Junkers Ju 88 C-6 Nightfighter by Revell-Germany

1/72 scale
Kit No. H-165
Cost: $18.00
Decals: One version – Luftwaffe (unspecified unit)
Comments: Vintage kit; raised panel lines; optional position landing gear; removable cowlings reveal engine detail; basic cockpit includes two aircrew figures; one piece canopy

History

The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II twin-engine, multi-role aircraft flown by the German Luftwaffe that proved to be one of the most versatile of the war. Originally designed by Hugo Junkers’ company in the mid-1930s as a high-speed, medium range bomber, it suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early operational roles, but evolved beyond its teething problems to become a successful, even iconic aircraft of the Second World War.

Affectionately known as “The Maid of all Work” (a feminine version of “jack of all trades”), the Ju 88 proved to be suited to almost any role. It was particularly respected by the Allies in the nightfighter role, in which they considered it both a dangerous and rugged aircraft, equipped with Lichtenstein radar antennae allowing it to fix the position of enemy aircraft and attack without visual identification.

On the night of May 15, 1940, the RAF Bomber Command commenced night raids on industrial targets in Germany. The following July, Luftwaffe General Joseph Kammhuber began the organization of what was to become Germany’s “Nachtjagd” or night fighter force. Initially, the development of night fighters was confined to converting existing day fighters by adding exhaust flame dampeners and the like to prevent them from being easily spotted in the night skies, but the advent of radar soon changed the requirements for the type of aircraft needed.

The aircraft had to be large enough to carry at least a pilot and a radar operator, fairly heavy armament and radar equipment, and most important, a sufficiently large quantity of fuel to permit it to stay on patrol for effective lengths of time. The Junkers Ju 88 was the most promising plane for meeting these requirements.

The Ju 88 C ground attack fighter had already been developed, without radar, and proved itself an effective though somewhat limited night fighter, once its glazed nose was replaced with a metal nose cone containing forward firing machine guns and cannon. The installation of FuG 220 Lichtenstein radar, and two MGFF 20mm cannon (dubbed the “Schrage Musik” system) mounted to fire upwards at an oblique angle for attacks from below — the critical blind spot of most RAF night bombers — made up for the shortcomings of the non-radar equipped Ju 88C version and resulted in the Ju 88 C-6b and C-6c models. With this new fighter and its smaller Bf 110 and Do 17 cousins, the Luftwaffe night fighter force became so effective that the RAF was forced to re-evaluate its night bombing tactics. On the evening of March 30, 1944, perhaps the deadliest night of the war for the RAF, Luftwaffe nightfighters shot down 94 bombers out of a total force of 795 planes during a raid on Nuremberg. Nightfighters such as the Ju 88, together with German flak batteries, took a fearsome toll against RAF Bomber Command’s aircrews during the course of the war, inflicting an overall casualty rate of 50 percent by May 1945.

The Kit

Revell-Germany’s Junkers Ju 88 C-6 Nachtjager is injected molded in pale green plastic and consists of 72 parts, including a one-piece canopy and three aircrew figures. Like many older Revell kits, it has a fair amount of flash. This kit dates at least from the early 1970’s (first known re-issue in 1974) and has raised panel lines and a proliferation of raised rivets, many of which will have to be sanded down to ensure good decal adhesion. An interesting – and at the time, novel — feature of this kit is the inclusion of complete engine assemblies within its two nacelles.

The instructions are clear and easy to follow with each part identified by its name as well as the part number (wish all manufacturers followed this practice!). There is a paint guide, but its details are a bit vague (the color for interiors of cockpit and wheel wells is identified simply as “RLM Gray”) and the same is true for the Ju 88’s camouflaged paint scheme. The cockpit is Spartan, featuring seats molded directly onto the floorboard, and a control wheel. The one bit of detail is an MG 15 machine gun which protrudes through the rear of the cockpit greenhouse.

Some skill at hiding seams will be necessary, since the cockpit floor is cemented into the lower half of a separate nose section of the fuselage, which is then cemented to the fuselage, followed by a nose cone and the two parts forming the radar aerials. Revell Germany’s Ju 88 C-6 depicts the aircraft flown by Major Prinz Heinrich zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, possibly the most successful night fighter pilot to fly the Ju 88. Assisted by his radar operator Sergeant Ostheimer, he scored 83 kills and had been awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords before he was finally shot down on the night January 21-22, 1944. Hit with gunfire from an RAF Mosquito while lining up a Lancaster bomber in his sights, Sayn-Wittgenstein kept his plane aloft long enough for Ostheimer to bale out, and died trying to save the aircraft.

Conclusion

This is a great vintage kit for those not put off by raised rivet detail. There could be a bit more detail in the kit’s armament, and the radar array is probably best replaced by modern offerings from Eduard or Master Models.

References

  • Fighter by Ralf Leinberger; Parragon Books Limited, Bath, United Kingdom; Copyright 2008
  • The Luftwaffe, Copyright 1982 Time-Life Books (part of The Epic of Flight series)
  • Revell-Germany Ju 88 C-6 instructions
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