|In its brief but spectacular career the dive bomber earned itself a unique place in the pages of aeronautical history. No other aircraft typified the terror wrought by these aircraft as did the Ju 87 Stuka.
Perhaps understanding early the limitations of the dive bomber, the Regia Aeronautica (RA) never fully committed itself to the development of the dive bomber, choosing instead to devote its resources to the development of conventional ground attack aircraft and strategic bombers such as the Piaggio P.108, CANT Z.1007 and CANT Z.1018. However, with the rapid German successes in France and Poland and seeing a need for the pinpoint accuracy of the dive bomber in place of level bombing (in support of its navy), the Regia Aeronautica turned to the Ju 87. It is interesting to note that neither Britain, France or Russia developed a successful dive bomber while the US, Japan and Germany each featured one. However the Ju 87 stands alone as the only successful land based dive bomber.
No other country outside of Germany has gained as much notoriety in the use of this aircraft as did the Italians. Seeing that the number of Ju 87s avaiable could not reach the prescribed numbers needed to put into effect the tactics of the Luftwaffe, the Italians developed the skip bombing technique well before its use in the Pacific war. Italian dive bomber groups were called Bombardamento di Picchiata (Dive Bomber Group) and hence Picchatello (Dive Bomber).
This is the considerately underrated 1/48 scale Airfrix Ju87 B2/R kit. I first purchased the kit at a very economical price some time ago and after opening the kit I placed it on my shelf since my first impressions of the kit were rather negative. The kit sprues are molded in light grey plastic with some amount of flashing and the canopy is framed as two parts only. The wings and fuselage are finished with rasied detail and rivets. Not long ago I stumbled upon the True Details photo etched cockpit set and in the spirit of resurrecting an unwanted kit I decided to give it a try.
Surprisingly the Airfix 1/48 Ju87B kit is geometrically equivalent to the modern Hasegawa offering. I began construction as others do with the cockpit interior. The side walls of the cockpit are sufficiently detailed and framed. The True Details instrument panel is well done with excellent detail however the instrument panel sits far too deep inside the cockpit and is difficult to see. The detail set also provides a nice ammunition box, a rear gunners seat, the rear gunners back strap as well as an armoured overturn structure and details for a radio set. Gunsights are provided for the pilot and rear gunner machine gun. After completing the cockpit pit interior I carefully separated the canopy into 4 parts and added a ¼" notch to the end of the pilots sliding canopy for the radio antenna. The canopy is injected molded and a little thick but clear. Next I assembled the wings which need to be assembled and glued to the fuselage as one piece. Filling was needed between the undersides of the fuselage and wing area. The elevators and rear struts were simple to assemble and attach. The wing flaps come as separate attachments and require a little care when handling the model. A bonus compared to the Hasegawa kit are the separate actuator flaps that attach to the wing, however I replaced the kit actuators with ones made of copper wire.
I choose to model the R-2 (Reichweite) long range version used by the 208a Sq., 101o Gruppo operating from Tirana, Albania in March 1941. I used the decals from the Hasegawa kit since I ordered an extra set from Eagle Strike Decals for Giuseppe Cenni's plane (a future project). As with all Hasegawa decals, care must be taken when using setting solution since the decals are thin. The kit was finished in the standard RLM 70/71 splinter pattern for upper surfaces and RLM 65 for the undersides. RLM 02 was used for the cockpit interior and Verde Oliva Scuro FS 34052 was used to overpaint the German Balkankreutzen and swastika on the upper wing surfaces and rudder. Polly Scale paints were used for all paints. As you can see from the pics, the completed model looks attractive. I think the Ju87 in RA colors looks far better than the German schemes. As an added note, I deceided not to remove the raised rivets since the effect of the rivets was subtle and indeed the raised detail added to the overall appearance of the model. I think the Airfix kit represents a high point in the development of the 'old-style' kits and shows that when properly done, raised detail has as much of a dramatic effect on the overall appearance of a model as does recessed panel lines. Highly recommended.
Aircraft: Junkers Ju87B2/R2
Manufacturer: Junkers Flugzeug und Motorenwerke A. G.
Type: Dive Bomber
Engine: Junkers Jumo 211, 12-cylinder V, liquid-cooled, 1,200hp
Wingspan: 45 ft 3 in (13.79m)
Length: 36ft 5in (11.10m)
Height: 13ft 2 in (4.01m)
Weight: 9,560lb (4,330 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum Speed: 238mph (383km/h) at 13,410ft (4,090m)
Dive Speed: 404mph (673km/h)
Ceiling: 26,250ft (8,000m)
Range: 779miles (1246km)
Armament: 3 machine guns; 551lb (250kg) bomb
1. Ju87 in Action, Aircraft No. 73, Squadron/Signal Publications, B. Filley 1986.
2. Junkers Ju87 Stukageschwader of North Africa and the Mediterranean, Osprey Publishing, J. Weal, 1998.
3. Junkers Ju.87 "Picchiatello", IBN Editore, Aviolibri, Rome, M. Di Terlizzi, , 2000.
4. World Aircraft, World War II – Part I, Sampson Low Guides, E. Angelucci and P. Matricardi, 1978.
|Airfix 1/48 Junkers Ju 87 B2/R2
Italian Stuka - Picchiatello - Part I
by Vince Tassone
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