Junkers J.1

Published on
May 30, 2015
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Company: Eduard - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Eduard - Website: Visit Site
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The Junkers J.1 (Company Model J.4) was one of the most advanced airplanes produced during World War I. When most other plane were of wooden construction with wire braced wings, the J.1 was all metal, with cantilever wings and tailplane, and featured a .20 inch armored shell structure which served as the forward fuselage, protecting the engine, fuel tanks, and crew. The structure was covered mainly by corrugated aluminum, which was to become a Junkers trademark later copied by Henry Ford for his Tri-Motor. Powered by a 200 hp. Benz Bz IV 6 cylinder in-line water cooled engine, the aircraft had an empty weight of 3,885 lbs. and a gross weight of 4,787 lbs. This resulted in a very heavy and underpowered aircraft, but given the role of the aircraft and the state of the art at the time, it was still an impressive airplane. Comparing the type with modern lightplanes, a 65 hp. Luscombe or Piper Cub had a gross weight of about 1200 to 1300 lbs., which certainly gave better performance, but this was 1917, and this plane was certainly revolutionary in many ways. This gives the lightplanes 20 lbs. per horsepower, while the J.1 had 23. Once the crews got used to the unusual flight characteristics of the type, they appreciated the protection given by the armor, and the fact that the control system consisted of pushrods, with no vulnerable control cables except for the tail unit.

Designed in 1917, the J.1 was intended for low level close support duties, and carried two forward firing “Spandau” machine guns and one manually operated Parabellum machine gun in the rear cockpit. Tasks assigned to the J.1 included ground attack, reconnaissance, and supply dropping to isolated ground units. A few of the aircraft had radios, giving ground commanders up-to-date information on the current battle situation. According to some sources, no J.1 was ever shot down, while another source credits the French with shooting down one aircraft. A total of 227 J.1’s was completed between 1917 and January, 1919, when production ended. Only one complete J.1 survives in Canada in the Canadian War Museum. It is worth seeing if you ever get to Canada.

Reference Material

There is a considerable amount of information available on the J.1. Peter Gray and Owen Thetford authored an excellent work, German Aircraft of the First World War (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1962 & 1970) which describes all of the major and minor German aircraft used in that conflict. Other published and on-line sources provide detailed information, so there is no lack of data on this aircraft.


This kit was originally issued without the PE parts in 2003, numbered 7045, and provided decals for only two aircraft. The current issue, 7046, adds the PE details, and the instructions list the parts to be replaced by the PE on the sprue diagram. This kit provides decals and information for four different aircraft, giving a total of six choices if you have both kits. Plastic sprues for both kits are identical, and a perfectly good model can be built from the older kit.

The kit includes a very nice little instruction booklet, consisting of 12 pages. These include an introduction in English and Czech, color drawings for four aircraft for which decals are provided, a sprue diagram and color chart, 13 exploded assembly drawings, and one chart showing where the holes have to be drilled in the fuselage and wings for wing strut installation. This last diagram should have been included much earlier in the booklet, not on page 8. The only real problem with the instructions is the upper wing attachment procedure, which is not really explained. They tell you WHAT to do, but neglect to tell you precisely HOW to do it. So wing assembly becomes a trial and error process, not impossible, but certainly a better explanation would make this kit a lot easier to build. In this case, experience helps a lot.


The kit consists of three major plastic sprues and one small photo etched detail sheet. Assembly begins with the cockpit interior, and engine assemblies, which are to be joined, and painted. Several alternate parts are provided, such as rudders, engine exhaust stacks, and horizontal control units. Casting is excellent, with very little flash. The engine fit inside the cowling is very tight, so it might be a good idea to trim the inside of the upper cowling to make room for the exhaust stacks. Cockpit detail is very intricate, especially with the PE parts, which add realism to other parts of the kit as well. After being joined, the fuselage seams need to be filled and sanded. A minor problem is the upper wing, which should have neutral dihedral, but which actually shows slight negative dihedral. Other reviewers say that you can cut the upper wing panel outboard of the center section to create positive dihedral, but I just built it from the box, and it doesn’t look too bad. The interior assembles very nicely, and the fuselage halves fit perfectly. The stabilizers slide snugly into the rear fuselage, and the lower wing, after assembly, needs just a little trimming to fit properly onto the little mounting pedestal below the fuselage.

The only problem is the upper wing, which is, frankly, a bugger to mount. You’ll need to keep very close tabs on which strut is which, and make sure you drill the holes in the underside of the upper wing and the fuselage sides where the little strut tabs attach to the major parts. I attached the four major struts to the lower component first, and then after they were thoroughly dry, I attached them to the upper wing, making sure that the wing was straight and was set far enough the exhaust stack to be in the proper position. I then attached the bracing struts, which gave some strength to the structure. Of course, everything needs to be painted first, so make sure that all the parts are the correct colors.

Keep in mind that when the upper wing is in place, all of that wonderful cockpit detail will not be visible, but you can relish in the thought that you know what’s in there. The gunner’s position has less detail, but it is more visible. The machine gun is a work of art, especially with the PE parts. It is probably the last thing you should put on the model.

The PE parts are of very high quality, but I didn’t use them all, mainly because I felt that some of the original kit parts were better. The PE control stick looks very flimsy, and the elevator and rudder horns look very small compared to what they look like in the photos. I used a combination of both. These are very easy to lose, so work with a magnifying glass and be careful not to let any of them escape.

Painting and Finishing

There are four color schemes for this model, any of which should result in a spectacular plane. Two schemes use the lozenge decal on the rear fuselage, while the others use either a coat of RML79 tan over RML65 blue, or the same colors with a medium green over the forward parts. The end result should be very impressive.

The decals are excellent in quality, but they are very thin so they can conform to the corrugated nature of some of the kit’s surfaces. They need to be handled very carefully. Soak and apply them one at a time, as they tend to loosen very quickly, and will slide off the mounting paper while in the water. I got them wet and then sat them on the edge of my decal dish so they would stay in place. These decals need no adhesion solution to make them stick on the model, but they do take a while to dry. Be sure to coat them with Glosscote or a similar material to make sure they don’t come off later.


This is a very nice little kit for the money, and should certainly be in any serious modeler’s collection of World War I aircraft. It will take some patience and skill, but at least you don’t have to rig it, except for the rear fuselage wires. Don’t miss out on this one. If you have one of the older kits, build that one too, as there isn’t a whole lot of difference except for the PE parts and decals. This one is a winner. Highly recommended. Thanks to Eduard for the chance to build this fascinating bird.


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