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Airfix Ju 87B-1 Stuka

If someone mentions dive-bomber in the context of World War II, more likely than not the image of the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka comes to mind. The word Stuka is short for Sturzkampfflugzeug, the German word for dive-bomber. This iconic aircraft will always be associated with the Luftwaffe’s blitzkrieg in Poland, France, and the Low Countries, the Battle of Britain, and the fierce tank battles on the Eastern Front.

Airfix recently released an early version of the Stuka, and it’s a honey of a kit. If you have built one of Airfix’s newer releases, everything from the box art to the blue-gray molded plastic, recessed detail, and instructions will look familiar.

This kit was engineered with the modeler in mind, starting with the cockpit. Detail is outstanding: Airfix provides the side walls as two pieces with molded detail that will pop with careful painting. You glue the rest of the cockpit’s pieces onto the lower center wing; this assembly slides up into the fuselage to complete the cockpit and provide the foundation for the correct wing angle.

The separate nose and engine assembly is next. The parts breakdown offers the possibility of later Stuka variants. Take your time and get a good fit with these nine interlocking pieces.

The next modeler-friendly subassembly is the landing gear. The wheels have tabs on them that fit into slots in the strut housings to set the correct angle for load-bearing bulged tires. Don’t want bulged tires? No problem: Just turn each tire over to the fully rounded section and glue the tab into the same slot. Also, it’s easy to install the external flaps and ailerons by putting their hinges into slots on the wings. Be aware, though, that the two mass balances on each aileron stand proud of the wing; don’t try to push them into the wings’ recesses.

Throughout the build I applied little filler, just a smidge around the wing roots and lower-fuselage to center-wing joint.

Airfix provides a single clear piece for the two overlapping parts of the opened canopy. Frames are molded for both the pilot’s sliding section and the fixed center portion in this one piece. Masking the frames is a little tricky, since the vertical interior frames are a different color (RLM 02) from the other frames. I eventually used strips of decals for these interior frames.

There are two marking options, though both have the same camouflage scheme. I sprayed GSI Creos, Tamiya, and Vallejo acrylic paints to match suggested colors. Painting the splinter pattern isn’t difficult, but it requires much masking.

After spraying a couple of coats of Tamiya clear, I was ready to apply the decals for the Legion Condor. The decals worked as advertised and responded well to setting solution. Clear areas between the numerals on the fuselage exhibited some silvering, but that disappeared with more applications of Micro Sol and coats of gloss, then semigloss clear. The clear layers did, however, mute my weathering effects quite a bit.

I highly recommend this kit. It’s trouble-free and suitable for any modeler from beginners on. It builds into a dimensionally accurate model and captures the rugged look of the Stuka. I enjoyed the 22 hours I spent on it and would purchase other variants if they became available.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2016 issue.

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