Special Hobby 1/72 Ju-388K/L






Two aircraft; see review


Scott Van Aken


Short run multimedia kit


1943 was a turning point in the war in the air over Germany. The Luftwaffe was in a fierce battle with the RAF and USAAF over control over the skies and both sides were losing a great number of aircraft. It is understandable that the Luftwaffe would be hesitant to interrupt production of existing types to introduce new aircraft. Instead, they looked towards the improvement of current aircraft to meet their needs.

One of these aircraft was an improved version of the Ju-188, specifically the Ju-188J night fighter, Ju-188K bomber and Ju-188L reconnaissance aircraft, all of which had been optimized for high altitude work. Because of the importance given to these three proposals, they were all given the Ju-388 designation. One of the new additions to the airframe was a remote controlled tail barbette encompassing two 13mm guns. The initial prototypes and preproduction aircraft were all built  without the tail guns.

Ignoring the Ju-388J, which cannot be made from this kit, I'll concentrate on the K and L versions. The first preproduction Ju-388K-0 bombers were built in July 1944 followed by five Ju-388K-1s before production ceased. The bomb load was carried beneath the fuselage, but covered by a wooden fairing. The Ju-388L recce aircraft started with the obligatory 10 preproduction Ju-388L-0 aircraft, all made from converted Ju-188S airframes and were sent to Esprobungskommando 388 for service evaluation starting in August 1944. Again, only a few Ju-388L-1s were completed, and they were visually almost the same as the bomber version, with a wooden fairing on the fuselage, this time containing cameras. As usual, the worsening war situation had a severe detriment on the production of the aircraft and by war's end, only 75 of ALL 388 subtypes had been completed and even fewer used operationally. There is one Ju-388K still extant with the Smithsonian collection.


 Had you read the preview of the Do-317, you would know much about this kit as well as they are both quite similar. The major difference with this model is the more intensive use of resin, which is really befitting this much larger model. Another thing totally missing from this kit is the roughness of the plastic and the filled in panel/control surface lines that were on that particular model.

This kit is almost totally devoid of flash and has no injector pin marks on any of the smaller parts. There was some minor breakage of a few resin bits due to all the parts in one bag and a prop blade was broken off the sprue as well, but it is no problem. It appears that a Ju-388J night fighter is in the works as there is a solid nose, an underbelly cannon pack and  barrels on the sprues that are not shown in the instruction sheet. All that is missing are the nose radar antennas.

The detail on the resin bits is superb and those are mostly for cockpit, wheel well and engine nacelles. The small etched metal fret provides all the radar and other antenna bits as well as the aileron hinges. The canopy parts are vacuformed and only one set is given. Should you decide to do the bomber version, you'll have to sand off all the camera window covers from the under fusealge fairing.

Decals are by Propagteam and are for two versions; one each Ju-388K and Ju-388L. One is for a prototype Ju-388K/L in bomber colors of RLM 70/71 over RLM 65. If it really is a prototype, it should not have the tail gun so will require an Italeri Ju-188 so you can have the correct tail. The other is a generic Ju-388L (shown on the box top) in RLM 70/81 over RLM 76. Actually the entire uppersurface is RLM 70 with RLM 81 mottling on the tail surface only. The only marks on it are the last three of the werke number. BTW, all photos I have seen of the Ju-388 show a very dark framing on the cockpit canopy. This is probably RLM 66.

One of the best references for the type is the AJ Press monograph #12 and #13 for the Ju-188 and Ju-388. There is not much info on the 388 as you would expect on a late war type, but what is there is very useful. As usual, there are great three view drawings that should be quite helpful. One thing to watch out for is that these drawings show tail turrets on all the aircraft, including the prototypes and pre-production aircraft. Not sure if this is a glitch on their part or results of new information as there is no mention of the lack of turrets on these early aircraft in the AJ Press books.

As with all MPM produced kit lines, the instructions are more than adequate, giving color callouts in each of the 10 construction steps. Humbrol colors are given and the chart gives generic or RLM colors.

Overall, it looks like a very nice model and one that can easily be built by those who have some experience with short run multimedia kits.

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