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Mistel 1
Part One - Building the Ju 88s

by Floyd S. Werner Jr.


Mistel 1 - Junkers Ju 88A-4 and Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4


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The first Mistels utilizing airplanes was developed by the British in 1916.  The concept was further refined between the wars with flying boats and then promptly forgotten until WWII.  Then the British thought about using a piggy back airplane for convoy protection, but nothing ever came of it. 

The Germans took notice of the Mistel project following the British development and refined it into a machine of war.  Initially, the idea of Mistel, or Mistletoe, was looked upon as a way to increase lift for takeoff of commercial airliners and later as a way to launch gliders without a tow plane.  First experiments in this method included a Klemm 35 and a DFS 230.  It was found that the Klemm did not have the power to maintain flight so a FW56 was utilized.  The FW56 proved successful but not as an effective tactical solution for getting glider borne troops and equipment on the ground.  A Bf-109 was tested with the DFS-230 as a way to maximize payload at the greatest possible range.  The tests proved successful but some problems did arise.  The increase in the rate of descent in the DFS (with support truss) and overheating of the 109s engine at the slower speeds while towing. 



Despite these problems, in 1941 it was proposed to use war weary Ju-88s as flying bombs with Bf-109s as the control airplane.  This arrangement offered a range of 1500 km with a 3.5 ton payload.  To minimize weight the dive brake hydraulics, anti-dive mechanism, defensive armament, radio and bomb aiming equipment were removed.  Even with all this removed the takeoff gross weight was in excess of 20,000Kg.  This was right at the weight rating for the Ju-88s tires.  This necessitated takeoffs from runways only, as any imperfection could spell disaster.   

Dual function instruments, indicating engine manifold pressure and engine RPM were fitted to the 109s cramped cockpit to monitor the Ju-88.  Explosive bolts were used to create the separation when required. 

The Bf-109/Ju-88 warhead combination was designated the “Mistel 1”.  The FW-190/Ju-88 combination was given the designation “Mistel 2”.  Whenever a fully instrumented cockpit was installed the prefix “S” designating “Schule” (school) or training aircraft was used, such as Mistel S1.  Actual changing of the Mistel from a conventional cockpit to a warhead could be accomplished in a few hours so the designation was dependant on the type of nose on the bottom aircraft.  What was a S1 today could be converted into a 1 tomorrow. 

In February 1944, the first live test flight was undertaken with a live warhead, but an electrical problem with the autopilot caused the Ju-88 portion to crash.  Following the huge explosion and to maintain secrecy a “funeral” was held for the crew of the errant Ju-88. 



I’d always thought the Mistel aircraft were only test aircraft or that very few of them actually flew, but I was wrong.  By the end of the war more than 200 Mistels of all types were completed.  The final completed Mistel rolled out on 6 April 1945 and there were more in the conversion process. 

Operational deployment of the Mistels had mixed results.  Occasionally the Mistels were deadly accurate, usually against bridges, but normally the aircraft were lost to anti-aircraft or fighters. 

Mistel operational units included KG (J) 30, KG 66, KG 101, and KG 200 so there was a significant amount of deployment of the type.  Despite this outlay of personnel and equipment these odd aircraft had very little impact on the war.   

Proof in the concept of the Mistel was demonstrated after the war by American and Russian test aircraft such as the launch aircraft for the Bell X-1 and the Russian DFS-346.  Even more recently by the Boeing 747 and the piggy backed Space Shuttle.    



The Models


When ProModeler released their Ju-88A-4 in 1998 I knew I had to make a Mistel 1.  Mating the Hasegawa Bf-109F kit with the ProModeler Ju-88A4 seemed like a no brainer conversion.  I figured that the conversion would be relatively easy utilizing the Dragon Mistel kit parts on the ProModeler body.  I was right.  It was easy. 

After seeing other Mistels by Sam Garcia and Ian Robertson, I knew that the Mistel made into a neat looking airplane.  The difference between their aircraft and mine was I wanted to have a 109 as the control plane. 

Who would have figured me wanting a Bf-109?



The Junkers Ju 88s


Released by ProModeler in 1999 the Ju-88A-4 utilized the original Dragon kit with a new nose, tail, armament and cockpit to depict the A-4.  Because of this there were some very minor problems with the molds as they were very well used.  Some panel lines were faint and needed to be rescribed.   

As there was no cockpit per se, construction started with the fuselage, which fitted well.  There were a few panel lines that needed to be rescribed, especially on the belly.  The lines were easy to do as they were all straight.  Don’t forget to open up the appropriate holes for the Mistel supports.  Some aircraft utilized the “catcher” cradle near the tail, but normally only on training aircraft.  The same goes for the nose support which prevented the fighter’s propeller from cutting into the training Ju-88s cockpit.  I’m sure the pilots of the Ju-88 appreciated it.  There are some panels, insulators and the clear antenna direction finder that need to be filled and rescribed.  Remember to assemble the tail strut before you put the fuselage halves together.  I used the tail wheel from True Details which is bulged, a lot.  Except this time the extra bulge is good as the Mistel was very heavy.   

One thing about the ProModeler kit is the rudder hinge line.  It appears that the rudder hinge line is recessed.  This is a function of utilizing the Ju-88G kit as the base kit.  I decided to use the MDC Ju-88A-4 tail on one kit and the kit one on the other.  I hollowed out the attachment point for the resin tail and while test fitting, it fit so well that I just left it on.  It isn’t even glued on it fit so well.  I did reposition the rudder, like my reference photo, because I could with the MDC set.  Kudos to MDC and their tail and rudder.  The kit tail and rudder fit just as well, but you can see the difference.  Attaching the horizontals is a non-event.  They fit well and mated to the fuselage with no problems. 

Now onto the engines, obviously there are two per aircraft.  The fit is not bad.  There are some clear parts (engine instruments) that are a bit tricky to get correct but nothing that can’t be done.  You can leave the engine fronts off until after painting if you want.  For the exhausts I decided to try a set of Moskit exhausts for the one aircraft.  They fit like a champ.  You will have to add some plastic strip to the exhausts to represent the latch at the aft end but it is easy and the results are fantastic.  The kit exhausts are nice as well and fit in very snuggly.  Some people have had some issues with the fit of the engine nacelles to the nacelle ring.  I didn’t have a big problem and both engines were set aside until after the wings were assembled. 

Before assembling the wings ensure that you open the appropriate holes for the Mistel trestle.  For a Mistel aircraft there are no dive flaps or bomb racks on the wings so don’t open the holes. 

Tip of the Day:

for building the Ju-88 kits:  Don’t assemble the wing tips and slide them into the wing.  You have just asked for a lot of filling and rescribing.  Instead try this, assemble the appropriate tip to the appropriate wing before assembly.  Make sure the detail side (the outside or the side with all the panel lines) is aligned and don’t worry about the gap that will appear at the front of the wing.  If you do this correctly, the wingtips and the panel lines will be lined up and require no filler.  When you assemble the wings there will be a gap on the leading edge, but this is easily filled and you will lose no detail and save lots of cussing. 

Tip of the Day No. 2:

Ailerons do not move in the same direction on Ju-88s.  When the ailerons are attached they will appear to hinge down together.  This is a model error, don’t do this.  It is wrong.  The Ju-88 at Hendon has both of the ailerons down but this is a function of disconnecting the control stick from the surfaces and gravity taking over.  I’ve seen some great Ju-88s with this done to them.  If one goes up, the other MUST go down.  It is aerodynamic that way.  I resolved this by aligning the ailerons straight.  You would be wise to do the same.   

This should go without saying but, it is important that you get the correct wheel assembly to the correct wing.  I painted my landing gear at the same time I did my tail wheel assembly in an RLM 02 with preshaded areas of RLM 66.  Once dry I added a wash of Burnt Umber artist oils. 

The engine assembly to the wing fit is not great but it is easily filled and no big deal. 

Now it is time to assemble the wings to the fuselage.  The fit of the upper portion will look odd as there will be a step between them.  Don’t fill it or sand it off (like I did) as the shape is accurate.  I noticed it after it was gone and decided the heck with it.  The belly panel fit ok but did require some filler.  I now had a Ju-88 with no nose. 



Off to the Mistel kit and pilfer Sprue “L”.  This sprue contains three warheads, as well as, the support structure and ladder.  You will have to decide which warhead you want to use so check your sources.  Mine indicated that the two longer probes were common to the Mistel 1.  You’ll notice that my models have both types of long warheads for variety.  There is another type indicated in the Classic book that is not available, yet.  If you don’t want to attach the warhead you don’t have to as the fit is excellent allowing you to switch if you want to.  I decided to build the noses before attaching them to the fuselage.  This worked out well as I had room to fill and align the small fairings around the warhead.  I recommend attaching the nose area as you will have to sand the nose area into the fuselage.  Nothing too drastic but you couldn’t leave it off until later as it would have a step. 



I assembled the props at this stage so that they could be painted with the aircraft. 

After cleaning the struts up I test fit them with a 109 center section.  I figured that the struts would have to attach to the 109s fuselage/wing joint for strength.  This required me to drill some new mount holes on the outer struts for the “V” center mount.  I drilled them approximately 2mm higher.  This caused the outer struts to come closer together so that the mounts attached to the fuselage/wing joint of the 109 without warping.  The tail support was detailed with plastic card, wire and a length of brass rod (for strength).  The tail support was drilled out before the Ju-88 fuselage was put together.  The brass rod actually slips down into the fuselage assemble and rests on the bottom.  This did two things for me, first it allows me to leave it loose to tweak the fit of the 109 later.  It also provides stability as it can’t go any lower without breaking the model.  This reference is important later on when I have to align the 109 with the horizontal plane. 



Painting and Markings


After a quick wash in Dawn dishwashing soap and warm water I sprayed the aircraft with some primer to check for flaws.  After fixing what I saw each aircraft was preshaded with RLM 66. 

Then I tried some different colors on each airframe.  For the one aircraft with “White 5” I used Polly-S RLM 65 for the belly and Gunze Sangyo RLM 70/71.  All camouflage lines were masked with Tamiya masking tape.  On “Red 6” the colors I chose were Polly-S RLM 65 and 71 and Floquil RLM 70.  I wanted to have a little variety in the paint and to see which colors looked best to me.  The jury is still out. 



A coat of Future and it was off to do the decals.  The Third Group decals were beautiful.  They were opaque and in register.  I wanted to have fuselage codes but they were difficult to make out so I fudged them.  There you got it out of me, I made them up from an educated guess.  Prove me wrong the airplanes are destroyed in the process.  No seriously the aircraft did tend to have codes on the sides and typically they were all black.  Looking through the Classic book a few codes are mentioned.  There is no real consistency in codes, such as 5F belonged to the Third Group of KG whatever.  The airframes were remanufactured and it doesn’t appear that any new numbering was used.  It appears that whatever the Ju-88 had on it when it went to the modification center is what it had on when it came out.  The larger numbers actually designated the identification number.  I may be wrong on this, but this is what I found in my research. 

Another coat of Future to seal the decals followed by a coat of Polly-S Flat made the aircraft ready for weathering.  Weathering was primarily kept to the engine exhausts and a few chips here and there.  If I had to do it again I would have faded the paint a little more.  Anyhow, the exhausts were first sprayed with Model Master Dark Tan thinned about 70%.  This was sprayed from front to back ensuring that the tail was discolored as well.  Follow this by adding Flat Black to the mixture in the paint cup and painting the center of the exhaust area.  You may be wondering if this weathering is accurate as the Ju-88s were used on a one way mission.  The Ju-88s were also used to train with standard cockpits until it was decided to deploy them on a mission when the warhead was attached.  Hence my Ju-88s did a lot of training.  I like them that way. 



With the lower components completed it was time to tackle the 109s.


Messerschmitt Bf 109
Modelling Manuals 17

US Price: $17.95
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date:
 January 25, 2002
Details: 64 pages; ISBN: 1841762652
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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Floyd S. Werner Jr.
Page Created 18 April, 2004
Last Updated 18 April, 2004

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