Thanks to Ross at SAC for sending us improved metal landing gear for the ICM/Special Hobby JU-88, and thanks also to IPMS USA leadership for sending it to me.
Another of SAC’s expansive line of white metal upgrades to the basic kit plastic! The set consists of 11 parts: Two main struts, one tail gear strut/retraction cylinder, wheel/tire assembly, six gear strut supports, and two engine supports for the kit.
The ICM kit contains two complete engine assemblies in addition to the basic kit. I used a set of replacement resin cowing and exhausts for the inaccurate kit cowl intakes, so I was not able to use the engine supports. I did, however, appreciate the strength provided by the metal gear after using the resin parts for the kit. With the thin nature of the gear axles in plastic, this would eventually be a failure point for the completed model. Not with SAC gear.
STORY TIME WITH ROD! Back a few years ago I built the Revell 1/32 JU88A1 for a now-out of business local merchant, Ponch. He was not a builder but provided the kit because he liked completed models, and I built it for him. After the model was in the case, we both learned the hard way that the large model and the soft plastic used by Revell at the time were not really compatible, as the axles failed on the kit in Ponch’s display case. I ended up drilling out the gear (difficult on an assembled model) and fabricating hard wire axles to replace the plastic ones.
Here’s the interesting part (to me). About two months before this Ponch had asked me if I was interested in metal gear as “a new company” was offering gear for aircraft. I told him “no”, because I didn’t think it was necessary. SAC had released the Gear for the JU-88, and with the failure of the gear axle, I had second thoughts. I used a set of SAC gear on my JU-88 that I built and modified to A-4 standard with basswood Radar Berlin nose, extended wing tips, and new rudder (this was before AIMS came out with their JU-88 goodies), and never had a failure, even with all the handling it got.
We spend a lot of time building and adding parts and decals only to have the scale landing gear on the model break. Previously the only time I had used metal gear was on Bill Koster’s A-20 using brass replacements from another defunct company, Meteor Productions, for the AMT 1/48 Tigercat, and a set that contained a metal nose gear for the Monogram A-26. A cost beyond what I wanted but they worked great and I didn’t end up with broken gear on those models.
Fast forward to “today” and SAC’s metal gear addresses this readily. WORTH EVERY PENNY! I frequently buy additional gear with my own cash after using review gear because it’s made the big difference. End of Storytime.
The ICM gear is pretty sturdy as is and would probably be ok, except for the axles, but the SAC gear adds the insurance. All the parts on the mains fit perfectly, and after removal from the pour runners and clean up, I had superglued everything in place within 20 minutes. The tail gear had previously been installed in the tail gear well, and was a direct substitute for the kit gear.
Look at the photos and decide for yourself; appearance wise it looks the same, but has the strength to last. Easy decision for me, and the Mistel that awaits will get the same treatment with SAC gear for the Dragon Ju-88.
End of the day, and once again, I believe the SAC gear is mandatory for many kits like this, in particular for the strength factor over time. Max ratings, and much thanks to Ross and his crew for filling this modeling niche, and IPMS USA for the forum to review such items.