Junkers Ju-88C-6 Nachtjager

Published: October 28th, 2013     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Brian R. Baker, IPMS# 43146
Scale: 1/72
Company: Hasegawa
Price: $60.00
Product / Stock #: 02037

History

The Junkers Ju-88 was probably one of the most versatile multi-engined aircraft that the Luftwaffe had available during World War II, and it seemed that whatever was asked of it, it performed very well in the role. Designed originally as a fast medium bomber, one variant was adapted as a long-range heavy fighter, eventually evolving into one of the most effective night fighters of the war. With the development of airborne radar, the Ju-88C series, and later the Ju-88G series, was active wherever Luftwaffe night fighters were employed. The first Ju-88C fighters, designated Ju-88C-2, began operating from Norwegian bases against Allied shipping - and these were basically fighter versions of the Ju-88C-1.

Further development followed, and by 1941, the Ju-88C-4 was in service with I/NJG 2 in the night fighter role, although there was airborne radar available at that time, and the pilots relied on their abilities to find their enemies in the dark. The Ju-88C-4 was basically a fighter adaptation of the Ju-88A-5 bomber. They were used for intruder operations over Britain for a while, but Hitler, in his eternal wisdom, ordered these missions to halt, thinking that scoring night victories over Germany had better propaganda value than intercepting the RAF night bombers while they were taking off and landing, a much more promising strategy. So much for having a corporal leading the country's military forces.

So I/NJG 2 was transferred to Italy and North Africa, operating from Sicily against Allied forces in North Africa and Malta. Ju-88C-4's and Ju-88A-5's can be easily identified by their engine nacelles and narrow chord propellers.

Early in 1942, the Ju-88C-6, the fighter version of the Ju-88A-4, began production. The RLM became aware of the value of the type in fighter operations, and there were several changes in the aircraft during its production life. Although no radar was originally carried, additional radio equipment was installed. Intended for the night fighter role, some Ju-88C-6's were used by bomber units for anti-shipping patrols and ground attack operations. There were many field modifications, so when modeling these aircraft, you'll need to check photographs to make sure that you have the correct features on your model. Some aircraft had a single MG15 machine gun in the dorsal position, while other had two MG81J guns in side-by-side positions.

Ju-88C-6's operated as night fighters from 1942, and airborne radar was eventually installed, with the FuG202 Lichtenstein BC, C-1, and SN-2 units providing an effective means of detecting enemy bombers at night. External radar antennas, known as "antlers" were installed, and these were used as long as they lasted in Luftwaffe service, when they were eventually replaced by the Ju-88G series. But that is another story.

Resources

There is a lot of information available on the various versions of the Ju-88. From the modeler's point of view, probably the best are the two Squadron publications, Nos. 85 and 113, which give an excellent breakdown on the different variants of the type. Capt. Eric Brown's Wings of the Luftwaffe gives a good account of the flying qualities of the type. Two old Profiles also can be useful, and Werner Held and Holger Nauroth's The Defense of the Reich tells the story of Luftwaffe nightfighter operations. Of course, there are many on-line sources, so there is no excuse for not having accurate information about the type.

The Kit

This kit represents the Ju-88C-6 variant, but without the radar that made it so effective later on. Actually, the radar antennas are included in the kit as don't-use parts. This kit is a reissue of earlier Hasegawa Ju-88 kits, suitably upgraded to include the necessary parts for this variant. Two different canopies are provided, and decals are included for three Ju-88C-6's, each having slightly different equipment and markings. These include an all-black Ju-88C-6 (early type) of 1/NJG2, (R4+HH), in Sicily, 1942; another early type Ju-88C-2 (R4+FL) with the dual MG's in the dorsal position used by 3/NJG2 probably about the same time, also in all black camouflage; and a later Ju-88C-6 test aircraft (DU+GO) equipped with the Schrage Musik installation of two upward firing 20mm cannons mounted on the fuselage deck behind the rear gunner. This aircraft has the later RLM 76 paint scheme with dappled RLM 75 grey on the upper surfaces. Decals and painting instructions are provided for these three aircraft.

Molded in light grey styrene, this kit has good panel detail and only a little flash. Not much trimming is required, and the parts are easy to remove from the sprue without damaging them. On the down side, the rudder shape is slightly off, requiring simple trimming, and the nose cone has notches for the radar unit this plane did not carry, so these need to be filled in, but this is included in the instructions.

Assembly

I began by painting the cockpit interior the standard RLM 66. I then applied the decals which depicted radios and other equipment carried in the cockpit. The cockpit is pretty well detailed, consisting of 16 parts and including detailed fuselage side walls. The instrument panel and other details are represented by decals. Once the cockpit is complete, the rear fuselage is next. The compass mounted on the upper rear fuselage needs to be installed, as does half of the tail wheel. This part will cause trouble, as it is very fragile and guaranteed to break off sometime during the assembly process. Mine lasted about half an hour. I later glued the unit together and attached it with no problems. Also, the main spars of the wings need to be inserted through the fuselage halves at the wing roots, and once these are installed, the fuselage halves can be joined and the cockpit assembly can be added to it. One thing to consider is the fact that the small windows common to the Ju-88A bomber versions do not exist on the fighter version. However, they are included in the kit, and therefore must be installed and then blended in with putty, along with the radar antenna mounting holes. The instructions are unclear on this. At this point, the wings, which have previously been assembled and wingtips and ailerons added, can be attached to the fuselage using the spars protruding through the wing root areas. Here you will discover than the wings do not sit at quite the proper angle, so using an accurate three view drawing, you can bend them around to achieve the proper dihedral angle. This is easier if you attach the fin and rudder assembly, as this will help you line things up. Then, fill in the small gaps with filler and you're ready to go.

The engine nacelles are molded with the wings, as are the wheel wells, so these should be painted before joining the wing sections. The engines themselves are fairly complicated, with 6 major parts for each unit. The exhaust shrouds should be painted and left for later. The engine assemblies fit together quite well, although the joint lines are a bit larger than I like. The frontal radiators snap into place. I painted them RLM 66 and masked them off. Be sure to put the small rubber plugs behind the radiators, as the prop is designed to mount by pushing the crankshaft through the mounting hole where it engages the plug, creating a secure mount. It won't spin freely, but I think, or hope, that we've all outgrown that feature of older kits.

Once the basic airframe is assembled, the canopies can be attached. I had some problems getting the rear canopy to fit. I intended to do the #1 airplane depicted in the instructions, the early type Ju-88C-6 from 1/NJG2 in Sicily in 1942, as this all-black aircraft had a white fuselage band and yellow under the engine cowlings. Some color is required for this kit, but the plane had the twin MG mounts common to the Ju-88A-4. The kit canopy is very thin, and it is extremely difficult to get both sides to stay together. I wound up changing planes to the single-gun variant from 3/NJG2, which is entirely black. This canopy required some trimming, but finally went on okay. After masking the windows and filling the inside of the cockpit with Kleenex, I painted the airframe matte black overall. Following this, I attached the landing gear, which are little models in themselves. Including wheels, these consist of 8 parts for each side, but the effect is pretty good, and they are strong enough to hold the weight of the airplane. The main wheels are nicely done, as it is easy to paint the wheel hubs black by hand without masking. This is also a good time to install the main gear doors. I reinstalled the tail wheel at the same time, and it has stayed together so far.

The props are also somewhat of a problem. They each consist of a spinner, prop, backing plate, and a crankshaft. The instructions do not say exactly how to assemble them, so I glued the props to the inside of the spinners. Wrong! The proper sequence would be to attach the backing plate to the short end of the crankshaft, and then glue the prop to the crankshaft. Then, place the spinner in position. The prop assembly is RLM 70 green, so there is no problem painting it after assembly. Once in place, however, the props look good.

Painting and Finishing

If you're doing the all-black version, this kit is easy to paint, although masking all of those windows is a bit tedious. After a coat of Glosscote, I trimmed the decals and managed to get them all on the model without incident. The decals look good, but some of the clear decal silvered a little after they dried. Additional Glosscote and Dullcote reduced the glare somewhat. Little finishing touches, including the red and blue navigation lights, helped, and the model took on a personality of its own. I've got a number of different Ju-88's in my cabinet, and this one looks pretty good with all the rest. I added an LF wire antenna, and used white glue for the landing light, as the kit part did not fit.

Recommendation

This kit certainly isn't for beginners, but it does produce a variant of the Ju-88 that hasn't been available before without conversion, and an experienced modeler should have no problems making a good model from this kit. Highly recommended for experienced modelers.

Thanks to Hobbico and IPMS/USA for the review kit and review opportunity.

  • Sprue 1
    Sprue 1
  • Sprue 2
    Sprue 2
  • Sprue 3
    Sprue 3
  • Rudder
    Rudder
  • Assembly 1
    Assembly 1
  • Assembly 2
    Assembly 2
  • Assembly 3
    Assembly 3
  • Assembly 4
    Assembly 4
  • Left front
    Left front
  • Left side 1
    Left side 1
  • Left side 2
    Left side 2
  • Right rear
    Right rear
  • Right front
    Right front
  • Underside
    Underside

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