Variations on a Theme... by Junkers
Scale Aircraft Modelling|February 2022
Neil Robinson models a quartet of 1/48 scale Ju 88s, tweaked and modified to ring a few changes...
Neil Robinson

Possibly one of the most drastic uses of the Ju 88, developed as a way of delivering a large amount of explosives in one load, the Mistel composite comprised a piloted single-engined fighter control aircraft, in this case a Bf 109F, mounted above a modified Ju 88 explosives-carrying drone.

I like modelling to a theme, and recently embarked on a series of modifications a and conversions, using the Dragon 'Master Series' range of 1/48-scale Junkers Ju 88 kits as a basis, some of which were also marketed by Revell. Over the years, I had acquired a number of these kits (from both manufacturers) in different boxings and featuring the various sub-types that they had released, so I was in a position to mix and match and cross-kit, to end up with yet further variants ...

In the event, I ended up modelling a Ju 88R-2, a Ju 88H-1, a Ju 88S-3 and a Mistel 1 composite.

Maritime Fighter - Junkers Ju 88R-2

The Ju 88R-2 was the easiest of the modifications, as essentially all it required was the exchange of the Jumo 211) engines in the Dragon/Revell Ju 88C-2, for the BMW 801 engines in the Dragon Ju 88G-1 kit. Originally developed as a night fighter, Ju 88Rs were basically identical versions of the Jumo-engined Ju 88C-6, but powered by BMW 801 engines - the R-1 had 1,560hp BMW 801 Ls and the R-2 had 1,700hp BMW 801G-2 engines. V Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 40, the Luftwaffe's only long-range maritime fighter unit, which was equipped with Ju 88C-6s, was also issued with a few Ju 88R-2s, some of which were still in service when V./KG 40 was re-designated I./ZG 1 in October 1943, and it was as one of these aircraft that I finished my model.

The aircraft, werknummer (WNr - works or production number) 750897, coded 2N+AH of 1./ZG 1, crewed by Leutnant Knud Gmelin (the pilot and unit staffelkapitan), Unteroffizier Gerhard Zimmermann (bordfunker/radio operator) and Unteroffizier Wilhelm Dunker (beobachter/observer), was shot down by anti-aircraft fire near Caen and crashed at Epron at 06.15hrs on 9 June 1944.

Camouflage scheme was the standard Ju 88 'bomber' RLM 70 Schwarzgrün and RLM 71 Dunkelgrün in the standard splinter pattern with RLM 65 Hellblau under surfaces. Crosses and swastika were also the standard mid-war black and white with black outline style. The unit codes, 2N, were in the reduced (1/3 height) size in black, with the individual aircraft letter (A) in plain white, and the Staffel letter (H) in black, in the standard size. The WNr was carried in small white characters at the top of the fin, on both sides, and there were seven kill markings on the port side of the rudder. Markings came from the spares box for the national insignia and AIMS Decals sheet 48D007 for the WNr and the kill markings.

Flame damper shrouds were fitted to all three exhaust manifold groups on both engines, presumably for dawn/dusk or even night operations.

Stretched Junkers - the Ju 88H-1

The Ju 88H featured a longer fuselage and was produced in response to an RLM request in late 1942 for an ultra-long-range reconnaissance aircraft to operate over the Atlantic. Produced by Junkers' Merseburg factory, from a combination of Ju 88D-1 and Ju88G-1 components – specifically, the wings from the G-1 complete with the 1,700hp BMW 801D engines and undercarriage members, married to the main fuselage and tail surfaces of the D-1. The offset gondola beneath the forward fuselage was removed and additional fuselage sections were inserted forward and aft of the wings, adding nearly eleven feet to the fuselage length. The'stretched'fuselage sections enabled four extra fuel tanks to be fitted, three 286gallon fuel tanks and one 230 gallon, raising the total maximum fuel load the aircraft could carry to over 1,500 gallons, which could then be further augmented by two 198-litre drop tanks carried on ETC racks under the wing roots, one each inboard of the engine nacelles, giving the Ju 88H-1 a maximum range of between 3,000 to 3,200 miles.

The Ju 88H-1 was intended primarily for reconnaissance, but apparently only ten or so were built, the type having poor handling and performance qualities. It would appear that most operational Ju 88H-1s were fitted with FuG 200 Hohentwiel, a low-UHF band frequency maritime patrol radar system, mounted on the nose, which I made by adapting the FuG 202 Lichtenstein night fighter radar parts from the various Dragon kit boxings.

The crew generally consisted of three members, (pilot, navigator and rear gunner/radio operator), but occasionally an additional observer was carried. Armament comprised a pair of 13mm MG 131 Waffentropfen WT 131 machine guns mounted in a small pod under the fuselage centre section, which in the few photos, and all the illustrations, I've seen are shown firing to the rear, presumably as some form of scarer' gun, similar to that fitted to the Blenheim Mk IV. There was also one flexible MG 131 in the rear cockpit glazing firing aft. A trio of remotely controlled cameras, in any combination of Rb 20/30, Rb 50/30 or Rb 70/30, were mounted in the aft fuselage. It would also appear that additional racks could be fitted to the outer wing panels, possibly ETC 5001Xb racks, which could carry either additional drop tanks or even 250kg bombs.

Details about the Ju 88H-1's service are sketchy, but it is thought that of the ten or so that were actually built, several served with 3.(F)/123 within Fliegerführer Atlantik, (the only unit known for certain to have operated the type, despite a heavily re-touched propaganda photo purportedly showing an H-1 in KG 40's markings coded F8+CX), variously based at Rennes, Cognac and Lorient, with codes for at least five being recorded - 40+AL, BL, CL, EL and FL. At least one of 3.(F)/123's H-1s was lost in action, to Mosquitoes of No 248 Squadron on 31 July 1944 (of which more later).

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