The blockbuster movie Battle of Britain hit the big screen in the summer of 1969. The film had a stellar cast but the real stars were the vintage warbirds, particularly the Supermarine Spitfires and Messerschmitt Me-109s that dominated the story of that critical battle. It had been only 24 years since the end of World War II and less than 30 years since these two fighters had met in the skies over southern England.
Producers decided early on that there was only one way to tell the story: Use the real thing. They quickly found that “the few” Winston Churchill spoke of during the war applied not just to the pilots and aircrew but to their aircraft as well. Airworthy Spitfires and Messerschmitts were rare, most of them late-model aircraft. Sticklers for accuracy, the production team extensively modified them to look like the fighters that flew in the battle.
The role of the Messerschmitt Me-109 was played by a Spanish-built version of the German fighter, the Hispano Aviación HA-1112. Special Hobby Models, based in the Czech Republic, released their 1/72nd-scale HA-1112 Buchón in a number of different guises. One of those versions comes with extra parts and markings for two of the German fighters that appeared in the film.
Begin with the nicely detailed cockpit. Early Me-109s had a medium gray color interior (RLM 02). A dark gray wash will help make the interior details pop. The kit includes an etched metal detail fret with a nicely detailed seat harness, rudder pedals, instrument panel and other bits and pieces. Spend the extra couple of bucks on an aftermarket canopy, as you’ll want to display it open to show off that fine work. Cockpit complete, it’s time to move on to the next steps.
Bring the fuselage halves together and do the same in assembling the wing. Since there are no alignment pins to help in attaching the parts, take care when fitting the halves together. The overall fit, however, is quite good. Be sure to use the squared-off wingtips. In modifying the Spanish Buchóns, the rounded wingtips were clipped to better represent the early-model Me-109E. The movie Messerschmitts had a much different power plant than their 1940 predecessors. The Spanish aircraft mounted the more plentiful Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, giving the nose of the airplane a P-40-like profile.
The kit includes a part that does the same job the movie producers needed to do. A single piece with the appropriate bulges represents the MG 131 machine guns over the engine. A pair of cannon barrels do the same on the leading edge of the wing.
Now it’s time for “makeup.” Mask and paint that 1940-era Luftwaffe camouflage.
While producers went to great lengths to bring the dogfights to the big screen using actual aircraft, color camouflage and markings were applied using the “TLAR” method (that looks about right). The technically accurate RLM 65/71/02 gave way to light blue undersurfaces and a two-tone dark green and a sort of greenish brown on top. Your best reference is the movie: Pour a pint and put on the DVD. Of course also consult “Making Battle of Britain” in the September 2019 Aviation History.
Markings in the kit include two fighters from the fictitious Luftwaffe unit that appeared in the movie, “Red 10” and “Yellow 15.” Modeler’s choice: What’s your favorite color? Add a coat of clear lacquer and let the prima donna rest overnight.
Carefully attach the canopy using white glue or cement designed specifically for clear parts. Attach the cannon barrels, landing gear, spinner and propeller, and your Battle of Britain movie star is ready for its closeup!