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Ju 88A-4

DML 1/48 Ju 88A-4 Build Review

By Larry Horyna

Date of Review August 2014 Manufacturer DML
Subject Ju 88A-4 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5536 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) Out of Production

Build Review

Undoubtedly one of the most iconic medium bombers of the Second World War was the Junkers Ju-88.  An extremely versatile design, the Ju-88 served admirably in many roles, from level daylight bomber to anti-shipping and night fighting.  This build represents the standard A-4 series daylight bombing configuration and is done in the markings of well-known Ju-88 exponent "Hajo" Hermann.

Dragon's kit in 1/48 scale offers a good representation of this excellent airplane.  The kit is cleanly molded, with very nice clear parts and fairly nice detail built right from the box.  As this was for a client, and one who really loves interior detail, I used Eduard's color etched detail set and a few scratch built bits to enhance the cockpit area.

The build was very straight forward and did not exhibit any fit problems.  The fuselage construction is a bit different than most standard aircraft kits in that the vertical stabilizer was a separate piece and not molded to the fuselage.  This was obviously done for the sake of producing other variants with different shaped tails.  The forward cockpit area was also molded separately for the same reason.  However, neither of these separate sections provided any difficulty of fit.  I used very little filler on this model.

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I can't explain exactly why I chose not to buy an aftermarket canopy mask when there was so much glass on this airplane.  It was also a bit due to the fact that all I could find was a "generic" mask that was supposedly for all the 1/48 Ju-88 kits.  I was a bit suspect of that since the glass cannot be the same on all of them.  So, I went ahead and masked the glass myself.  My particular method is very time consuming but for me, the most comfortable.  I really don't like to put tape on the part then trim it with a knife.  Invariably, I slip and cut a nice line right into an area that shouldn't have a line in it.  To avoid this, I cut fine strips of Tamiya tape and outline each section of glass.  Then I fill the sections in when finished.  It takes some time, but it works really well and most important for me, it's fairly "idiot-proof".

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Being a standard Luftwaffe daylight scheme, the camouflage was a "splinter" scheme of RLM 70 and 71 on the upper surfaces and RLM 65 on the lower.  Hermann's markings were fairly straight forward with a white fuselage band and the KG 30 unit badge on the nose.  There were no aftermarket decals available for this particular aircraft at the time I built it (I am sure someone did them at some time as Hermann was a pretty well known Ju-88 pilot) so I had to piece them together from a couple of different sheets. 

Splinter camouflage is fairly straight forward and not terribly difficult to mask but it is time consuming.  One of my references offered a very nice schematic of the standard pattern.  I like to pre-shade my models so after outlining the panel lines with flat black I applied the bottom RLM 65, masked the bottom and then applied the RLM 70.  This is where pre-shading runs into a bit of a problem.  After applying the first color on the entire airframe, you lose some of the pre-shade on the second color.  After masking the RLM 70, I repainted the pre-shade on the areas to be painted RLM 71.

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Here is where I ran into trouble!  I have been using acrylics on my models for years now and I very rarely have problems with adhesion.  I clean my models well before assembly and use Polly Scale plastic prep or alcohol to clean again before painting.  I used Testors Acryl (my favorite is Tamiya, but they don't make these particular RLM colors and I didn't feel like mixing them, which I usually do).  After painting the RLM 71 I carefully removed the Tamiya masking tape and….arrggghh!  The RLM 70 lifted in several places!  This is a real pain in the butt to fix.  You have to wet sand the area, remask and repaint.  After I did this I carefully lifted the tape again and….nooooooo!  The RLM 71 lifted! 

Now I had a choice, strip the whole thing and redo it, or try one more time to wet sand, remask and repaint.  I chose the latter and thankfully, it worked.  I have no idea why the paint lifted.  I do not know how old the Testors paint was, it was given to me by a fellow builder and for all I know it was very old.  However, the bottles had not been opened and didn't look odd when I thinned it so in the end I simply determined that the modeling gods were just not with on this one (in case you don't know, there is an entire pantheon of modeling gods covering fit, glue, paint, etc.  Many of them have four letter names that I evoke often).

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One other little "nitpicky" note on the Testors RLM 71. It is most certainly NOT dark green as it is supposed to be. In fact, it is much closer to RLM 02 gray (it pretty well matches my color chips for RLM 02). I have seen this on several Luftwaffe aircraft models. The color contrast is really nice, but the color is not correct. RLM 70/71 did not exhibit that much contrast. Okay, now I'll step off of my "color snob" soap box and chalk it up to artistic license. And like I said, it looks cool.

After removing the mask I clear coated with Future floor wax and applied the decals. Next I applied a wash with MIG pigment brown followed by Testors Acryl clear flat.  For those of you who have not tried MIG pigments, I highly recommend them.  I used to make my own oil washes with artists oil thinned with terpenoid.  It was always a bit of a pain to have to constantly thin the oil paint.  The MIG washes are basically a pre-thinned oil based wash that works like a charm over acrylics.  I have found that it saves me lots of time in doing washes.

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All that was left to do was add the landing gear, bombs and small details.  The end result is a very nice representation of what I would simply call "a really cool airplane".  This was a very enjoyable build (except for the painting adventure, which of course was no fault of the kit!) and I would highly recommend it to any fan of 1/48 Luftwaffe subjects.

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