A Balkans Bf 109 E-4/B

Bf 109 E-4/B of Stab II/JG 54 in Romania, 1941

The subject; a Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4/B believed to have been the regular aircraft of Lt. Paul Steindl of Stab II/JG 54 in Romania during the summer of 1941

Airfix 1/48 Scale Bf 109 E-4

Airfix’s 1/48 scale Bf 109 E-4 built out of the box

I really should take more in-progress photos of my builds, particularly when they would tell the story of the build far more completely than words alone. In this case they would illustrate very clearly the repaint and touch ups across the two different approaches that were required to achieve the final result you see here.

Construction was a breeze and took not long at all. As I’ve written earlier (in the piece on “Little Friends”) I enjoy these Airfix kits. I somehow ended up building it more or less in parallel with the 109 G-10 though I completed the G-10 before starting to paint the E-4.

The Airfix 109 E-4 assembled and ready for paint. I planned to use the Montex Masks for the insignia. The fuselage on the G-10 next to it also had a repaint after this picture was taken because, well, it was wasn’t very good

As you might surmise from the photo above, I did next to nothing with the cockpit; I assembled the entire kit without paint and then just airbrushed the cockpit with RLM66 from the outside. I added a little dry brushing to accent some of the detail that might be visible through the closed canopy and then added a rudimentary harness. I really am not into cockpits at the moment!

Engine cowling pre-shaded prior to applying the yellow

First, I painted the yellow theater markings and masked them off. I remembered to preshaded a pattern on the nose to show through the field applied water-soluble yellow paint the ground crew used.

Next I applied RLM76 to the undersides and fuselage. I then completed the base RLM74/75 scheme on the wings and upper fuselage and masked them of. I then realised applying the 76 on the fuselage first was redundant because my plan was to use putty masking to get the camo pattern. In fact, I’d need to work backwards by first applying the darker colour, for which I used RLM74.

This is where pictures would be useful… but I’ll try and explain what happened.

The putty method didn’t work the way I wanted it to. The idea was to rough in the RLM74 lines and then mask it with thin snakes of putty and then overpaint the RLM76. With that done, I planned to compress the putty to mask an outline of 76 around the 74 and finally add the RLM02 filler between the lines. The problem, as it turned out, was that I had little to no control over the width of the RLM76 masked off area which led to an inconsistent and ultimately unsatisfactory result.

So it was back to the drawing board…

In truth, I tried the putty method first only in an attempt to avoid what I always knew would be the right way to paint this one; this one needed to be painted freehand. So, having resolved that was indeed the way to go, that’s what I did. Here’s the result…

Free handed camouflage; I painted the RLM74 lines first, then the RLM76 surrounds and then the RLM02 filler; then back and forth through each colour, gradually building layers, fixing mistakes and blending with ever diluted paint mixes until it looked finished

Then I painted the starboard side and removed the masking…

Mission accomplished; the camouflage came out far better than I had hoped it would

With no further delay I sealed [read; protected] the base paintwork with a clear coat and pondered whether to push my luck and stick to the plan of painting the markings (and risk the underlying scheme in doing so). It didn’t take much pondering for me to cut and run to the safety of decals.

As usual I started with the underside; not much decalling required but since I was there I applied a wash, then the flat coat and weathered with ground chalk pastels and airbrush

With the underside completed I turned the model over and applied the decals, a light wash to accent some of the maintenance access panels, and finally the flat coat. I used restraint [for me] in the weathering as contemporary pictures don’t exhibit very much wear or paint chipping; instead I used chalk pastels to add some general grime and exhaust staining.

Decals applied, washed and then flat coat, pastels and finish

This is what my model is attempting to represent…

…and this is where I was able to get it. If I say so myself, I think I got pretty close.

In summary I enjoyed this one very much. After all this time building models (I suppose it’s nearly forty years by now, on and off) I’m still learning. This one taught me a most valuable lesson, to back myself and trust that I can produce a reasonably good freehand result with my airbrush. While I know this one isn’t perfect – far from it, actually – I am happy with it.

Copyright:  I claim original work and Copyright 2020 for the text in this article and the photos of the model. Except where noted otherwise, I sourced all other images and photos from the internet and are used under fair-use.  Any copyrighted images will be removed or credited forthwith upon request by its rightful owner.

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