Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson

Bf 109E-7-3.JG27-Yellow4

Introduction

At the outbreak of WW II, three colonial powers controlled the North African coast to the south of the Mediterranean Sea. Britain held Egypt as a de facto colony (courtesy the League of Nations), France had colonies at the western end, and the Italian colony of Libya lay between them. After the fall of France, the Libya-Egypt border became the land border between the Axis and the Allies.

The British took the initiative, and invaded Libya from Egypt in early February 1941. They penetrated 250 miles and captured Benghazi, the major city and port in eastern Libya. Hitler had no real interest in Africa, but he could see the strategic possibilities and risks. He sent a small but highly mechanized force under Erwin Rommel to stiffen the Italian defences. Rommel arrived in Africa shortly after, and began pushing east towards Benghazi, re-taking it on 2. April 1941. By 11. April the Afrika Korps had reached the small town of Tobruk, 60 miles from the Egyptian border. Tobruk was important because it had a deep-water harbour, but it was defended by a mostly Australian garrison, and held off repeated attempts to take it by Rommel's panzer force until it was relieved in December.

Up to now the Luftwaffe presence in Africa consisted of Bf 110 Zerstoerer units and Stuka and bomber units, used initially to harass Allied convoys on route to Egypt, and later also to support the German eastward advance. On 17. April the Bf 109E-7's of I.Gruppe JG27 arrived in Libya, comprising the Staffeln 1.JG27, 2.JG27 and 3.JG27, under the command of Eduard Neumann. These were the first units of the Tagjagd to be deployed in Africa.

The Initial Image

This model is from the Hasegawa 1:48 kit, and was built by Juraj Bojkovski. There are 12 photos in his review, all big images 1400 pixels wide. The definition is very sharp over the whole airframe, and the background, though rather dark, has low colour saturation, so there is no seepage of colour onto the model's surfaces.

I can get a good in-flight image with relatively little selection work.

I have a few quibbles with the accuracy of the parts. The fuselage profile between the windscreen and the small cooling openings just behind the spinner is a single dead-straight line, and I think it should have a slight curve ahead of the MG barrels. It sounds trivial, but I found it disturbed me; I eased the impression by making the local curve around the openings of a larger radius than on the model.

Treatment of the Image

Apart from the task of closing the canopy and repairing the area of the starboard wing obscured by the open part, I had no problems – the depressed flaps were very easily sorted.

I chose another port-side picture to give me a wing-man. It needed more work than the primary image, not least because I spent some time varying the camo on it.

My work on this secondary revealed another aspect of the kit's apparent deficiencies, in that the leading edge of the wing seemed to my eye to be too bluff, and also its profile seemed to wobble considerably between the root and the tip; I eased these problems by the way I selected and coloured the leading edge area.

To make sure that the secondary airframe slid in underneath the primary, as I wanted, I checked that the background layer was the active layer before I pressed the “paste” instruction.

Conclusions

I was pleased with this final picture, considering the little time and effort needed to reach it. All credit to the modeller/photographer.

I think my comments on the kit may be a bit harsh, because, I suspect, the very fact that Juraj's photos are so clear reveals even the slightest flaw in what is generally an impressive Hasegawa offering.