by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
HistoryThe Junkers Ju 87 or "Stuka" (from Sturzkampfflugzeug, "dive bomber") was a two-seat (pilot and rear gunner) German ground-attack aircraft. The Stuka first flew in 1935 and made its combat debut in 1936 as part of the Luftwaffe's Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War.
The aircraft was easily recognizable by its inverted gull wings, fixed spatted undercarriage and its infamous Jericho-Trompete ("Jericho Trumpet") wailing siren, becoming the propaganda symbol of German air power and the "Blitzkrieg" victories of 1939–1942. The Stuka's design included several innovative features, including automatic pull-up dive brakes under both wings to ensure that the aircraft recovered from its attack dive even if the pilot blacked out from the high acceleration. Although sturdy, accurate, and very effective, the Ju 87 was vulnerable to modern fighter aircraft, like many other dive bombers of the war. Its flaws became apparent during the Battle of Britain: poor manoeuvrability, lack of speed and defensive armament meant that the Stuka required heavy fighter escort to operate effectively.
The Stuka operated with further success after the Battle of Britain, and its potency as a precision ground-attack aircraft became valuable to German forces in the Balkans Campaign, the African and Mediterranean Theaters and the early stages of the Eastern Front campaigns. Once the Luftwaffe had lost air superiority on all fronts, the Ju 87 once again became an easy target for enemy fighter aircraft. In spite of this, because there was no better replacement, the type continued to be produced until 1944. By the end of the conflict, the Stuka had been largely replaced by ground-attack versions of the Focke Wulf Fw 190, but was still in use until the last days of the war. An estimated 6,500 Ju 87s of all versions were built between 1936 and August 1944.
The KitFor their most recent releases, Italeri have designed an unusual packaging: inside a classic end-opening box, there is a tray which holds the content of the kit. It is not different this time and while some will see this as an unnecessary waste of material, it will allow the modeler to keep the parts of the kit together during the build. I suppose it is also meant to make the box more solid for transportation and I must say that I haven't experienced any part damage in the latest Italeri kits I've purchased so this system seems to work quite well.
The Junkers Ju-87 B-2 kit is composed of the following items:
- 6 sprues made of light grey injected plastic.
- One transparent sprue holding the clear parts.
- One photo etched fret.
- One vinyl hose.
- One decal sheet.
- One instruction sheet.
The first impression when viewing the content of the box is very positive. Inspection of the rivet lines reveals a quite subtle rendering unlike in the previous Italeri kits. For example, I had to considerably tone down the ones of their Reggiane Re.2000 and I chose to eliminate those of their Macchi MC.200 so pronounced they were. Here I would leave them like they are without hesitation. The panel lines are quite subtly rendered too, however they are rather soft, like the ones of the kits produced in China from Hobby Boss or Trumpeter for example. Overall, the surface detail is well rendered though and represents a massive improvement over the previous releases by the Italian manufacturer.
The quality of the moulding is very good with almost no traces of flash and no sink marks. Parts breakdown is rather conventional except for the forward fuselage which has been split in several pieces to allow the modeler to show the Jumo engine which is provided. The later is made of about 20 parts (firewall, engine bearers and vinyl hoses included) and with only the addition of some cables and wires will look fantastic for sure. This is of course one of the highlight of this kit and a real plus when compared to the Hasegawa one. The cockpit interior is also very well rendered with very busy sidewalls and additional details made of PE parts.
Italeri also scores some points over the Hasegawa kit in that the aileron and flaps actuators are not represented solid under the wings but are provided as separate pieces. The moveable surfaces and the underwing have been designed as one piece though but this is not a bad thing since it will make construction easier and also avoid these fragile parts to break while handling the model (Hasegawa did it the same way). Other improvement of the Italian kit over it's japanese counterpart are the separate rudder and elevators.
Other positive aspects of the kit are the weighted tires, the presence of the "Jericho Horn" sirens and a full load of bombs. The later have been obviously taken from Italeri's German Luftwaffe WWII set and this means that some bonus pieces will end up in the spare box. The only really negative thing I could say about the plastic parts is that the spinner looks a bit too bulbous and that the propeller blades are flat and a little on the thick side, but this can be easily corrected with some careful sanding.
The clear parts provided in the kit are really excellent. The are very transparent and will allow the modeler to show the glazings in all possible positions. The presence of a small PE fret is a nice surprise. It holds mostly parts for the cockpit interior (instrument panel and seat belts) but also external parts like the wing walk ways and the elevator actuators. A small vinyl hose for the engine is included as well for good measure.
Decals and markingsFour marking options are available in the kit:
A - Junkers Ju-87 B-2, Stab III/StG77, Bulgaria, April 1941.
B - Junkers Ju-87 B-2, 3/StG2, France, August 1940.
C - Junkers Ju-87 B-2, 2/StG2, Russia, July 1941.
D - Junkers Ju-87 B-2, 7/StG1, France, summer 1941.
The markings options are somewhat disappointing. Not that the decals are bad (to the contrary, they have been well printed by Cartograf), but the machines all wear very similar paint shemes (RLM 70/71 over RLM 65 or black) and it would have been nice to include at least one desert and one winter camouflage Stuka (the large tropical filter for a desert machine is even present on sprue B). More surprising is the absence of decals to do a "Picchiatelli", which is the name of the Stuka under Italian service. I believe that at least another boxing of the kit (the long-range R-2 variant?) will be done in the future, maybe even a Regia Aeronautica edition. Why not?
ConclusionItaleri's 1:48 scale Junkers Ju-87 B-2 really is an excellent kit. It had to be since the Hasegawa Stuka was quite good already. Now if you have one or more of the later in your stash, buying the new one won't be necessary at all, unless you want to build one with a visible engine. However if you don't have a Ju-87 B-2 in your collection, I would recommend the Italeri kit since it really offers some improvements and new features over the other 1:48 scale Stukas on the market.
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