Junkers Ju88 A-4 by Revell-Germany

1/72 scale
Kit No. RG 4672
Cost: $23.39 at www.squadron.com
Decals: Two versions
Comments: New tooling, engraved panel lines, highly detailed cockpit, multi-part 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. Like a number of other Luftwaffe bombers, it was used successfully as a bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter, tank killer, mine layer, and even as a flying bomb during the closing stages of war. 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.

 

Despite its protracted development, the Ju 88 became one of the Luftwaffe’s most important assets. It flew for the first time on December 21, 1936, and set the world’s first speed record over a 1,000 kilometer course. In March 1938 it reached a speed of 321mph, or 517 km/hour — a speed that fighter planes of the day could not match. The Ju 88 assembly line ran constantly from 1936 to 1945, and more than 16,000 Ju 88s were built in dozens of variants, more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period. Throughout production, the basic structure of the aircraft remained unchanged, proof of the outstanding quality of the original design.

 

As a result of continuous refinements required by the Luftwaffe, it took three years before the Ju 88 entered service. Ju 88’s flew in small numbers (12 total) during the Polish Campaign of 1939, and did not have much impact. They equipped a single bomber squadron during the German invasion of Norway in April 1940, and were tasked with attacking Allied shipping. The Ju 88 was a highly effective dive bomber; aircraft of KG 30 damaged the battleship HMS Rodney, and sunk the destroyer HMS Gurkha on April 9th. During the Battle of France, Ju 88’s of KG 51 destroyed an estimated 240 Allied planes on the ground during the first four days of the German invasion. They repeatedly attacked rail systems, paralyzing French logistics and making movements of troops and armor difficult. Despite these successes, they had very high combat losses as well as accidents, and were temporarily withdrawn from service so that the aircrews could be more thoroughly trained. The Ju 88 was a fast, high performance bomber, but was not easy to fly and could be unforgiving, contributing to losses from accidents, and causing some crews to request transfers to Heinkel He 111 units. The Ju 88 was redesigned to have a longer wingspan and curved wingtips, which helped its performance.

 

Ju 88 losses were also high during the Battle of Britain, with 313 planes destroyed between July and October 1940 — this despite the Ju 88 being deployed in smaller numbers, but having greater loss rates, than the Do 17 (132) and He 111 (252). Field modifications improving the cockpit armor and installing heavier armament for the rear defensive machine gun position (single MG 15’s were replaced with a twin MG 81 mount) helped, but the Ju 88 came into its own with the introduction of the A-4 version during the Battle of Britain, which was fitted with more powerful Junkers Jumo 211J engines of 1410 hp. At this point the Ju 88 became the Luftwaffe’s standard bomber, employed in every theatre from Norway to Africa, and was particularly successful at attacking shipping. In the opening phases of the invasion of Russia, Ju 88’s inflicted enormous losses with few losses in return. Due to a shortage of Ju 87 Stukas, they were pressed into direct infantry support, which caused high losses to enemy ground fire. With the installation of bomb racks beneath the wings, it could dive-bomb with pinpoint accuracy. Production of the Ju88 in Germany did not cease until 1945, but captured examples were flown by the French Armee de l’Air after the war until the type was retired in 1951.

Specifications

Crew: 4
Length: 14.36 m (47 ft 2 in)
Wingspan: 20.08 m (65.88 ft)
Height: 5.07 m (16.63 ft)
Loaded weight: 8,550 kg (18,832 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 14,000 kg[51] (30,865 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Junkers Jumo 211J [52] liquid-cooled inverted V-12, 1,044 kW (1,420 PS, 1,401 hp) each

Performance
Maximum speed: 510 km/hr (317 mph) at 5,300 m (17,388 ft) without external bomb racks
Range: 2,430 km (1,429 mi.) with maximum internal fuel
Service ceiling: 9,000 m (29,500 ft) at average weight, without bombs

Armament
Guns:
Three 7.92 mm MG 81J machine guns on flexible mounts, one in front windscreen, two in the rear cockpit (1,000 rounds each)
Pair of 7.92 mm MG 81Z machine guns in the gondola under the cockpit firing to the rear with 3,000 rounds

Bombs:
900 kg (2,000 lb) of bombs in the main internal bomb bay.
500 kb (1,100 lb) of bombs in the secondary bay created by removing the fuel tanks
(Up to 3,000 kilograms (6,600 lb) minus the internal load could be carried externally, but this increased weight and drag and degraded performance. Carrying the maximum load required rocket-assisted take-off).

The Kit

The Ju88 A-4 is molded in Revell-Germany’s trademark pale grey-green and consists of 201 injection molded parts. The kit is newly tooled and bears engraved panel lines, recessed riveting, and abundant raised detail on the internal cockpit surfaces, including detailed instrument panels. The forward fuselage panels have ample raised relief detail on their interior surfaces, which form the cockpit sidewalls. There are at least seven clear parts forming the extensive cockpit glazing, giving the Ju88 its distinctive look. The three cockpit seats are detailed but do not have seat straps, whether molded on or photo-etch, nor are decals provided for the seats. Still, the cockpit is richly detailed and appears as much as possible to have been based on actual Ju88 blueprints, right down to the painstakingly molded control yoke. The main and side instrument panels have raised but not engraved detail; decals are provided for the instrument facing and the instructions recommend decal solvent to ensure the decals conform to the contours of the main panel as well as a single small side panel.

The rear instrument panel (which seems to consist largely of radio equipment) is the most detailed of all the instrument panels, and will benefit from a modest effort at drybrushing to bring out some of the detail. A paint guide is provided for the cockpit interior, and is as detailed as modelers have come to expect from Revell. The wings feature separately molded control surfaces, and there are four detailed bomb pallettes with separately molded clamps to be cemented inboard of each of the engine nacelles, two to each wing. The nacelles themselves are nicely detailed and feature face plates for the Junkers Jumo engines, as well as separate spinners for each airscrew. The defensive machine guns are fairly well detailed but predictably a bit small in this scale. The bombs are detailed with engraved panel lines and feature separately molded fins. The landing gear consist of multiple parts, and the kit can be assembled with the gear up or down.

Decals

Markings are provided for two Luftwaffe aircraft: ‘4D+DT’ of 9./KG30 ‘Adler Geschwader’ based at Catania, Sicily during June 1941; and ‘L1+FN’ of 5./Lehrgeschwader 1 at Eleusis, Greece during March 1942. The decals include instrument markings and stencils.

Conclusion

This is a beautifully done retooling of one of the most distinctive German bombers of World War II. Highly recommended.

References

  • Fighter by Ralf Leinberger; Parragon Books Limited, Bath, United Kingdom; Copyright 2008
  • Revell Ju 88 A-4 instructions
  • www.wikipedia.org

 

%d bloggers like this: