This is another of the marvelous Eduard 1/144 kits. Previously I’ve done the Spitfire IX, both c and e wings, the MiG-21s (all three) and the Ju-52 military. All have been nicely crafted, with good fit and interesting markings. This one is no exception.
By early 1943 the Luftwaffe no longer held air superiority over the Soviet Union, at least not sufficient superiority to prevent Russian fighters from interfering with dive-bomber operations. The Stuka Geschwaders lost eight of their Knight’s Cross Holders during the battles around Kursk. The Stukas were generally replaced by FW-190s and Bf-109s in the ground attack role.
The RLM (German Air Ministry) was also worried about the vast numbers of enemy tanks on the Eastern Front, and wanted an effective way to stop armored offensives. The Henschel Hs-129 was a potent anti-tank weapon, but its twin-engine design and large fuel tanks reduced its’ ability to survive ground fire.
The answer was an up-armored Stuka with anti-tank guns.
The Ju-87G Stuka was a descendent of the successful Ju-87B and D models. Unlike the earlier models, it was not designed as a dive bomber, but was an anti-tank weapon. The G was modified from the D model Stuka by adding two 30mm cannon. Hans-Ulrich Rudel suggested upgrading the 30mm cannon to 37 mm Flak 18 cannons in pods under the wings. These were satisfactory, and became the standard weapon for the G model.
Because the Ju-87G was now expected to fly into more ground fire, the cockpit armor was upgraded. Most G models were D models with the 37mm cannon pods added and added armor.
In spite of the successes against armor, there were now over 3000 Soviet fighters deployed against the Luftwaffe. In August of 1943 SG77 lost 30 Ju-87s, as did SG2 Immelmann, the subject of these kits. There were still some Ju-87s around in 1944 and 1945, but increasing losses and fuel shortages made them pretty much ineffective.
You get two complete G-model Stukas in the box. Actually there is a bit more than two. There are all of the plastic parts you’d need, but the PE fret has enough antennas for an extra for each model; there are six supports for the horizontal stabilizers, you need two for each model; and there are four machine guns for the back of the canopy, and you only need two to complete both models. Perhaps Eduard has seen me trying to use tweezers?
Assembly is very straightforward. There is no interior for the aircraft, but the PE details certainly add a lot to the exterior.
- STEP 1: The fuselage halves go together with nice fit, the wings are added, the horizontal stabilizers are put on, and I waited until after painting to put on the supports for the stabs. I needed no filler for any of these joints. I did a little scraping on the top and bottom of the fuselage to even things out. The instructions also call for putting the tail wheel on now. Nah, I’ll wait until after painting for that one too.
- STEP 2: Here the instructions call for putting the landing gear on, assembling and adding the underwing guns, gluing on the underwing coolers, and putting on the flaps, which are 3 pieces on each wing trailing edge. I did only the flaps and the bomb racks. It turns out the bomb racks may have been an error, as they don’t show up on the painting diagrams or the box art.
- STEP 3: Assemble the propeller and put the canopy on. Put the antenna on top of the canopy and add the machine guns to the rear of the canopy. Yep, the last things I did, after painting, decals, and all the assemblies I skipped in steps 1 & 2.
This step brings back memories of models from years ago. Many years ago. Back in the 60s, the research told us that all Luftwaffe aircraft were done in 70/71/65, black green, dark green, and light blue. We know so much more now. But the Stuka was done in these colors. I painted the underside 62 light blue, then put a mask on the underside of the fuselage and wings, using Tamiya tape and 3M masking tape. Then I painted most of the top in 70 black green. Then I masked over the places which remained 70 and painted the 71 dark green.
There are also masks provided for the wheels.
I pulled the masks off, and I realized I had made a blunder. I was doing Rudel’s plane, and it has a yellow stripe on the rear fuselage. And Eduard even provided a mask to do the stripe. Just paint the rear fuselage yellow before painting anything else, put on the mask and it’s done. Well, as my mentor George Reny used to say, there’s nothing you can foul up that you can’t fix. I put the yellow mask on the fuselage where it belonged. I used some of the unused masks which were for the yellow areas on the bottom of the wing, which Rudel didn’t have around the edges of the stripe mask. These were very fine pieces of mask, and they conformed very nicely. I then added more tape around the outer edges of the tiny pieces, and then pulled the “stripe mask” off, leaving an opening to paint the yellow stripe. Add the yellow, and it’s fixed.
Gloss coat with Future (I still have 2 bottles I bought when it became known they weren’t going to make it any more) and it’s ready for decals.
I don’t know who makes Eduard’s decals, but they certainly deserve recognition, even if it’s just free coffee at their breaks. The decals come off the backing paper cleanly, are tough enough for me to handle them without folding or tearing, and they stay where I put them. I usually have a lot of trouble with decals, but these were great. I have learned that quality of decals can be determined by how long they take to loosen from the backing paper. These are ready to apply by the time I figure out where they go, about 15 seconds.
A coat of Testors acrylic clear flat over the decals was all I needed to complete this part.
Now comes the nit-picky part of the job. Putting all those sub-assemblies which I would have broken off or bent while putting on the decals. I added the struts between the rear fuselage and the stabilizers. This had to wait as the struts are blue and they would prevent painting the fuselage. I put the landing gear and tail wheel on, and assembled the PE onto the gun pods. I kinda wish Eduard had given some indication as to where the gun pods go on the wing, maybe a small hole or dimple. As it was, they look pretty straight and even. Of course while doing this I did knock one of the flaps off.
Next I assembled the propeller. The blades are separate parts, and I had trouble figuring out how they went into the spinner. Then I got one to go in, and figured out that those crafty engineers at Eduard made sure the pitch of each blade was correct, as well as the alignment. The other two went in with only moments of work. Unfortunately the prop and the peg it goes on are so well engineered that I knocked one of the blades loose because I had to remove the prop and shave the peg before I could get it all the way on. Sometimes a little extra gap in the fit CAN be beneficial.
Last was the canopy. I am in awe of Eduard's engineering of their wonderful canopy masks, but they did not include one with this kit. It would have been better if they put one in this kit. The canopy is quite small, and the frames are very narrow. I wound up hand painting the frames and then using a toothpick to remove the extra paint. I just wasn’t up to masking and spraying all of those frame lines in 1/144. Probably Eduard wasn’t going to make a mask for anything this small either. Probably the mask would have doubled the price of the kit. So I’ll just have to live with not being spoiled by Eduard.
The canopy fit cleanly and tightly into the fuselage. The antenna and rear gun went on as trouble free as I ever have when using miniscule parts and tweezers. I didn’t lose either part, and only had to straighten the antenna after I put the gun on.
And it was done.
Highly recommended. This kit has excellent fit, is far superior in outline and detail to any of the other 1/144 Stukas I’ve built, and was easier to assemble than the 1/72 Ju-87G I built many years ago. The decals are super, the schemes are interesting, and It’s going to be a hit at the next chapter meeting.
Thanks to Eduard for this great kit and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to build it.
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