I love making the Eduard ProfiPak kits, they have everything you need in the box, right down to the canopy masks. And this kit is arguably the finest available of this aircraft, avoiding as it does the inaccuracies associated with the older tools from other manufacturers. I'm also looking forward to doing a nice Battle of Britain era mottle pattern, it's what makes Luftwaffe modelling so rewarding!
So what's in the box? Well there are a LOT of parts. One sprue (G) seems to contain about a hundred empty lugs. No, wait, there is a tiny part on the end of each one. This could be interesting....
So we start, as ever, with the cockpit. On the 110, this is very large and very visible, so it needs to be good. It is made up of two separate sections, and each one involves a very large number of parts going together. This was a truly fiddly exercise. I cannot fault the quality of the mouldings nor their accuracy but it quickly became apparent that this kit is seriously over engineered. There seems to be a philosophy of "why provide one part when ten will do?" Many, many pieces that could quite adequately be single parts in the kit are made up of several smaller items each needing to be glued together. This was to haunt several elements of the build. Some manufacturers seem to think that a large overall parts count somehow makes their kit superior and more impressive. WRONG!!. You are just annoying the modeller. We enjoy creating models, not performing endless precision engineering. And what is more, there is more risk of losing these tiny bits and also of having integrity issues in the build.
But I finally got through the cockpit sections, giving them a base coat of RLM02 and picking out the details as necessary. This brings me on to my second rant. Eduard provide a lovely pre-painted etch instrument panel which looks great, going on as a two parter with dials underneath and surround on top. Brilliant, works great and looks fantastic. But why only the pilot's instrument panel? There are many other panels in the Bf110 cockpit and I defy the best of modellers to be able to paint them up to look as good and clean as the Eduard etch! So you are at risk of ending up with a mismatch in the look of your panels - I think this is a bit thoughtless on the part of Eduard. But I did my best and in the end I think they came up pretty well, I hope you agree.
The whole "office" slotted pretty nicely into the fuselage, subject to a few more tiny pieces needing to be secured to the fuselage walls. (If you make one of these, study the instructions carefully else you will undoubtedly miss something!) The cockpit section also includes the belly cannon array, which takes a bit of putting together, and I only realised afterwards that it would not be seen at all, once the fuselage is closed up. Why do they do this? "Modelling for God", is what we call it (i.e. only God knows it's there...). The fuselage halves went together with no real problems, only requiring minimal seam clean up.
The next task was to put together the nose section, which is separate. It contains the nose cannon array, which is lovingly detailed and I spent a fair amount of time getting this right since I was determined to leave the top nose cowling detachable to show off these guns. When it came to attaching the nose section to the fuselage, this took some doing to get it lined up seamlessly. I carefully slid the top cowling on (quite tricky to get the cannon through the cowling holes, but perfectly do-able) and secured it with Blu Tack to hold it in place for painting.
The wings went together very well, and Eduard have thoughtfully left the trailing edge on only the top half with an internal seam for the bottom to fit into. I have seen this on a few kits and it is great, avoiding problems with thick and/or "double leaf" trailing edges and leaving a flat seam that it easy to fill if necessary. The engine nacelles (which also incorporate the wheel wells) were a little trickier. You have to build the wheel well interior within the two halves of each nacelle and this can be a little tricky to get right. Once attached to the wings, there were also noticeable seams that had to be filled.
When it came to attaching the wings, I found that the wing lugs are far too large for the slots on the fuselage and a fair bit of filing and scraping was needed to get them attached. And even then there were significant seams needing to be filled, although that is not uncommon with many kits of this type. The tail sections, however, slotted on neatly with no problems whatsoever.
I masked up the canopy sections using the supplied pre-cut masks (what a life saver, especially on this plane!) and attached the fixed sections. I filled the movable sections with wet tissue to mask the interior for painting, and would attached these afterwards.
The whole model got a good coat of RLM65 lightened with a little sky grey (this appears much more authentic to my eye). I then masked off the underside and sides and proceeded to apply the splinter scheme in RLM02 and RLM71. When done, I then removed the masking and applied the mottling to the sides freehand using the same colours, ensuring that the mottles blended with their appropriate solid colours. Once done, she was sprayed with two coats of Klear and left aside to dry.
Decaling followed, and one thing that Eduard always get right are their decals. Thin enough to settle nicely but not to break apart, in perfect register and with nicely done stencilling. The only tricky part, as ever, is applying the tiny panel numbers along the side. If you've ever built a large scale Bf109 you will know what I mean, except in this case there are twice as many and they are on both sides! I applied another coat of Klear to seal them in.
The next stage was to apply a panel line wash using Lamp Black oils, which brought the details out really nicely. This was followed by a couple of coats of matt/satin combination varnish to give a very slight sheen whilst still being predominantly matt, which is how these should look. A little panel bleaching with pale grey and some oil and exhaust stains added a final touch to the weathering.
The undercarriage went on next. The Bf110 undercarriage has long been a tricky one for us modellers as it contains no rigid thick struts, but Eduard have engineered this fairly well, providing an almost invisible ledge piece inside the wheel bay to load the wheel braces on and this works very well with some careful gluing.
That left aerials, the rear gun and the engine exhausts to go on. The latter parts are a good example of my previous complaint. Almost all kits of any piston plane with a non-radial engine provide exhaust stacks in one piece. Not this one. Each exhaust pipe (and there are 24 of them all together) has to be individually attached to one of four base plates and carefully line up with its neighbours before attaching to the engine nacelles. Sorry, but this is totally unnecessary and very annoying.
Finally, I attached the rear gun to its mount and glued the remaining glazing parts in place, representing everything open to show off that cockpit assembly as clearly as possible.
Don't get me wrong, this is a great kit. It's accurate, well moulded, and the fit is good other than those points mentioned. And I am thrilled with the end result. But PLEASE, Eduard, stop trying to impress us with the parts count - it does not wash. Your Bf109 kit does not do this, and it's a joy to build as a result! This over engineering is unnecessary and adds risk to the build, and that's not just the risk of a nervous breakdown on the part of the modeller. Rant over.