Tuesday 2 June 2020

Building the Bf 109 with award-winning modeler Barry Numerick - Modeler Profile (2) - Luftwaffe models

Above; display cabinet view of some of Barry's Bf 109 collection - click on the image to view large.

If you hang around on certain modeling forums long enough you will almost certainly run into some of the exceptional work created by award-winning Bf 109 modeler Barry E Numerick. Before talking to Barry (our chat appears below..), here is his latest completed model in 72nd scale - a representation of the Bf 109 V-30 prototype, built using a Finemolds Bf 109 F as the 'base' kit.

The actual Bf 109 F-1 V-30 (see Peter Schmoll, page 47) Stkz. ND+IF (WNr. 5717) served as an Erprobungsträger  (test-bed) for the Bf 109 Gustav. Powered by the new DB 605A the V-30 primarily trialed the new cowl configuration with its supplementary air intakes and cowl scoops both for the bigger engine and the new pressurized cockpit with its re-designed and strengthened canopy hood (Druckkabine).

A few photos from Barry's build of the V-30 depicting the cockpit, the new intake arrangement on the cowl, the new canopy and the exceptional finish achieved by Barry on his completed model. This is 1:72nd scale (!). Below that a photo of the actual machine.

".. The final stage of the model build included completing the canopy. There was more here than I anticipated. The 109 V-30 used a pressurized cockpit. These versions had a flush fitting armored plate at the back of the opening section. It included two small triangular windows in the upper corners to give the pilot some semblance of rearward vision. I made this from clear acetate sheet. The windows had to match exactly on the front and rear surfaces, so a tape mask would not do. I decided to make them from shaped sections of .005" plastic card. They were attached with tiny drops of white glue and one side was sprayed RLM 66. When that dried I popped off the masks and reattached them on the opposite side and sprayed it. The canopy frames are strips of painted clear decal sheet. Other bits included tiny white discs cut from white decals using a sharpened piece of Albion Alloys brass tube -these represent the desiccant tablets inserted in six canopy panels. There are also opening knobs on the front side panels made from stretched clear sprue, then flared by holding them near a candle flame. They were painted silver and attached with white glue. Finally a retaining cable and spring were made from very fine wire. Some of the details can be seen on the completed model shots.."

Bf 109 V-30  'ND+IF' via Schmoll, 'ME 109 -Produktion und Einsatz'

Hello Barry, thanks for talking to the Luftwaffe blog. Firstly, how long have you been building 109s. How big is your collection of Luftwaffe fighters ? How quickly do you build ?

I've been building 109s since my early teens (over 50 years ago). It has always been my favorite aircraft for quite a few reasons. First, it just looks good. From a technical standpoint, it has a Teutonic efficiency of mating power with streamlined beauty . All in as small a package as possible. Then there is the variety of airframes. A Spitfire Mk.1 looks reasonably like a Mk 24. But a 109 B is worlds apart from a 109 K-4, or Avia S-199, or Hispano HA-1112 (or the Me 209 H V1 ....I could go on). For quite some time I focused on 1/48th and built 27 109s in that scale. But 1/72 was my first love and after Fine Molds started releasing their excellent series of later 109 variants, I returned to the Gentlemen's Scale. I'm working on the 48th addition to this collection at the moment (a ME 209 V-5). My collection of unbuilt Luftwaffe fighters is embarrassingly massive, and the 109 component of it numbers around 250. I know; it's not enough. I'm a slow but careful builder, usually finishing 4-5 models per year. Of course, that has to improve. But as I have no plans to retire at all, building will have to continue on weekends and evenings only.

Your representation of the Bf 109 V-30 is exceptionally well-done. What drew you to this particular machine?

Well, firstly, there aren't many Bf 109s in a natural metal finish.  The V-30 was a prototype, basically a 109 F morphing into a G, the airframe having aspects of both. It began as an F-1 airframe but has the pressurized cockpit of the G-1. This involves changes to the canopy and cowling...and a very interesting paint scheme. I have always been intrigued by the configuration and paint scheme on this bird and am glad to have finally finished it..

What are your favourite kits and your favourite subjects ? Could you explain the fascination/interest/motivation. And Finemolds 109 kits - are there any left? Are you building the Tamiya Gustav? Are you looking forward to a 109 series from Eduard in 72nd?

Interesting questions! My friends frequently ask why I don't build anything other than 109s. I can't say it is a conscious obsession, but my stock answer is: "When I find something more interesting than a 109, I will build it". To be fair, I have pushed out the "bookends" of the collection. There are three 108s at the beginning and one Avia S-199, three HA-1112s and a Me 209 H V-1 at the end. Defining the end is difficult, since the family tree branches out in so many directions. Regarding the Fine Molds line; I regret that they never did the tall-tail G-14. I've done some G-10/G-6 grafting to accomplish this. But they are all quite good. Initially I didn't want to like the Tamiya kit. I have 25 unbuilt Fine Molds G-6 kits in the stash. But I built one and rather liked it. Then I build another and fell in love. It is a generation newer, and from Tamiya, and it shows. I have posted them on Britmodeler, The first was Cantacuzino's aircraft in American markings (below), the other in Hungarian livery. There are a few quirks, as with any kit, but overall perhaps the best 109 kit in this scale. I am certainly looking forward to the Eduard small scale 109s, but again, I look at the wall of Fine Molds kits...

How good ( or bad or indifferent ..) is the AZ line of 72nd Bf 109s? This was after all Modellfan magazine's kit of the year 2014. I'm struggling with my second one as we speak ..

I have built the AZ 109 G-14 and was underwhelmed. A few years ago someone "in the know" about the hobby industry told me that an entirely new and extensive line of 1:72nd Bf 109s would be forthcoming...and they would be the best. I was skeptical. Then the AZ kits made their appearance and I eagerly snapped them up. Things went downhill from there. My build was posted on several sites including Britmodeller. Sorry to say that these kits are a disappointment to me. The nose of the entire G-6 and G-14 series is too pinched where it meets the wing. Then the F series emerged and looked better, but still not up to Zvezda or Fine Molds standards. These were followed by the G-10s and Ks. Another nose problem, but this time on the top. AZ continue to defend the research and drawings used, but the results don't cut it for me. They may be made from some variation of steel molds but they have the hallmarks of a short run kit. This is particularly disappointing in the unique variants, such as the V-tail and H models. They have announced a Z in their upcoming releases, and of course I will buy it. I'd really like to do the prototype and have made some preliminary attempts using the A Model kit. Actually, their Avia S-199 isn't bad. I have built this one as well. AZ can't accuse me of ignoring them, however; I have every one of their 109 releases, and multiples of some.. Look, having said all of that, the AZ kit does have some very nice features. I'm more fond of this build (G-14, below) than I thought I would be. But for the fuselage shape issues, the AZ kits could have been real contenders.


And I do still keep falling for the AZ kits. The most recent foray was the K-4 kit. After receiving one from Hannants I launched into it. The addition of the 4-blade prop and wing mounted 30mmm cannons sealed the deal, at least to the end of an enthusiastic week of building. The fit of the interior seems to be improved and the addition of the right hand cockpit console is a nice touch. It would have saved me much trouble on the 109 K that I build a few years back. But the surface detail is still soft. To be fair, this seems to vary from release to release. I still like the AZ wing, particularly the open holes in the wheel wells. But here again, the surface texture is somewhat pebbly. It was fixed by using a finger nail buffer, but on the Fine Molds kit, you don't have to do this. The upper cowl looks to be also a better fit. On balance, the Fine Molds kit wins in nearly every respect, and is clearly superior in the final diagnosis. It has the "look" of a 109 K. So after that frenzied week, I put the AZ kit back in its box and returned to a Fine Molds 109 G-10. To rest my case, here is a recent build of the Fine Molds Bf 109 K-4.

Presumably the early 109s are now well covered by AMG in 72nd?

.. Over the years I have considered and even tried many alternatives for an acceptable 109 A through D, including modifying the Heller kit, grafting the Heller nose on a Tamiya E, grafting the DB Products nose on a Tamiya E, learning to live with the Heller kit and finally, waiting for a good kit to come along. When the AMG 1/72 scale Jumo engined Bf 109s were finally released I read a number of on-line reviews, none of them glowing. In fact AMG has captured the shape and "sit" of the early 109s better than any attempt so far, but construction is a challenge. Ultimately I'm very pleased with the appearance of the finished kits I've built. The parts are well defined and the subtleties of the Anton are represented very well, even including the spade grip on the control stick. This build (below) was out of the box, since I wanted to see how the kit assembled. In a word - lousy. The fit and engineering of some major assemblies is terrible. But nothing some putty, superglue and Mr. Surfacer 500 couldn't overcome. All of the gory details are outlined in the build thread on britmodeller (link below) The entire airframe was riveted with various sizes of Rosie the Riveters and the model was painted with home-brew mixes of Gunze Sangyo paints to represent the German "Silberweiss".

 You presumably make a lot of your own decals?

No, I do not make my own decals and frankly have not found this to be an issue. Take the V-30 - the unusually large Stammkennzeichen (manufacturers codes) really set off the scheme. I used some Fantasy Printshop decals that I picked up at Telford a few years back. They are invaluable since they come in a large variety of sizes. Otherwise it seems that whenever a "new" 109 scheme is found, the decal manufacturers fall over themselves to bring it to market. There are some excellent choices available. Take Cantacuzino's G-6. I have several decal sheets in the collection for this bird, the most recent being from Exito Decals. This is a beautifully rendered sheet, even capturing the streaked paint blowing back from the stars on the US flag. The plane took off before the paint was dry!

Tell us about your reference library - what are your preferred sources?

Again, this is massive. There are old favorites, like The Messerschmitt 109 Gallery by Thomas Hitchcock though the recent works by JaPo, to the excellent references authored by Jean-Claude Mermet. Other favorites include Richard Franks' Airframe and Miniature volumes, Lynn Ritger's Modelers Datafiles, Robert Michulec's AJ Press series, as I said, anything from JaPo, particularly Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-10/U4 - Production and Operational Service, and Krzystof Wolowski's 'Bf 109 Late Versions Camouflage and Markings'. The new Mersu book is fantastic! Also, check on page 302 for the holy grail. Photographic evidence that the Finns actually did have a 109 G-6/AS. That one is on the short list to build. There are scores of others, but listing them would take all day.

Are you looking forward to a 72nd....

Is this a question? If so, yes, I am always looking forward to a new and better 109 kit...or accessory, or decal sheet, or... At this point I would love to see a good Erla manufactured G-10 in 1/72. I think I can get close by cross-breading a Hobby Boss G-10 (!) with some AZ bits.

Barry, thanks again for speaking to us - happy 109 modeling!

The full build 'thread' of Barry's V-30 is on Britmodeller here
The full build 'thread' of Barry's AMG Anton is on Britmodeller here

Military Illustrated Modeller published Barry's AMG Me 109 A in Issue 101, September 2019. The  second part of this article on the AMG Bf 109 B is yet to be published.

Barry's AZ Bf 109 G-14 with a fix for the nose shape 'issue' and tips and techniques on panel-line washes and painting spiral spinners is on the 72nd Aircraft forum here

For more of Barry's work simply google his name and '1/72 109' then go to images where you will find many of his builds..

And finally my friend Gary at 'Oldsarge's Aircraft Model blog' has put together a page of Barry E Numerick modeling tips here

Also on this blog;

Modeler Profile - Jes 'Touvdal' Christensen

Book review - Peter Schmoll, " Me 109 -Produktion und Einsatz "