Wednesday, 8 August 2012
Build Review - Dragon 1/48 Ju88 A-4
The first thing that hits you when opening the box is that there is a lot of plastic in there! However, as one discovers later, a lot of parts are not used, sprues being included in some cases just to support a single piece! But the quality of the moulding is first rate and this always makes a kit a pleasure to build.
The cockpit parts then fitted beautifully into the fuselage halves. The instructions suggest putting the tail wheel in place as well before closing up, but after checking it was possible to do later, I left this out as I always like to add such details after the main painting is completed. Fitting the fuselage together went as well as to be expected from a larger plane such as this, my only complaint being that the kit should probably provide more locating pins than it does. The bulk of the length of both top and bottom has no pins and this inevitably results in problems with vertical alignment. With a little more foresight, I would have added my own lugs but I did not spot this until it was too late. As a result, I had to do a bit of work on the seams to get them to disappear!
The tail sections snapped in nicely and did not require any alignment - which is always nice! Now to build the wings. The undercarriage bay walls have to be built and put in place inside the wings before the wings are closed up but I elected to ignore the instructions again with respect to the undercarriage struts as these could go on after painting. It is also necessary at this point to put the engine cowlings together. The exhaust details are of the "fix from the inside" variety which I always hate. I like to paint up the exhaust stacks and slot them in after painting as they are always very hard to mask separately. However I managed to ascertain that if I left the front plate off the cowlings I would just be able to slot them in later, so I left it at that!
A slightly tricky part is the gun/bomb sight gondola under the belly. The kit provides it in three transparent parts (to support a number of windows) and working with clear plastic is always a bit trickier, since it is so brittle. You also need to install the rear facing gun before installation. Plenty of filler was required around this part.
So on to the final main build challenge - the glazing! This is one of the most highly glazed canopies a modeller is likely to come across, what with the canopy, nose and gondola. So, I used the Eduard pre-cut mask set. I am sceptical about the value of these pre-cut masks on many models but there are a few planes, this one included, where it is a no-brainer. The few pounds spent on this are easily made up for in time. But it still took a good couple of hours to get all those little bits of masking tape in place. I also installed the front gun in place in the canopy since this would be impossible to place later, but the rear canopy guns I left out since their mounting disks could be temporarily stuck to the canopy. A bit of filling around the canopy seams, some wet tissue masking in the wheel wells and engine cowlings and she was ready for painting.
AirDoc Ju 88 Part 2 decal sheet. And yes, they wanted the bottom one with the squiggly lines. But as I said, I'm always up for a challenge! I primed the whole model initially, then sprayed the underside with "scale black", that is, my own version of black that actually contains a few other colours, in particular brown, so that it appears much more authentic on a scale model. Try it - it works! But that was the easy part. The top side presented two key issues. Obviously the wavy lines were going to be tricky to do, but also the base colour is non-standard RLM. The decal instructions refer to it as either RLM77 (which it is definitely not) or a dark version of RLM78. To be honest, it looked like neither of these to me. It actually was light version of RLM75 (grauviolet) with more emphasis on violet. It took me some time to come up with a mixed paint colour that I was happy with. In the pot, it looked pure purple, but once sprayed, dried and finished it dulled down nicely to grey with just a hint of violet.
After a couple of coats of Klear and curing, I proceeded to the decal stage. The AirDoc sheet only contains ID markings and no stencils, and unfortunately the kit decals were little better. As luck would have it, I had an older Ju88A decal sheet from the Revell kit that I built a long time ago and I honestly cannot remember why I did not use it (I may have had a third party sheet, it was a long time ago!) So this provided the stencilling, although being of the older Revell variety, the decals were very matt and were prone to silvering which took some work to clean up.
While all that was drying, I assembled the undercarriage parts. These are well designed and once installed, permitted some nice fine adjustment to get everything square without spoiling any joints, which is nice! I also put together the spinners and props, which were tricky to paint requiring a "half and half" colour scheme. The engines themselves are represented purely by grill pieces which are more than adequate as a representation of the front of the engines.
This is actually a fine kit, with almost no vices and I look forward to building another. But next time, maybe a nice easy splinter scheme please.....