As we've seen, the 1/32 scale Hasegawa/Revell Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4 has all you need to build a large and impressive model straight from the box. But, impressive as it is, the kit also provides the perfect canvas for aftermarket detail sets and Eduard have released a number of different upgrades which they've combined into a BigEd package, presenting modellers wishing to go the whole hog a cost saving of over $10 compared with buying the sets individually.
BigEd 3214 combines the following sets:
1. JX008 Painting masks
2. 32121 Etched exterior details
3. 32122 Etched interior details
4. 32507 Luftwaffe seatbelts
#JX008 - Masks
This is a small but useful set of kabuki tape painting masks which contains 20 die-cut items for the mainwheels, tailwheel and canopy.
The masks for the wheel disks are provided in two forms; either you can paint the hubs, then mask them to paint the tyres, or visa versa as you choose. The simple colour-printed instructions show clearly how to apply the masks and the correct painting sequence for items like the canopy frames. Beyond that there's not really a lot one can say other than the set will be a real time-saver for those of us who find masking a chore. I would have liked to see the addition of a spiral mask for the spinner, but perhaps that's impractical given the wide variety in styles and better left for a dedicated set.
#32121 - Exterior Details
You can tell Eduard's Bf 109K exterior set is going to be pretty comprehensive before you even open it; it's so heavy! The set is spread across two large etched steel frets and, although it doesn't contain a huge number of parts - 82 - some of the sub-assemblies are really quite complex. The set adds details to the following areas of the kit:
1. The wheel wells
2. The underwing radiators
3. The nose oil cooler
4. The exhaust shrouds
5. The drop tank
The kit needs some preparation before the etched parts can be added - all clearly shown in the instructions. All the moulded detail inside the wheel wells and radiators must be removed and the edges of the radiators thinned considerably to accept the new parts.
For the wheel wells there are new liners and parts to represent the zipped covers protecting the wings' interiors, plus smaller items which appear to be brackets and retraction-locks.
The radiators and oil cooler are treated to new cores and flaps complete with hinges, while the new exhaust shields must be folded to shape and are much more to scale than the kit items.
The kit's plastic drop tank and ETC rack can't really compare with aftermarket items like Eagle Editions' resin upgrade, but the appearance will certainly be improved if the solid moulded-on retaining strap is carved away carefully and replaced with Eduard's metal version.
#32122 - Interior
As you might expect, the cockpit set is again quite complex with two etched frets containing 128 parts, plus a alternative film and colour-printed backings for the instrument faces.
The first part of the instructions is for a nicely detailed set of seatbelts, but these are rendered largely redundant by the inclusion in the BigEd package of the separate set of pre-painted harnesses.
Moving on to the cockpit itself, all the kit's fuselage sidewall detail must be removed and kit part D7 (the addition sidewall for the 'K) carved right down leaving only the circuit breakers. There are new etched sidewall panels onto which fit brackets, panels, switches, control rods and cables. This isn't an upgrade to be hurried; many of the items must be folded to shape and you may wish to use the etched cables etc. as templates to cut more 3-dimensional replacements, but by the time you're finished just about the only original kit parts retained are the trim wheels.
The instrument panel is replaced entirely with a multi-layered version with a choice of film or paper backings. The printing of both is excellent, but I do worry the blue used for details in the paper version looks very vivid... The panel isn't as complex as Eduard's recently reviewed stand-alone kit #33015, but is still impressive. In this case the parts are plain etched metal, but I believe an newly-updated BigEd compilation for the 'K-4 does contain contain pre-painted interior details. With the panel complete, the gunsight can be added, trimmed down to accept delicate new brackets and reflectors.
The cockpit floor comes in for some radical surgery, with most of the moulded detail needing to be removed to make way for floor-boxes and rudder pedals. The final stage covers the access panel behind the pilot's head, a complicated new armoured headrest which will need some tricky folding, and smaller details like the canopy hand-holds and locks that Hasegawa missed.
#32507 - Seat Harness
Eduard provide two complete sets of seatbelts (three if you include those featured in the cockpit detail set). Each strap is very nicely pre-painted with far finer detail for the stitching than I could ever hope to match.
The lap belts each consist of 8 separate parts, while the shoulder harnesses each contain a further 7. With the separate belts and buckles, it should be possible to hang the belts realistically to avoid too rigid an appearance although, as usual, this risks exposing the only weak point of the belts; they are painted on only one side, so you need to match the colour used and the reverse could look pretty bare compared with the finely detailed front face.
Eduard's Bf 109K-4 BigEd set offers plenty for superdetailers to get their teeth into and works out much more economical than buying the sets separately. Obviously, these etched parts aren't suitable for beginners - there's some complex folding involved and you have to modify the kit parts heavily in places to accept them. The best policy, as ever, is to make up as many of the sub-assemblies as you can and judge the success before passing the point of no return and mutilating the kit. In the right hands Eduard's etched details will make a dramatic improvement to an already excellent kit. Recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs:Lows:Verdict: Definitely not a suitable set for beginners, using BIG3214 involves careful surgery to the plastic kit and then folding many etched parts, but there's some amazing extra detail for experienced modellers to apply to their '109K.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...