Junkers Ju 88 as a Night Fighter
I decided, it is high time to tackle a bit bigger bird this time. As it happens I have two such kits in my stash already, just waiting to be built. First one is Ju 88 C-6b WWII German Night Fighter and the other one is B-26B-50 Invader Korean War American Bomber. I opted for the first one for two reasons - first I am still in a mood of adding more warplanes from WWII to my collection and the second one is that I have only built so far only one German airframe which is Ju 87 Stuka. It is time for another one!
Junkers Ju 88 Quick Rundown
Undeniably Ju88 was one of the most versatile airframes produced and used by the Luftwaffe during WWII, affectionately known as Mädchen für Alles (The Maiden of Work). It served different roles during the conflict, most important being dive bomber, fighter bomber, attack bomber, heavy fighter and night fighter. Such broad range of operation required line assembly to work constantly from 1936 to 1945 and more than 15000 Ju88s were build in dozen of variants - more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period.
Junkers Flugzeug und Motorenwerke under the leadership of Dipl.-Ing. Ernst Zindel responded to a 1934 requirement from the RLM for a multi-role and heavily armed Kampfzerstörer (combat destroyer) that would be able to fly bomber, reconnaissance and ground-attack missions. Just months later though the RLM revisited its requirements which became more focused towards a Schnellbomber (fast bomber) with crew of three, which would be able to climb to 7000m in 25 minutes, fly at a maximum of 500 km/h and carry a maximum bomb load on horizontally-mounted racks of 1000 kg to a range of around 2000 km.
The first all-metal, stress-skinned prototype, the Ju 88 V1, took to the air from the Dessau works on 21 December 1936 and was followed through to 1938 by a short series comprising the V2 to the V5. The Ju 88 V1 had a compact, well-streamlined cockpit roof and a pointed nose. It was powered by Daimler-Benz DB 600 engines, installed in cowlings with circular radiators. The inverted V-12 engines were installed in front of the wing leading edge, not under the wing. From the third prototype onwards the engines were changed to Junkers Jumo 211, because the scarce Daimler-Benz engines were reserved for fighters. Due to the recent success of Ju 87 Stuka with then new technique of dive bombing it was decided that Ju 88 should also be built with dive-bombing capability. To make it happen Zindel brought in his colleague, Dipl.-Ing. Hermann Pohlmann, who had worked on the Stuka, to incorporate a dive-brake system into the Ju 88 so as to ensure the aircraft would be able to pull out safely from dives. Following modifications were introduced in next prototypes: the wings were strengthened, dive brakes were added, the fuselage was extended, the number of crewman was increased to four and many others.
Ju 88C - 6b Night Fighter
The Ju 88C was originally intended as a fighter-bomber and heavy fighter by adding fixed, forward-firing guns to the nose while retaining some bomb carrying ability of the A-series bomber. The C-series had a solid metal nose, and retained the A-series style vertical tail, as well as the ventral Bola gondola under the crew compartment. This version was later used as a night fighter and this became its main role.
The first night fighter version of the Ju 88 was the C-2, based on the A-1 and armed with one 20 mm MG FF cannon and three 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns placed in a new metal nose. These examples entered service in Zerstörerstaffel of KG 30 and the unit was renamed II./NJG 1 in July 1940.
The C-6b version was the C-6 Zerstörer plane equipped with FuG 202 Lichtenstein BC low-UHF band airborne intercept radar, using the complex 32-dipole Matratze antennas. The first four C-6b fighters were tested in early 1942 by NJG 1. The trials were successful and the aircraft was ordered into production. In October 1943, many C-6bs were upgraded with new radar systems. The first new radar equipment was the FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1, followed in 1944 by the VHF-band FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2.
Ju 88C - 6b is from ICM company. This boxing was released in 2018 and contains new and updated parts required to build this variant. Original moldings were released in 2015 and allowed to build Ju 88A - 5 variant of the warplane.
This is first kit from ICM which I am going to build - there is always excitement and a bit of anxiety when building a kit from a new (for me) manufacturer. Starting with the packaging - box looks quite sturdy and has really nice glossy cover. After opening we find inside one bag of 8 sprues and another one for clear parts with additional glazing element for this variant packed separately. Aside of that we have A4 instruction booklet which at a first glance looks ok - every step of the build is clearly presented and it seems that it contains all required information except for the missing painting instructions for the upper and lower surfaces of the mottle camo paint schemes. Color callouts are for Revell and Tamiya paints. Of course one more thing present in the box are decals which seems to be of good quality - the only small detail missing is that that decals are not wrapped within their own bag.
Moldings themselves look quite decent. There is small number of ejector pins or sink holes in visible places. Only flaws which are visible especially on the bigger surface (e.g. wings or elevators) are kind of line marks which should be very easy to get rid off by sanding. Panel lines and inspection hatches are done nicely as well, though we can forget about any rivets or even mounting screws imitations - such things we can mainly find with Eduard kits. This is definitely not the most detailed kit there is but the small parts are here and are of good quality too.
My last two builds, that is P-38G from Tamiya and Hawker Tempest Mk. V Series 2 from Eduard were very complex and time consuming due to the fact that I decided to show a lot of internal elements like gun bays, flaps, engines or enhance original parts either with resin or PE sets. Now it is time for a bit simpler built in that regard, so for the Ju 88 I am not going to show any interiors except for the cockpit and other compartments which are visible through the glazing and as the kit includes Jumo engines I may potentially open one or two panels to partially show them.
Additionally I bough few PE after market sets mainly to enhance cockpit and some exterior elements, resin wheels counterparts as well as metal German Radar FuG 220. Below full list:
Eduard Ju 88C - 6b Night Fighter exterior #481045
Eduard Ju 88C - 6b Night Fighter interior #491168
Eduard Ju 88C - 6b Night Fighter masks #EX767
Reskit Ju-88 wheels set type 2 #RS48-0271
HGW Models Junkers Ju 88 Seatbelts #148546
Master German Radar FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 #AM-48-027
For the reference I will use mainly publication from Topdrawings: Junkers Ju 88C which is especially useful while creating rivets imitations and checking correctness and positions of all panel lines and hatches as it contains in scale CAD plans of the subject matter. Aside of that we get plenty of colorful schemes and specification of external changes on production - run versions.
Airframe & Painting
Specific airframe that I selected to build is Junkers Ju 88C 6-b from 3./NJG 4 (3C + LL) which was stationed at Mainz Rhineland Germany in March 1944.
Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 (NJG 4) was a Luftwaffe night fighter-wing of World War II. NJG 4 was formed on 18 April 1941 in Metz. The unit's objective was to counter RAF Bomber Command's strategic night-bombing offensive.
Painting wise it is standard late war RLM 75/76 finish with the upper surface mottled with RLM 75 with addition of RLM 70 propellers.