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Italeri's 1/72 scale night fighter
Junkers Ju 88C-4

by Jan Forsgren

 

Junkers Ju 88C-4 Night Fighter

 


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Introduction

 

The Junkers Ju 88C-4 was a night fighter based on the A-5 with the new, longer wing and some other differences from the A-4 based C-6, which succeeded it after less than 100 C-4 were built. The C-4 was produced between late 1941 and early 1942.

I decided to paint my model black as I had bought a decal set from Peter Roberts of PD Models, very thin and accurate decals. R4+KL, which suffered a landing accident in Catania, Italy, in August 1942 was the individual I chose as the subject of my model.

 

 

Construction

 

Italeri's 1/72 scale Ju 88C-6 in the box

This kit was released in the early nineties and was a giant leap compared to the earlier kits of the Ju 88. The only competitor is the AMT C and G version which was released a year or so later, but I prefer the Italeri kit because of the thin raised panel lines that can easily be removed. The AMT kit has engraved panel lines that I find too large for this scale, but apart from that the kit is as good as Italeriís, and the landing gear and interior is much better.

 

 

To convert the Italeri C-6 to a C-4 this was done:

        The asymmetric cowling on the engine lower side was completely removed as the Jumo 211 G or F didnít have the extra air cooler the C-6ís Jumo 211 J had

        Italeri Ju 188 propeller blades were used as they are more narrow and thin (metal vs. wooden propeller blades) than the kit propellers

        The C-4 did not have a balanced rudder, so the upper part of the rudder was made shorter

The C-4 also had weaker landing gear than the C-6, but the Italeri gear is thin enough to represent that!


 

Fuselage and Cockpit

Before assembly all panel lines were removed, and new lines not crossing the fuselage joint were scribed with a Bare Metal scriber.

Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized:


The fuselage halves were then mated using liquid cement, and the cockpit interior was completed almost stock, painted dark gray and dry brushed in a lighter shade, only seat belts in lead foil and ReHeat belt buckles were added. Now was the time to scribe the missing panel lines. Here the new rudder contour can also be seen.

 

 

The Falcon canopy was measured and the razor saw was put into action, removing plastic both in front of and behind the cockpit. One problem with the Falcon canopy is that it was designed for the much wider Revell C-6 fuselage.

With the excess plastic gone I used plastic card to build the frame on which the canopy would rest, a recess was made on the port and starboard using plastic strips 0,3 x 0,2 mm to get a better surface to glue the canopy to. As it is virtually impossible to sand down the plastic in the canopy it was necessary to use putty for the final blend with the fuselage front and rear. The images below show the interior and a dry fit.

Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized:


The ventral gondola is clear and fit quite well, the rear part was left off as it would be in the down position with a ladder, and the windows were masked. The hatch actually looks different on the C-4 but not so much that it matters. As the hatch would be down the inner surface of the gondola had to be painted matte black too, and the windows were also masked.

The blind landing antenna FuBL2 was located inside a cover painted like the aircraft and not ďbareĒ like in the kit, this was made from sprue and glued far back on the lower rear fuselage.


 

Wings and engines

The already scribed upper and lower wing halves were sanded flat on the mating edges, and the trailing edge was made much thinner as it tends to be much too thick if nothing is done. I use liquid glue for the wings and Iím very careful to get the wings straight. Sometimes even drooping a little at the tip to simulate heavy, fuel-filled wings, but not so on this Ju 88.

The wings have a dihedral of 13 mm in this scale, and to strengthen the fuselage-wing joint I usually bend a piece of brass tube or piano wire and insert it through the fuselage. The wings may have to be prepared for this depending of how thick the tube or wire is, and this calls for careful dry fitting.

 

 

The piano wire is glued using epoxy glue, and for the wing/body joint I use liquid cement. The airframe is then put in a ďjigĒ using paint jars or something similar in height, so the dihedral can be adjusted to the final, perfect look. Itís also very important that the fin is absolutely vertical, and sometimes mild force must be used in this operation, but with good preparation of the wings that will not be necessary. With the airframe in the jig, the stabilizers were glued using liquid cement and fixed with paint jars and strips of plastic card to the absolutely horizontal position of the Ju 88.

Over to the engines which had the lower side cowlings modified with plastic card and putty.

 

 

This was almost ten years ago and I had not heard of Milliput or epoxy putty yet, so the cowling modification got some really large sink marks (this was after painting the airplane black the first time!).

The Italeri wheel wells are not so good, I think they donít look like the real Ju 88 does, and the fit between the engine and the wheel well is not good. There are other drawbacks in this area which I will mention later. The well interiors were painted slightly darker than RLM02 as I wanted the contrast to the black exterior not be too significant.

The propeller hubs were drilled out and piano rods of 1/16Ē was glued in position. On the front annular radiator a piece of suitable sized brass tube was inserted and fixed with CA glue. This can be done before or after the engine is in place, but itís easier before as the tube needs a support on the back side of the engine. By doing this I get a strong propeller shaft, it is centered (if done correctly) and still detachable.

With engines and exhausts in place, now it was time to fix the canopy with epoxy glue, after a thorough polish on the inside, using tape to secure it while the epoxy is hardening.

Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized:


The canopy was masked with ordinary masking tape and liquid Microscale Micro Mask.

 

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

I prefer the gloss enamels, as they give a hard, glossy surface for the decals, usually Xtracolor as they are easier to paint and have a very prolific range of hues. The only drawback is drying time, which forces me to wait at least overnight before applying decals or the next masking tape. I have an old double action spray gun and spray 2-4 thin layers, I use ordinary cellulose  thinners and mix roughly 60/40% paint/thinner. For masking I prefer Tamiya tape as it is thin and does not leave any residue of adhesive, but sometimes ordinary masking tape is used. Larger areas I cover with paper or plastic film from the kitchen!

For this Ju 88 I mixed the black with 10 % white to get a more realistic color.

The decals from PD Models went on without problems and as mentioned they were thin and of a very high quality, the wing crosses were from mixed Superscale sets. All crosses have a fine wash of black to tone the white color down, and the white fuselage band is completely over painted except on the top, all of this like the real aircraft.

The canopy frames were cut from black painted decal film and looks convincing to me. 

To get the final touch I use Future in thin layers on the whole aircraft, and sanding each layer with wet paper on the decals. I repeat the procedure with painting and sanding until all traces of decal film is gone.

Now itís time for a wash of white spirit and oil color. I use a mix of black, brown and umber and depending on the color of the aircraft I mix the wash darker or lighter. The wash is applied generously with a brush and is wiped off with a dry cloth after a while just like the flowing air would dry oil stains, i.e. from the nose to the tail. It can even be almost completely cleaned from the aircraft with a moist cloth, but donít rub too hard or some paint will come off too! The wash can be done over and over until you are satisfied.

The wash is sealed with more Future, this time mixed with Tamiya Flat Base to get a matte surface for the dry pastels. With a coarse sand paper I produce a pastel dust that can be applied where dirt is needed, e.g. along panel lines or where rain water is running vertically on parked aircraft. A fine brush is used and the dust adheres well to the matte Future. With an eraser it can be removed and done over again!

Itís very important to remember that dirt is not spread uniformly on an aircraft; there is much more on the underside where oil and dirty water is collecting, along panels edges that are often removed and where the surface is exposed to exhausts.

When everything is as I like, I use Future and Flat Base to seal the pastels. This time I mix Flat Base to get the right shine, and after that I remove the cockpit canopy masking and cross my fingers the canopy was thoroughly masked!

 

 

Finishing Touches

 

The landing gear was painted light gray and a thin wash was applied with a sharp brush. With the right amount of white spirit the wash creeps into every corner and one small drop is enough. Fuse wire was used for the hydraulic tube.

The main gear and struts were glued with liquid cement, and care was taken to get the main gear at the right angle. I succeeded, but when I glued the wheel well doors in place with cyano acrylate, the too small gondola became obvious! The main landing gear looked far too long, even though it wasnít when I measured it! I think the gondolas are 1,5 mm too low in profile, and the wheel well doors are 1 mm too narrow, and in this scale itís obvious! Below is an image of the already finished main gear leg before shortening.

 

 

What to do? Some surgical work was necessary, the main gear was cut just below where the strut connects and 2 mm was cut off each gear. A 0,8 mm drill was used to make small holes in the main gear upper and lower parts and two piano wire pieces were cut and with patience and CA and probably some luck the operation was successful!

 

 

Even though my C-4 sits too low it looks much better than before!

The propeller blades were painted black green RLM70 and the spinner black as the airframe.

I did one mistake in providing the ventral gondola hatch in the rear with a machine gun like the A-model usually carried, but as the C-4 variant had two forward firing 20 mm MG FF in the gondola there was probably no room for the person who should fire this weapon!

This C-4 had one rear firing MG15 of 7,92 mm in the cockpit, for this I used a thin brass tube. The main forward armament was the fixed trio of MG 15 and one MG FF in the nose.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Even though the Italeri is the model I prefer, this does not mean it is perfect. On the contrary, it took a lot of putty in the fuselage and the wing-body joint to make them decent, and maybe the under wing wheel well gondolas should be replaced. Fortunately, now Czech Six have resin parts for this.

 

 

I must say black paint makes a model almost invisible! Details are difficult to see, the wash is only noticeable in some angles and I really donít see all the hours I put into this model!


 

References

The Squadron/signal Ju 88 in action part 2 covers most of the important aspects of the Ju 88 night fighter versions, but for purists there are lots of heavier literature.

I have three Japanese books with an immense amount of information, not easily read though!

 

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized.
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German Night Fighter Aces of World War 2
Aircraft of the Aces 20
Author: Jerry Scutts
Illustrator: John Weal
US Price: $19.95
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date:
 June 5, 1998
Details: 96 pages; ISBN: 1855327147
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Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Jan Forsgren
Page Created 21 October, 2004
Last Updated 22 October, 2004

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