On the Bench: 1/48 Monogram Ju 87D Stuka

The Junkers Ju 87 Stuka

It’s strange how certain aircraft are just instantaneously associated with certain chapters of World War II. When you think of Pearl Harbor, Wake Island and the early Japanese march across the Pacific, it immediately conjures images of the A6M Zero. Battle of Britain? The Spitfire and Hurricane. The US daylight bombing campaign will always be associated with the B-17 Flying Fortress, just as the firebombing of Tokyo and atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will always be linked to the B-29 Superfortress. Stalingrad? The IL-2 Sturmovik.

And when you think about the German blitzkrieg, you immediately think of the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka.

Developed in the 30s and battle-tested in the Spanish Civil War, the Ju 87, despite its ungainly looks, was a devastatingly capable dive-bomber packed with innovative features including an automated dive break system that would not only provide stability on a dive-bombing run, but automatically pull the aircraft out in the event that the pilot lost consciousness. Following the KISS principle, the Stuka was also designed for absolute simplicity, foregoing such things as retractable landing gear in favor of battlefield survivability.

Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe, as effective as the Stuka was against ground targets, it was a slow, lumbering turkey in the air, and the Battle of Britain exposed its greatest weakness – enemy fighters. Without air superiority, the Ju 87 was more a liability than anything else, and as the war turned against Germany, it became less and less effective.

Still, it will always be associated with Germany’s early-war successes.

The Monogram Kit

I picked up this vintage Monogram kit at ModelFiesta back in February for a whopping $2 – the benefits of an end-of-show purchase! – and have always intended it as something of a trial build to stretch my skills a bit. I wasn’t sure exactly how until I started talking with Alek at Maketar about some custom paint masks. Alek, you see, offers a mask set for a very distinctive Ju 87D from North Africa.

So I decided what the hell? I’ll use this kit to try out this whole notion of using paint masks instead of decals. Should be fun!

The kit itself? It’s actually not terrible. These old Monogram kits from the 70s can be rather hit or miss. Some are awful, more toys than models, lacking even the hint of a cockpit. Others are surprisingly full-featured and detailed. The Stuka definitely falls in the later category, with a decent cockpit that I’ll be boosting up with a PE set intended for the Hasegawa kit.

To date, I’ve only done a brief test-fit of the major airframe parts, and the fit is shockingly good. The fuselage goes together quite well, and there is absolutely no gap at the wingroot.

Destined for a Diorama

The one problem with the old Monogram kit? One of the prop blades came out of the box severely warped. Fortunately, this particular Stuka found its way to a rather interesting final pose after it was shot down by an Allied fighter, so I will be committing it to a diorama!

Stay tuned…

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