Monday, 10 April 2017

RS Models Messerschmitt Me 309 in 72nd scale - build review

Left; Romain Hugault cover image  Le Fana issue  463 - article by KarlHeinz Kenz.

The jet-powered Me 262 prototype first flew in July 1942- over one year after the piston-engined Me 262 - but the turbojets were immature and other design features were primitive to say the least. As a fighter the 262 failed to capture the attention of the RLM who had already been ordered to stop development of most new types. With limited support for his jet project Messerschmitt pursued development of his piston-engine designs. The Me 309 V1 first flew in July 1942 in Augsburg. The Me 309 series was intended to supplant the 109 G in production and incorporated some of the latest developments in fighter aircraft design - wide-track tricycle gear, pressurised cockpit with ejector seat. Ultimately however performance enhancements over the Gustav proved minimal. In addition delays with the DB 603 engine hampered testing. The nose wheel was designed to pivot through 90 degrees to lay flat but slow retraction times blocked air flow to the radiator causing over-heating problems. Snaking at high speeds required the incorporation of an enlarged tail/rudder for better directional stability. Four prototypes were tested with the V-4 flying in late 1943 (IIRC) but Galland ordered development of the type suspended. An interesting type (not Luft '46) but the Me 309 was essentially a stop-gap caught between two generations of aircraft.

The new-tool RS Models Messerschmitt Me 309 is a neat model. The finely engraved panel lines are a big advance on the old Huma kit but some of the smaller parts lack decent definition. Short-run fit problems are par for the course and I had a bit of trouble lining up the fuselage halves. Below; I have cut out the rudder and horizontal stabilisers. The ventral radiator is neatly molded  and the kit comes with alternative tails and wingtips and some armament options, not used in my build. Note that I cut the canopy into three parts to show the folding hood and also achieved a much better fit of the windshield. Decals are incredibly thin and much care needs to be taken. As it was I ended up using V1 codes on a late airframe.  Note the 262 'elements' of the design - the tricycle gear, the 'clear vision' canopy albeit here with heavy framing.