Eduard 1/32 Messerschmitt Bf 109E-7 III./JG 5, Petsamo – Build Review

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Kit: Eduard EDK3403 1:32 Scale Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 (Weekend Series)

Price: £24.99 available from Hannants UK

Decals: 1 option.

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds.

Notes: Montex MM32114 1:32 Mini Mask for Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 available from A2Zee Models at £6.75 and Air Master Series AM-32-005 Bf 109E Armament Set, MG 17 (Tips), MG FF Barrels and Kagero mini Topcolors 28, Luftwaffe over the Far North decals printed by Cartograf used. In addition, an Eduard ED33114 1:32 Messerschmitt Bf 109E-7 Interior set was used from the spares box.

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History

Jagdgeschwader 5 (JG 5) Eismeer was a Luftwaffe fighter Wing, forming part of Luftlotte 5 (Air Fleet 5), that served during World War II. As the name Eismeer (Ice Sea) implies, it was created to operate in the far North of Europe, namely Norway, Scandinavia and northern parts of Finland, all in the vicinity of the Arctic Ocean. Just over two dozen fighter aircraft that once served with JG 5 during the war still survive to the present day, more than from any other combat unit in the Axis air forces of World War II.

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JG 5 in 1942

JG 5 was formed when elements of the I. Gruppe/JG 77 already stationed in Norway was redesigned as I./JG 5 in January 1942. The II. Gruppe was newly created and III. Gruppe was formed from elements of I./JG 1 in May. The unit had the responsibility for providing fighter-cover over occupied territories under Luftflotte 5, and also to provide fighter support for the Heer (Army) units fighting on the Arctic front in the Murmansk area. JG 5 also had the important task of disrupting traffic on the Murmansk rail-line, as this was the main artery of the Karelian Front defenders.

The Karelian Front was created in August 1941 when Northern Front was split into the Karelian Front and the Leningrad Front to take account of the different military developments and requirements on the Leningrad approaches and along the Finnish border to the Arctic. It remained in existence until the end of the war.

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The front covered the sector north of Lake Ladoga and the Svir River to the Arctic Coast near Murmansk. The front consisted of Finnish and German forces involved in combat with the Soviet Army along the Soviet-Finnish border. The front between Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega was split of to the independent 7th Army during the static phase of the war.

During 1944, the front participated with the Leningrad Front in the final offensive against Finland which led to the Soviet-Finnish armistice. In October 1944 it conducted the Petsamo-Kirkenes Operation, capturing some parts of northern Finland and liberating the easternmost parts of the Norwegian Finnmark province from German occupation.

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I. Gruppe was based on the west coast of Norway, in Stavanger, to defend against Allied shipping attacks. II. and III. Gruppe were stationed at Petsamo in Finland, to support operations in the East. JG 5 had to cope with challenges that were unique within the Luftwaffe, from 24-hour days during summer when the sun never set, to the complete darkness and extreme cold of the Polar winter.

By the beginning of Polar Summer of 1942, Luftflotte 5 had been reinforced and by July 1942 possessed a total of 250 serviceable aircraft. Operationally, these were controlled by Fliegerfuhrer Nord-Ost Obstleutnant Walter Lehwess-Litzmann, responsible for operations over the front-line and by Fliegerführer Lofoten, Oberstleutnant Ernst-August Roth, responsible for anti-shipping operations. Due to the air superiority established by II. and III./JG 5 early in the year, Luftflotte 5 enjoyed a numerical and considerable qualitative superiority, and the Soviet opposition amounted to just 170 serviceable combat aircraft. Fliegerführer Nord-Ost also benefited from a Freya early-warning radar network.

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During the summer, the Soviets brought in new units, including 20 lAP equipped with the new Yak-l an effective counter to the Bf 109-F, of which JG 5 had taken delivery from June of 1942. On 19 July 7./JG 5’s Lt. Bodo Helms and Ofw. Franz Dorr claimed one Yak-1 each, and Uffz. Werner Schumacher claimed two fighters shot down. ( Actual Soviet losses were five: a MiG-3, 3 Airacobras and Kittyhawks, and a Hurricane.) In return, JG 5’s Focke-Wulf 190A-8 Pilots Leopold Knier and Unteroffizier Hans Dobrich (14 victories) were shot down. Both German pilots bailed out. Knier was taken prisoner, but Dobrich walked back to his own lines.

Luftflotte 5 recorded 26 combat losses in July 1942, while the VVS lost 32 aircraft shot down or missing, mainly to JG 5.

On 21 August, 6./JG 5 claimed 14 Soviet fighters shot down. According to Soviet records 2 LaGG-3s and 2 Polikarpov 1-16s were shot down over Vayenga, in addition, two aircraft made forced landings. JG 5 lost two Bf 109s, one flown by Staffelkapitän of 6./JG 5, OberstIeutnant Hans Dieter Hartwein (16 Kills) posted missing.

During this period, overclaims were made by both sides. JG 5 claimed some 72 victories in August, but Soviet records indicate 24 Soviet aircraft lost with another 7 damaged and 13 aircraft missing, and another 4 were shot down by ground fire.

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As 1942 wore on, the increased Allied air pressure towards Norway meant that a part of III. Gruppe and the newly created IV. Gruppe had to be stationed around Trondheim. A second part of III. Gruppe was stationed in Kirkenes, both to provide cover from marauding Soviet Air Force formations, and to help with the intensifying attacks against the Arctic convoys. Leutnant Heinrich Ehrler (6. JG 5) was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes on 4 September for 64 victories.

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During 1942 the Command structure of III./JG 5 was as follows:

  • JG 5 Geschwaderkommodore: Oberstleutnant Gotthardt Handrick
  • Gruppekommodore III./JG 5: Hauptman Günther Scholz
  • Adjutant: Oberstleutnant Rudolf Luder
  • Technische Offizier: Leutnant Friedrich Schumann
  • Staffelfuhrer 7./JG 5: Hauptmann Hans Curt Graf von Sponeck
  • Staffelfhurer 8./JG 5: Oberstleutnant Hermann Seegatz
  • Staffelfuhrer 9./JG 5: Hauptmann Gerhard Wengel.

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SCHOLZ, Günther: (DOB: 08.12.11).

  • Began career with J/88 of the Condor Legion in Spain, 15/07/39. Rank: Leutnant, transferred from I./JG 1 to 1./JG 21, 20/05/40.
  • Transferred to 7./JG 54. 26/06/40. Leutnant, appointed acting Commander III./JG 54 from 06/09/40 to 04/11/40.
  • Re-assigned to 7./JG 54. 04/11/40. Leutnant 7./JG 54 22/06/41 to 01/08/41.
  • Promoted to Hauptmann 7./JG 54. 22/06/41.
  • Hauptmann, 7./JG 54, appointed Commander IV./JG 1 from January 1942 to 21/03/42.
  • Hauptmann, appointed Commander III./JG 5 21/03/42 to June 1943.
  • Appointed Commander of III./JG 5 on the 21/03/42 Awarded the Ehrenpokal, 24/08/42.
  • Hauptmann, awarded DKG, III./JG 5 on the 08/09/42.
  • Promoted to Major 01/04/43 Major, appointed Kommodore JG 5, June 1943 to May 1944.
  • Promoted to Oberstleutnant, 01/05/44 2nd February 1945, Oberstleutnant, appointed Kommodore of JG 5 (2nd appointment) and concurrently Jagdfliegerführer Norwegen, from February 1945 to the 8th August 1945.
  • Credited with 22 air victories.
  • No known date of death.

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The Kit

Eduard’s Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4 Weekend Edition kit is supplied in a ‘top-opening’ style box. This is my preferred style of box as parts can be stored in both the bottom and top halves of the trays. First impressions are good. The parts are supplied on six sprues of grey injection moulded plastic with fine recessed panel-lines, high quality detail and no evidence of ‘flash’ or ‘sink-holes’. One clear sprue of canopy parts is supplied as well as a comprehensive 8 page instruction manual in black and white which is easy to follow with each step presented in an ‘exploded view’ format.

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Construction

The kit was thoroughly washed in a warm-soapy solution to remove the mould-release and dried. The six sprue frames were then primed with grey auto-primer from a rattle-can. The construction phase began with airbrushing the interior with Humbrol 240 (RLM 02). Once dry, the side wall wiring, and buttons were picked out (colours are indicated in the instructions and can be seen in the photos below). Etched panels were also added and the 2 piece instrument panel was constructed using the photo etched parts from the spares box.

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I elected not to include the engine in this kit, therefore, the exhaust stubs are fixed to elongated back-plates as opposed to being fixed directly to the Daimler-Benz engine. The seat was dressed with PE seatbelts and attached to the one-piece cockpit floor. Once the cockpit had been completed, it was given a wash of heavily thinned Windsor and Newton Burnt Umber and set to one side.

The next phase was concerned with the construction of the wings. The inside of the upper and lower wings were airbrushed with RLM 02 and the wheel-bays were fixed into place and left to dry. Separate slats, flaps and ailerons are supplied which add to the realism of the 3-piece main wing. This was glued using Revell Contacta Professional cement, taped and put to one side to dry.

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The forward bulkhead was constructed next, to this, the main instrument panel was affixed and the whole unit was then glued to the cockpit tub. The entire interior was then glued to the interior of the right hand-side fuselage half and the left fuselage half was glued and both halves closed together, taped and left overnight to dry.

Now that the fuselage and wings were dry, the tape was removed and the wings were attached to the lower-fuselage. Thankfully there were no fit issues and no filler was required such was the good quality of this kits engineering. The mesh photo-etch radiators were applied to the lower wings and the covers glued on top, then the horizontal tail sections were fixed into position in addition to the support struts.

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The undercarriage legs were pre-painted in RLM 02, the hubs with Humbrol 67 tank grey and the separate tyres with Tamiya XF-85 rubber black. Fixing Bf 109 undercarriage can be a tricky business. A tip with Eduard kits is to fix the undercarriage legs without the wheels using Revell Contacta cement, this will give you some leeway to position the legs correctly before they dry. The tail-wheel was similarly painted and fixed into place.

The exhaust stubs and cowling were fitted next, along with the cowling cover forward of the windscreen and the side-panels. The filter is fitted to the left-hand side of the fuselage. From this point, the Eduard Bf 109E-4 kit becomes a Bf 109E-7. Essentially, the E-7 is identical to the E-4 with the added capability of accepting fuselage racks for either a 300 liter drop tank or an ETC 50 500 Bomb Rack. The spinner had a pointed tip rather than the MG FF Cannon hole in it. Both the E-4 and the E-7 had the capability of being fitted with an armoured windscreen, all of the parts to make the Bf 109E-4 into a Bf 109E-7 are included in this kit and are identified on page 1 in the ‘sprue-layout’ section, being blanked out in blue and not for use on the E-4.

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The armoured windscreen and canopy was used for the E-7 version, these were masked using the Montex mask and fixed using Humbrol clearFix. The whole aircraft was then sprayed with grey auto-primer in preparation for airbrushing.

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Camouflage & Markings

This example of the Messerschmitt Bf 109E-7 was flown by Günther Scholz, Gruppenkommander of III.JG 5 in Petsamo during August 1942. The decals were printed by Cartograf for Kagero and come in a beautifully illustrated 18 page full-colour booklet, providing 3-views of Scholz’s Bf 109.

This plane was originally camouflaged in a RLM 74/75/76 scheme, but the fuselage was heavily oversprayed with RLM 71, fading towards the tail. Large patches of this colour also appeared on the uppersurfaces of the wings. The identification markings consisted of yellow under-cowling, rudder, scrap of fuselage band under the fuselage cross areas and areas under the outer third of the wings. The yellow beneath the wing tips extended to the outer arms of the under wing crosses. Scholz’s aircraft sported his personal emblem, a small standing girl figure, as well as the badge of the III. Gruppe.

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This Bf 109E-7 bore an unusual curved segmented black and white spinner. Thirty black victory bars were carried on both sides of the rudder. The last one was added on the 12th of August 1942.

The aircraft interior was airbrushed with Humbrol 240 RLM 02. The underside and sides of the aircraft were airbrushed with Humbrol 247 RLM 76 blue/grey. The upper Surfaces were sprayed with a combination of Humbrol 246 RLM 75 grey and Humbrol 245 RLM dark green. Finally, the fuselage and inner wings were over-sprayed with Humbrol 241 RLM 71 Schwartzgrun. The yellow ‘Eastern Theatre’ tail, under-wings, lower-nose and lower-fuselage band was airbrushed with White Ensign Models WEMCC ALCW21 RLM 04 Gelb.

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Kagero do not supply Luftwaffe crosses or Swastika’s. These were obtained from my decal box and matched to the Kagero booklet profile and plan views. Prior to applying the decals the airframe was airbrushed with Johnson’s Klear, once dry, the decals were applied using Micro-set and Micro-sol decal setting solutions. A further coat of Klear was applied to seal the decals before the aircraft was airbrushed once more with Hannant’s Xtracrylix Flat Varnish.
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Final Construction

Once the decals had been allowed to set overnight, the aircraft was given a wash of heavily thinned Windsor & Newton Ivory Black and Burnt Umber. The airframe was then given a ‘chipped-paint’ appearance using a prismacolor metallic silver pencil. The mass-balancers were added under the wings and the aerial wire was affixed. I made springs from 0.2mm black copper wire and threaded them over the aerial before fixing to the radio mast and tail with cyanocrylate adhesive.

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Conclusion

This is an excellent kit. Eduard produces a product with superior engineering, the option of super-detailing with the cowling removed and the Daimler-Benz engine on display and all at an extremely competitive price. Highly recommended.

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References

  • Bjørn Hafsten[et al.](1991). Flyalarm – Luftkrigen over Norge 1939-1945, Sem & Stenersen AS. (ISBN 82-7046-058-3).
  • Girbig, Werner: Jagdgeschwader 5 “Eismeerjäger” (Motorbuch Verlag 1976)
  • Luftlotte 5, A Lexicon Der Wehrmacht, Michael Holm, 2003
  • Glantz, David M.; House, Jonathan (1995). When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0899-0.

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