Thanks to a mix up in the mail, I still haven't seen Eduard's initial release of their quarterscale Emil. So my introduction to this much talked about kit comes in the form of the Royal Class Edition. That's quite a "first date"! - as this boxing not only includes the original Bf 109E-1, but adds new sprues for later variants along with a generous helping of Royal bonuses.
The "Königsemil" (as Eduard have christened it) arrives in a large and very stylish black-top box and provides parts for two complete Bf 109Es along with Brassin and etched accessories, plus a highly detailed quartersized
instrument panel (yes, that's 1:4, not 1:48) complete with a gunsight. With two complete sets of parts (in fact, three sets of wings), Eduard's kit can be built as the following variants: Bf 109E-1, 'E-3, 'E-4, 'E-4/B, 'E-7 and 'E-7/Trop. The package contains:
303 x olive styrene parts (22 spare)
28 x clear styrene parts (6 spare)
48 x colour etched parts
382 x plain etched parts (if I counted correctly!)
A sheet of kabuki tape painting masks
2 x sets of Brassin mainwheels and tailwheels
Decals for 12 x colour schemes
The Instrument Panel
2 x dark grey styrene parts
63 x black styrene parts
20 x clear styrene parts
22 x colour etch
9 x plain etch
47 x decals
And, finally, if you need to grab a coffee (or something stronger!) at the thought of all those etched parts, Eduard have thoughtfully provided a limited edition metal mug bearing a picture of the '109 and a Luftwaffe-style numbered data-plate.
The moulding is excellent, with no signs of sink marks or badly placed ejector pins that I can see on in initial inspection.The exterior finish comprises delicately engraved panel lines and embossed rivets and fasteners, along with rib tapes and stitching on the fabric areas. The jury has been out since the first release on whether the rivets are too heavy; logically, I guess they are, as most of the full sized airframe was flush-riveted, but a coat of paint will reduce them a fair bit and, to be fair, Eduard's are done as lightly as conceivably possible - this certainly isn't a case of "ship's riveting" like we've seen in some other manufacturers' kits. That said, I must admit the fabric effect is a bit too crisp and overstated for my taste, so I'll try to knock it back a bit on my build.
Opinions are divided about which is the most dimensionally accurate 1:48 Emil. Without any reliable plans to go by (and sadly I can't just nip over to Hendon where I volunteered anymore to measure the real thing), I'll stay out of that one - but my "gut feeling" is that the base of the fuselage aft of the wing-root seems a bit rounded. However, I'll wait until I've built the kit to form a firmer opinion.
Dry fitting the main airframe parts is very encouraging. Eduard haven't included many locating pins, but everything lines up neatly and the fit at the wing roots seems excellent. The tailplanes clip in tightly without any cement. Overall, the "basic" kit promises to be a very straightforward build. (Note: From Steffen Arntd's comments about his excellent build of the Bf 109E-1
, Eduard seem to have altered the instructions since the initial release, as they now show the exhausts being fitted after the engine is installed in just the manner he suggests to make life easier.)
A few details
I won't go over too much of the same ground already covered in reviews of the first release. While I've yet to see that "for real", what is immediately apparent is that the Royal Class Emil includes a lot of extra etched details. Some of these, such as the replacement throttle quadrant, are really only suitable for very experienced modellers, as the surgery needed to install them will ruin your kit if you slip up (it would have been easier if Eduard had included the original details as separate parts, knowing that etched alternatives were planned to follow). Oddly, the instructions don't show many of these upgrades as alternatives, so I'd caution anyone who's not confident to stick with the standard moulded details (which are excellent in their own right).
Depending on how much use you decide to make of the etched extras, the cockpit comprises over 60 parts, with the almost obligatory choice in an Eduard kit of a superb coloured-etched instrument panel and electrical panel or moulded versions, plus a very nice multi-part colour-etched seat harness. If you go for the styrene instrument panel, there are decals provided, but the level of detail on the etched version is just so good, it's pretty hard to resist. There's an etched seat adjustment crank, but using is will need some delicate surgery modifying the plastic version, and replacement rudder pedals - although the moulded versions will really be really fine if you just add foot restraints.
The engine and nose compartment are beautifully detailed. Perhaps stung by the disappointment voiced in some quarters over the meagre detail in the Fw 190D kits, Eduard have really gone to town with a full engine and gun bay - over 60 parts - the precise number again depending on how many of the etched items you include.
The mainwheel wells feature simple inserts that slot in very neatly, plus etched liners to give a better representation of the zipped covers fitted in the full-sized wells. The mainwheels are excellent, with really crisply moulded hubs but, not content with these, Eduard have included two sets of Brassin wheels that are simply superb. Strangely, the Brassin parts (they include an excellent tailwheel too) aren't mentioned in the instructions, but they are some of the finest resin wheels I've seen - it's just a shame they haven't been cast with the Bf 109's distinctive angled "flat spot" - that would have been really
Finally coming into play for this boxing are the selection of stores that were unused in the 'E-1. Eduard provide a drop tank and 50 kg and 250 kg bombs with three styles of racks. A nice touch is that the bombs are fitted with etched tail fins for a scale effect. (There are no styrene alternatives, so how Eduard will work round this for the inevitable Weekend Editions will be interesting to see...)
New for the Royal Emil are parts for the later "square" canopy to accompany the rounded type. Etched rear view mirrors, head armour and hand grips are included, and along with an armoured windscreen and the distinctive telescopic sight for Galland's specially equipped 'E-4.
Instructions and decals
The assembly and painting guide is produced as a 28-page A-4 booklet on high quality paper. The diagrams are very clear, but will warrant careful study with so many extra parts included, and the large number of possible versions that can be built. As usual with Eduard, colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints are provided throughout, and RLM numbers are given where applicable.
The double-kit inlcudes marking for no less than 12 colour schemes as follows:
1. Bf 109 E-1, 6./JG 26, summer 1939
2. Bf 109 E-3, W.Nr. 5057, flown by Oblt. Josef Priller, CO of 6./JG 51, France, late 1940
3. Bf 109 E-3, flown by Hptm. Dr. Erich Mix, Stab I./JG 53, Wiesbaden-Erbenheim, November, 1939
4. Bf 109 E-3, W.Nr. 2486, flown by Lt. Ioan Di Cesare, Escadrila 57, Grupul 7 Vanatoare, Karpovka-Stalingrad airfield, Soviet Union, November, 1942
5. Bf 109 E-3, flown by Hptm. Werner Mölders, CO of III./JG 53, May, 1940
6. Bf 109 E-4, W.Nr. 1480, flown by Oblt. Franz von Werra, Wierre-au-Bois, France, September 2, 1940
7. Bf 109 E-4, W.Nr. 5819, Obstlt. Adolf Galland, CO of JG 26, Audembert, France, December, 1940
8. Bf 109 E-4/B, W.Nr. 3605, flown by Ofw. Reinhold Schmetzer, 8. /JG 77, Soviet Union, July 20, 1941
9. Bf 109 E-7, III./ZG 1, Belgorod and Kuteinikovo airfield, Soviet Union, May to August, 1942
10. Bf 109 E-7, III./JG 77, Belgrad – Semlin airfield, Yugoslavia, May, 1941
11. Bf 109 E-7 Trop, 2./JG 27, Ain-el-Gazala airfield, Libya 1941
12. Bf 109 E-7 Trop, 2./JG 27, Ain-el-Gazala airfield, Libya 1941
Personally, I'd have liked to see one more option for the 'E-1, but I guess Eduard's choice does make perfect sense as they already have that version available and they want to highlight their new cannon-wing Emil.
The decals themselves are printed by Cartograf to their usual superb quality. spread across two sheets, the items are thin and glossy with great colour depth and minimal carrier film. Full sets of stencils are provided, along with a full-page placement guide.
The Instrument Panel
One of the highlights for me of the Royal Bf 110 was the 1:4 instrument panel, so it's great to see Eduard include one with the Bf 109E too. In fact, I think the new one is even better, as it includes a Revi C/12D gunsight.
Construction doesn't look complicated, and the large size should make this a straightforward build. Each bezel is a separate part with a drop-in "glass" and a decal background. The hands and data-plates are colour-etched. The compass features a domed glass and, while it doesn't have a ball mounted behind it, the decal is printed to give that effect, so it should look quite convincing.
An 8-page A-5 pamphlet illustrates the construction really clearly with, once again, Gunze Sangyo matches for all the details. While the construction may well be very simple, painting and weathering the panel will be a novel challenge compared with our standard modelling subjects.
... The Mug. It's rather neat, with a brushed metal interior and highly polished exterior. The distinctive hollow "clang" is a giveaway that it's a thermo mug, although it doesn't have a lid. The "front" of the mug (would you call this a right- or left-handed mug?) is embossed with the Bf 109 artwork featured on the boxtop, while the reverse has a numbered "data-plate". There's no mention of whether the printing is dishwasher-safe, but this is a limited-edition item so I imagine you'll probably want to wash it carefully and look after it...
Eduard's Royal releases are always a bit special, and the "Königsemil" is no exception. 112 Euros is obviously quite a lot of money to splash out in one go but, on a quick estimate, what's included would cost well over 150 Euros if bought separately, so this is actually a very cost-effective package (and of course, items like the instrument panel and mug are only available in the Royal boxing).
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE