Junkers Ju 388K/L
Reviewed by Brett Green
The Junkers Ju 388 was the ultimate development of the versatile Ju 88 family.
After the Ju 288 programme was abandoned, the simpler Ju 388 was accelerated. The primary focus was to find a fast bomber capable of outrunning late-war Allied fighters, however the flexible design was also adapted to other roles.
The first production version was the photo-reconnaissance model, the Ju 388L. The Ju 388K bomber version was externally almost identical to the recon bird. The main difference was the equipment in the ventral pannier. A night-fighter version was also under development.
The Ju 388K and L were based on the Ju 188 series, but differed considerably in appearance and specification. The crew worked in a redesigned cockpit and simplified glazing. The wooden ventral pannier bulged from the fuselage. The vertical tail was a new, larger design, and the tail carried a sting via a remote-controlled barbette equipped with twin MG131 13mm machine guns. Two BMW 801TJ engines in revised cowlings drove four-bladed VDM-Dural propellers. Maximum speed was 615km/h at 12,285 metres.
I was initially surprised at the size of the box that arrived on my doorstep. Surely this big 1/48 scale aircraft could not fit in a box this small?
My second surprise came when I opened the sturdy little box. Except for three clear vacform parts, the kit is all-resin.
A quick measurement confirmed that the kit is indeed 1/48 scale, although references are ambiguous about some dimensions.
The kit comprises around 89 resin parts in lightweight, pale cream coloured resin. Surface detail is recessed and very fine. The wings are particularly impressive, but the fuselage surface detail is so fine that many panel lines are almost invisible
Casting blocks are small and quality is very high. The main imperfection on my model is a bubble on the top-rear tip of the rudder. No warping was evident despite the long journey to Australia.
Parts breakdown is sensible. The fuselage and each wing are supplied in halves. The wings feature an insert for the engine nacelle, indicating the possibility of different versions in the future. Ailerons and elevators are supplied separately but the flaps and rudder are fixed. Care will be required aligning the main parts. It may be advisable to glue tabs on larger parts such as the fuselage before assembly.
I particularly liked the small recessed ridge on the forward-upper fuselage to help positively locate the vac-form canopy.
Some reinforcement of the main subassemblies will be required. Locating tabs for the wings are very shallow, and no locators are provided for any of the tail surfaces. Fortunately the undercarriage assembly has been well thought out and should locate positively without extra work.
The relatively small number of parts does not imply that detail has been skipped. The cockpit and wheel wells both boast nice detail. Harnesses are moulded on to the seats while sidewalls and the rear cockpit bulkhead bristle with appropriate detail. However, overall cockpit detail is a little softer than we have come to expect from the top-tier of resin producers.
Clear parts comprise two parts for the big glazed nose and a window for the cockpit floor. The vac parts are very clear but miss some of the prominent circles on the glazing of the real aircraft. Two sets of clear vac form parts are provided in case of problems.
The instructions are simple but adequate. Three exploded-view drawings clearly indicate the location of all parts.
Markings for one Ju 388L and one Ju 388K are supplied. Swastikas are present, but split into two parts each.
Planet Models' Junkers Ju 388K/L is an ambitious model that stretches the use of resin almost to the limit. There is no doubt that the very labour-intensive production of this large kit contributes to its expense. Fortunately its high cost is matched by its high quality.
The Ju 388 will suit anyone who has some experience building resin kits.
If you have always wanted to build a 1/48 scale Ju 388 and money is not an issue, this is the model for you!
Review Copyright © 1999 by Brett