Delayed from before Christmas, Airfix’s new-tool Ju 87B-1 has arrived to start the year off with a bang and help beat those winter blues.
The kit arrives in an unexpectedly large conventional box, with the main sprues all bagged together and the clear parts in their own smaller bag inside. This isn’t entirely satisfactory, because I found a bit of scuffing where the sprues had rubbed in transit, and the very delicate aileron and flap linkages are inviting damage (one was badly bent in my kit).
The kit comprises:
172 x grey styrene parts (some of which won’t be needed for this version)
9 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
The initial impression is excellent, with the parts cleanly moulded and without any flash to speak of. Airfix have once again used a modeller-friendly mid-grey styrene, which I much prefer over their previous pale blue.
The surface finish features engraved panel lines, with embossed rivets and fasteners in places – a tad heavy for my taste, but it should all look pretty good once painted.
What is a bit disappointing, though, is the number of places you spot small sink marks where there’s thicker moulding. I found them on the tail and undercarriage spats, as well as on some of the smaller detail parts.
The other major bug bear is ejection pin marks, because there are a lot of them – and some of them are really frustratingly placed. The cockpit floor, side-frames and pilot’s seat-back are obvious culprits, but there are some quite surprising ones too, such as on the outside of the engine crankcase (although, hopefully, the engine bearers will largely hide these).
A Few Details
Construction begins with a very sturdy core unit that doubles as the cockpit floor and a spar that also forms the boxed-in compartment for the forward-firing machine guns. It certainly should ensure the famous cranked wings line up correctly.
The cockpit itself is neatly fitted out with around 20 parts. The side-frames boast some decent detail, but let down by all those pesky knock-out pin marks. The radios look good, though, and the instrument panel is very delicately moulded, with a decal provided for the instruments themselves. There’s a plentiful supply of ammunition drums for the gunner/radio operator, whose frame-style swivel seat is moulded very well. There are no seat harnesses provided, but aftermarket versions are widely available. The kit can optionally be mounted on a stand (available separately), so it’s surprising that Airfix haven’t included crew figures.
The other real surprise is that there’s no gun/bomb-sight. At first I thought I must have missed it in the instructions, but there’s no sign of one among the parts. Airfix included it in their recent new-tool 1:72 kit so, bizarrely, I think it must have simply been overlooked in its new “big brother”.
Before you assemble the wings, you need to open up the holes for the 50kg bomb racks, and decide whether you want to display the gun bays open. If you do, you’ll need to remove the panels carefully, because there aren’t any cutting lines on the inside to follow. The bays are simply, but effectively, detailed and the separate panels have neat detail on the inner faces.
The tail surfaces all look straightforward, and the rudder and elevators are separate. A clever touch is that Airfix have provided different endplates for the stabilisers to allow the elevators to be deflected.
A big plus for many modellers will be the inclusion of a full Jumo 211 that can be displayed with the cowls removed. This is really quite impressively detailed, with over 20 parts. As noted above, you’ll need to watch out for a few sink marks, but the end result should look excellent. There are two styles of propeller on the sprues – the broad-blade type being for later versions. The prop looks fine and features hub detail, but I’ll thin the blades a bit. There’s a choice of parts for the exhausts, depending on whether you build the engine or go for the closed-cowl option, and both are hollowed out a little. Similarly, you have a choice of radiators with the shutters open or closed.
The undercarriage is something of a proverbial curate’s egg – i.e. good and bad in parts. On the plus side, Airfix allow you to model the gear compressed under the weight of the aircraft, and the cleverly done wheels lock at the correct angle in the spats for weighted or un-weighted tyres.
The bad part is the tyres themselves, which sport a weird soft pillow-like tread. You might be able to sharpen it up with a razor saw – and, luckily, it won’t be all that evident, because so much of the tyre is hidden by the spat – but I imagine aftermarket alternatives won’t be long in appearing.
External stores comprise a 250kg bomb under the fuselage on a swing crutch, and 4 x 50Kg bombs on wing racks. The main bomb has reasonably thin fins, but lacks braces for them. The sprues also include a 500Kg bomb and drop tanks for future boxings.
Rounding everything off are the canopy parts, and these are beautifully thin and clear. The centre section is provided in two styles – closed, and with the pilot’s canopy slid back over it. The latter will be a challenge to paint, but avoids the usual problem of the sliding section sitting unrealistically high because of the thickness of the plastic. The gunner’s MG17 fits into a separate domed mount, so you could position it swivelled if you wish.
Instructions & Decals
The assembly guide is clearly presented as a 20-page A4 booklet. The diagrams are easy to follow and the sequence is logical, so I can’t foresee any problems. Colour matches are provided for Humbrol paints, but RLM codes are given in most cases.
Decals are included for two aircraft, both sporting classic RLM 70, 71, 65 camouflage:
A. Ju 87B-1, II./Sturzkampfgeschwader 2, Bonn-Hangelar, Germany, Spring 1940
B. Ju 87B-1, Kampfgruppe 88, Legion Condor, Spain 1938
The matt decals look excellent quality, with pin-sharp printing and virtually no excess carrier film. Sadly, no swastikas are included for scheme A, but aftermarket items are easily found.
Airfix’s new Ju 87B looks basically very good – but it is let down somewhat by the minor problem of the sinkage and all those blasted ejection pin marks. I haven't rated it as I've not had a chance to dry-assemble the main parts yet, but the construction looks straightforward enough for modellers of all abilities, and there’s plenty of detail to form the basis of an excellent model. While I haven’t compared the kit against any scale drawings, my “gut reaction” is that the shape looks pretty good.
Sadly, the price has gone up since I pre-ordered my kit direct from Airfix’s website. I paid £21.99 and the kit is excellent value at that price. The MRP is now £27.99 – still pretty good value with the amount of engine detail etc. included.
A useful reference for anyone wishing to add external detail to the kit can be found in our Ju 87G-2 Walkaround
shot at the RAF Museum, Hendon a few years ago.
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