Monogram 1/48 Ju 52/3m Kit Build Review
|Date of Review||March 2018
Updated May 2019
|Kit Number||5612||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Best kit of Tante Ju (Aunt Ju) in any scale||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||See text|
For a brief history of this aircraft and a look at the kit out of the box, look at our Pro-Modeler edition first-look here.
After our basement flooded last year, some of my kits that were stashed down there were damaged by the moisture even though they were not in the water. One of those was this Ju 52 kit that has been on my 'bucket list' of kit builds. I decided to have some fun. Once removed from the box, the plastic was still sealed in plastic and I gave the parts trees a thorough wash to remove any mold release agents remaining on the plastic. Acrylic paints are not forgiving of contaminants like mold release agents. The next step was to prime many of the parts in their intended base colors and since most of the interior areas of the Ju 52 were RLM 02, I used Tamiya's RLM Gray as my primer.
Once the paint had dried, I removed the fuselage sides, upper and lower fuselage sides, and interior floor sections. All of the mating edges were cleaned up with my Sujiborido file (the black tool) which acts like a wood plane on plastic. Rather than filing away the stubs and any residual flash with a conventional file, the Sujiborido file levels the raised imperfections flat with the surrounding surfaces. You can see in the image that there were a number of ejector pin marks on the interior surfaces and while some would have gone unnoticed after assembly, the ones in the window channels were going to interfere with the windows if left alone. I used the Alec R-V6 (the silver tool) to scrape away the ejector pin marks. The areas were touched up with RLM 02.
I removed the side window strips from the clear tree and again used the Sujiborido file to remove the stub remnants.
After test-fitting the side windows, I used Tamiya Extra Thin Liquid Cement to install the windows and clamped them into place.
With the windows installed, I used liquid mask on the insides of the windows so I could paint the frames RLM 02 and remove that 'clear plastic strip' appearance.
With the window frames painted, I applied Future (clear acrylic gloss) to the fuselage interior surfaces and to the main deck. I had previously started to weather the main aisle in the main cabin with worn wood colors and this will be followed later by more weathering when all of the seats are installed.
The Future provides a protective barrier for the next weathering steps. First, I applied a wash of Ammo by Mig Gray to the visible interior surfaces and let that dry. I also started working on the instrument panel and center console for the flight deck.
Here's the instrument panel installed with the control yokes. Removal of the gray wash has started, but you can start to see how that brings out the molded-in details that Monogram engineered into this kit that would otherwise be lost in an unweathered interior.
Here are the fuselage sides and floor with the excess wash removed. All it takes is a rub-down with a cloth or paper towel to remove the wash from gloss-coated surfaces. The wash doesn't come off of non-gloss surfaces as easily but there are still ways to fix that.
The window masking has been removed and the seat/cargo frames are installed over them. The interior bulkheads are also installed on the floor after going through the same wash/removal process. You can see in the top fuselage side that the interior details are still a bit dark after being wiped down. The interior shape doesn't lend itself to an easy wipe-down, but I removed what I needed (photo) and followed up by dry-brushing the RLM 02 base color in the top half to bring it back to the same level of shading as the fuselage sides.
Here is the cabin floor installed into the left fuselage side along with the rear gunner's compartment. There are still a number of small details to add including the seats, step ladder, etc., but it won't be long before the interior is finally finished.
Ironically, according to the instructions, all of the above is Step 1, which is broken down into seven sub-steps. At the end of Step 1, the fuselage sides are together and this is followed by the upper and lower sides in Step 2. From here, this build should go much faster!
One of my concerns was how the four sides of this airframe would fit together. The instructions warned not to glue the bulkheads to the fuselage sides so that the top section would fit easier. With just the floor glued into the left fuselage side, I glued the right side to the left at the nose and tail sections, as well as gluing the floor to the right side as well. So far so good. The bottom side was dry fitted to the fuselage assembly, and much to my pleasant surprise, it fits snugly with filler only required around the nose joint.
I glued the bottom side to the fuselage assembly and you can see below the slight gaps at the nose joint. You can also see the copyright information molded to the exterior of the nose end of the bottom panel. This had to be cleaned up as well, thanks Monogram.
Now for the moment of truth - the top side is dry-fit to the fuselage assembly and without any clamps, tape, or whatever, the fit is nice. The engineering in this kit is quite impressive.
Before gluing the top into place, I finished the details and weathering inside the fuselage.
I'm sure I could have put more details inside, but once the model is closed up, it will be difficult to see what is in there. With the interior done to my satisfaction, I glued the top side the fuselage assembly and clamped it all down snugly.
While waiting on the fuselage, I assembled the wings and horizontal stabilizers. The fuselage windows and cockpit opening were masked off and now we're ready for paint.
The first color down is RLM04 Yellow for the fuselage band and the outer wing panels. The yellow areas were masked off and RLM 65 Underside Blue was next. RLM 71 Deep Green was applied to the upper surfaces of the wings/horizontal stabs and to the upper and side surfaces of the fuselage.
A little more masking was required to apply the final color, the RLM 70 Black Green. The wings are dry-fitted here and once again, the fit of these assemblies is so snug that putty/filler isn't going to be required.
With the wings and horizontal stabilizers glued into place, I installed the main gear struts and achieved that milestone in any aircraft build - that point when the model stands on its own landing gear.
Here's the cockpit enclosure. I thought about finding a set of Eduard masks but remembered that they won't take care of the opening in the overhead section. Instead, I loaded a new X-Acto blade in my knife and pulled out the Aizu 0.7mm masking tape. I ran a length along a frame, then used the blade to cut out the frames. This process went surprisingly fast, then filled in the rest of the windows with bits of masking tape or liquid mask. The interior of the enclosure was completely masked over to keep out the overspray.
The first color applied was RLM 02 to match the interior, followed by RLM 71. The final coat was a mixture that I'll explain shortly.
Once the paint was dry on the enclosure, I removed the masking tape from around the inside edges and used white glue to cement it into place over the cockpit. While I was waiting, I built up the three engines. The instructions for these engines was a little vague to me and while I worked through the process, I now understand how the engine assemblies should have gone together (not how I did them).
The landing gear wheels are painted gloss black on the hubs and rubber black on the tires. The engines had been previously painted so they did go together fairly quickly. The engines are dry-fitted at this point to keep them out of the way of what is to come. You can see one window with yellow masking tape applied as I had pulled up the mask when removing the masking tape after applying the RLM 70.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this kit was rescued from the humidity after a flood in my basement. While the kit and instructions were fine, the decals were worthless. I rummaged through my decal stash and found an old set of Three Guys Replicas 1/48 He 111 decals and found that the markings were the same height/width as the kit decals. Considering how old these decals are, they behaved as if they were fresh off the printers. Before starting, I applied a clear coat of Future to the model and let it dry. Some of the markings didn't conform to the corrugated surfaces the first time, but Solvaset convinced them to comply. The model was given another clear coat with Future after the decals had dried overnight.
Say goodbye to the standard RLM color scheme. I had received a bottle of Ammo by Mig Washable White and watched a few demonstrations online. After shaking up the bottle, I poured out some of the white into a mixing cup and added two drops of brown and one drop of olive drab acrylics into the cup and stirred up the mixture. The result was a dirty/worn off-white that looked much more realistic than plain white. I airbrushed the mixture over the airframe, careful not to cover the identifications markings (much) and set the model aside to dry.
According to the instructions, I should wet a given area with water, then use a brush to remove some of the washable white to simulate wear. That didn't happen when I followed the demonstration online. I substituted a tooth brush for the paint brush and scrubbed the wet areas, and I was able to get down to the RLM scheme, but you can see that the wear is minimal. That's okay, instead of having a late winter aircraft, it is an early winter Taunte Ju.
While the washable white did work to some degree, some of the other effects did not. I had bottles of engine exhaust and engine oil from AK Interactive. Both had surprisingly dried down to a thick something in their bottles. I thinned the engine oil in a cup and put that in my airbrush and all that did was foul my airbrush. According to my notes, these bottles were four years old, but I have other paints and effects much older than these that are still quite viable. I'll give the AK Interactive Engine Effects set a marginal grade for shelf life.
I did happen to have a set of weathering colors from ComArt which was targeted for model railroading, but it had the same engine oil and exhaust colors I wanted for this build. Ironically, these are also four years old, but unlike the AK enamel-based effects, these ComArt weathering colors are acrylic. I simply shook each bottle and poured what I needed directly into my airbrush. First the engine oil - the one thing about radial engines is that if you don't find a puddle of oil on the ground under each engine, you're out of oil. The oil would pool in the bottom of each cowl before dripping to the ground, so when the engines fired off, that oil is blown down the underside of the wings and fuselage. The oil was followed by the exhaust colors. The final step was to apply mud on the main wheels and under the wings where the mud would be sprayed by the spinning wheels.
With the engines glued into place and the final details, including an HF wire antenna, installed, the windows were cleaned and the project is done.
Here's a look around the finished model.
This was an enjoyable build. The last few projects, including this one, were designed to test out different products and techniques. It also highlighted some issues with various paints and weathering products that will require updated reviews to add the dimension of shelf life to their assessments. As for this kit, the only real problems I experienced were with the instructions in a few places (like the engines) and a few parts mis-identified. The beauty of test-fitting everything allows you to find those glitches before they become real problems. The other aspect of the kit that is problematic is with the full-span flaperons. They fit fine and glue right into place. The problem is with handling the model and have the flaperons snap back off. I won't tell you how many times I had to repair those things. This isn't Monogram's fault, I don't know of a better way to accurately engineer these flaperons other than to reprogram the builder to pick up the model only by the leading edges of the wing and be careful not to clip the wingtips on various objects around the bench.
Note: Most of the tools used here are available over at HobbyZone USA's tool section.