Messerschmitt Bf109G-6 – Messerschmitt Me163B – Messerschmitt Me262A-1

When people think about the aircraft that fought in World War Two what is one of the first names that comes to mind? Messerschmitt, of course! That company designed and built the most famous German fighter of the war, the Bf109, the extraordinary Me163 rocket fighter and the Me262 which was the best jet fighter of the war and the only one to see combat. We have them all on show in the museum so let’s single them out for this week’s wander around the galleries.

Messerschmitt Bf109G-6 in 1/32 by Hasegawa
This fighter served the German Luftwaffe during the entire war, beginning with the early Bf109E series which fought in the Battle of Britain and being produced in the Bf109K version by the end of the war. Almost 34,000 were manufactured. The Bf109G version entered service in mid 1942 and improved in stages with the G-6 version being introduced to service February 1943. It was among the most numerous versions with over 12,000 examples being built in 1942 and 1943. They were used extensively in all areas of German air operations.

This model was built by Wayne from the 1/32 Hasegawa kit which dates from 2001 and has appeared in lots of different versions since then with new parts and decals in some of them. In 1/32 it is the only kit available but modellers aren’t complaining too much about any lack of competition. In 1/72 (the one true scale) most of the major manufacturers offer kits of the Bf109G-6 version so there in no end of choice. None of them are really bad so what you buy and build may depend on availability and the size of your wallet. Of the options available the best bet might be the Airfix 2009 new tooling (avoid the earlier 1975 tooling which was very good in 1975 but not so much now). The IPMS/USA recommends it with reservations and cybermodeller says that this kit will be just right for the new and/or younger modeller and is much cheaper than more advanced kits.

Messerschmitt Me163B in 1/72 by Academy
The Messerschmitt Me163 has the distinction to be the only rocket powered fighter to enter service. It had limited range and endurance so it’s role was to defend key facilities in Germany from American bombers. They were introduced to service in 1944 but were not very effective, shooting down only between nine and eighteen allied aircraft. They were dangerous to fly, to a large extent due to the fuel they used which could explode or corrode people if not handled very carefully.

There seem to be kits of the Me163 in all the major scales. In 1/72 the two options are from Heller and Academy (which has, more recently been published by Wolfpack). There is also a Hobby Boss kit which Aeroscale says is suitable for the younger builder. A 1997 review of the Heller kit in Modelling Madness recommends it as being superior to any other 1/72 kit on the market, but that was before the Academy kit was published in 2000.  In reviewing the Academy kit Internet Modeler likens it to the earlier Heller kit but rates it better in most areas.  I though the Academy kit was excellent and enjoyed making it.

Messerschmitt Me262A-1 in 1/48 by Tamiya
This aircraft was the world’s first operational jet fighter. The first jet powered version flew in 1942 but they did not enter service until 1944 due to many problems involved with designing and manufacturing this revolutionary fighter, as well as interference from the top level of the Nazi government. Had they entered service earlier they might have had an impact on the course of the war but they came too late. While they were virtually untouchable in the air the allies concentrated on destroying them on the ground or they were while landing and taking off. They also had a significant effect on the development of following generations of jet fighters.

This model was made by Wayne in 1/48 scale. There are a couple of options of Me262 kits in this scale of which the most recently published and probably the best if the Tamiya kit that Wayne used. In 1/72 there is a larger range of options from the simplified Hobby Boss kit to much more acceptable kits from Hasegawa, Revell, Academy and Airfix. Reviewers quibble about the details of the quality of these kits and the Revell and Academy kits are very well regarded. The most recently published kit is from Airfix but there is some complaint from reviewers about the surface detail. But that wouldn’t deter me if I felt the need to make a 1/72 Me262 any time soon.  The Fine Scale Modeler review comments that the surface detail on the Revell kit is the only way in which is it superior to the Airfix kit.  Hyperscale comments that ‘the engineering on this kit is simply awesome’.  They’ve sold me.