by: Darren Baker [ ]
When it comes to aircraft how do you assess the attributes that make an aircraft great, by its attributes, its successes or how wide spread it is or was. Well if it comes down to how wide spread an aircraft was and for that matter the roles it performed the Ju-88 family are up there as a great aircraft lineage and was I believe the most wide spread aircraft type in use with German forces during World War 2. ICM has released a number of the aircraft in the Ju 88 family and the latest offering is the Ju 88A-4 in 1/48th scale.
This offering from ICM is packed in the now usual flip top cardboard box and a separate card lid, a great combination for protecting the contents. The only thing I would now change is the packing of the entire contents in a single plastic bag albeit the clear sprue being in its own bag within the main bag.
The moulding quality is good with no major flows observed by me. There are a few flow marks observable on the larger moulded elements, but my checks such as running my nail over them and looking at them under magnification would all indicate that this has not caused any issues. The obvious problem with all kits is the ever present ejector pin marks, these as you would expect have been hidden in areas not seen on the finished model, but a few will need to be addressed via filling and sanding. I will add here that with this being one of a number of Ju 88ís being released by ICM there are a number of parts not used with this model and so there are some significant spares.
Looking at this offering from ICM and looking at the previous releases reveals no new mouldings in the box. What is new is a very nice decal sheet offering decals for aircraft serving with Romanian, Hungarian and Finnish units, perhaps not the greatest of changes but a nice change none the less. It also has to be remembered that due to the large number of unused parts there will be changes during the build progress.
Looking at the cockpit of this offering reveals a very nice area of the model that often attracts a great deal of interest from modellers and viewers. The sides of the cockpit area have very nice moulded detail on the fuselage halves and also include additional detail moulded separately, I am unclear of exactly what changes were made to the cockpit with various versions of the Ju-88 that were produced. The seats have a very nicer level of detail included with them, but I am not a fan of pilotsí seat being split into two halves and so creating a seam that should be addressed. The other complaint I have with the seats is the lack of harness detail; donít get me wrong I am happy to see no moulded harness detail as that makes life easy for those looking to photo etch options, but I would have liked to at least see decal harness detail provided. The instrument panel dial detail is provided in decal form and I am happy enough with that. Looking at various parts of the cockpit and comparing them to images of the preserved aircraft in the UK and USA paints the ICM kit in a good light, I particularly like the effort put into getting the pilotsí yoke right. The model also offers the correct boarding hatch in the gondola. One thing you need to be aware of is that if you decide to use the 20mm cannon fitted to the front you should not use it at the front of the gondola as it should be mounted in the front right hand lower window. Fortunately ICM has supplied the nose glazing for this and so it is just a case of using the alternate part.
Of the two aircraft that still exist in one piece it is the aircraft in American hands that offers up the best reference. This aircraft is a Ju-88 D1 reconnaissance aircraft that is based on the Ju-88 A4 tropical version, this aircraft served with the Romanian Forces and was flown into British hands by the disgruntled Romanian pilot Theodore Nikolai in July 1943 in Limassol Cypress, after extensive testing by the British it was handed over to the Americans in September who flew it to Ohio after some changes were made for the trip. My reference comes from Aero Detail 20 Junkers Ju 88 a book that offers exceptional reference on the Ju 88.
Moving onto the fuselage and flight surfaces of the model reveals this offering to be more correctly identified as a late version of the Ju-88 A4 as it has the longer wings, all A-4s were supposed to be like this but an issue with engine supply meant that early versions had the shorter wings where the control surfaces extend to the wing tip. Access panels on the wing surface are correctly replicated and accurately placed. As regards the wings the only weakness I can detect is the absence of 3 panel lines that run the length of the wings, 2 at the rear and 1 near the front, these being straight lines they should be easy to scribe. On the underside I am unable to confirm or deny the accuracy of the panel lines. Those present do match various references I have, but there does look to be a number of panels missing. Airbrakes are supplied in the kit and ICM has correctly pointed out that these should not be used on the first two finishing options as these aircraft were recon and not bomber aircraft.
Looking at the fuselage the panel line detail and access points look to be a good match for my reference, but again there do appear to be a number of panel lines missing. The vertical portion of the tail does look to have all of the scribed detail present according to the reference material I am looking at providing you are replicating a late model A4. The horizontal tail surfaces have the right panel line detail, but the step detail at the outer most point of the tail have been replicated as straight when the step should be present between the flap and the main tail.
Two engines are included with this model and this is an area that ICM do very well, but no thought looks to have gone into displaying these areas of interest with the nacelles being supplied as two halves. The modeller could take a razor saw to the model and may achieve a pleasing result, I myself would rather have an engine on a mounting plate and some detail added to make it a nice detail to look at with the model. Both propeller types are provided in the box and the correct wooden wide bladed propeller is correctly identified as the ones to use.
The undercarriage of the model is very nicely rendered as regards the main wheels. ICM has provided the struts in such a way that they are attached to the model and the nacelles of the engines slip over them. The only thing I cannot comment on is if the wheel struts are correctly shown as weighted or not. The tyres provided are the balloon type and these are accurate for the model. The rear wheel is accurate but disappointing as it is a single piece and I feel a multi part offering would have improved the look.
Some nice iron bombs are provided with the model with well detailed external racks, but it has not been pointed out that these should not be used on the Romanian and Hungarian offerings.
The finishing options provided with this model are:
Ju 88A-4, Grupul 5 Bombardment, Romania 1944
Ju 88A-4, 3/1 Bombazo szazad of Hungarian Air Force, Russia 1943
Ju 88A-4, 1/PLeLv 44, Onttola, Finland, Summer 1944
Ju 88A-4, 3/PLeLv 44, Onttola, Finland, Summer 1944
While the finishing options provided here may not appeal to everyone, but regardless of that ICM does offer here another excellent example of the Ju 88 in the form of a A-4 variant. For the most part the model offers accurate detail and the instructions are laid out in such a way as to avoid tripping up the unwary. Is this model perfect? No it is not as there are some details that need to be added in the form of some panel lines and the lack of harness detail for the seats. The horizontal tail surfaces do not match my reference as the step detail is missing completely. With that said most of these issues can easily be overcome with some hard work, even the step in the tail could be added with milliput or plasticard and shaped correctly. So if you want a Ju 88 this model is very much worth seeking out for your collection.