Dragon 1/48 Ju-188E-1

KIT #: 5518
PRICE: $
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Patrick  Grué
NOTES: Eduard P-E kit # 49400

HISTORY

The Ju-188 Rächer (Avenger) was one of these well-known aircraft manufactured by the Junkers Flugzeug und Motorenwerke AG (JFM) in Dessau, in the tradition of the famous Ju-88 bomber.

The Luftwaffe needed a new advanced bomber to replace the aging He-111, Do-17 and Ju-88 bombers. The RLM conducted development of a new bomber, the Ju-288, but due to delay in the development of the new Jumo 213 engine, this project could not be ready on time. It was then decided to work on an interim solution: the Ju-188.

The Ju-188 was developed in 1941 from the basic airframe and engines of the Ju-88B. JFM built some Ju-88V experimental aircraft by extending the wingspan, enlarging the tail planes and adding some new equipment. Finally the Ju-88 V44 was representative of the Ju-188E series with its BMW 801 radial engines as well as its typical egg-shaped cockpit. It flew for the first time on 20 June 1941 and was later converted as the first Ju-188 V1 prototype in 1943.

In October 1942, the Ju-188 program was launched. As the Jumo 213, a V-12 engine manufactured by JFM, was not yet ready for the Ju-188 production line, the RLM asked the Junkers factory to able the bomber being motorized either with the BMW 801G (1680 hp) or the Jumo 213A (1770 hp).

The Ju-188A, B, C and D were level/ dive or torpedo bombers fitted with the Jumo 213 engines. The Ju-188E and F were respectively level/ dive bombers and long-range reconnaissance aircraft fitted with the BMW 801 engines. However, for engine development reason, the E version entered into production in February 1943, almost one year before the A version. The Ju-188G was a level or torpedo bomber, featuring a tail gunner and fitted with Jumo 213A engines. The Ju-188H, J, K, L, R, S and T were projects for long-range and high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, night fighter and fast bomber. They could be motorized either with the BMW 801J (1810 hp) or Jumo 213E (2000 hp) engines. They were prototypes of the Ju-388 series forthcoming in 1944 which finally superseded the Ju-288 initial project.

Most of the Luftwaffe bombers were equipped with electronic devices for navigation aids during the Battle of Britain. Following this experience, the Ju-188 was initially developed to take into account the latest radio-navigation and targeting devices necessary to perform long range and precision bombing missions by night. Among the basic radio-localization and radio-com systems (FuG-10/ -16/ -25/ -101), the Ju-188 featured a radio-navigation system called Y-Verfahren or “Wotan 2” that used a modulated VHF beam pointed to the target direction by a ground station. This signal was automatically rebroadcasted back to the transmitting station which, by comparing the phase between the return signal and the transmitted signal, could determine the transit time and hence the distance to the aircraft (Doppler Effect). Coupled with the direction of the beam, the bomber position could be determined with accuracy by ground controllers if the signals were not jammed by the British. The pilot and navigator were given radio instructions to correct their flight path or divert it as deception manoeuvre attempt . Blind bombing could be carried out over the target.

The Ju-188 also featured the Lorenz instrument landing system used in poor weather or night conditions (Landefunkfeuer or LFF).

The Ju-188 could carry 3,000 kg of bombs spread out in two internal bomb bays and four attaching points under wings. The wing inner ports were mainly used for heavy stores: 1,000/ 1,400/ 1,800 kg bombs or 2x900L drop tanks whereas outer ports were used for 250/ 500 kg bombs. The fuselage ports were mainly dedicated to 50 kg bomblets: 900 kg max in the forward bay and 500 kg max in the rear bay. The internal bomb bays could be replaced by two additional fuel tanks of 700L each.

The defense armament was made of:

§          one MG 151 (20 mm caliber) forward-firing canon with 200 rounds

Performances and characteristics:

The twin-engine bomber Ju-188 E-1 was operated by four airmen and could fly at a maximum cruising speed of 500 km/h at 6,000 m without stores. The max ceiling was 9,500 m.

Range is always dependent of the balance between the bomb load and the carried fuel so as the max take-off weight shall never be exceeded. With a cruising speed of 400 km/h, the Ju-188 could range:

§         1,300 km with 3,000 kg of bombs and 1,680L of fuel

§         3,000 km with 2,000 kg of bombs and 3,580L of fuel

§         3,800 km with 1,000 kg of bombs and 4,480L of fuel

Featuring a wingspan of 22 m, a length of 14.96 m and a height of 4.90 m, its empty weight was 9,900 kg and the maximum take-off weight was 15,000 kg.

The Ju-188s were widely used over the Atlantic, North Sea and Mediterranean theatre in shipping attacks before being allocated to ground targets. On 18 August 1943 the Ju-188E-1s of I/ KG 66 took part in their first bombing operation over an industrial target near Lincoln.

The Ju-188s carried out their most important bombing sorties during Operation Steinbock (aka Baby Blitz) between January and May 1944. Operation Steinbock (Capricorn) was a reprisal following the night bombings of German cities during summer 1943 by the RAF. This operation was a night bombing offensive against military and civilian targets located in southern England including London area. Many Luftwaffe bomber units took part in this operation which involved more than 500 bombers such as Ju-88, Do-217, He-177, Ju-188 and also some Me-410 and Fw-190 fighter-bombers. The bombers dropped 70% incendiary and 30% high explosive bombs, including 1,000 kg bombs and land mines. Many Ju-188E-1s of I/ KG 66 and KG 2 were used as pathfinders and illuminators by dropping parachute flares as sky markers and incendiary bomblets as ground markers; to this purpose their rotating turret was removed to increase speed as marker aircraft. However Operation Steinbock had worn out the Luftwaffe bomber fleet which recorded 63% of losses. That long operation put an end to the large-scale offensives against England with bombers and afterwards only V-1 flying bombs and V-2 rockets were used.

After Allied invasion of France in June 1944, the Ju-188s and Ju-88s of I/ KG 66 were used against military targets and later during the Ardennes offensive in December. Between March and April 1945, in an ultimate attempt to stop the Red Army, the Ju-188s took part in operations against the Oder bridges as pathfinders for Mistel elements of KG 30.

Note: Mistel was a twin-aircraft combination consisting of an unmanned Ju-88 featuring a 1,800 kg warhead instead of the cockpit, and a piloted fighter as guidance aircraft (Fw-190 or Bf-109) fitted above the “kamikaze” bomber.

Despite its good flying qualities, expected performances of the Ju-188 were not really better than those of the last versions of the Ju-88 it was supposed to replace. Finally the Ju-388 was the real outcome of this Junkers bomber series but it was developed too late in the war to make much of a combat contribution.

Junkers built 1,237 Ju-188s. Some captured Ju-188E/F served in the French Navy after war as torpedo bombers until 1951 before being scraped. Unfortunately none of this sleek bomber has been preserved in a museum. 

THE KIT

This kit features 182 parts including 27 photo-etched parts in steel, but only 138 parts are dedicated to the E-1 version. The other parts are for the A version or for the Ju-88. The transparent parts are excellent even better than the grey parts. All the control surfaces are separated except for the flaps.

The Eduard photo-etched set features 134 parts in brass including pre-painted self-adhesive parts for the miscellaneous instrument panels, consoles and seat belts.

The small decal sheet suggests three options: one marking for a KG 6 aircraft, one marking for a reconnaissance unit and one marking for a KG 66 aircraft based in France. I did not use them as the decals were yellowish and glossy.

CONSTRUCTION

Cockpit:

All details are concentrated in the nose. You can independently build the cockpit in its frame as the whole fuselage is separated in a front part (cockpit) and in a rear part (from wing leading edge to tail). There are 120 Eduard photo-etched parts for the cockpit and only 30 original plastic parts including front fuselage halves, floor and transparent parts. Gosh, that took me loads of time to fix the 150 parts of the cockpit!

I used Humbrol #125 for RLM 66 cockpit color which best matches with the pre-painted photo-etched parts, with a final wash in burnt Sienna.

The whole canopy is not easy to fix and needs some delicate adjustments as the machine guns are already glued on the cockpit floor. I regret that the turret does not have any free rotating device in that scale, so it was glued after adding some lacking details on it (seat, back seat and ammo box). 

Engines:

The two engines are very simplified and I expected better for a kit released in 1994. Two aftermarket BMW 801 engines should be appreciated here. But it is not very important as the engine is hidden afterwards by the fan cooler. I applied a coat of “steel” paint and highlighted some details in grey, black and copper.

Fuselage and tail wheel:

The tail wheel is nicely detailed and there are some p-e parts for the wheel well. However the leg seems flimsy when the complete kit applies its weight on it.

As usual in Dragon's products, problems of poor fit occur when the two fuselage halves are glued: the fuselage halves do not match perfectly as well as the panel lines. Unfortunately, filling, sanding and re-engraving operations are unavoidable here.   

Wings and stabilizers:

I started to fix the vertical and horizontal stabilizers before the wings and then the elevators in folded position.

The wing tips are separated from the main parts as well as the ailerons. But the problems of poor fit are back: the wing tip thickness does not perfectly match with the wing as well as some panel lines.

One of the main flaw of this kit is the wing root sealing with the fuselage: the wing profile does not match correctly between the two parts and moreover the dihedral adjustment is approximate due to a free adjustment instead of a tighter one. Here again I could not avoid the drudgery of machining, filling and sanding.  

The ailerons are in banked position in accordance with the control wheel position (LH side).    

Landing gear and wheel well:

The landing gear has to be fixed into the wings prior to the engine nacelles. No problem here with the legs that fit correctly to the attaching points. Some p-e parts give an upgrade to the gear assembly. However the wheels are a bit simple and could be improved.

The wheel wells and gear legs are in RLM 02 grey-beige with a wash in burnt Sienna.

Nacelles and propellers:

The engine nacelles are glued at the last step of the construction. They also needs some putty.

The propeller blades and spinners are in black green and are installed after the aircraft be painted. 

Bombs and supports:

No bomb is provided in the kit. So I took two SC500 bombs from a Bf-110 spare parts and scratch-built the big “Hermann” SC1000 bombs from documents I found in Internet. The SC500 are black green whereas the SC1000 are light blue (Humbrol #65). The wooden trolley of the SC1000 is scratch-built from matches. 

COLORS & MARKINGS

The Dragon painting guide is subject to caution since it does not refer to RLM colors, but suggests inappropriate references from Italeri Model Master paints, as well as some Gunze reference paints which have to be mixed together. In my opinion it is not necessary to follow this guide as RLM colors are nowadays available and easy to find among paint manufacturers.

Following my reference books, I chose a typical camouflage scheme applied on the night bombers: the lower surfaces are in RLM 22 flat black and the upper surfaces are in RLM 76 light grey-blue with dot or vermicelli mottling in RLM 74 grey-green.

Note that the last release of the 1/72 Hasegawa Ju-188 suggests the mottling be in RLM 70 black green over RLM 76 for two aircraft of the same unit. As you want folks, I wasn't yet born to say that it wasn't like this...but I prefer RLM 74 over RLM 76!

The upper surfaces could also wear a typical RLM70/71 green splinter pattern over RLM 22, with RLM 76 vermicelli mottling applied over the green pattern. In fact there are many options to have a non-standard Ju-188.

Once all the surfaces have been sanded for a better aspect and paint covering, I put the masks all around the model, particularly on the huge vitreous nose. My advice here: buy the pre-cut masks if you can!

I started to airbrush the lower surfaces and the main panel lines of the upper surfaces in RLM 22 using Gunze acrylic paints. Then all the upper surfaces were airbrushed in RLM 76, and the mottling free hand in RLM 74.

The intrados crosses are painted in RLM 77 grey using masks whereas the white crosses and swastikas are decals from my spare box. There is no ID number on the fuselage sides except a small Z6 code on top of the fin (KG 66 identifier). The decals are protected by a mat varnish.  

My aircraft is of the I/ KG 66 (first group of bomber wing 66) when the third squadron (Staffel 3) was based near Paris at Cormeilles airfield between February and June 1944. This unit used both Ju-88s and Ju-188s and shared the airfield with the Fw-190 fighters of JG 2. Note that nowadays this airfield is still active for civilian use and better known as Pontoise Cormeilles en Vexin (LFPT). The two hard runways were originally built by the Germans.     

CONCLUSIONS

 Despite its recurrent problems of poor fit, this kit has accurate overall dimensions. However this kit really needs to be upgraded with details to have a valuable and worthy model to display. Sincerely this kit is a challenge for an advanced modeler who has time. Inadvisable for hurry modelers or beginners. 

REFERENCES

§         Junkers Ju-188, by Helmut Erfurth (Midland Publishing 2003)

§         Ju-188 & Ju-388, by Robert Michulec (AJ-Press 1997, original Polish version)

§         The Luftwaffe over the Bristol area, 1940-1944 by John Penny

 Patrick  Grué

December 2010

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