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Mojo restoration – Tamiya 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3

March 16, 2014 · in Aviation · · 38 · 4.3K

It's time to call this one ready. The Bf 109E is my first completed kit in almost three years, a period when my modeling had been falling victim to other commitments in life.

Although I'm the one who started iModeler, little did I know about just how inspirational this website was going to be for me personally. Soon after launching it I found myself dusting off my modeling table and peeking into the kit boxes. But what I needed at this stage was an easy build that would offer the best chance of getting it finished. Picking one of 's single-engine fighters fits that requirement and I happened to have this one lying in my stash, together with a matching Aires resin cockpit set.

Tamiya Bf 109E-3 is just as great a kit as everyone before me said it would be, and the resin did not add much complexity to its construction.

I've always wanted to do an Emil with that unique high-demarcation camouflage of 1940. The choice of markings were that of Hauptmann Herwig Knüppel, Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 26. Herwig Knüppel was one of the Spanish Civil War veterans (hence the top hat emblem) with 6 biplane victories to his credit. He was also one of first three pilots entrusted with taking the then-new Bf 109B into combat in March 1937.

Hauptmann Knüppel was killed in combat with a Hurricane near Lille on 19 May 1940.

The decals were a combination of various aftermarket sets.

Two elements often seen on Bf 109s of the French campaign are the cowling gun throughs painted in grey heat-resistant paint (which was the recommended pre-war practice) and the wrap-around light blue on the wing leading edges - an offensive measure that helped to conceal the aircraft head-on.

Weathering was done with an airbrush, pre-mixed washes from AK Interactive and pigments for the wing walk area.

For photography, I tried to mimic Tolga's technique by taking the model outside in the full sunshine and shooting against a white background. It requires a bit of fiddling with the camera, but I am pleased with the results - and I've learned something new.

The hours spent with this project reminded me what I used to like in this hobby. Modeling is my personal chance to try creating something perfect, without letting myself to be constrained by the daily rush, stress, someone's opinion or my lacking initial ability. Indeed, there are but a few things in modern life that can be approached this way. Like art, modeling is done for the sake of expressing oneself, not because it is necessary or because it needs to meet someone else's standards. It is therapeutic. There's going to be more.

Comments welcome, please.

Reader reactions:
11  Awesome

19 additional images. Click to enlarge.

38 responses

  1. Martin, let me be the first (of many, I'm sure) to congratulate you on this superb model. I've been following your WIP, and I have to say the finished model is more than worth the hard work and research you've put in. The photographs are also worthy of praise, they really show off your model to its full advantage. And, thanks by the way, for this fab website.

  2. Hi Martin, well this really is a great job, if this is an easy one for you I'd love to see something you really get into .
    cheers N.

    • Thanks Neil. I'd say the contruction was very easy, painting and weathering a bit more time-consuming.

      I'd shy way from producing something really superdetailed like our friends @gregax or @jan-baranec. I'm afraid I would never get it finished.

      • Well, you would evntually finish superdetailed kit as well. Just avoid opening another fresh kit when building a superdetailed one. And yes, it takes a lot of time. Personally I just can't finish more than two per year...

  3. Superb Martin, A lovely build and finish. Great t see you post something.
    Some great pics as well.
    Very well done Martin.

  4. Obviously your layoff did not affect your talents at all. Can't wait to see your next one. Your camera work really shows the model off.

  5. Very well done, Martin!

  6. Looks like we have a "Renaissance Man" on the board. I'm impressed with the painting of the tires and the weathering on them. Usually, the tires are an after thought on many models. In this case they look weighted and give the illusion of being made of rubber and not a solid color of gray... ergo they look like weathered tires. I also, like the exhaust staining and the weathering behind the cockpit on the lower half of the fuselage. A lot of thought went into weathering this kit and the forced perspective in the photography with the white back round and the natural lighting and the antenna wire is frosting on the cake. Over, all the illusion of the kit being real or suspension of reality can be found with these photos.

    Martin, for someone who has been absent from the hobby for three years it would appear that you've been living and breathing the hobby every day.

    Two thumbs up on this one. Looking forward to seeing and reading more builds. Of course you've raised the bar ever higher on the tired Dept and I'm going to have to look at my current build...;)

    • Stephen,
      I like the weathering part of the build, feeling that I still have a lot to learn in this area. I often try to limit the time spend on other areas such as interior etc just to focus more on exterior finishing.

      As for the tires, I snapped this tip in a French book: a mixture of Tamiya X-19 Black and Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown goes a long way in looking like a real rubber, exhaust stains, and general grime. I used it extensively here.

      No intention here to raise the bar for anyone at all 🙂 Looking forward to your next entry.

  7. REALLY good! Hope to see more from you in the future.

  8. Martin, love to see your work. Loved the color and weathering.

    Sincerely, Vlad.

  9. Looks great! The finish and weathering look very nice. I like the drips and stains that you added for that special touch.

  10. Not bad...keep practicing and you'll get there... 🙂

  11. said on March 16, 2014

    Outstanding Emil, sir.

  12. Excellent build, Martin (and exemplary photographic work).

  13. Haven't had the time to visit iM much this last week but I'm thrilled to see your finished Emil.
    What a comeback; That's a great looking Emil with all those subtle enhancements. Excellent photography too!

    And right on the money regarding what modelling is all about. Thanks! 🙂

  14. said on March 16, 2014

    that turned out fantastic

  15. Beautiful Emil, the weathering.

  16. Great Model, Great Paint Job, Great Weathering, And to top it off Superb Photography
    Martin its a show stopper

  17. Nice clean build. Three years without building a model, my goodness it's like going three years without having a BEER! Everything is here for an award winner: great attention to detail, restrained paint application and weathering, the undercarriage wasn't neglected and the photography makes the model shine. OK, lets see another show stopper, hope you build it in "record" time!

  18. Martin,
    Let me be the first to congratulate you for an excellent job and to highly recommend your article for the March winner.

  19. Martin,

    I believe you are a wise philosopher, as well as being a top notch model builder! There are more than a couple of reasons why you are the one that started iModeler! The early 109E, with that high camouflage demarcation on the fuselage, is sure a classic, and you have done a really fantastic job on it. You needn't worry about having been out of building for 3 years. But also, your observations on model building are very much in line with mine, and I like the way you have presented them. And I like the way you mixed the text of your posting with the images. Thank you for sharing, and I am looking forward to seeing more of your builds!

  20. Very well done Martin, perfect subject and kit to get back in the saddle again. Like riding a bike your skills may be a little rusty but they come back and your gift of building shows. Enough said as the praises have already been said not only on the 109, but your photo skills shine as well. A gifted man, not only a builder, but your love of the hobby and to allow us to share in that hobby with our peers is a cut above. Thank you Martin for I modeler.

    Fly Navy

  21. Thanks everyone for all the fine comments - I'm humbled.

  22. said on March 17, 2014

    Wunderschöne Me 109.

  23. Martin fantastic job sir I would love to see more from you soon

  24. Fantastic work. As an early 109 fanboy myself, its nice to see people still building the pre E4's that seem to be overlooked so much. Amazing work, more please!

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