Revell 1/32 Junkers Ju-88A-1

KIT #: 4728
PRICE: 11,800 yen at www.hlj.com ($79.00 MSRP US)
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES:  

HISTORY

      The Ju-88 series is said to prove the effectiveness of the German philosophy of using one good basic airframe for a variety of missions.  Actually, Ju-88 was not the result of such a design philosophy, but rather was so good it was supremely amenable to a variety of modifications and adaptations, which resulted in it being the backbone of the Luftwaffe - used as a level bomber, a dive bomber, a long range fighter, a night interceptor, for high speed reconnaissance - all with equal success.

     The aircraft resulted from a 1934 RLM specification for a heavily-armed Kampfzerstoerer - a multi-purpose airplane capable of being used as a bomber, a bomber-destroyer, or in close air support.  A year later the specification was changed to a Schnellbomber, a high-speed bomber whose performance would not be compromised by making it suitable for any other roles.  Maximum speed was to be 310 mph, with maximum cruising speed 280 mph, making the airplane extremely difficult to intercept by any known fighter in development at the time.  Henschel and Junkers responded to the request for proposals, while the Messerschmitt proposal ultimately became the Bf-110.

      The Ju-88-V1 first flew on December 21. 1936, powered by two Daimler-Benz DB-600Aa engines.  The Ju-88V-1 crashed on April 10, 1937, and was replaced in testing by the similarly-powered Ju-88-V2.  In light of the need for the Daimler-Benz engines, the Ju-88-V3 appeared with Junkers Jumo 210 engines.

Pilot reports of both prototypes were so enthusiastic that the RLM ordered three more prototypes.  In 1938, the RLM added the requirement that the airplane be capable of precision dive bombing, which resulted in the Ju-88-V4, and finally the Ju-88-V6, which represented the first production series, the Ju-88A-1.

      Deliveries of the Ju-88A-0 began in the spring of 1939, followed by the Ju-88A-1 that summer.  Erprobungskommando 88 was redesignated I/KG 30 on September 22, 1939.  The first combat of the Ju-88A-1 occurred on September 26, 1939, when four Ju-88s of I/KG 30 attacked a British naval force that included the carrier Ark Royal and the battlecruiser Hood. On SC 500 bomb did hit Hood, but failed to explode, and the attack was completely un successful despite German propaganda claims that “an aircraft carrier was destroyed and a battleship badly damaged.”  KG 30's first mission over Britain happened on October 16, when Royal Navy ships were attacked in the firth of Forth, damaging the cruiser Edinburgh and destroyer Mohawk. Spitfires of 602 and 603 Squadrons intercepted the Germans and shot down two Ju-88s.  The next day, four Ju-88s attacked Scapa Flow and damaged the training battleship Iron Duke.

      II/KG 30 was activated on December 1, 1939, with III/KG 30 activated on January 1, 1940.  The entire Geschwader participated in the invasions of Denmark and Norway in April 1940.  On April 10, Ju-88s attacking in concert with he-11s hit British naval units off Bergen, sinking the destroyer Gurkha and damaging the cruisers Devonshire, Glasgow and Southampton.

      Two Gruppen of KG 51, two Gruppen of Lehrgeschwader 1, and one Gruppe of KG 4 had completed conversion by May 10, 1940, when the attack in the West began, though the Ju-88 played only a small part in the invasion of France and the Low Countries.

     The Ju-88's first real baptism of fire came with the Battle of Britain.  On Adlertag, August 13, 1940, all three Gruppen of KG 30 and KG 51, both Gruppen of Lehrgeschwader 1, one Gruppe of KG 4, two Gruppen of KG 54 and one Gruppe of KG 1 had re-equipped with the Ju-88 and were ready for operations. 

      Among the highlights of the Ju-88's service in the Battle of Britain were the attack on Portsmouth by 63 Ju-88s on August 12, and an attack on August 15 by 12 Ju-88s of I/LG 1 against Middle Wallop that took the base completely by surprise, destroying several Spitfires, but losing five aircraft to defenders. Throughout the battle, the Ju-88 had the lowest loss rate to British defenders, due to its high performance.  Once the aircraft had released their bombs and were heading back to France in a shallow dive, the Hurricane couldn’t stay with them and the Spitfire could only make a successful interception if they had the advantage of position at the outset of the fight.

      Following the Battle of Britain, Ju-88s largely replaced the Do-17s, and were employed against Malta in 1941.  By the late Spring of 1941, the Ju-88A-1 had been replaced on operations by the Ju-88A-4, and the earlier aircraft was relegated to training service.  By that point, the RAF considered the Ju-88 the most dangerous German aircraft in service.

THE KIT

     When Revell of Germany first announced last year that they would release a Ju-88A-1 that was based on an actual Ju-88A-1 raised from a lake in Norway, modelers were agog at the thought, particularly with the low price of around $45 that was set.  That price has increased as international finance has played holy hell with exchange rates, but for what is there, the kit is a major bargain.

      The kit comes with 255 injection plastic parts in blue-grey plastic and 26 clear parts, all crisply molded.  The molding quality is excellent, with a satin texture. Surface detail consists of recessed panel lines with selected rivets and raised features where appropriate. All the surface detail is consistent with no fading or soft lines in evidence.

Decals are provided for three aircraft, though there are no swastikas. 

     The only problem is that the kit does not include the four underwing bomb racks, which almost all Ju-88s were equipped with. Fortunately, Jerry Rutman quickly came to the rescue with a set of resin bomb racks that sell for $20, along with three SC 250 bombs and a SC 500 bomb for an additional $15.

     While there are no seatbelts and no instrument panel decals provided, Eduard has just released two excellent photoetch sets that include complete seat belts and highly detailed instrument panels.

CONSTRUCTION

     I began construction by assembling the wings and tail surfaces, including the main bases of the main landing gear, which I then set aside as I proceeded to the daunting task of assembling the cockpit.

     While the cockpit is complex, it is not complicated if you commit the radical act of following the instructions.  I painted all the parts with Xtracrylix RLM 66 Schwartzgrau before proceeding with assembly. I also painted the leather padding with Xtracrylix RLM 81 Braunviolett.  I used the Eduard seatbelts, which really add to the look of the cockpit.  I did not yet have the instrument panel photoetch sheet, and so did the instruments with instrument face decals from bits and parts of other decal sheets.  I would highly recommend the Eduard set, which will really add to the final look. 

     Once the cockpit parts were in place, it was time to assemble the fuselage, which comes in four parts, and turns out to be quite difficult to fit.  I checked with Brett Green about his experience, and he had the same difficulties.  I started by attaching the upper and lower parts to the right fuselage half, which had most of the cockpit, then began fitting the left half, starting with the cockpit and working back an inch at a time, clamping with rubber bands, to the tail.  Once this had set up, I applied C-A glue to the really heavy seams, sanded them smooth, then applied Tamiya’s “Mr. Surfacer” substitute, sanded smooth again, and then rescribed the panel lines.

     Once this was accomplished, the rest of the assembly was straightforward.  I attached the wings and tail surfaces, and the control surfaces - with the elevators “drooped.”

     I then assembled and attached the Rutman resin bomb racks, which needed a bit of gap-filling once they were in position on the lower wing surface.

     It was time to mask off all that glass.  I used Tamiya tape, and the process took several hours over a couple of days to accomplish.  I would recommend you get the Eduard pre-cut mask sheet, which will make things much easier.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Painting:

     After I pre-shaded the panel lines with flat black, the model was painted with Xtracrylix RLM65 Hellblau, RLM70 Schwartzgrun and RLM71 Dunkelgrun.  When this was fully dry, I gave the model a coat of Future.

Decals:

     The kit decals need a bit of extra help in settling in, so I used Solvaset on them.  The very complete stenciling is a bit difficult to scope out from the decal instructions, but the result is worth the effort.  I used swastika decals from an Aeromaster sheet of swastikas.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

     I washed the model to get rid of decal solvent residue, then applied two coats of Xtracrylix Flat Varnish.  When that was dry, I applied exhaust stains with Tamiya “Smoke,” then attached the wheels and props, and the very thin canopy radio antenna mast (which will break if you look at it wrong; be very careful separating it from the parts sprue).  I mounted the rear guns in position, and unmasked the canopy glass.

CONCLUSIONS

     The account of the construction may sound easy, but be forewarned that this is a biiiiiiig project, just by the size of the model.  The cockpit is an assembly project all on its own and requires every bit of effort you can put into detail painting.  (I wish I had photos of the cockpit during assembly, but I discovered too late that the flash card I was using had been corrupted and the pictures were not useable.)  Painting the exterior is right up there with painting a barn with a 12-inch brush as far as how time-consuming it is to get full cover without “holidays.”  That said, the end result is a very nice model of the version of the Ju-88 I have always wanted to have in my collection.   Any modeler of at least average ability, who has the patience to commit to the effort, can have a very impressive model as a result.  Highly recommended.

Tom Cleaver

April 2009

Review kit courtesy of HobbyLink Japan - www.hlj.com

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