Junkers JU-87D-3 Stuka

Published: May 23rd, 2013     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: Brian R. Baker - IPMS# 43146
Scale: 1/72
Company: Hobby Boss
Price: $15.99
Product / Stock #: 80286
Product provided by: Squadron

History

When Ernst Udet brought back two Curtiss Hawk biplanes to Germany in the middle thirties after witnessing dive bombing demonstrations by US Navy pilots, he started a trend that resulted in the development of dive bombing aircraft for the Luftwaffe that eventually resulted in the development of the Junkers JU-87. Capable of nearly vertical dives retarded by very effective dive brakes, bombing accuracy improved dramatically, and during World War II, the Germans, along with the Americans and Japanese, developed dive bombing to a fine art. The Ju-87 was an early attempt at a specialized dive bomber, and although progressively developed during the war, could never keep pace with or coexist in an environment with enemy fighters unless a strong friendly fighter escort was present, a luxury the Germans didn't always have.

While the early B models were used up through the Battle of Britain, where they were lost in large numbers, the more sophisticated "Dora" version, while an improvement, was slowly replaced by the Focke Wulf FW-190 in the close support role, so that at the end of the war, only a few JU-87D's were operational. In fact, however, one variant that was quite successful, although it required fighter escort, was the JU-87G, which mounted two 3.7 cm anti-tank guns under the wings. Oberst Rudel used this type with telling effect against Soviet tanks, using it for many of the 519 Soviet tanks and over 2000 vehicles he destroyed during his career. During the Battle of Kursk, JU-87G's, which were conversions of JU-87D's with anti-tank guns installed, destroyed numerous Soviet tanks, although obviously, not enough to win the battle, as the Russians had just introduced an IL-2 Sturmovik with basically the same armament, although having lightly better performance. The major difference between the JU-87G-1 and JU-87G-2 was the lengthened wing on the dash-2.

The Kit

This kit is another of the series of Hobby Boss's attempts to penetrate the market by appealing to younger and less experienced modelers. It is an "easy assembly" kit, and consists of 46 styrene parts molded in light grey plastic, plus three clear plastic parts, two windows and a one-piece canopy. It is packed in a nearly indestructible box, with all kinds of protective devices inside to keep the parts from being damaged during the long trip on the "Slow Boat From China". The outline is basically accurate, and the kit is designed to go together easily with little trimming, making an acceptable model even for a youngster with little or no modeling experience.

That having been said, it's time for reality to rear its ugly head. The boxtop states that this kit is a JU-87D-3. No way! The D-3 model was a dive bomber with shorter wings. It also had wing racks for bombs and dive brakes, neither of which is included in this kit. There is a bomb cradle for a centerline bomb, a bomb, but little else. And the wingtips on this kit are of the longer variety, more like the D-5, which had the wing machine guns replaced by 20 mm cannon. So, in fact, this is not a kit of the D-3 variant at all, but actually is closest to the G-2, as a sort of 3.7 cm underwing mounted cannon installation is included. These are not totally accurate, however, as they lack the shell magazines that protrude from each side of the gun enclosure. The mounting holes for the cannon are barely discernible on the undersurface of the wings, and these need to be marked and carefully drilled out. Don't drill all the way through the wing, as the wing is solid and this is easy to do. Incidentally, there is no mention of these gun units in the instructions, a major omission. I installed the guns as provided in the kit for kit review purposes, but I will replace them with extras from an Academy JU-87G-2 kit, as those are much better. I'll include photos of the model with both units installed.

The cockpit interior includes a seat, stick, rear gun mount and "zwilling" machine gun. There is no rear seat and no sidewall detail. There is an instrument panel on the decal sheet, although this doesn't conform exactly to the shape of the panel in the cockpit. It fits, though. You can almost see it through the thick glass canopy. The MG-81Z machine gun provided in the kit is terrible--I replaced it with one from the spares box. The instructions state that the interior of the plane should be painted RLM 02 grey, when actually, those late war Luftwaffe types generally had their cockpit interiors painted RML 66. The prop, while of the proper shape, looks to be about a foot too short in scale on each blade. There are two small steps molded on the bottom of the rear fuselage. These are almost correctly positioned, but should slant outwards at a 45 degree angle, not point down as they do on the kit. I replaced them, using an old strut for the bracing, and rod for the actual step. Also, there are no aileron balances and pitot tube. A nd a set of wing racks and dive brakes would have made a D-3 model possible.

Assembly

This kit goes together pretty easily, as one would expect. The wing root gaps are a little larger than I would have liked, but they don't look bad once the model is painted. The join lines on the rear fuselage need some serious work. A major problem, and one that I didn't correct, was the "V" gap in the trailing edge of the flap assembly. This should be flush, like the outer join line, but somehow the kit designers came up with a gap. Other than the join line on the rear fuselage, the kit goes together quite easily, although some parts, notably the landing gear assemblies and the rear tail plane bracing struts, should be installed after painting.

Painting and Finishing

Seeing as I couldn't use the kit decals (I'll save them for a D-3), I decided to do Rudel's G-2 that he surrendered to the allies in 1945. This aircraft isillustrated in the Planes and Pilots Series, Junkers JU-87 From 1936 to 1945, on page 80. It carries a standard 70/71/65 bomber scheme, and the plane was marker with fighter style geometric markings along with the usual wing and fuselage crosses. The spinner was white with a thin black spiral, and there were two very thin white stripes on the rudder. He also flew a similarly marked aircraft in 1944, which had the yellow Russian Front markings, but I opted for this one. Incidentally, besides the Planes and Pilots Series, the Squadron JU-87 in Action is also very useful. Other sources provide basically similar information.

I started with the RML 65 undersides, and after masking these off, painted the upper surfaces RLM 71. After masking off a splinter pattern, I painted the remainder RML 70. This was an easy scheme to do, as you just need straight cuts with the scissors on the masking tape. I then gave the whole thing a shot of GlossCote, followed by the decals. Most were from the spares box, although most of the maintenance markings were from the kit decals, which, by the way, were excellent. A coating of Dullcote finished the job, and I was satisfied with the results.

Recommendations

If you want to try to build a JU-87D-3, I'd suggest another kit, as you would have to supply dive brakes, bomb racks, and shortened wingtips to this kit. However, if you want to do a G-2, or even a D-5 or later variant, this is not a difficult conversion. If you want something to just start off with, this is a pretty good kit. It is easy, fun, and not much of a challenge. Just be aware that you have some corrections to make, but this is what modeling is all about. If you haven't built one of these, try one. It just might catch on.

Now, if we could just convince Hobby Boss to come out with a late model Brewster Buffalo, a Gloster Gauntlet, a Fokker D.XXI, and possibly a Grumman F2F-1, then we could have some real challenges. How about it, guys?

Thanks to MMD-Squadron and IPMS/USA for the review kit.

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