Valiant Wings Publishing | Airframe & Miniature 11: The Messerschmitt Bf 109 Late Series (F to K including the Z series)
Reviewed by Kevin Futter
UK publisher Valiant Wings Publishing has released Number 11 in its Airframe & Miniature series, entitled The Messerschmitt Bf 109 Late Series (F to K including the Z Series): A Complete Guide to The Luftwaffe's Famous Fighter. The author is Richard Franks, and the illustrations are shared between Richard Caruana, Jacek Jackiewicz, and Wojciech Sankowski.
The first thing that struck me when I picked up this book was how heavy it is; at 240 pages plus a gatefold section of scale drawings, it is indeed a weighty tome—probably the largest title yet from this publisher. It's extremely well printed on quality glossy paper, and the reproduction of all drawings and photographs is first-class.
The contents are broken up into nine separate chapters, grouped into two distinct sections:
- Airframe Chapters
- Evolution - Bf 109F Series
- Evolution - Bf 109G Series
- Evolution - Bf 109H, K and Z Series
- Camouflage and Markings and Colour Profiles
- Miniature Chapters
- Bf 109 F to G-series Kits
- Building a Selection
- Building a Collection
- In Detail: The Bf 109F to K
There is also a preface, along with a collection of appendices at the rear of the book:
- Bf 109 F to K-series Kit List
- Bf 109 F to K-series Accessory List
- Bf 109 F to K-series Decal List
The sample images below (courtesy Valiant Wings Publishing) should give a good indication of the nature and style of the book's contents:
While not mentioned in the table of contents, the Preface weighs in at a substantial 18 pages, and describes a potted history of the late series of Bf 109s, and provides useful support for the subsequent technical information.
The sequence of chapters covering the evolution of the airframe spans 45 pages, and consists of brief summaries supported by period photos and crisply-rendered greyscale profile drawings. They are clear and easy to follow, and form a handy guide for discerning what features distinguished which variants. The F, G, and H-Z series are each given a dedicated chapter.
The Camouflage & Markings section is similarly massive at 41 pages, and covers the gamut of schemes worn by the various Bf 109 variants dealt with elsewhere in the book including foreign Axis and post-war schemes. The information presented is structured around a discussion of applicable camouflage schemes, supported by colour artwork, period photos, and extensive captions.
The colour profiles in this section are by Richard Caruana, and are very well done. All in all, this chapter provides plenty of information and inspiration for modellers looking to build a late-series Bf 109.
Chapter 5 features a brief description of the commonly available late-series Bf 109 model kits. Such is the popularity of the Bf 109 as a modelling subject, that even in 1/32 scale, the number of included kits has been necessarily truncated, and given over entirely to Hasegawa products. It's a shame that the Trumpeter and Revell kits are not covered, but the constraints of the format make it understandable.
Chapter 6 is Building a Selection, and features the following kit builds:
- Fine Molds 1/72 Bf 109F-4 by Libor Jekl
- Eduard 1/48 Bf 109G-5 by Steve Evans
- Tamiya 1/48 Bf 109G-6 by Steve Evans
- Trumpeter 1/32 Bf 109G-6 by Dani Zamarbide
These builds are extremely well done, though of course they can only represent the tiniest fraction of available kits to build.
Chapter 7 is called Building a Collection, and features a series of annotated isometric 3D line drawings by Wojciech Sankowski. These are designed to illustrate the salient differences between the various development and production airframes as the series evolved, and form a perfect companion to the earlier 'evolution' chapters.
Chapter 8, In Detail, features an extensive selections of photographs and diagrams, covering both period and surviving Bf 109s. Many of the images have been published previously, but many more have not. The walkaround photos have been taken with a modeller's eye, which is not only welcome, but very handy.
The four appendices cover the usual list of available kits, aftermarket, decals, and mask sets, as well as a concise bibliography for further research.
At the very back of the book, secured inside the rear cover, is a set of 1/48 scale Bf 109 plans in gatefold format. These are printed on heavy, non-glossy plain stock, and cover the following airframes:
- Bf 109F-2 Production Standard
- Bf 109G-6 Production Standard - autumn 1943
- Bf 109K-4 Production Standard
There is also a series smaller drawings showing some of the common airframe modifications seen on G and K airframes. All drawings are by Jacek Jackiewicz and look very nicely done.
Not being a Bf 109 expert, I can't give a considered evaluation of the accuracy or veracity of the text itself, and so will leave that to more knowledgeable readers. All other elements of the book ooze quality however, from the clear photography to the beautiful profiles and the detailed scale plans. Contemporary photographs are plentiful and very nicely reproduced. Overall it's an impressive attempt to be the Complete Guide the title alludes to. Recommended!
Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for the review sample.
© Kevin Futter 2018
This review was published on Thursday, March 01 2018; Last modified on Saturday, March 03 2018