Dedicated to my late aunt, Wan Munah.

When I was in primary school, I was introduced to model kits made by Airfix. It all started with a model German plane called the Junkers Ju 52/3m, which was a transport aircraft of the Luftwaffe in WW2, given to me and my brother by my late aunt. Oh, ya – we were given one each. I remembered the parts made of molded grey plastic attached to the sprues, and on reading the instructions, we found out that we had to put it together with glue[1]. We weren’t, however, clued in to a few factors when it came to putting together 1:72 scaled model kits – these aren’t really toys, and you aren’t supposed to complete the kit in one sitting! Well, it took us several sittings for this (it was a big aircraft compared to the one-seater fighter crafts) but as I remembered from our later trips to Katy’s Toys at The Weld[2], our subsequent (smaller) kits were all completed in one sitting and wonky to boot, for obvious reasons. I noticed the instructions gave a list of colours to use and being cackhanded as I was (and still am, I think), I gave up after one try[3].

Both my brother and I, together with a cousin, were into building kits again in the mid-80s. This time we upgraded to TAMIYA kits (not by choice, as this was all they had at the spanking new JAYAJUSCO store that opened in Taman Tun). My brother and cousin were building racing motorbikes (Eddie Lawson and Freddie Spencer, respectively). Between the two of us, there were several modern American fighters (like the General Dynamics F-16) that we built but nothing beat the MIG-25 Foxbat, the fastest fighter plane at that time which was still vaguely shrouded in secrecy as the Cold War was still on at that time. We also built ships and aircraft carriers. Oh, yes, we could get the proper paint that time from JUSCO although I have to say all three of us weren’t that great in painting the kits still!

Fast forward 35-odd years later, I felt like trying it out again. Coincidentally, my brother got the bug first and bought a MIG-25 kit by Hasegawa and had started constructing it. I remembered the Junkers Ju52 that I built and decided on a Messerschmitt Bf109 G6 kit by Airfix[4]. As this was my first project, I did spend a bit in buying the paint, brushes, putty, masking tape, tweezer and sandpaper to get me started. Also, with the sorting out of the attic into buangruang 4, I have a place to do the kit. Once I bought the chekai-est hobby desk lamp (complete with a magnifier), I was good to go.

My brother did show me this series of YouTube vids on the basics of making model airplanes which helped a lot. I started off by washing the sprues in warm soapy water to get rid of any oil residue. I started by painting the smaller parts. And yes, painting the pilot that is virtually 1/72 the size of a human adult requires some dexterity. I thought I did fine and I was well chuffed. One thing that I wished I could do was airbrushing the plane’s body but as this was my first attempt in decades, I decided to hand paint the plane instead. I used an 0 size brush which is kinda small but did the trick. It lacks the smoothness of a airbrush job, but as I rather not mess up my attic, this would do just fine!

I then realised that the decals for the Luftwaffe version of the plane (the plane can be painted in three versions – German Luftwaffe, Finnish or Italian air force) do not include the hakenkreuz (or swastika to you and I) due to it being an illegal symbol according to the law in Germany. Not that I have any affinity for Nazi Germany but I am a completist. Luckily, a Google search shows that I can buy a set of hakenkreuz decals in all manner of size and design, complete with a guide telling you the specific hakenkreuz design for the corresponding aircraft according to the year of manufacture.

The Me109 (what members of the Allied forces call the plane) here has a camo and I hope I could recreate it using a cotton bud instead of a brush. It didn’t give the desired effect so I ended up using both the cotton bud and brush. Can lah.

As this was a level 1[5] kit, skill-wise, it didn’t have many parts. I was thankful for that as it was pointless to make more parts for it, unless it was a larger scale kit like a 1:48 or even a 1:32. Fitting the seat with the pilot intact was a right bastard, and I finally did it by adding the pilot after putting the two halves of the fuselage together. Thankfully, the pilot could enter from the base of the fuselage as the wings were not attached yet. Hurrah for the fine tweezers which helped big time.

I added the decals before gluing the wings and stabilisers to the fuselage. Once gluing certain parts, I would leave the kit to dry for one day. Even a couple of drops of glue is enough, unlike the splodgy amounts I used when I was a kid! If it was the UHU, I would use a toothpick to apply but it gets real stringy despite what it says on the box. New formula konon. I preferred the clear glue that comes with a brush better. For real small parts, like the tips of the tailwheel, I would grip the part with the tweezers and dip it into the brush. Interestingly, some of the parts didn’t require glue.

The spinner/nose cone didn’t attach well to the front and you could see a gap. I didn’t want to risk pushing it too hard as it is connected to a small plastic disc that is glued on to the front of the fuselage, and losing it would mean finding an alternative way to attach the dang thing. Some parts may not fit well and here’s where a cutter comes in handy, to patiently shave off plastic so as to make parts fit. I had to be real careful as to not to shave too much off.

I finished the Me109 last Sunday morning. I was well chuffed with the final result actually. Any gaps between two attached parts were relatively negligent. With the very small amount of glue cementing the parts, I am surprised the parts are held together in a robust manner.

I am quite stoked to start out my next project soon which will be the Supermarine Spitfire Mk 1 which was used in the Battle of Britain. This time, I wanna try out using modelling putty to completely rid off any gaps but this would mean painting the plane after putting the larger parts together. Wish me luck!

Click the links below for further details on:
– the Messerschmitt Bf109 G6
Major Kurt-Werner Brändle, the pilot of this actual Me109 who was killed in action in 1943

[1]Yup, our first dalliance with UHU. In the legal sense. Hah.
[2]Heaven incarnate for primary school kids.
[3]Hoping to paint the pilot, I naïvely bought pink (instead of flesh) and brown Humbrol enamel paint. Both in gloss. Epic fail.
[4]Yup, they are still around and are now owned by the model train makers, Hornby. Buatan India now.
[5]Rank amateur. Class zero.