Ju EF-126/Ju EF-127 German Experimental Fighter Plane
Toward the end of World War 2, the Germans were coming up with more and more desperate attempts to halt the U.S. and British aerial juggernaut that was daily pummeling their cities and the remnants of their industrial capacity. Cheap, easily assembled point defense weapons became the order of the day, resulting in such oddities as the Me163 Komet rocket fighter and the He162 Salamander, both of which were as much a threat to their pilots as to any Allied airmen. The Junkers EF-126 and its rocket-powered alternative, the EF-127, were supposed to be the logical descendants of the Komet, and although none were built by German industry, the Soviets made prototypes of both aircraft after the war. Apparently the sole unpowered version of the craft crashed on its maiden flight. I couldn’t find where powered versions were ever run.
Das Werk, a relative modeling newcomer, has come out with the first injection-molded 1/32nd scale versions of these odd aircraft, and as a first attempt it’s a beaut. The kit permits you to make any of three variants of the aircraft – single pulsejet, dual pulsejet or dual rocket. Additional options include underwing unguided rockets, RATO units, launch dolly and manufacturing cradle. It can also be assembled in the “factory” setting with detached wings if you are so inclined, so your first major task is going to be to decide which options to go for.
Assembly starts with the cockpit area, which is very nicely detailed with a lovely multipart ejection seat and a fair number of parts for such a simple interior. Decals are also supplied for various warning plates, and they thoughtfully supply two complete sets of these for the fumble-fingered. To simplify masking, the ejection seat can be assembled and painted outside the cockpit and added later.
The forward fuselage assembles independently of the rear, which gives you some time to select options as you proceed. It’s when I added the wings to the forward fuselage that I spotted a couple of oddities. First off, the left wing sports a comically flimsy pitot tube, which is really best replaced with a piece of wire. Mine didn’t make it off the sprue. The second, more noticeable things, is the control surfaces. Apparently (according to this kit) the Germans discarded streamlining for utility at this point, as literally every single control surface on the model terminates with a flat rear surface rather than a typical taper. I found this idea to be extremely unlikely, and sanded these a bit rounder to make it a bit less obvious. None of the control surfaces are separate, by the way.
With the addition of the landing skid, either retracted or deployed, you’re essentially done with the forward fuselage. Now comes the fun part.
Personally, I had a terrible conundrum figuring out which configuration to settle on. Finally, it dawned on me that there was a way to use the maximum number of parts from the kit without having to make such a decision. I elected instead to make TWO rear fuselages – one of the EF-126 with twin pulse jets, and other the EF-127 with twin rocket motors. By not gluing them to the front fuselage, I could display the model with BOTH main variants. The spare rear fuselage would sit on the manufacturing cradle, and the assembled version would sit on the launch dolly. Literally the only change I had to make to the kit as molded was to move the radio loop up one frame to the forward fuselage.
Just as an FYI – if you choose to do the single pulse-jet version, the kit suggests using the simple ailerons. I would recommend the twin-rudder version instead, as otherwise you have no rudder at all. The V-1 design that the pulse jet mounts are modeled on included a rudder as part of the rear engine support. However, this doesn’t appear to be the situation as this kit is molded. In any case, as the single-pulse jet version was rejected by the Germans early on as being underpowered, I didn’t feel any regrets about not selecting this variant for my own build.
Both rear fuselages assembled with little trouble, although the pulse-jet version is fairly complex simply due to the engine mounts and twin rudders. I also added the RATO units to this version, as logically the pulse jets would have to be gotten up to speed to be of any use at all. The twin rocket version could also have used them, but they wouldn’t have necessarily been required for operational launches. Despite all the options, no spare parts are really provided (if you build what I built) except for an extra copy of the two-part rear wheel yolk, which is included for no apparent reason I can decipher.
Painting . . . well, the sky’s the limit, as they say. I chose to go with a fairly standard late-war scheme, but obviously there are infinite choices. Das Werks offers a broad range of their own suggestions and good decals to go with them. The decals lay pretty well, although I did have to negotiate with a couple of them over silvering. I added a few bits and pieces after the decaling and . . . well, there you are. An EF-126/EF-127 with all the “fixin’s.”
Make no mistake about it – this is a fun kit to build. It’s relatively painless in assembly and the end result is really something different. This should look pretty good next to my Komet, although I’m STLL having trouble deciding which rear fuselage to attach permanently. Maybe neither, as they’re both quite presentable. I heartily recommend this kit for anyone who has a yen for something a bit off the beaten track. We can only thank the stars that they never actually got this thing into operation!
My thanks to MBK Distribution and Das Werk for the fascinating kit, and to IPMS/USA for the chance to play with it. Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!