype

by Ian Robertson


Messerschmitt Bf109G-0 V-tail Prototype


ProModeler's 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109G-4 is available online from Squadron.com




If you are a fan of the Messerschmitt Bf.109, and if you are looking for something a little different to build, UMI (Unlimited Models Inc) offers a conversion for an esoteric subject – the experimental Bf109G-0 V-tail prototype (WkNr 14003).  Only the one prototype was produced, and the V-tail design never went into production because it offered no real improvement in performance over the standard tail design.  Information on the V-tail Bf.109 is difficult to come by, but here I piece together what I could find or deduce.   

As far as I can tell only three photos of the V-tail Bf.109 exist (search “Bf.109 v48” at http://www.alltheweb.com/ for the three images).  Two of the three photos are tail shots, and the third is a photo from behind that reveals important details about the wings, propeller, and canopy. 



While the photos were helpful in planning my project, questions arose regarding general details of the Bf109G-0 variant.  These problems were cleared up when I happened onto some information in Prien and Rodeike’s “Bf109 F,G & K” (by Schiffer).  Much to my surprise and delight there was specific information about WkNr 14003, the airframe eventually used for the experimental V-tail (pg 57). 


Bf109G-0, WkNr 14003 (VJ+WC) 

Apparently the first three G-0 machines (WkNrs 14001-14003) were produced at Messerschmitt’s Regensburg factory in October 1941.  The DB605 engine intended for the G series was not available at the time, so these three aircraft were fitted with DB601E engines (same as for the Bf.109F-4).  This piece of information, along with the three photos, allowed me to conclude or make reasonable assumptions about the details of this aircraft: 

  1. shallow oil cooler (not visible in photos, but assumed based on the DB601E engine)

  2. wide supercharger intake (as in the F-4 and G series

  3. narrow cord prop blades (as in the F-4; visible in photo)

  4. deletion of the small air cooling scoops aft of the spinner (nose not visible in photos, but these scoops were added starting with the G-1)

  5. early canopy (as in the F-4; visible in photo) with no head armor

  6. no antenna mast.  Antenna wires from tips of V tail to mid fuselage spine (visible in photo).

  7. F style tail wheel (visible in photo)

  8. Upper wing bulges (visible in photo), suggesting wider wheels than usual for the F through G-2 series. 

  9. National markings with black center and thin black outlines (fuselage and upper wing markings visible in photos; lower wings speculative).  No swastikas.





Converting a G-4 into the G-0 V-tail 

Although not explicitly stated in the instructions, the most appropriate base kit for the UMI conversion is Pro-Modeler’s (or Revell Germany’s) 1/32 Bf.109G-4 trop because it has the appropriate F and early G series gun troughs.  I won’t describe the basic construction of the Bf.109 kit because it has been dealt with in numerous other articles on Hyperscale and elsewhere.   

The UMI conversion set is a one-piece resin V-tail insert that replaces the kit’s standard tail insert (see Rodger Kelly’s review at http://acc.kitreview.com/umi3reviewrk_1.htm)



The insert is well cast, although some cleanup is necessary to remove minor pits and rough surfaces.  I found the insert to be slightly narrower than the fuselage at the point of attachment (resin shrinkage?), so some sanding ahead of the insert was needed to remove the small step in the fuselage.  Using my photo references as a guide, I modified the detail on the elevators, added a fairing to the base of each rudder (using evergreen plastic strip), and rescribed the fuselage panel lines to correct their position and make them the same thickness as the panel lines on the kit’s fuselage.   

Although the UMI insert is simple to install and sufficient on its own to provide the overall look of the V-tail Bf.109, additional modifications are needed to make an accurate model of the actual prototype, WkNr 14003.  Specifically, the aircraft had several features in common with the Bf109F-4, including a shallow oil cooler (because of the DB601E engine), narrow cord prop blades, F tail wheel, and F center canopy section (i.e., without the center frame of the G canopy).  Luckily, Aires makes a 1/32 Bf109F conversion that includes these details, although using the parts from the set increases the overall expense of the project.   It was also necessary to remove and fill the four small air intakes aft of the spinner (two on each side) because these were not introduced until the G-1 variant.



An unusual feature visible in one photograph of the V-tail was the presence of wing bulges, indicative of wider wheels but not seen on production Bf.109’s until the G-3/4 variants.  This suggests that the V-tail was retrofitted with larger wheels or just a pair of replacement wings that had the bulges because they were standard at the time. 



I opted to use the resin spoked wheels that came with the Pro-Modeler G-4 kit.  These wheels seemed reasonable because the V-tail prototype flew in late January 1943, even though the airframe was manufactured in late 1941. 



Painting and Markings



None of the photos available for this aircraft show the camouflage in much detail.  I opted for a standard RLM 74/75/76 scheme (a safe choice) painted with Polly Scale acrylics. 

Photos of the tail reveal that the tail cone (after panel 8) was natural metal and the rudders were very dark, possibly black or RLM66.  I used Alclad II “Duraluminum” for the natural metal finish. 

The propeller blades and spinner were painted RLM 70, undercarriage and flap interiors RLM02, and cockpit RLM66. 


While the basic Luftwaffe national markings came from an Eaglecals sheet for the Bf.109F (sheet #64), I had to make my own decals for the fuselage code VJ+WC.  Luckily, this particular aircraft was released as a limited edition kit in 1/48 scale by Gartex (Hasegawa kit with resin conversion) some years ago (note: on the box it is described as a Bf.109G-03, but they meant it was the third Bf.109G-0 produced).  I scanned the decals and used Photoshop to clean them up and resize them to 1/32 scale.  I then printed the codes onto clear decal paper.   

Below is an image of the codes, along with a scale bar.  You can make your own decals by downloading the image, resizing (match the scale bar to the ruler on your imaging software), and then printing them onto clear decal paper.  Once the ink has dried, coat the decal sheet with Testor's Decal Bonder (or equivalent product) and allow it to dry.  Cut the markings out and apply them as you would any other decals.  Not sophisticated, but as you can see from the completed model the decals are satisfactory.



The decals for the work number (14003 near the base of the tail) were scavenged from a 1/48 Hasegawa A6M2 kit.  These decals were remarkably close in size and style to the actual work number for this aircraft.  I modified the number 4’s slightly.





The substantial amount of research and effort I put into completing this conversion project paid off in the form of a unique and valued addition to my 1/32 aircraft collection.  UMI’s V-tail conversion provides a good start for making the Bf.109G-0 V-tail prototype.   Experience with resin is helpful during the cleanup process, and additional modifications to the Bf.109 kit are required if you want to make an accurate replica of the V-tail prototype.  The Aires Bf.109F conversion set is the easiest way to tackle these modifications, although again, expense may become an issue. 



The UMI conversion also opens the door to all sorts of “what if / why not” projects since the replacement tail insert will fit any 1/32 Hasegawa/Pro-Modeler Bf.109 variant. 

For more information about the UMI conversion (set #3) contact Dave at harleydst1958pan@aol.com


Thanks to Dave at UMI for supplying me with the V-tail conversion and the Pro-Modeler kit. In exchange for these items I agreed to post pictures of the completed model on Hyperscale, and to write an appraisal of the conversion set.  The Aires conversion set was from my personal stockpile. 


The octane triangle on the fuselage should be “87” rather than “C3”.  The latter was used on Bf.109F1/2s, not for aircraft with the DB601E engine.  This was corrected on the model after the photographs had been taken. 



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Slovakian and Bulgarian Aces of World War 2
Aircraft of the Aces 58
Author: Jiri Rajlich
Illustrator: John Weal
US Price: $19.95
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date:
 February 25, 2004
Details: 96 pages; ISBN: 1841766526
Shop cart
Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 20 December, 2005
Last Updated 19 December, 2005

Back to HyperScale Main Page