is an excellent source for Czech short-run kits and as soon as a spotted LF's 1/48 scale kit, I knew I had to have it. LF also produce a Bf 109X, but the idea of a '109 with an American engine appealed to my warped imagination! The model arrived very promptly in a sturdy mail-order package. As with many Eastern European kits, the actual printed box-top is a little flimsy, but LF ensure the contents are well protected by including an extra interior liner - a neat idea that adds to the box's rigidity.
One look at the V-21 gets the modelling juices flowing! The wings are basically like a Bf 109D (in fact I think the kit parts are probably modified from the Hobbycraft injected kit), but the fuselage is a real eye-opener. To accommodate the radial engine, the rear fuselage tapers out top a much wider centre section. The cockpit is raised, with a new canopy offering a much better all 'round view and, of course, there's the big radial up front. This is unmistakably a Messerschmitt, but one unlike any other in my collection!
The kit consists of:
27 x beige resin parts
25 x etched brass parts and a printed paper backing for the instruments (the set is generic for the V-21 & Bf 109X)
1 x vacuformed canopy
2 x w/metal gear legs
Decals for one colour scheme
The kit is designed (as far as possible) like a conventional injected kit, so the fuselage is cast in separate hollow-shell halves and the wing is split into a full span lower section with separate top panels. The casting is reasonable - but there's a fair amount of clean-up to do on some of the parts. My example doesn't suffer from many bubbles, as such - rather the opposite, with globules filling in some of the smaller recesses, such as the undercarriage attachment points. There are also a few surface blemishes and one aileron has a chip taken out of it. None of this is particularly serious, but the amount and nature of the preparation required means this kit is most suitable for modellers with some experience of working with resin. On the plus side, the fuselage shows some very neatly done scribing and finely represented fabric-effect on the rudder.
Test fit and accuracy
There are some major pour-stubs to take care of before you can begin to match up the parts, but once that chore's taken care of the fit looks quite promising. The new fuselage lines up very well and the modified wing seems like it'll fit the wider cockpit section well enough. The holes for the tailplane will need opening up if you want to use the attachment stubs provided.
The photos of the aircraft on Falcon's Messerschmitt Bf 109 Hangar
show a few differences from the kit. The fuselage seems more rounded than modelled and the wing root fairings look more prominent. Also, the flaps look non-standard and the wings don't have the armament access panels featured on the model. The kit tailplanes include holes for braces, but none are included in the kit and they don't seem to be evident in the photos.
The kit's instructions are a bit basic, but they do the job, with one side of the A-4 sheet devoted to a pair of exploded views and parts diagram. The cockpit is nicely detailed with a resin seat and 6-part etched harness. The floor and sidewalls are well detailed and there are etched seat brackets, trim wheels and rudder pedals, plus a two part etched instrument panel with levers and a resin auxiliary panel. I've no idea how accurate the parts are - presumably the V-21's cockpit differed from a standard '109 to some degree - but it should all build up into a suitably "busy" office.
The fuselage halves trap the cockpit tub and a simple "blank" for the 2-row radial engine. It fits inside the cowling well enough, but there's no indication how far back to set it. The propeller is made up of individual blades and spinner. The spinner is a bit shapeless and could do with the mounting holes defining a bit better before mounting the blades with the aid of a simple template to ensure accurate angles. The blades themselves are perhaps broader than those in the photos of the real a/c - the angle makes it hard to tell.
The white metal gear legs a quite cleanly cast (they are numbered identically in the instructions, but are actually "handed", so make sure you get them the right way 'round before attaching the etched oleo scissors. The gear doors are also etched and look rather thin, but the photos show the prototype without the door fitted.
The vacuformed canopy is reasonably clear with quite neatly defined frames. It has one or two surface blemishes which I hope will polish off before a dip in Future/Klear to restore the clarity. Sadly there's no spare provided, so you're on your own if you decide to slice up the canopy to display it open...
Painting & Decals
A simple painting guide is provided for the aircraft finished in overall RLM 02 and carrying the codes KB 11 and W.Nr 1770 . The guide gives a date of 17/8/1939 and the pilot as Hermann Würsers. The decals themselves are neatly printed - very thin and glossy and in perfect register. A Swastika is included along with some stencils. Of course, as an alternative to the kit's scheme, the photos of the V-21 show it in a n/m finish without any markings. The fabric surfaces are probably still finished in red-oxide shrinking dope and the upper cowling appears to be painted in a dark colour. The metal looks quite dark, which may indicate a translucent chromate finish, as described by K.A. Merrick in "Luftwaffe Camouflage & Markings 1933-1945, Vol. 1" Classic Colours, 2004.
LF Models' Messerschmitt Bf 109V-21 should build into an attractive replica of a radically different looking Bf 109! Despite its relative simplicity, the amount of clean-up needed really makes it suitable for experienced modellers. I have some reservations about its accuracy, but its sheer novelty makes up for any doubts. If you're looking for a subject that's bound to raise a few eyebrows and get the "what if" brigade hot under the collar, you don't have to look much further...
LF Models' Bf 109 V-21 is available at MODELIMEX
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