First Look Review
Junkers Ju 88D-2/4
Junkers Ju 88 D-2/4
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Special Hobby have released a highly detailed kit of the Junkers Ju 88D-2/4 reconnaissance aircraft developed from the standard Ju 88A-5 bomber. The kit is based on ICMs popular new-tool 'A-5 that appeared last year (reviewed HERE) and Special Hobby have taken the existing pre-bagged sprues from ICM and added what is in effect a set of new conversion and upgrade parts.

The kit arrives in a very attractive top-opening box with the new items attached to an inner cardboard liner, plus the main sprues bagged together by ICM. The Ju 88D comprises:
242 x grey styrene parts (54 not needed)
23 x clear styrene parts (5 not used)
8 x grey resin parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes

Rather than go over too much old ground, Ill concentrate for now on what Special Hobby have added for this variant. Suffice to say at this stage, while its not without faults, ICMs Ju 88 is generally accurate and highly detailed, with a comprehensive cockpit compartment and a pair of impressive engines.

The bulk of the spare parts in this re-boxing are down to the reconnaissance Ju 88D dispensing with the dive slats and bomb racks. Special Hobby have also replaced ICMs rather weak mainwheels with much better weighted resin counterparts, plus a new resin tailwheel for good measure. (These are also avaiable separately as part of their CMK upgrade range.)

The core of the conversion is a pair of new sprues produced by Special Hobby with parts for the Ju 88Ds camera bay which replaced the rear bomb bay. 9 styrene parts form a cradle for a trio of very nicely detailed and cast resin cameras. All this attaches to a new belly panel moulded in clear styrene with integral camera windows. To fit this, you need to do a little surgery to standard wing centre section, removing the rear bomb bay and replacing it with Special Hobbys new part. The instructions show installing the completed cameras and cradles before fitting the belly panel, but Id prefer to do it the other way 'round and make sure the panel fits correctly and is cemented firmly in place before adding the cameras and rack.

Its a shame Special Hobby didnt take the opportunity to also replace ICM's poor radiator faces and incorrect exhausts, but Sergey Kosachev has those covered with his excellent Vector upgrade set.

Not All Plain Sailing...
So far, so good. You have a well-received core ICM kit and a very nicely produced set of conversion parts. What could go wrong?

Well, the proverbial fly in the ointment is that the ICM parts appear to be very variable in quality. When I reviewed the original A-5, I was struck by just how well it all fitted together in a dry-assembly of the main parts. So, I was really surprised to read later in the Forum that one of our members was having a hard time with the same kit.

There could only really be three explanations: either Id messed up with my review, the builder had got himself into trouble, or the kit itself had changed somehow.

So, when the new Ju 88D arrived, the first thing I did was to dig out the old A-5 and do another dry-assembly. Yep - lovely, just as I remembered it.

Turning to ICMs parts supplied for the Ju 88D, the first thing I noticed was that the plastic is a different colour, and when I tried to repeat the test-fit Id done on the first kit I hit real problems. The fuselage cross-section has changed aft of the cut-out for the wings, and the formerly precise fit has gone. The engine nacelles are badly distorted and and will take some awkward clamping to get them looking right. Id normally say a bit of TLC was the order of the day, but sheer brute force will be required.

So, maybe Id got a rogue kit? That can always happen, but the theory didnt survive long because I found similar problems in the Ju 88C when it arrived.

So, Ive come to the conclusion that the quality control at ICM has slipped on the Ju 88. Maybe they are victims of their own success? With the kit now being supplied to other manufacturers to rebox, it could be that the sprues are being moulded quicker. Or perhaps its something to do with the different coloured styrene?

Of course, thats all just speculation, but the fact remains - the original kit goes together like a cinch, but these two sets of later mouldings are very different. Unless I was just unlucky enough to get two rogue kits, modellers who are experienced with short run kits may need to dust off those old skills for what sadly should be mainstream-quality parts.

Instructions & Decals
Special Hobby have printed the construction and painting guide as a colour 20-page A4 booklet on good quality glossy stock. The diagrams are large and clear, with colour shading for the interior and details. Assembly is broken down into no less than 94 stages - which sounds fearsome, but some only entail a couple of items. Id rather have a lot of simple stages than cluttered and confusing diagrams where more is squeezed in than you can follow easily.

Colour matches are provided for Gunze Sangyo paints, but RLM numbers are included in many cases too, so you can opt for whichever is your prefered range of Luftwaffe model paints.

Special Hobby have chosen a trio of very attractive aircraft that offer plenty of variety for their decal options:
1. Junkers Ju-88D-4, 7A GH, 1.(F)/121, North Africa
2. Junkers Ju-88D-2, 4N FH, 1.(F)/122, Norway
3. Junkers Ju-88D-2, F9 15, Royal Hungarian Air Force

The decals are excellent quality, with precise registration on the sample sheet. The items are thin and glossy, with minimal carrier film. Swastikas are included split into halves, and the Hungarian tail stripes are provided ready cut where they cross the control surfaces - although many modellers will probably prefer to paint these.

Special Hobby have produced a very neat conversion of ICMs Ju 88 - and if it turns out to be a tougher build than might have been hoped, I think the responsibility must lie with ICM whove provided the basic kit. I must admit its tempting to combine Special Hobbys new parts with ICMs first-release sprues, as that will be a much more straightforward build, in keeping with what Special Hobby no doubt intended. As it is, until its clear that ICM have got the warping problem licked, Id have to recommend the kit for fairly experienced modellers only.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Hi detailed. Well produced styrene and resin conversion parts. High quality decals for 3 attractive colour schemes.
Lows: The ICM-provided sprues suffer from distortion in the sample kit. This wasn't evident when their Ju 88 was originally released.
Verdict: What should be quite a straightforward conversion looks set to be quite a challenge due to the problems with the basic ICM parts.
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 48178
  PUBLISHED: Jun 18, 2017

Our Thanks to Special Hobby!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


I wonder if the correct engine Cowling somewhere I found that Revell repack A-4 corrected but there is no exact explanation ???
JUN 17, 2017 - 06:15 PM
The "Hit & Miss" quality of ICM 's kits , mentioned above , is too true -- anyone come across or tried building their 1/48 Hs.126B-1 yet ? -- i have , and its a proper twisted fuselage nightmare of a kit 😨😈
JUN 18, 2017 - 04:12 AM
Hi Kev Yes, unfortunately it's becoming something of a common theme; Torsten noted trouble with the 1:48 Do 17 in a recent thread - and, again, when I reviewed the first release, the fit was excellent. I make a point of going one step beyond a bog standard "in box" review where it's practical by doing a basic test fit of the major parts - but what that can't guard against is varying production standards. It's doubly frustrating when you've spent extra time doing your best to give an accurate overview of a kit. All the best Rowan
JUN 19, 2017 - 12:50 AM

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