Revell 1/72 Junkers 88A-4/R Finnish Air Force Review

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Kit: Revell A04672 Junkers Ju 88A-4 Bomber.

Price: £16.99 available from Spot-On Models, Swindon.

Decals: 2 Options.

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds.

Notes: Eduard EDCX309 1/72 mask for the Revell Junkers Ju-88A-4 used £7.20. Techmod 72139 Junkers Ju-88A-4 decals were used to make a Finnish Air Force Example at £5.60, available from Hannants UK.

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History

The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Junkers Flugzeug- und Motorenwerke (JFM) in the mid-1930s to be a so-called Schnellbomber which would be too fast for any of the fighters of its era to intercept. It suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early operational roles, but became one of the most versatile combat aircraft of the war. Affectionately known as “The Maid of all Work” (Mädchen für Alles), the Ju 88 proved to be suited to almost any role. Like a number of other Luftwaffe bombers, it was used successfully as a bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter, and even as a flying bomb during the closing stages of conflict.

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In April 1943 as Finland was fighting the Continuation War against the USSR, the Finnish Air Force bought 24 Ju 88s from Germany. The aircraft were used to equip Lentolaivue 44 (LeLv 44 or No. 44 Sqn), which had previously operated the Bristol Blenheim which was transferred to No. 42 Sqn upon the arrival of the Junkers 88. The Ju 88 was a complex aircraft, most of 1943 was used for training crews in strategic and tactical bombing techniques, including; dive-bombing, level bombing and defence against enemy fighters. A handful of bombing missions were undertaken during 1943. The most notable was a raid on the Lehto partisan village on 20 August 1943 (in which the whole of No.44 squadron participated), and a raid on the Lavansaari air field (leaving seven Ju 88 damaged from forced landing in inclement weather). During the summer of 1943, Finnish maintenance engineers discovered that Ilmavoimat Ju-88s had suffered stress damage to the wings. This had occurred when the aircraft were used in dive bombing operations. Restrictions in dive-bombing tactics were immediately implemented. The dive brakes were removed and the aircraft was limited to a 45-degree angle dive (compared to 60-80 degrees previously employed). In this way, they tried to spare the aircraft from unnecessary wear. (This Revell review kit is modelled with the dive brakes removed).

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During February 1944, the Soviet Long-Range Bombing Group conducted 3 large scale raids against Helsinki. The Finnish Air Force, lacking the numbers to respond to strategic raids of this scale, developed a unique and effective answer to the bombing of Helsinki. A series of remarkable tactical operations were tested by Squadrons PLeLv 42 and 46. On the 29th of February 1944 against Soviet Long Range Aviation bases near Leningrad, when Finnish bombers, including Ju 88s, followed Soviet bombers returning from a night raid on Tallinn. On the 22nd of March 1944, the Ju 88s of PLeLv 44 conducted their own operation by following their Soviet counterparts back to their air-base at Aerosan, Petsnajoki.

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The Finnish bomber group matched their height and tactical formations. Once the Finnish group reached their destination, they joined the Soviet aircraft in the landing circuit, at the moment the Soviet bombers began to land; the Finns opened fire and bombed the airfield fuel reserves, ammunition dumps and the landing bombers. Several bombers were destroyed due to being parked in line-abreast outside of their hangars. Several raids of this type took place. The whole bomber regiment took part in the defence against the Soviets during the fourth strategic offensive. All aircraft flew several missions by day and night, when the weather permitted.

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These missions are reported in greater detail in ‘THEMODELGALLERY’ article: The Bombing of Helsinki in World War II, under the sub-heading: ‘Finnish Response’. Click on this link to view the article: https://thebalticstatespost.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/the-bombing-of-helsinki-in-world-war-ii/

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No. 44 Sqn (re-named Pommituslentolaivue 44 or PLeLv 44 on 14 February 1944) was subordinated Lentoryhmä Sarko during the Lapland War (now against Germany), and the Ju 88s were used both for reconnaissance and bombing. The targets were mostly vehicle columns. Reconnaissance flights were also made over northern Norway. The last war mission was flown on 4 April 1945.

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After the wars, Finland was prohibited from using bomber aircraft with internal bomb loads. Consequently, the Finnish Ju 88s were used for training until 1948. The aircraft were then scrapped during the following years. No Finnish Ju 88s have survived, but an engine is on display at the Central Finland Aviation Museum, and the frame structure of a German Ju 88 cockpit hood is preserved at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa. The Suomen Ilmavoimat aircraft code for Ju 88 was JK.

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A single Ju 88 A-4, survives in Scandinavia; Werk Nr.0881478 4D+AM (ex-Stammkennzeichen of BH+QQ)

This aircraft is displayed at the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum, the Norwegian Aviation Museum at Bodø Airport. On the 13 of April 1942, it was returning from an attack on Soviet ships when it ran out of fuel. The crew bailed out in the vicinity of Snefjord but the aircraft continued its flight and, remarkably, was left comparatively intact after crash-landing on a hillside at Garddevarre in Finnmark in the far north of Norway. It remained there until recovered by the Norsk Luftfartsmuseum in 1988.

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Junkers Ju 88 in Finnish service (Source: Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 9, Kari Stenman & Kalevi Keskinen).

Below is a list of every Junkers 88A-4 that served with the Suomen Ilmavoimat during World War II. The list includes the fate of each aircraft:

Type WerkNr.088 German registration German units Finnish Registration History Finnish units
A-4/R 3880 GB+YJ JK-251 Delivered 10/4 1943, crashed 29/12 1943 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3878 GB+YH JK-252 Delivered 10/4 1943, used as a crew trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3879 GB+YL JK-253 Delivered 10/4 1943, landing damage 26/8 1947 and not repaired LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3883 DJ+TC JK-254 Delivered 10/4 1943, crashed 1/7 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3889 DJ+TI JK-255 Delivered 10/4 1943, landing damage 1/6 1944 and not repaired LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3860 GL+QM   JK-256 Delivered 20/4 1943, shot down by German fighter 10/10 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3887 DJ+TG JK-257 Delivered 20/4 1943, used as a trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 8797 CT+ZA JK-258 Delivered 20/4 1943, used as a trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3845 BI+EY JK-259 Delivered 20/4 1943, shot down 23/6 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 8785 CP+OO JK-260 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed 5/6 1946 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44
A-4/R 3857 JK-261 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed 5/6 1946 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3899 DJ+TS JK-262 Delivered 11/4 1943, exploded during landing 18/7 1944 LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3863 KG+KE   JK-263 Delivered 11/4 1943, shot down by german AAA 15/10 1944 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44
A-4/R 8794 CP+OX JK-264 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed 15/6 1944 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44
A-4/R 3877 GE+YG JK-265 Delivered 10/4 1943, put into storage 17/10 1945 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3885 DJ+TE JK-266 Delivered 1/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3888 DJ+TH JK-267 Delivered 11/4 1943, damaged during take-off 29/7 1944 and was not repaired LeLv. 44
A-4/R 8796 CP+OZ JK-268 Delivered 20/4 1943, used as a trainer after the war LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3882 DJ+TB JK-269 Delivered 10/4 1943, damaged by own bombs 20/8 1943 was repaired and stored LeLv. 44
A-4/R 3881 DJ+TA JK-270 Delivered 10/4 1943, crashed 18/6 1947 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3841 BJ+WW JK-271 Delivered 20/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 8795 CP+OY JK-272 Delivered 20/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3912 GC+UM JK-273 Delivered 20/4 1943 LeLv. 44, PLeLv. 43
A-4/R 3849 BG+GO JK-274 Delivered 20/4 1943, crashed on the flight to Finland 23/4 1943 LeLv. 44

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German Flak Defences during the Lapland War were effective, claiming at least one confirmed Finnish Junkers Ju-88A-4R.  I./Flak Rgt. 15 was attached to the XVIII Gebirgs Korps in October 1944, providing Flak defence around the Sturmbock stellung and Kilpisjärvi stellung until the 15th of April 1945 when the unit was re-located to the South of Norway.

One Finnish Junkers 88 was lost to Flak over Kilpisjärvi on the 15th October 1944, during the Lapland War.

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Lentolaivue 44 or Pommituslentolaivue 44/PLeLv 44 from the 14th of February 1944:

Flying Squadron 44 became the best equipped Finnish bomber squadron after receiving new Junkers Ju 88A-4/R bombers from Germany in the spring of 1943.

The inexperience of LeLv 44 crews with the Ju-88, resulted in a number of accidents and some losses. Germany refused to sell more bombers to Finland due to shortages of their own,  this restricted the squadron’s effectiveness until the summer of 1944, when an official training programme was implemented and the Ju-88s began flying combat missions escorted by new Messerschmitt Bf 109G fighters, Finnish bomber formations didn’t suffer any losses due to Soviet fighters during the heavy summer campaigns of 1944.

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Flying Unit: Finnish Name (and Abbreviation), Airbases, Notes (Name in English) Squadron Commander / Flight Leader
Flights and Planes . Rank: Name:
Lentolaivue 44 (LLv.44, since 3.5.42 Le.Lv.44) (Flying Squadron 44) Siikakangas (Ruovesi), 5.7.41- Mikkeli, 29.9.41- Onttola (planes only: 16.4.-28.4.43 Pori, summer 43 Luonetjärvi, ?.9-?.9.43 Utti, occasionally also Immola, Nurmoila, Tiiksjärvi Naarajärvi)Bomber squadron. BLs were relieved to Le.Lv.42 on 20.2.1943 and squadron was converted to new Junkers Ju 88A-4 bombers being operational again on 30.5.1943.1. Lentue (1st Flight) (-20.2.43 BL -> 4.43- JK) . .2. Lentue (2nd Flight) (-20.2.43 BL -> 4.43- JK) . . . . .3. Lentue (3rd Flight) (-20.2.43 BL -> 4.43- JK) . .4. Lentue (4th Flight) (27.4.-15.11.43 JK) Operational only between 27.4. – 15.11.1943.Osasto [Detachment] Räty (JU) (25.5.42 – 23.10.42) Höytiäinen (Hirviranta / Kontiolahti) Originally known as Sairaankuljetuslentue (Ambulance Flight). Moved from Le.Lv.48 on 25.5.1942 for transport and special operations missions. On 28.6.1942 subordinated to Intelligence Department of Chief HQ (PM Tied.Os.)Osasto [Detachment] Malinen (HE, JU) (5.43 -?) Höytiäinen (Hirviranta / Kontiolahti) Formed in spring 1943 for special operations missions. On 1.7.1943 subordinated operationally to Er.P 4 / PM Tied.Os. . Maj. Maj./Lt.Col. (42) . . .. . .Capt. Capt. Capt.Lt. Capt. Capt. Capt. Capt. Capt.Lt. Lt./Capt. (42?)Capt. Lt.Capt. . . . . .Capt./Maj. Capt. E. Stenbäck B. Gabrielsson (30.12.41-) . . . .. . .E. Ahmo E. Ahtiainen (30.12.41-) E. Itävuori (2.5.42-)R. Moilanen (MIA -> KIA) T. Halonen (7.8.41-) O. Lumiala (20.1.42-) A. Helminen (31.7.42-6.1.43+) I. Ritavuori (8.1.43-) K. Lehmus (15.11.43-)A. Tervo (-14.8.41 KIA) J. Saarinen (17.8.41-) .O. Siirilä (27.4.43-) T. Iisalo (30.5.-15.11.43)J. Räty (25.5.42-23.10.42) . . . . .O. Malinen (5.43-) E. Jauri (1.7.43-)
Pommituslentolaivue 44 (PLe.Lv.44) (14.2.1944-) (Bomber Squadron 44) Onttola, ([6 JK] 6.3.-9.3.44 Utti, 6.44 Immola)1. Lentue (1st Flight) (JK)2. Lentue (2nd Flight) (JK) . .3. Lentue (3rd Flight) (JK) . Lt.Col. Maj. .Capt. Lt./Capt. (44) B. Gabrielsson T. Meller (20.2.44-) .E. ItävuoriK. Lehmus (KIA) T. Iisalo (23.6.44-) .J. Saarinen

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The Junkers Ju 88 assembly line ran constantly from 1936 to 1945, and more than 16,000 Ju 88s were built in dozens of variants, more than any other twin-engine German aircraft of the period. Throughout the production, the basic structure of the aircraft remained unchanged.

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The Kit

 This kit is a brand new mould. Thankfully, it bears no resemblance to their Ju-88 A/D kit and the difference really shows. Revell’s new release Ju-88A-4 is supplied in an end-opening style box. The kit comprises 191 parts in pale grey plastic on 9 sprue frames and 15 clear parts on four linked frames. The clear parts are excellent. In fact the whole kit possesses the kind of quality that you would expect from a kit twice the price.

The grey-plastic parts are beautifully detailed with recessed panel lines, the cockpit is furnished to a standard that you would expect from a 1/32 scale kit, there are no obvious flaws. I was looking forward to this build. In addition, a 15 page instruction booklet is provided with each stage represented in an ‘exploded-view’ format. The decals provide the modeller a choice of two Luftwaffe examples and are clear and appear to be in good register.

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Construction

I set the parts out after washing them in a warm soapy solution to remove the mould release and carefully studied the instructions. Revell instructions are black and white and printed on inexpensive paper, presumably to keep the costs down. This is great for the pocket but daunting to the modeller, given the large number of small parts that would be required to fit into the cockpit area.

I sprayed all of the grey plastic sprues with grey auto-primer from a rattle-can and cut the relevant cockpit parts from the sprues detailed in stages 1 to 13. This was a time consuming process. Each stage was given a dry-fit, then airbrushed, then pre-shaded, detailed and post-shaded. However, with time and patience the results are extremely pleasing. I have a feeling that this 1/72 scale kit may have been scaled down from their 1/32 sale Ju-88, how they can produce such fine detail at £16.99 is beyond me, especially since my last 1/72 scale kit review of the Airfix Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 provided just the Pilot’s seat for the cockpit. The interior was airbrushed using Humbrol 67 tank grey, the fronts of the navigation station and instrument panel was painted black and the instrument dials and switches were painted white, red or yellow depending on the directions from the instruction manual and from colour pictures from the internet and book references.

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Once the cockpit had been completed, the tail-wheel was constructed and the fuselage halves were joined. Then the cockpit unit was glued to the rear fuselage, taped and set to one side to dry overnight. I decided to mask the entire canopy components at once, as this process can be time consuming; these were then placed securely in a zip-lock bag.

Sections 17 to 25 were the next stage of the build. This consists of gluing the upper and lower main wings together and taping them as well as the wing tips, wing flaps and ailerons. The same process was repeated for sections 28 to 31, which were the horizontal tail surfaces and tail-plane. All sub-assemblies were then allowed to set overnight.

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Stages 32 and 33 were the final assemblies of the day, which was the construction of the engines and nacelles with cowlings. The exhausts were painted with citadel colour scorched brown and glued into the nacelles, the front of the engines are the only components that are exposed; these were painted black and dry-brushed with Humbrol 11 silver when they had dried. The nacelles were glued together, taped and allowed to dry.

The next day, the wing assemblies, tail, tail-planes and canopies were glued together. The MG 131’s were glued to the inside of the canopy and lower-gondola before these components were glued to the airframe. Again, these were left overnight to dry. The aircraft that I had chosen to build was a Suomen Ilmavoimat Lapin Sota (Finnish Air Force Lapland War) aircraft, which carried an internal bomb load and were predominantly used for reconnaissance duties for the Finnish Ground Forces. Therefore, the external bomb racks and bombs were not required. Additionally, the Finns removed the dive brakes from beneath the wings of their Junkers Ju-88A-4/Rs due to airframe fatigue. The aircraft were still able to dive-bomb targets but were restricted to a 45 degree angle as opposed to the usual 60-80 degree dive angle.

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Before the Ju 88 went to the paint shop, the undercarriage was constructed, wheels painted (Hubs – Humbrol 67, tyres – Tamiya XF-85 Tyre black).

Camouflage & Markings

Techmod’s 1/72 Junkers Ju-88A-4 decals offer 6 aircraft to choose from. Two are Luftwaffe examples, one based in Nurmoila, Finland, the other is an example based in Sicily in 1943. I chose ‘JK-268’ one of the four Finnish Air Force aircraft. This machine belonged to 3/PleLv 44 based at Onttola in Finland during June 1944. The aircraft took part in the Lapland War, survived the conflict and continued in service with the Ilmavoimat after the War.

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The aircraft was given a second coat of grey primer from a rattle-can and the undersides were airbrushed overall in RLM 76, which was taken up the fuselage sides. The undercarriage main and tail-wheel doors were similarly sprayed. The undersides of the wing-tips (approximately 1/3rd of the wings) were airbrushed using white ensign models WEMCC ALCW21 RLM 04 Gelb. The airframe was then masked and airbrushed V.L. Green, a combination of 6 parts Humbrol 116, 6 parts 117, 1 part 163 and 1 part matt white. Once this had dried, the upper-surfaces were masked and airbrushed with thinned Humbrol 33 black. The propellers and spinners were airbrushed with Humbrol matt 241 schwarzgrünand given RLM 04 Gelb tips.

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Final Construction

Once the masking had been removed, the decals were applied, the Techmod decals went on very nicely, they were thin but there was no hint of the camouflage showing through them. The undercarriage was fitted, as was the aerial wire. The airframe was then given a coat of Johnson’s Klear to seal the decals.

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Conclusion

I honestly don’t think you can get a better aircraft for your money. It was exquisitely detailed, went together beautifully and really is a must for anybody interested in the Finnish Air Force in World War II. I really can’t recommend this aircraft enough.

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References

  • Flying units in Finland 1942. Anttonen, Harri. 2002 – 2003. http://www.geocities.ws/finnmilpge/fmpg_lw42.html
  • Winchester, Jim. “Junkers Ju 88”. Aircraft of World War II. London: Grange Books, 2004. ISBN 1-84013-639-1.
  • Stenman, Kari. “Short But Gallant: The Career of the Finnish Junkers Ju 88s”. Air Enthusiast, No 60, November–December 1995. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing, pp. 35–39. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Suchenwirth, Richard. The Development of the German Air Force, 1919-1939. North Stratford, New Hampshire, UK: Ayer Publishing, 1968.
  • Taylor, John W.R. “Junkers Ju 88.” Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.
  • Green, William. The Warplanes of the Third Reich. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1970. ISBN 1-874023-56-5.

Thanks to Chris Hext of Spot-On Models and Hobbies of Havelock street, Swindon for the review sample.

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Richard Reynolds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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