Monday, 31 August 2015

MESSERSCHMITT Bf 109 K-4

Another 109!

Sometimes a modeller goes through a phase of building certain airframes because of a new interest or because of a new inspiration.

This build was because of inspiration. Some years ago I was enjoying some photo's from a model competition in the USA and I came across a model of a 109 with what I thought was a very unusual paint scheme. It struck me as something quite elegant that I became fascinated with and I was compelled to find out more about it.

After exchanging emails with my friend Frank I learned that this was a late war variant of the 109 designated model K-4.

BF 109 K-4   A brief history........





The Bf 109K was the last of the series to see operational duty and the last in the Bf 109 evolutionary line. The K series was a response to the bewildering array of series, models, modification kits and factory conversions for the Bf 109, which made production and maintenance complicated and costly – something Germany could ill-afford late in the war. The RLM ordered Messerschmitt to rationalise production of the Bf 109, consolidating parts, types, and so on, to produce a uniform, standard model with better interchangeability of parts and equipment. At the same time, the existing flaws of the design were to be remedied. Work on the new version began in the spring of 1943, and the prototype was ready by the autumn of that year. Series production started in August 1944 with the K-4 model, due to changes in the design and delays with the new DB 605D powerplant. The K-4 was the only version to be mass-produced. Deliveries of the K-4 began in mid-October 1944. 534 examples had been delivered by the Messerschmitt A.G., Regensburg factory by the end of November 1944, and 856 by the end of the year.






 Regensburg delivered a total of 1593 by the end of March 1945, after which production figures are missing. With such a high rate of production, despite continuous heavy fighting, by the end of January 1945,  314 K-4s – about every fourth 109 – were listed on hand with the first line Luftwaffe units. Ultimately it was intended to equip all Bf 109 units with the 109K, which marked the final stage of 109 development before the jet age. The Bf 109 K-4 became the fastest 109 of World War II, reaching a maximum speed of 440 mph at 24,610 ft altitude.
The Bf 109 remained comparable to opposing fighters until the end of the war. However, the deteriorating ability of the thousands of novice Luftwaffe pilots by this stage of the war meant the 109's strengths were of little value against the numerous and well-trained Allied fighter pilots.

Here and below are examples of K-4's captured by Allied Forces towards the end of the war.





The kit

This is Hasegawa's  1/32 Bf 109 K-4. It is one of the finest 109 kits ever produced in this scale and thanks to a dear friend who sourced this kit and it's markings I was now able to build it.



This kit is highly detailed and a genuine joy to work on, the only modifications made to enhance the pilot figure provided with the kit with a seat harness and to add the hinges for the canopy release. 

The markings came from an aftermarket decal sheet which portray a late war K-4 in III/JG-53 markings.  




Photographs of K-4 airframes are few and far between as most were destroyed by the end of 1945, so what few photographs I could find I used as a guide.
Therefore one has take a little artistic license with this build in the hope of presenting this model as I think it might have looked in late 1944.