On The Bench

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Messerschmitt Me509 Fighter
Trumpeter
Scale: 1/48


Started: Mar 2012
Finished: --
Updates:
The Messerschmitt Me 509 was a project underway in Germany during World War II based on the Me 309 but with the engine located behind the cockpit like the US Bell P-39 Airacobra. The engine was a Daimler-Benz DB 605B driving a three-blade propeller and armament was to consist of two 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns and two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons. The tricycle landing gear from the Me 309 was retained, which worked better on the 509 due to the lower weight on the nosewheel - the Me 309's front landing gear had collapsed during trials. Visibility was also better with the smaller nose. The project was cancelled along with the Me 309, but the Japanese made a similar aircraft, the Yokosuka R2Y Keiun, which suffered from engine overheating. (Source Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_Me_509)
As the Me509 was never actually produced (not even a single prototype) it seemed like an excellent option for my first "what-if". Doing a quick google search revealed several color prints done by Peter Allen from fitzerart.com of potential Me509 schemes. It was interesting to see that Trumpeter used two of these schemes for its painting and decals options in the kit. The one that interested me most was a desert scheme designed to be used in North Africa. It was as this point that the idea for a Nth Arican diorama started to grow in my head.

I decided I wanted to extend the work I had been doing on display bases and figures on my recent models into a more extensive diorama with vehicles (perhaps a fuel tanker), maintenance personal (with perhaps the engine being worked on) etc. 1/48 was the better choice for this project rather than 1/32 as I could fit more on a reasonably sized base.
As with most aircraft models, construction begins with a dry fit of the cockpit. In general its a good fit with just a little trimming and clean up needed to get the parts (mainly the side walls) to fit snugly. The insturment panel has some nice raised detail that should look ok under the decal provided by Trumpeter.
As I plan to incorporate this model as the centerpiece of a diorama, I knew from the beiginning that I wanted to open the engine bay in order to show maintenance being carried out. As this aircraft was never actually built and is only a new model, I expect that no-one will ever produce an actual DB 605 engine for this kit so after doing some research on available DB601, 603 and 605 resin engines in 1/48 I decided the Quickboost (48012) DB603 engine designed for the Tamiya Do.335 kit would be the closest option.
Some work (ie removing large amounts of resin) was required to get the engine to fit the smaller fuselage interior of this kit. I also used plastic card to create locating blocks within the fuselage to hold the resin in place more accurately. Lastly the visible edges have been thinned using a dremmel and knife blade. This helps make the panels look more realistic and more in scale for sheet metal.
Here the resin engine is being test fitted within the fuselage. I was actually quite surprised that it fitted so well as I was not convinced that Trumpeter would get the 1/48 dimensions right. Its not perfect but more than good enough for my purposes.
More test fitting with both fuselage halves this time. I also wanted to check to make sure the resin block does not clash with the lower wing. This view shows more clearly how much of the engine bay will be visible on the finished model. Both doors on this side and one door on the other side will be open.
Whilst the kit provided exhaust stubs look ok, as I was ordering a resin engine, I had a browse on Hannants for 1/48 engine exhausts that looked close to what I needed. In the end I settled on Quickboost 48271 Bf 109F (designed to be used with the ICM kits). As seen here, they look accurate and the fit is just about perfect.
One thing I did before I removed the engine panels from the kit was to measure, cut and bend to shape (using the fuselage as a guide) some replacement engine bay doors. These are made from sheet copper which is quite soft and easy to work with. Here I am test fitting one of the three doors to get a sense of what it will look like in the end.
Now I have the engine fitted and the side walls thinned its time to add back some of the detail. The place to start is a strengthening strip on the spine. This serves two purposes, to put back some strength into the fuselage and to give me something to attach the open doors to. In the end, I had to also add a brass strip to the spine as the plastic proved too flexible.
The starboard side on which both engine bay doors are removed needs a strip as well. As this needs to be curved inline with the fuselage, brass strip rather than plastic is best.
With the building work complete, its time for some paint. The engine block is Tamiya Semi-Gloss Back and the general interior is RLM 02 (Gunze Mr Color C60). The natural metal details have been picked out using Citadel "Mithril Silver". I have started using the GameWorkshop Citadel paints recently as they brush nicely and the metalic range is very robust.
The completed engine. Several washes of Raw Umber and Yellow Ochre have been used to highlight the recessed engine detail. A drybrush of silver helps to pickout the raised details.
The engine bay is pretty much now complete. The engine bay door interiors have also been painted RLM 02.
The cockpit on this kit is pretty basic, but I suspect the real aircraft would have been likewise. I took the liberty of substituting a True Details Me 109 resin seat. From my research the Luftwaffe aircraft of this era would have had a RLM 66 cockpit interior. For this I used Gunze Mr Color C116.
The kit wheels look to my eye to be far too thin. They reminded me of those used on the Me 262 (which kinda makes sense as this is a Messerschmitt aircraft). I picked up a set of the nice CMK resin wheels designed for the 262. As you can see they will be a better option than the kits wheels.
The detail in the kit wheel wells is more than suitable and with some careful detail painting and wash comes up well. This is the extensive nose wheel well.
With the interior painting complete its time to doa final check before gluing everything up.
The cockpit is complete with the resin seat in place.
As this aircraft has a tricycle undercarriage, extra weight is needed in the nose to ensure it does not tail sit. To get the correct amount of weight I usually tape the lead fishing sinkers to the model until it sits correctly on its undercarriage. Its important to temprarily add all the parts to the tail to ensure the weight and balance is correct. Once the weight is right, we need to find a place inside the model to hide each one. This is often the tricky part.
As mentioned above, we need to make use of all the empty spaces in the nose to house our lead weights. The spinner, the nose and in this case the belly radiator area have all been used. Even with this much weight this model barely sits correctly.
Seprating the flaps was quite easy but I did notice that the trailing edges were way overscale. Again an easy fix with some scraping, filing and sanding to bring them down to a realistic size. Here we see one of the flaps has been thinned whilst the other is as per the kit. A significant difference.
Just like the flap trailing edges, all the gear doors were also overscale. This is not an un-common problem on 1/48 models but its normally easily fixed by simple sanding. Here we see the two main gear doors and the very noticeable difference between the two.
One interesting feature of the Me 509 nose gear door is that it is hinged. Trumpeter would have you rely on gluing the edges of the parts but I decided to add a hinge (for strength) from brass strip.