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Foreign Gustavs
Building a collection of Bf 109Gs, Part One

n by Peter Ibes
n photos by Frits Snijder

This article was first published in ‘Modelbouw in Plastic’ - a magazine of IPMS Netherlands
Used with permission of the Editor.

I started my series of 1/72nd foreign Gustavs many years ago, as I was intrigued by their unfamiliar markings and the often twilit history of their air forces. For all these models I used the Me 109 G and K from Heller-Encore. Some fellow modellers might consider them out of date, having no engraved panel lines and such. But due to the soft plastic they are made of and their interchangeable parts, the whole range from the Me 109 F to the K-4 can be build using these kits. Some of my Gustavs have been altered or upgraded, which included transplanting tailplanes and swapping wheels and drop tanks for resin examples. Nevertheless, I think Heller really did manage to capture the typical shape of this aeroplane.

The Messerschmitt 109 was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force, from the first day of World War II to the last. All in all some 35.000 were built, more than any other plane to this day. Of those, some 23.000 were of the "G" model. These were not only delivered to the German Luftwaffe, but also to the air forces of numerous Axis allies as well. Even the neutral Switzerland received some examples of this fighter. This gives the modeller a wide choice of uncommon markings to build a ‘special’ Gustav.

Finland, Ilmavoimat

Finland had been at war with the Soviet Union since the winter of 1939-1940. Ordered by Stalin, the Red Army had invaded Finland to put an end to the countrys independence of 1917. But due to the bad organisation of the Russian army and by using hit-and-run tactics, the Fins had managed to stop the Russian onslaught.

When Germany invaded Russia in 1941, the Fins seized the opportunity and turned to the Germans for help.

From 1942 on, the Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force) received several Me 109 G-2s. With these modern aircraft they were finally able to retire their ageing Fokker D XXIs and Fiat G-50s. In addition the G-2s, Germany supplied Finland with several G-6s, G-8s and G-14s, which soldiered on in Finnish service until the 1950s.

My model represents Me 109 G-6, 2/HLvLv30, Finland 1944. 
Decals came from Inscale 72, sheet no. AC 002.

Italy, Regia Aeronautica

In 1943, after the last Axis forces had been driven from Tunisia, Italy found itself under great pressure as the next allied step was clearly the invasion of Sicily. The Italian aviation industry was by far not able to supply the Regia Aeronautica with the number of aircraft needed to stave off this eminent invasion. The Regia Aeronautica therefore turned to their German counterpart for help.

In 1943 Germany delivered 113 Me 109 Fs, G-2s, G-4s and G-6s for the defence of Sicily. These were gathered in the 150o Gruppo Autonomo Caccia Terrestre, consisting of the 363a, 364a and 365a Squadrilia, as well as in the 3o Gruppo, with the 153a, 154a and 155a Squadrilia. After many training accidents the aircraft were used against the American and British air forces, but there was little the Italian pilots could do against the Allied air supremacy.

Me 109 G-6, 365a Squadrilia, Sicily, June 1943. Decals from Tauro, sheets no. 72-522 (squadron emblems and numerals) and 72-520 (roundels and white crosses).

Italy, Aviazione Nazionale Repubblicana

After the surrender of Italy, on 8th September, 1943, the Germans quickly seized all Italian territory not in Allied hands. They also managed to free Benito Mussolini from his mountainous captivity at Gran Sasso. On 23th September, 1943, the fascist Repubblica Sociale Italiana was proclaimed in Northern Italy, with Mussolini as its leader.

Using personnel from the former Regia Aeronautica, a new air force was set up to fight alongside the Germans. At first instance this new air force, the Aviazione Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR), flew mainly Macchi 205s and Fiat G-55s, as the factories where these types were build were firmly in Axis hands in Northern Italy. But, after heavy raids by the American 15th Air force, the production of Fiats and Macchis broke down and from April 1944 on, the ANR received 183 Me 109 G-6s, G-14s, G-10s and even some K-4s.

Me 109 G-10/R3 (W.Nr. 490266), M.llo Dino Forlani, 1a Sq., 1o Gruppo Caccia, Lonate Pozzolo, Northern Italy, March 1945. Decals from Tauro, sheet no. 72-528 and 72-517.

Freies Rußland (Free Russia)

For many Russians the German invasion of the country meant a liberation from bolshewism. This fact was used by the Germans to set up an ‘independent’ Russian army, under command of general Vlasov. At the very end of the hostilities this army was extended with a fighter unit, with the designation Jagdstaffel 5 Freies Rußland. Although very little is known of this fighter unit, it is said to have flown some fifteen Me 109 G-10s.

Me 109 G-10, Oberst Kasalov, Jagdstaffel 5. Decals from Aeromaster, sheet no. 72-034, ‘Augsburg Eagles’ part two.

Hungary, Magyar Királyi Honvéd Légierö

As one of the few Axis countries, Hungary fought alongside the Germans until the bitter end of World War II. When Germany invaded Russia, they were joined by Hungarian forces. Although the Hungarians were still negotiating the delivery of Heinkel 112 Bs, they only had Italian build Reggiane Re 2000 available for the fight against the Red Air Force. In 1942, with the growing Russian resistance, the Royal Hungarian Air force (Magyar Királyi Honvéd Légierö) had to be strengthened. The Germans therefore started to deliver Me 109 Fs and Gs, and allowed the Hungarians to license-build the type.

The Hungarian Gustavs continued to fight on against the Russians, even after the whole of their country had been seized. The last G-10 finally surrendered to American forces in Klagenfurt in Austria in May 1945.

Me 109 G-14, Lt. Antal Szebeni, 101/4 (Puma) squadron, Hungary 1944. Modified decals from Tally Ho sheet 7009, Hungarian Fw 190 As.

Continue to part two of this article


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