have released a highly detailed kit of the Junkers Ju 88D-2/4 reconnaissance aircraft developed from the standard Ju 88A-5 bomber. The kit is based on ICM’s popular new-tool 'A-5 that appeared last year (reviewed HERE
) and Special Hobby
have taken the existing pre-bagged sprues from ICM and added what is in effect a set of new conversion and upgrade parts.
The kit arrives in a very attractive top-opening box with the new items attached to an inner cardboard liner, plus the main sprues bagged together by ICM. The Ju 88D comprises:
242 x grey styrene parts (54 not needed)
23 x clear styrene parts (5 not used)
8 x grey resin parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
Rather than go over too much old ground, I’ll concentrate for now on what Special Hobby
have added for this variant. Suffice to say at this stage, while it’s not without faults, ICM’s Ju 88 is generally accurate and highly detailed, with a comprehensive cockpit compartment and a pair of impressive engines.
The bulk of the spare parts in this re-boxing are down to the reconnaissance Ju 88D dispensing with the dive slats and bomb racks. Special Hobby
have also replaced ICM’s rather weak mainwheels with much better weighted resin counterparts, plus a new resin tailwheel for good measure. (These are also avaiable separately as part of their CMK upgrade range.)
The core of the conversion is a pair of new sprues produced by Special Hobby
with parts for the Ju 88D’s camera bay which replaced the rear bomb bay. 9 styrene parts form a cradle for a trio of very nicely detailed and cast resin cameras. All this attaches to a new belly panel moulded in clear styrene with integral camera windows. To fit this, you need to do a little surgery to standard wing centre section, removing the rear bomb bay and replacing it with Special Hobby’s
new part. The instructions show installing the completed cameras and cradles before fitting the belly panel, but I’d prefer to do it the other way 'round and make sure the panel fits correctly and is cemented firmly in place before adding the cameras and rack.
It’s a shame Special Hobby
didn’t take the opportunity to also replace ICM's poor radiator faces and incorrect exhausts, but Sergey Kosachev has those covered with his excellent Vector upgrade set
Not All Plain Sailing...
So far, so good. You have a well-received core ICM kit and a very nicely produced set of conversion parts. What could go wrong?
Well, the proverbial fly in the ointment is that the ICM parts appear to be very variable in quality. When I reviewed the original ‘A-5, I was struck by just how well it all fitted together in a dry-assembly of the main parts. So, I was really surprised to read later in the Forum
that one of our members was having a hard time with the same kit.
There could only really be three explanations: either I’d messed up with my review, the builder had got himself into trouble, or the kit itself had changed somehow.
So, when the new Ju 88D arrived, the first thing I did was to dig out the old ‘A-5 and do another dry-assembly. Yep - lovely, just as I remembered it.
Turning to ICM’s parts supplied for the Ju 88D, the first thing I noticed was that the plastic is a different colour, and when I tried to repeat the test-fit I’d done on the first kit I hit real problems. The fuselage cross-section has changed aft of the cut-out for the wings, and the formerly precise fit has gone. The engine nacelles are badly distorted and and will take some awkward clamping to get them looking right. I’d normally say a bit of TLC was the order of the day, but sheer brute force will be required.
So, maybe I’d got a rogue kit? That can always happen, but the theory didn’t survive long because I found similar problems in the Ju 88C when it arrived.
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that the quality control at ICM has slipped on the Ju 88. Maybe they are victims of their own success? With the kit now being supplied to other manufacturers to rebox, it could be that the sprues are being moulded quicker. Or perhaps it’s something to do with the different coloured styrene?
Of course, that’s all just speculation, but the fact remains - the original kit goes together like a cinch, but these two sets of later mouldings are very different. Unless I was just unlucky enough to get two rogue kits, modellers who are experienced with short run kits may need to dust off those old skills for what sadly should be mainstream-quality parts.
Instructions & DecalsSpecial Hobby
have printed the construction and painting guide as a colour 20-page A4 booklet on good quality glossy stock. The diagrams are large and clear, with colour shading for the interior and details. Assembly is broken down into no less than 94 stages - which sounds fearsome, but some only entail a couple of items. I’d rather have a lot of simple stages than cluttered and confusing diagrams where more is squeezed in than you can follow easily.
Colour matches are provided for Gunze Sangyo paints, but RLM numbers are included in many cases too, so you can opt for whichever is your prefered range of Luftwaffe model paints.
have chosen a trio of very attractive aircraft that offer plenty of variety for their decal options:
1. Junkers Ju-88D-4, 7A GH, 1.(F)/121, North Africa
2. Junkers Ju-88D-2, 4N FH, 1.(F)/122, Norway
3. Junkers Ju-88D-2, F9 15, Royal Hungarian Air Force
The decals are excellent quality, with precise registration on the sample sheet. The items are thin and glossy, with minimal carrier film. Swastikas are included split into halves, and the Hungarian tail stripes are provided ready cut where they cross the control surfaces - although many modellers will probably prefer to paint these.
have produced a very neat conversion of ICM’s Ju 88 - and if it turns out to be a tougher build than might have been hoped, I think the responsibility must lie with ICM who’ve provided the basic kit. I must admit it’s tempting to combine Special Hobby’s
new parts with ICM’s first-release sprues, as that will be a much more straightforward build, in keeping with what Special Hobby
no doubt intended. As it is, until it’s clear that ICM have got the warping problem licked, I’d have to recommend the kit for fairly experienced modellers only.
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