AMTech 1/72 Junkers Ju-88S
Model, Text and Photos by: Larry Cherniak
The Ju88S and T series, never before released, were some of AMTechs first kits. The S-1 kit includes radial engines, the S-3 inlines (couldn't they have put them both in one box?). Although I was pleased with the final results, these are in effect rereleases of 90's era AMT/Ertl "kits that never were" rather than new kits, so there are a few bumps in the road for the prospective builder to look out for. Reading reviews of the older AMT/Ertl Ju88G release will prepare you for what you find here. I built the S-3.
(Ed.Note: The first two pictures are as large as possible.)
First, the plastic is quite thin throughout which has advantages in detail parts but means larger parts are somewhat flexible and possibly warped until glued up. One wing in particular needed to be bent back into shape before glue-up, and the fuselage was glued-up in stages using all three of my hands (ain't evolution grand?) and lots of tape, clamps, and sanding. A section of the thin fuselage seam split open several times. Even so, only small dabs of putty were needed here and there- just be aware that this isn't a modern Japanese fit.
The cockpit is quite good for the time and scale- detail away to your hearts content if you must but I left it as-is. The rudder pedals (parts 17 and 18) are left off the instructions but they are fine and by all means use them. Also left off is the odd part (21) I take to be the Lotfe bombsight. Glue it to the floor in front of the bomb-aimers chair with the "peg" pointing up. The clear parts can be added later from the outside if you choose. You may need to narrow down the cockpit rear bulkhead a hair with a file to get the sides to close up properly. The separate vertical tail was wider than the attachment point on the fuselage so I sanded it down considerably with a sanding stick before gluing it in place. You might try sanding down the mating surfaces before you glue them together instead. Every joint has "wiggle room", so careful alignment of the flying surfaces is a must.
The engine nacelles if left as-is will aim the engines upwards at an incorrect angle. To AMTech's credit, they have included an addendum suggesting correcting the face angle with a file (also note the corrected orientation of the tailwheel doors). This is a bit tricky. You may also need to add a wedge of plastic or putty to the top edge. Check the width of the nacelles as you glue them to the wing- too far apart and you'll have a step at the engine to contend with. Removing the unnecessary hot air vent fairings on each nacelle will aid filling and sanding, as well as leaving off the supercharger scoops until later (do remember to open up the holes first, though). Eyeball the engines from the front and make sure the exhausts are in a straight line parallel to the ground before the glue sets up.
Speaking of the engines, the inline Jumo 213 engines of the S-3 are quite nice, although the exhaust flame dampers are crude. I cut off the front fairing and replaced them with spares from a Dragon He219 kit. The radial BMW801's of the S-1 need fans in front to look right, and the spinner and prop shape is suspect- you might consider an aftermarket replacement, such as AIMS's.
A minor difference the S-series sported was a rounded gear door (see the kits painting plans), so I filed the doors and glued four small radiused pieces of .020" sheet stock to the openings. I chose to shorten the gear by 2mm (one at the top and one at the oleo) to give a less gawky stance, and to replace the kit wheels with True Details ones (suitably "unflattened" by filing the bulges down). I also added a landing light, added an entry door under the nose, brake lines, and so on. It should also have FuG101 aerials under the wing but I haven't gotten around to adding them yet.
The paint schemes offered are simultaneously wonderful and frightening to carry off. I chose to take on the most difficult one and later cursed myself for the choice. If you're not so hot on the airbrush, there are other schemes provided. I'll describe the painting in some detail, because it could help fellow modelers.
I started with primer and a coat of Modelmaster RLM76 lightened with some RLM22 white, cut with lacquer thinner and a little mineral spirits to extend the drying time. Next I mixed up an off-white (a little TOO 'off' in retrospect) from white and a few dabs of RAF Middlestone and grey and sprayed the upper surfaces overall.
The next day this was masked by rolling the poster tack (my brand is yellow and called Handi-Tak) into a thin roll, cutting it into small evenly sized chunks, and pressing these onto the upper surfaces anywhere I wanted a white spot. I compared my count (27 spots on one tailplane...) and pattern with the photos and plans to ensure reasonable accuracy and evenness. The spots were observed to get larger further out on the wing.
Next lightened RLM75 Grauviolet was sprayed on, being careful to spray down perpendicular to the surface. After a few minutes the masking balls were removed with tweezers and voila- where I was lucky- there were nice evenly feathered spots. Where I wasn't lucky there was a very soft or hard edge which required some touchup later with each color.
This process was quite tedious and nervewracking so I broke it up into a few evenings work. When this had cured I gave it a couple of coats of Future, then wet-sanded any nubs off. The green would be sprayed over this. It may not be technically sound to spray enamels over Future, but I wanted the ability (which I later took advantage of!) to wipe off mistakes with mineral spirits without disturbing the underlying paint.
I applied the decals now, which proved excellent. I had a hard time believing that this craft flew with no national markings and the photos were ambiguous, so I applied some and camouflaged over them. Another coat of future sealed these in.
I next mixed some Floquil Military Colors RLM 82 (sic, should be 83) dark green with lacquer thinner and turned the pressure way down until I could hold my Badger 100 about 1 cm. away from the surface and spray a small spot without spiders (too thin) or speckles (too thick). The lacquer thinner is so "hot" thatit evaporates almost as soon as the paint hits the surface, which is what I needed.
Then the mind-numbing task of spraying a couple of hundred spots on the bottom surfaces and, even more difficult, a squiggle pattern down the sides and tail began. I don't know why they put spots on the underside, I think it was for night work. For the wellenmuster squiggle, I erred on the side of "too thin" paint and going over the lines a few times to build them up. I had to take a break partway though this session and soak the brush (and my head).
I had a problem with the paint not sticking to the decal areas and rubbing off (setting solutions softening the varnish?), which I touched up as best I could but which is still visible in places. Next, a coat of Modelmaster Acryl flat varnish to seal it all in, then the usual oil washes (raw umber, burnt umber and Prussian Blue mixes) wiped off with cotton buds dipped in naphtha.
I could only recommend this particular paint scheme to the truly brave, skilled, and dedicated modeler (unless you're not as picky as me!). I was a professional airbrush artist for years and still think this was the single most challenging, time consuming, and aggravating thing I've painted. The thrill of victory would be followed an hour later by the agony of defeat and wanting to give up. I do feel a lot more confident to take on a Luftwaffe nightfighter scheme, though- "nothing could be worse than this, and I lived through it" is my attitude.
As for the kit, I would recommend it even with its few fit and accuracy quirks- it's a nice looking bird with some interesting paint schemes. The production run was limited to 5000 kits. A Ju88S could also be built fairly readily in 1/48th from a Dragon family Ju88G with Ju88A tailplanes (or ProModeler Ju88A with G engines), utilizing the excellent Falcon canopy set. If you build it, I hope this article helps.
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