by: Darren Baker [ ]
When it comes to aircraft how do you assess the attributes that make an aircraft great, by its attributes, its successes or how wide spread it is or was. Well if it comes down to how wide spread an aircraft was and for that matter the roles it performed the Ju-88 family are up there as a great aircraft lineage and was I believe the most wide spread aircraft type in use with German forces during World War 2. ICM has released a number of the aircraft in the Ju 88 family and the latest offering is the Ju 88A-11 in 1/48th scale.
This offering from ICM is packed in the now usual flip top cardboard box and a separate card lid, a great combination for protecting the contents. The only thing I would now change is the packing of the entire contents in a single plastic bag albeit the clear sprue being in its own bag within the main bag.
The moulding quality is good with no major flows observed by me. There are a few flow marks observable on the larger moulded elements, but my checks such as running my nail over them and looking at them under magnification would all indicate that this has not caused any issues. The obvious problem with all kits is the ever present ejector pin marks, these as you would expect have been hidden in areas not seen on the finished model, but a few will need to be addressed via filling and sanding. I will add here that with this being one of a number of Ju 88ís being released by ICM there are a number of parts not used with this model and so there are some significant spares.
Starting with a look at the cockpit area of the model starts this review with good news overall. The side wall detail is good overall with some nice additions being present and there are a number of separate mouldings to be used here to lift the area to a high standard. The rear bulkhead has some very nice radio sets present which all add to the busy and pleasing look. The instrument panel has been lifted via the addition of a transfer, but if that is not up to your standards I am sure there are photo etched sets that cover this detail; the shape of the instrument panel looks a little off when compared to pictures. The weak area of the cockpit is the seats, these have no harness detail present which is a plus and a minus depending on where you stand; if you build from the box some moulded detail would have been a nice touch, but if you go down the route of photo etched sets then it is easy to add these harnesses without the need for removal of moulded detail. The biggest complaint levelled at the seats is that there is a significant ejector pin mark in the base of each seat except the pilots.
Looking over the fuselage again leaves me with a positive opinion overall. The panel lines look to be accurate placed and the recessed panel lines are pleasing in terms of depth and size. The EZ 6 direction finder is reasonably well detailed and so should please most modellers, but this area is later capped off with a blanking plate. I have been looking for images of the Ju-88 A11 in North Africa and later in Italy, but I am unable to verify if the direction finder was always blanked off or not on the A11 variant in North Africa where this model is presented as being. The gondola could be better detailed on the inside as it is bare, this is not a major gripe but I would have liked to see some detail such as the leather pad the crewman lays on.
The wings and tail of this offering from ICM is very pleasing, pleasing because ICM has taken the time to provide all control surfaces as separate parts and so they can be set in the position of the modellersí choice. Panel line wise I am again happy with what is provided due to them appearing to be accurately placed and again the depth and size is good. One touch I really like from ICM is that the fuselage has a short section of the lower wing as an integral moulding, this I believe makes the addition of the wings and fitting and strength of the joint to fuselage better than a butt joint could manage.
The undercarriage of this offering is very much a game of two halves. The rear tail wheel has been moulded as a single piece. The detail provided is fairly good but I would have preferred the wheel at least to be a separate part. I appreciate that the tail wheel is hidden for the most part but even so. The main wheel assemblies are a completely different story, the detail is of a high standard and assembled form a lot of parts. The covering of the shock absorbers is too uniform and so a little work here will lift the finish, but it should be pointed out that this is a small detail and the scissors are a separate moulding. The retractor mechanism is well represented in this kit; a really big plus in this offering is the ability to assembly the assemblies away from the model and added after, a novel approach in my opinion. The wheels are fitted with what I call balloon tyres and that is accurate for the aircraft. You will need to add the brake pipes but this is otherwise a great area of the model.
The engine nacelles in this offering are provided with not one, but two Jumo 211 engines and these can be displayed on the finished model if desired. I have checked the model offering against images online and in books, and while I have to say that it is not perfect it is very good. The Ju-88 A11 was a specific aircraft type for use in North Africa and its hot and dusty environment; these changes were not seen from the outside but covered things such as sand filters on the engines air intakes, extra water containers and sun blinds. My concern is the sand filters as I am unsure what they look like and more importantly if they can be seen with the access panels open. The mounting frame for the engines looks good and matches my reference. The fire wall behind the engine has a good degree of raised detail but I cannot confirm its accuracy. The last gripe is the exhausts being solid with no recess on the exit. The side panels are the ones that can be shown open or not attached. Detail on the exterior on the nacelles is very good and they have very positive connection lugs. The propellers look a good match for reference available to me, but the shape of blades is hard to assess in many cases.
The clear parts for this model are good in so far as they are well moulded and of a reasonable thickness. I would strongly recommend that a masking set is sought out for this model due to the large quantity of clear parts and the amount of framing that needs painting.
The weapons on this offering consist of machine guns and iron bombs. The machine guns are fairly nice if a little blocky; I would give serious consideration to replacing the barrels with turned offerings from a company such as Master. If you want to use the kit offerings a little work on them will lift the finished result. There are four iron bombs provided with the model, I believe these are 500ib and 1000ib offerings.
ICM has provided two finishing options for this model, both are of course North African theatre offerings. These are:
Ju-88 A11, 3/LG 1, North Africa 1942
This offering has the usual sky blue underside and a plain tan upper.
Ju-88 A11, I/LG 1, North Africa 1942
This offering again has the usual sky blue underside with tan upper and green disruptive blobs.
The decal offerings are for the most part very good due to being very thin, and the decals have very little in the way of carrier film for the most part. There are no swastikas included with this offering and that means going after market if you want to add a realistic finish. I am not going to knock ICM for this as it avoids a lot of issues, plus those that want this emblem can pick them up very readily.
ICM as a company has really attracted my attention in terms of what you get in the box and the quality of those contents. I will at this point freely admit that the model could be lifted to a higher level with the inclusion of some photo etched parts, but it has to be pointed out that the cost of ICM kits make picking up after market items a viable and affordable option. I would have liked to see the Swastika supplied in the box but I can again see the logic in leaving it out. On the plus side you are provided with two very nice done engines and a cockpit with a good level of detail. I found the instructions and decal sheet very pleasing in terms of quality. I continue to look forward to future releases in 1/48th scale from ICM.