|PRICE:||$10.00 or so|
|REVIEWER:||Juan C. Corea|
|NOTES:||Copy of Hobbycraft kit|
Undoubtedly one of the most versatile aircraft to enter service with the
Luftwaffe, the Junkers 88 was to serve in an incredible variety of roles: level
bomber, dive bomber, torpedo bomber, night fighter, reconnaissance, pilotless
guided missile…in fact everything except dogfighter and floatplane. Originating
from a 1935 requirement for a fast bomber, the Ju-88V1 prototype first
took to the
By early 1940, it was clear that the short-span A-1 variant could be improved by enlarging the wing and fitting more powerful engines, so work was started on the A-4, with wingspan increased to 20 meters and metal skinned ailerons, powered by 1340hp Jumo 211J engines, with forced induction cooling ducts that added a bulge to the underside of the nacelle. However, the engines themselves were in short supply, so the A-5 interim variant with the longer span wing but retaining the A-1’s Jumo 211B engines was put into service, reaching units by September 1940.
Production of the 211J engines finally got underway in early 1941, and the A-4 variant would become the most numerous of the A series. Several changes were introduced during production, including the change from metal to wooden propellers with wider blades, changing the rudder leading edge from straight to one with an upper balance horn, and incremental additions to the defensive armament. Most of the aircraft would be expended in the Eastern front, but some war-weary examples would survive to become the lower component for the Mistel composite.
is known for ripping off other manufacturer’s molds, mostly Academy and
Hobbycraft, and this is no exception, being a copy of the Hobbycraft kit, which
itself was inspired by the
Now, the kit itself is a mixture of A-4 and A-5 features, with A-4 nacelles and mid-late A-4 rudder, but with the thin blade props of an A-5 and the armament as depicted in the instructions does not correspond to any specific variant, but is closer to a late A-5, and the Peil-Gerät window is missing, which would be more consistent with an A-5. The wheels also are odd, looking like B-26 wheels and the oleos are molded fully extended, so the aircraft will sit tall.
First thing in the order of battle was to look for a suitable scheme that could be built from the kit, which meant a very early A-4 with metal props and straight rudder. A quick Google search brought up a profile, and in I went. After the requisite parts cleanup, some of the shallower panel lines were rescribed to make them more consistent with the rest. I then proceeded to build subassemblies: the wings, adding the dive brakes, bomb racks and a flat panel that forms the nacelle top. I also opened the holes for landing lights. Yes, I said holes, on both sides, the product of taking tools to plastic before checking references and finding that 88’s only had one light on the port wing. D’oh! Realizing that the cockpit could be added after closing up the fuselage, I did just that. Fit was pretty good so far. After that, I saw that the wing attaches to the fuselage by a rather small tab, so a couple of pins were fashioned from sections of paper clips and used to reinforce the joint. The rudder leading edge was filled and rescribed straight, so by now the basic airframe took shape.
At this point, the build was going smoothly…famous last words. I test fitted the gondola, which was a case of “fits where it touches”, and marked its position so I could open a hole in the fuselage bottom, which was molded solid. I then proceeded to test fit the cockpit floor, and discovered that the opening in it didn’t match, in fact it was on the opposite side! D’oh again! The mold maker had made the cockpit floor a mirror image of the real thing, plus, the hole for the control column was at the midline and the instructions would have you placing the rudder pedals on the right side of the floor, making for very interesting cockpit ergonomics. So, using the original floor for a pattern, a new one was made from sheet stock, and the seat pedestals cut off from the kit part and grafted into the replacement. The new cockpit floor was glued to the fuselage and two blanking plates were fashioned from sheet stock to close off the space between the cockpit floor and the entrance to the gondola. Getting out the airbrush, I sprayed the whole interior with Model Master RLM 02. Now this particular bottle of paint was bad, or MM changed the formula, as it was nearly translucent even when sprayed straight off the bottle, and would not cover at all. At this point I got bored of fighting the kit, and it went into the long term project holding area, better known as the Shelf of Doom.
Fast forward about six months, and with the shelf of doom threatening collapse under the weight of the kits on it, I decided to give the thing another shot. Looking for a substitute for the MM paint, I found a forgotten tinlet of Revell 45 light olive, a little greener but close enough. The interior got painted and assembled, seat cushions were painted MM Leather, and seatbelts added from tape. On to the nacelles, which fit dreadfully, the rear part was fitted to the wing and faired in with Bondo glazing putty and CA, fairly standard work. Now, the front part of the nacelles was even worse fitting, with the alignment pins doing just the opposite of their intended purpose, they were cut off and the nacelle halves sanded to fit. The kit parts had a strange series of lines that were meant to be cowl flaps, but they were incomplete, so those got scribed as well. The open back end of the engine nacelles received a blanking plate to prevent seeing through the wheel wells all the way to the engine fronts and to provide a gluing surface, as they were basically a butt joint to the wing and sure to get knocked off. Par for the course, they fitted with a large step, meaning more putty and CA work. The radiator fronts were installed and some styrene strip glued to the inside of the wells to provide some structural detail, with another strip added to the tail wheel well to hide a large seam there. The aft wheel doors were added to the nacelle in the closed position, which needed more sanding, filling and rescribing, as they were inexplicably meant to be glued open, which would only happen during the gear retraction cycle.
By now I had a complete airframe so all the scratches and seams got corrected with Liquid paper correction fluid (if you haven’t tried it for scratch filling, give it a go, it dries in seconds and sands like a charm, just remember to get the solvent-based type, the water soluble stuff is useless in this regard).The clear parts got a dip in Future, holes drilled for the guns and masked off with magic type tape, which was fairly easy but tedious with the 88’s greenhouse canopy. Much to my surprise, they fit perfectly, and were glued on with watchmaker’s cement. The top greenhouse got tacked on with clear parts glue, since it would get taken off after painting to fit the guns. After that, it’s off to the paint shop, but not before scratchbuilding the underside towel rack antenna with some strip styrene and wire.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The now complete airframe got a primer coat with some generic hardware store enamel, and panel lines preshaded with Model Master RLM 61Dunkelbraun, which gives a less stark result than straight black. The theater band was first undercoated with RLM 21 white then painted with gloss yellow enamel I found lying about the garage. That got masked off and the underside got sprayed with RLM 65 from a Monogram-Humbrol tinlet that must be old enough to vote, the topside received a standard RLM 70/71 splinter scheme with MM enamels, and then gloss coated with Future in preparation for decals.
Since the kit decals were basically useless and I was doing another scheme anyway, that meant I’d have to print my own, leading to another six months of procrastination. Then, disaster struck. Before wasting a sheet of decal paper, I decided to do a trial run on plain paper on my desktop printer. The odd size paper jammed behind the printer rollers and somehow broke a paper feed sensor inside the thing, at 2 AM, no less. Cue in a lot of unprintable language and a two hour disassembly and repair job. Since I still had to do the decals, I borrowed my wife’s printer, one of those cheap-butt jobs, but with a straight paper path, which did the job. Moral #1, the KISS principle is alive and well. Moral #2, if you’re going to use stinky stuff like decal bonder, do it outside the house or when the lady of the house is away, or risk taking flak from her about it.
By now I had the decals ready, time to put them on the model. The underside crosses I made shattered upon hitting the water, so I decided to give the kit crosses a try. They survived but refused to conform to the dive brakes, even with setting solution. After much prodding, they sort of settled, but tore along the edges of the cross. Since all the tears were along the black part of the cross, I corrected them with a fine marker, not perfect, but not too bad, either. I recoated the homebrew decals and applied them, the crosses went along all right but the call letters silvered badly. More prodding and poking ensued, with Future as a setting solution. They still silvered, so out with the decal solvent again, to no avail. Finally, in desperation I tried some toluene, which helped. Still some silvering remained, but by now I´d had enough of this decal business, so I sealed them with more Future and gave the model a black watercolor wash.
After cleaning up, assembling and painting assorted parts like the guns, propellers and antennas it was time to tackle the landing gear. The main landing gear struts sit on two small ledges on the edge of the nacelle and are supposed to be butt glued to them, not a very sound idea in terms of strength so again I fashioned some pins from paper clip wire to reinforce the joint and fastened them with some 10-minute epoxy, as well as the tail gear strut and the wheels which fit very loosely on their axles. The retraction struts were added, again there’s no positive locators, so it was again a case of fiddling for the best fit. The kit gear doors were useless, so out came the sheet stock to scratchbuild replacements. The kit came without bombs, so I added some from the spares box. The exhausts would not fit and needed a lot of sanding to make them enter their recesses, after which they were brush painted MM Burnt Iron metalizer, which I’ve found can be brush applied in thin coats without damaging the plastic. The landing lights were made from a piece of clear toothbrush handle, painted and installed, the greenhouse came off again to install the guns and reglued in place, and the last fiddly bits added. Pastels were used for exhaust staining, some minimal chipping given with silver paint and some mud added to the wheels from some powdered mud pack I found in my wife’s cosmetic cabinet (further confirming my view that: a) it’s a great source for modeling materials and b) women will put anything in their faces if it’s sold as a cosmetic!). A flat coat was applied and the masking removed from the clear parts.
But this kit was to bite me one last time. Leaving the masking on for six months meant that there was a lot of tape residue on the greenhouse, so I tried to take it off with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol, which attacked the Future and fogged the clear parts. After the expected round of curses, I let the thing dry and carefully brushed on some Future on the glass, restoring them to their transparent state, at which point I decided to call it done before some other disaster ensued.
While I was looking for a markings scheme for this kit, I did a search for built examples and found nothing, zip, zero. Now I know why. It doesn’t look too shabby on the shelf sitting next to the other Luftwaffe aircraft, but it’s really more of a show of my stubbornness than of skill and patience.
Now, if you happen to have this kit in your stash, what can you do with it? I’d say the least painful thing to do would be to disregard its issues and use it as a cheap canvas for that markings scheme you always wanted to try, or for a ceiling hanger for the kids’ room, or on a more evil bent, turn it into the styrene version of a Christmas fruitcake and foist it off on an unsuspecting friend (or better yet, enemy!). But if you’re looking for an accurate representation of a Ju-88, save yourself the headaches, the therapy, and the medication and get the Dragon kit.
Ju-88 in Action Part 1. Squadron-Signal Publications, 1988
Aero Detail No.20 Junkers Ju88.
Aerodata International No.9 Junkers Ju88A. 1979.
Juan C. Corea
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