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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby # SH48178
Junkers Ju 88D-2/D-4 -- 1:48 Scale



The Junkers Ju 88 was perhaps the most iconic Luftwaffe twin-engine multirole combat aircraft of the Second World War.  More than 16,000 of these airplanes were produced between 1936 and 1945 that spanned dozens of variants and roles – from medium bombers to heavy fighters, night fighters, dive-bombers, torpedo bombers, reconnaissance versions, and flying bombs.  Here, Special Hobby has again re-boxed ICM’s 1:48 scale Ju 88A-5 kit with injection molded and resin conversion parts to build the reconnaissance version, the D-2/4 variant.  Let’s take a look.    

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The origins of the Ju 88 extend back to 1935 when the German Ministry of Aviation submitted requirements for a high-speed bomber that could carry up to 2,200 lbs. of air-to-ground ordnance.  The Junkers design study produced the Ju 85 and Ju 88.  The Ju 85 design failed to proceed beyond the prototype stage, but by June 1936, five Ju 88 prototypes began to take shape.  Drawing on the aerodynamic philosophy of the Dornier Do 17 regarding its significantly streamlined fuselage, the Ju 88 was intended to outrun any contemporary fighter that would come up and challenge it.  The first flight occurred on 21 December 1936 and the prototype proceeded to hit an airspeed of 360 MPH on that day. Göring was particularly enthused as it appeared this airplane would finally fulfill the schnellbomber concept that the Luftwaffe had been chasing for some time.  Development thereafter proceeded slowly, ironing out various design glitches while adding other features that progressively added weight and reduced the airplane’s top speed.  By 1938, the Ju 88 had morphed into a slower heavy dive-bomber.  Delays in production saw operational status only reached by the first 12 production airframes coincidentally on the first day of the Nazi invasion of Poland (01 Sept 1939).

The Ju 88A-series was the first production variant and spanned seventeen subtypes.  The A-1 was fitted with the Jumo 211 powerplants and its design reflected its heavy dive-bomber role.  Yet, the Ju 88’s airframe was never really optimized for this mission, and airframes kept coming back home with evidence of accumulating structural fatigue and over-stress.  In 1943, Ju 88s dive-bombing tactics were altered and crews bombed from at most a 45° dive angle.

The Ju 88D-2 was the high speed, long-range photo reconnaissance variant.  These recce 88s were based on the Ju 88A-5 heavy dive bomber.  The Ds were fitted with up to three large-format cameras in the rear of the bomb bay while additional internal fuel tanks were fitted to the front of the bomb bay.  The dive brakes were deleted.  The Ju 88D-2 was the standard version, while the D-4 variant was optimized for tropical (desert) operations.  Ju 88Ds served on both the Eastern and Western fronts, literally photographing targets from the Arctic Circle to North Africa.  Other D models were exported to Romania and Hungary, supplementing Luftwaffe forces in the east, but when Romania joined the Allies, their Ju 88s went into action against the Germans.  Only two complete Ju 88s survived the war, one of which is a Ju 88D-1(Trop) reconnaissance version that is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. 

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Here, Special Hobby has reboxed the ICM 1:48 scale Ju 88A-5 which contains 234 plastic parts distributed across six sprues.  There’s also some new material, too: eight resin parts, nine injection-molded parts on one sprue, three injection-molded parts on a clear sprue, and a new decal sheet that do the job to convert the A-5 to a D2 or D4.  Instructions are in color and has the build proceed over 94 steps. The decal sheet covers the following airframes:  

Strengths:  Special Hobby’s reboxings of the ICM Ju 88s consistently hit it out the park.  Their Ju 88C-4 night fighter kit was a hit (see our review HERE) and this kit is no different.

There are many excellent qualities present in the base ICM plastic.  Their 1:48 scale Ju 88 family is very well regarded in terms of engineering, fit, detail, and accuracy since their 88 series debuted in 2015.  The more I see ICM kits, the more I am impressed.  Just on the sprues, once can see why the ICM plastic is such a good choice for Special Hobby to rebox: it has crisp and high-fidelity molding, great engraved surface detail, fine sprue gates, and a smart parts breakdown.

I am particularly impressed with the cockpit detail – intricate but not overwhelming in terms of the parts breakdown and construction sequence.  The surface details of the landing gear and the pair of complete Jumo 211 powerplants are also notable highlights.  The clear parts are beautifully modeled and the optical quality is great.  Also, construction options abound, with positionable, flaps, ailerons, elevators, and rudders.

The recce conversion parts are a mix of injection-molded parts (including a clear panel for the floor of the camera bay) and five resin cameras.  You only need three of the cameras, so you’ll wind up with a few extras.  The camera lenses are part of the resin lens, so a high-gloss black treatment of the lens will look quite realistic.  The kit also contains CMK’s beautifully cast resin main wheels and tires and you won’t need or want the plastic ones in the kit.

The choices of marking options are great.  I’ve long been a fan of desert paint schemes on any airplane, but the D-4 markings are particularly attractive.  Yet, the multicolor green, white, and red bands on the Romanian D-2 are really eye-popping and the most tempting scheme in the box.  The decal sheet looks fantastic, as it is technically flawless to my eyes in terms of color and print quality.  Everything is perfectly in register and carrier film is highly restrained.

Weaknesses:  I am at a loss to really find any substantive flaws regarding manufacturing, detail, or accuracy.  One small disappointment involves the lack of parts to represent shoulder harnesses and lap belts.  The decal sheet provides restraints as decals, and in our modern age of kits that often include a detail part or two, that’s disappointing.  Yet, Special Hobby was likely thinking that most builders who are not happy with decal belts will automatically seek out aftermarket PE replacement parts.

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Overall, this is a great kit of this early German long-range recce aircraft.  No matter where you’re coming from, the Special Hobby/ICM Ju 88D-2/4 is going to be a great build.      

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample. You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


 

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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