Let’s add the Messerschmitt BF-109E to the Peanut Warbird stable, which now includes the I-16 (first built by me in 1991, then 2020), the Barracuda (1998, then 2015), the Stuka (2013), the Corsair (2019), and the Yak-3 (2020)!
I am always on the search for the “next” model. After I completed the Yak-3, I was wondering what warbird should be next? A flying friend suggested a P-40. I’ve always liked the P-40, so I started in on that. It was a slow-go, with no real rush, and there are always other plans already in the works. (By the way, excluding the P-40 and the Bf-109, there are FOUR other WWII Peanut warbirds on my mental and virtual drafting boards!)
In late June, I received an email from a 13-year-old modeler in Munich, Germany named Emil Frey. Emil kindly asked if I had ever considered drawing up a BF-109 in Peanut Scale? Actually, I never have – I’ve been told that the 109s are not easy to fly. In addition, they have a ton of “things” hanging off the aircraft that are bothersome for modeling: scoops, exhausts, struts, bumps, and so on. In addition, the early versions are a little ugly – blocky and crude. But…inspired by the interests of a youngster, I told him that I would give it a shot and see if I could draw up something. I settled on the model E (coincidentally the “Emil” model in the German phonetic alphabet). It has square tips and less curves than the later F and G models (the later ones look better, in my opinion).
The results are shown here. I built up the wings pretty quickly and then the horizontal stab and one side of the fuselage. Then it sat. It seemed like it sat on my building board forever, but it was really only a month. I just didn’t have the drive to work on it. The fuselage is a little tricky to build since it has a triangular shape – it required a lot of pinching and spreading to get the longerons to cooperate with narrow formers at the top and wide ones at the bottom.
I did get a canopy buck roughed out, but was having problems with the transition at the rear, so I asked Archie Adamisin if he could blend my 3D file and he did a fine job (it is thanks to him that I got this far). I pulled a canopy early – and then lost it. I had finished up the fuselage and, as I told him, I spent more time looking for the missing canopy than it would take to just go pull another one – a LOT more time.
Canopies are always a tense time for me. Just like designing formers and then hoping they fit when you build the model, a canopy is designed around two-dimensional parts to create a three-dimensional item that you hope fits. This canopy fit perfectly.
I found a nice Hungarian computer game skin that I liked. I did all the work of converting it to tissue templates, printing the tissue, and then covering the model. It was looking pretty snazzy with the tissue and the canopy. Then I realized that I didn’t have documentation for the model. I did a lot of searching for Hungarian BF-109s and finally found a #12 with a yellow nose – BUT it was an F-model in actuality, and the lettering was different. Usually, the gaming skins are pretty reliable, but this seemed to be less-than-accurate. Another disappointment following the potential poor flying of a typical 109 and I do like the FW-190 much better.
I stacked up a 5.5″ Diameter by 7″ Pitch (what I successfully used on the Yak) and finished up the model. It weighs in at 10.5 grams, which is just a smidge heavier than I had hoped, but it might work. I decided to test with a short loop of 1/8″ rubber; usually I’d try a loop of 3/32″, but I went with 1/8″. I put in a hundred or so turns and the first test flight was a surprise – while is was banked left and flew straight and stalled, I was really impressed with the potential it showed. I tweaked the Gizmo Geezer nose button (there’s about 1.5g right there) – a little down, then some left, but settling on more right and was rewarded with some flat right circles on about 200 turns. A small pinch of clay on the tail and here is what I stopped with yesterday.
Wow, this thing might just fly after all – who said 109s can’t fly? I’ll be taking it to the Indoor contest tomorrow to dial it in a bit more. Here are the build photos. While the video doesn’t show a 20-second flight, you can see it definitely will fly for 20 seconds in the future. I’ll have the Short Kit available soon.
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I’ve seen Me-109s (or maybe just one?) do quite well in mass launches. As I recall, I think somewhere between 16 and 20 inch span. I would think designs with larger wing chords would almost always beat them, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
People who dislike swastikas can use the markings of other countries that flew the Bf-109E. For people who don’t want to portray aircraft of the Axis powers, there’s Switzerland (at least according to Wikipedia). There may be other countries, since many operated the aircraft, but I’m not up, in many cases, on who was on which side, and when. Personally, I don’t like thinking about what warplanes were used for, but WW2 is a big mass launch event, and I even built a Wildcat no-cal once. Recently, I was at a contest where Vance Gilbert got around the problem by portraying a Mosquito in civil markings that was used to shuttle around VIPs.