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A vac beauty! Messerchmitt Me-261 ”Adolfine”, V2 Prototype (BJ+CQ), Airmodel, 1/72

Hi everyone!

This is my 1/72 Airmodel Messerchmitt Me-261 ”Adolfine” vac.

The Adolfine was a long-range reconnaissance aircraft designed in the late 1930s. It looked like an enlarged version of the Messerschmitt Bf 110. It was not put into production; just three Me 261s (V1, V2 and V3)
were built and used primarily for testing and development purposes.

The intended goal of the Me-261 project was for an example of the aircraft to carry the Olympic flame from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany (site of the 1936 Winter Olympics) to Tokyo, Japan for the 1940 Summer Olympics in what would be a record-breaking nonstop flight (5870 mi / 9445 km). The plan captured the imagination of Adolf Hitler at an early stage in its design and in tribute, the aircraft carried the unofficial name: Adolfine.

The Me 261 incorporated a number of features which were highly advanced for its day. The single-spar all-metal wing was designed to serve as a fuel tank and its depth at the wing root was only slightly less than the height of the fuselage. The fuselage was of virtually rectangular section with space for five crew members, consisting of two pilots seated side-by-side with the radio operator directly behind in the front compartment, while a navigator and a flight engineer were housed in the rear fuselage under a stepped, glazed station.

Power came from four Daimler-Benz DB 601 engines, coupled together in pairs in a “power system” known as the DB 606, weighing 1.5 tonnes apiece and debuting in February 1937. The DB 606 “power systems” were originally developed for both the “single”-engined Heinkel He 119 high-speed reconnaissance aircraft, and the Heinkel He 177 strategic bomber, but the Me 261’s design housed the DB 606 “power systems” in nacelles that afforded significantly better access for maintenance and ventilation of the “twinned” DB 601 component engines in each one, than the Heinkel heavy bomber possessed. Each pair of engines drove a variable-pitch propeller, intended to be a pair of counter-rotating propellers (as the He 177A had used for its fourth prototype onwards) with each four-blade propeller driven through a gearbox shared between the “twinned” DB 601 engines forming the “power system”, generating 2,700 PS (1,985 kW) each.

The Me 261 had a conventional landing gear with unusually large and bulky low-pressure tires, much like modern day aircraft tundra tires, which prevented the aircraft from becoming bogged down on rough grass landing strips. The main gear’s design appears to use main struts that rotated through 90° during their rearwards retraction sequence, with sizable main wheels resting atop the retracted struts (similar to those used on production examples of the contemporary Junkers Ju 88). Even the Me 261’s fully retractable tailwheel possessed a larger-than-average, low-pressure pneumatic tire.

Construction of three prototypes began at Messerschmitt’s Augsburg works during the spring of 1939, but progress was slow due to the realisation that war would probably soon break out and the 1940 Summer Olympics would be cancelled. The Me 261’s original design brief as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft had been forgotten; now viewed as non-strategic, it was nearly abandoned with all work stopping in August 1939.

The Air Ministry subsequently realised that the Me 261 could still be a useful vehicle for evaluating long-range operations, and work resumed in the summer of 1940

Me 261 V2 (BJ+CQ)

The first flight of the Me 261 V2 was in early 1941. Official thinking now saw the Me 261 as a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The Me 261 V1 was badly damaged during an Allied bombing attack on the Lechfeld Air Base in 1944 and eventually scrapped.

This kit was given to me as a present from a friend many years ago, along with a Planet Models same plane resin kit, some years later (By the way, this Planet Models kit is a work of art, too!)
The Airmodel kit, being a vac, for sure, is not exactly for beginners, but it offers nice quality vac styrene parts and really yummy resin detail parts…
…Of course, many “simple” (whatever that means) parts are not there and have to be scratchbuilt…
Instructions are as spartan as they could be, but with good will and an open mind you can keep walking…
Oh, and it looked so neat in its hefty plastic bag!…

Upon receiving it, my bizarre urge to build my first vac conquered me! So off I was, a dozen years ago!
Had to stop, as I had to move to my new house, set my new workbench slowly slowly, then my beloved kids arrived and so on!
Started to gradually reconnect with modelling hobby last year and, upon entering this amazing site here this year, decided to finish this beauty (the plane, not my build, of course, which is less than average at best!…).

It was an adventurus build, due to my inexperience (the fuselage broke apallingly in twos many times, numerous reinforcing attempts were tried, not to mention the special effort a vac needs…)
Anyway, rarely seen this bird built, thought it would not be a bad idea to finish it; couldn’t, as well, stand its tearful half finished sight, begging me to finish it.

So, here it is!

I know the result is definitely less than average, I made numerous mistakes, tried to correct as many as I could. But, the “Adolfine” is here, for you, my friends, to watch her, not thrown in a thrash bin after the many “interesting” (or, I would say, frustrating) times me and her had together…

If you are interested, you may read my build thread here:

https://imodeler.com/groups/work-in-progress-aircraft/forum/topic/messerchmitt-me-261-adolfine-airmodel-1-72/

If you do read it, please note that it caught up the actual build after the Luft Splittertarnmuster had been applied.

Thanks all for watching, and extra thanks to you, my friends, who followed my build thread; it was a great ride!

Happy modelling!

15 additional images. Click to enlarge.


50 responses to A vac beauty! Messerchmitt Me-261 ”Adolfine”, V2 Prototype (BJ+CQ), Airmodel, 1/72

  1. What a beautiful build, Spiros. @fiveten
    Really enjoyed following the thread.
    So much work on this vacuum model, but you did an extraordinary job.
    A lot of modelling skills are required to achieve this kind of build.

  2. First one I,ve seen built. Looks really good. Mine is waiting in the stash. Your thread will be helpful.

  3. Spiros, I had no previous knowledge of this aircraft until I saw your WIP. I must say that it looks like a cartoon design, those big wheels and almost flat looking engine cowls make it one of a kind.
    @fiveten You did an excellent work based on a rather crude kit, well done!

  4. For your first attempt at a vacuum kit I say you did exceedingly well. What an unusual A/C and I enjoyed reading about it’s history history .

  5. Great looking build, Spiros! This is MUCH better work than the “less than average” you described. You don’t give yourself enough credit … so I will!
    Also, it’s an interesting aircraft and one I’d never heard about. I love that!

    Bravo!

  6. Very cool build, crazy aircraft! I have yet to tackle a vac formed kit…..one day 🙂

  7. You stumped me on this one, Spiros. Never heard of it. Your persistence paid off with a unique addition to your shelves. Well done!

  8. Awesome job on the model, really neat subject. TY for the underside shot that shows how they dealt with the exhaust on the inner banks of the coupled engines.

  9. Very cool Spiros, I really like oddball aircraft. This thing looks like a camouflaged dragonfly!

  10. Never heard this great story *shame*, looks like you did a fine job Spiros! Very creative build, my friend!

  11. As above , I’ve never heard of this bird, you’ve done a fine job on it! Great bit of research info too! The last vac that I did was a conversion P-37. that was enough for me. I shy away from resin kits too, having only done one, a P-40Q.

    • Thanks Robert @roofrat!
      Felt like me being Perseus attacking the Kraken monster (lol), especially when the fuselage was coming apart here and there, its wall thicknesses varying from minimal to zero, tail coming apart once a day and so on.
      However, with rigidity addressed, it was kind of a converging process.

  12. Never seen this animal before! It looks like something you’d see in a cartoon – such elongation of the lines of the aircraft. Nicely done for a vac-form build – I still haven’t got up the guts to tackle one (don’t know that I ever will – plenty of “straight styrene” kits in my stash!).

    • Thanks Greg @gkittinger!
      I saw it as a step away from my modelling “comfort zone”.
      And I have to admit that it might have been much easier job, should iI have made less mistakes and planned ahead…oh well!
      Now that is finished, with all its faults, I have a proud sense of achievement, so I cannot do otherwise but recommend (sometime, somehow) such a built “for a change”.

  13. Well, you’ve definitely put your first vacuform through the goal posts. Really nice work and an excellent history write up. Never knew about this airplane, but I just discovered it is in fact to be found in Warplanes of the Third Reich.

    Now do another one to prove it wasn’t a fluke. 🙂

    • Thanks Tom @tcinla!
      For the history, praise wiki; at least I am a passable editor!
      I too never knew about this plane, until I saw the grainy b/w pic at the top of the bagged kit my friend gave me and told me: it’s a present, build it!
      And so I did, even after a dozen years passed, but I have excuses!!!
      Well, I just called him and he told me he’s got a couple of similar (Airmodel, I think) vacs left, waiting for me tomorrow to pay him a visit (he lives a couple of miles away), so I he’ll offer me another present! Isn’t life wonderful?
      So stay tuned, my friend! I’ll do my best to deliver my second vac soon!

  14. Nice job, Spiros! Especially as a first-time vac kit, it looks just fine. Like others have said, I had never heard of this aircraft before, thanks for sharing!

  15. Very nice looking aircraft. You did a great job with the painting.

  16. Waaw ! Spiros.
    What a fantastic addition to aircraft type knowledge. Germany was so far ahead engineering wise. Hard to believe they could pair the duplex motors in those sleek lines. Not sure a crew of 5 was necessary but perhaps in order to break records it would have needed to have at least one passenger on board.
    The model Build looks fantastic !
    Thank you !

  17. Nice achievement Spiros, congratulations on another nice build and your first vacuform – looks amazing.
    Gotta admit that last with those huge props it looks like something from a cartoon but when you read the specs you realize it was no joke.
    Geo-wiki states the flight from Berlin to New York is almost 4,000 miles and this bird was expected to have a range of over 6,000 miles? – unbelievable. It surely beat the G3M Nippon for distance/endurance.
    Nice work on the construct and on the final fitting of the windshield – Your posts in W-in-P showed you had your work ‘cut-out’ for you! 😉
    Don’t know how many times I just flipped over this plane while reading up on the Me-262.
    Can’t wait to see what your friend has on his shelf.

    • Thanks George @georgeswork!
      It’s rarity was an additional motivation to keep pushing and not quitting its build.
      With vacanopies, things can get frightenly worrying, especially when you have only one supplied. Gentle trial and error approaches and white glue (used as “filler”) have saved my day so far!
      Can’t wait to see this lovely friend of mine hides on his shelves!

  18. Very nice Spiros especially considering you tackled your first vac kit! It’s nice to hear about a plane I was unaware of too. The tails look vaguely Lockheed-like and the DB-606 power packs look like they’re swinging some serious props. Any idea on the diameter?

  19. Spiros, @fiveten
    Your first vacuum formed kit looks great. I don’t think I would have attempted it !!! I honestly don’t think my skill set is quite up to that level just yet. Someday it will be possible………….

    I have been scratch building more lately, and it seems to be coming more natural to me now that I have been experimenting with various bits and pieces, in an effort to enhance what is often missing from some kits.

    I have been following your work in progress journal, and it was a joy to read. Thanks for sharing the history lesson with us. That was equally as enjoyable to read.

    I remember seeing the Me-261 in a book I have called Warplanes of the Third Reich. Besides the regular Luftwaffe subjects like the FW-190 and Bf-109, He-111 and Ju-88, they have a lot of aircraft listed in there that were experimental in nature. This is a very good book, and if you get the chance to pick up a copy, I highly recommend it. They go into serious details about the changes that were made as the aircraft were developed and combat experience showed various deficiencies.

    You should be very proud of completing this build, it looks very good. I’ll also bet it takes up some serious display room.

    “liked” and the PSP QC team has been maintaining their usual high standards.

    • Hello my friend Louis @lgardner!
      Is the scratchbuilding virus spreading? Kind of feels nice, knowing that you can overcome some small omissions with only your hands and some bulk material. I am glad it comes more natural to you.
      I really feel happy that I persisted and finished my Adolfine: the least I can say is that it being appreciated and triggering many nice small discussions, kind of makes me feel proud!
      Warplanes of the Third Reich will for sure be in my future buys, looks fantastic.
      Thanks for supportive following of my progress journal.
      Greetings from the QC “no shortcuts allowed” team!

      • Spiros, @fiveten
        Here’s a picture of my copy. The jacket cover is missing from it now and it is getting old.

        The book has 637 pages of Luftwaffe stuff inside. Lots of good drawings and rare photos of aircraft and I think you will enjoy it if you can locate a copy.

  20. 🙂 … Greetings … 🙂 :
    Definitely a fine exhibition piece as well as a good conversational model. Nice, clean and sharp build Spiros. Well done.

  21. Hi Spiros,

    Man, that’s one cracking build, great backstory and history but the fact that it’s a vacform just lifts it to the extraordinary.

    Cheers,
    Alistair

  22. What can I say? – “liked”!

  23. Nice vacuform build, and above average finish for sure! The only thing I would change is the antenna wiring, as it is very thick and stands out too much. Excellent finish as well! Great and keep posting.

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