1/72 Academy Ju-87G Stuka “Panzerknacker”

This is a side view of the finished Academy Ju-87 G-1 Panzerknacker Stuka. This kit can be built in these markings or as the aircraft flown by Hans Ulrich Rudel, the Stuka’s premier exponent. It is an excellent kit, whose biggest flaw is its instruction sheet!.

This is a side view of the finished Academy Ju-87 G-1 Panzerknacker Stuka. This kit can be built in these markings or as the aircraft flown by Hans Ulrich Rudel, the Stuka’s premier exponent. It is an excellent kit, whose biggest flaw is its instruction sheet!.

The late model (i.e. D and G model) Ju-87 Stuka has always been one of my favourite airplanes. I’m not exactly sure why, since very few people would call the airplane beautiful, but it has a purposeful angularity that I’ve always found at least functionally attractive, if nothing else. Due to the importance of the Stuka to Germany’s war machine, it’s no surprise that there have been a ton of kits of the venerable ‘87’ done in a wide variety of scales.

One of the newer ones is this 1/72 offering from the Korean model company Academy. RecentAcademy kits, such as their Me-163 Komet are widely regarded as being some of the best, and most affordable, kits in 1/72. When I bought this kit, I was very excited. I have the beloved Fujimi Panzerknacker already, but the Academy was rumoured to be even better.

The Kit:

I was not disappointed when I opened the box to find myself treated to what I have come to expect from Academy products. There were 4 sprues of light grey plastic and one of clear, and all of the pieces were exceptionally well cast, clear of flash and drowning in surface detail. The level of detail on this kit is amazing, and clearly light years beyond even the Fujimi. A quick survey of the cockpit interior alone showed the Academy Stuka would be the victor in a nit-picker’s battle against the Fujimi.

Test fitting the pieces together showed that, like Academy’s Bf-109, the Stuka was going to require only minimal sanding. The clear pieces were all very nice, although the one piece cockpit had a major crack right through it. This was of little concern, though, since I was going to be using the other cockpit included. That’s right, this kit can be built either with the cockpit closed or fully opened up! At least, that’s what I thought, since there was a separate 4 piece canopy also in the box. Turns out, as I’ll describe later, that’s actually not how it worked out.

The detailing on the kit includes many beautifully etched, sunken (a nice change of pace from raised) panel lines, as well as hatches, fuel doors and many, many rivets. The rivets are not overly large, either. The only problem with the detail is a missing panel line, on the starboard wing. The right side of a square panel is actually missing. This was easy to correct, though, with a piece of Dymo tape and my trusty etching tool (which is a pin stuck in an Xacto blade holder).

A more serious problem, however, was found on the port wing. After I had painted the cockpit and glued the wings together, I was perplexed to find that there was an indent in the wing that just didn’t seem to belong. It was a deep, nearly perfectly circular indent, reminiscent of, for lack of a better term, a cup holder! Obviously, lattes were not the Luftwaffe’s stock-in-trade, so I knew it had to be something else. Also, it was quite deep, and had a circular, raised part right at the bottom, similar to the center of a dial. I wasn’t aware of any dial in the wing of a Stuka… The other thing bothering me was the fact that the indent cut into the main rib of the wing – right where the Stuka’s ‘bent wing’ bends. Cleary, this was either a strange modification or something seriously wrong had occurred in the moulding process.

Stuka_wing_defect

The indent in question is seen here on the unpainted wing of the model. It is outlined in red. Its curious depth and placement seemed to shout ‘moulding error’, but I wanted to be sure…

After consulting various members of IPMS London, it was found that this ‘hole’ in the wing was a mistake, and would have to be filled. Many thanks to all of you who helped! A little Testors white putty and some CA was used, and after careful sanding, it was corrected. However, this was a major disappointment. I expected a lot better, especially since several other online reviews of the kit mentioned the missing panel line on the starboard wing, but none of them mentioned this, and several reviews show finished kits with the defect UNCORRECTED! To add to the confusion is the fact that the defect is even shown on the painting guide AND the model on the side of the box!

Building the Academy Stuka:

The rest of the kit was mostly free from defect, although there were injector pin marks on the tops of the tail struts and the magazines for the 37 mm underwing cannons. The fit of almost all pieces was, however, exemplary, and the Stuka went together very easily. An exception to this was the lower wing/fuselage junctions, which required far more putty and CA than I would have expected, and the cowling just behind the engine didn’t fit all that well to the fuselage sides, either.

The cannon pods fit together wonderfully, and have excellent detail. The barrels came moulded as one piece, but still have depressions in the muzzle breaks. This was unexpected, since most cannons (even the Fujimi’s, I believe) come in halves, right down the middle. The braces to hold on the guns were also pretty nice, although they were moulded as solid pieces, despite being detailed like trusses. This might be the way they’re supposed to be, though. I’ve never seen good enough pictures to tell.

This shows the completed cannon pods slung under the Stuka’s wings. It is clear that the pods are nicely detailed, and it was nice that they fit together very well. This shot also shows the balance horn (a bit fuzzy) in the foreground, as well as the wheel spats and some of the detail to be found on this model.

This shows the completed cannon pods slung under the Stuka’s wings. It is clear that the pods are nicely detailed, and it was nice that they fit together very well. This shot also shows the balance horn (a bit fuzzy) in the foreground, as well as the wheel spats and some of the detail to be found on this model.

There were no major issues in building the kit. Most of the interior pieces were left out until the end, as were things like the pitot tube, crew step and radio mast. The landing gear are designed such that the wheels must be completed first and then inserted into the spats, which are then glued. This was unfortunate, and to save masking I simply left the wheels out, breaking off the alignment pins, allowing the wheels to slip in afterwards. To ensure the wheels didn’t “sink” too far into the spats, a shim of spare sprue was glued into the inside of the spat. This trick worked perfectly. The entire gear legs can be inserted into the fuselage after they are painted, which was a welcome surprise.

An interesting detail was the inclusion of balance horns for the Stuka’s flaps. While they add a nice air of authenticity, they are a severe pain in the backside, and all of them snapped or bent at some time during painting. The tail braces could be put on afterwards too, although they didn’t fit all that well at the body. The tail wheel was also added at the end of construction. The holes for the cannon pods need to be drilled out on the underside of the wings, and the pods themselves need to be carefully positioned when being attached. I found that there was no way to ensure the pods were ‘level’ other than eyeballing it – the mounts aren’t angled to deal with the slant of the wings.

This underside view shows the final Stuka almost done. If you look, you can see the four balances on the wings separate flaps, as well as the radiators, some small warning decals, and the ridiculously large crosses.

This underside view shows the final Stuka almost done. If you look, you can see the four balances on the wings separate flaps, as well as the radiators, some small warning decals, and the ridiculously large crosses.

Painting/Decalling:

Most of the kits of the Ju-87 G that you see have the aircraft done in a two-tone green splinter cammo. According to Academy’s instructions, the colours used for this are RLM 70 and RLM 71, the former of which is a black green. I actually had a bottle of Gunze RLM 70, and used it to do the entire upper surface of the Stuka. I didn’t have any RLM 71, so I used a mixed green that I had left over from my Starfix Mustang (link). This was actually very close to the real colour shown on the box, and it went on very nicely. The splintering was done by using copious amounts of Tamiya tape. While a bit expensive, I must say that the Tamiya tape is godly in its ability to not only prevent leakage but also to not pull any paint of the plane. Of course, primering with Mr. Surfacer 1000 before painting helps too…

This view of the Stuka from the rear really shows the hard-edged cammo pattern to good effect. You can also see a bit of the interior, as well as the masked and painted (as opposed to decalled) yellow stripe on the tail.

This view of the Stuka from the rear really shows the hard-edged cammo pattern to good effect. You can also see a bit of the interior, as well as the masked and painted (as opposed to decalled) yellow stripe on the tail.

The underside was done in Testors Model Master acrylic Light Ghost Grey. The instructions call for RLM 65, but most of my Luftwaffe types have a bluish underside and I just don’t think it looks right on a Stuka. In one of my books there are some pictures of the D-5 at the ImperialWarMuseum, and it is done in RLM 70/RLM 65, and the blue is just too intense. Thus, I stuck to the grey. It has the additional benefit of being able to be touched up by hand without changing colour, which is a major plus when compared to the Gunze. The cheat line was all done by hand, and some green overspray on the underside was also repainted by hand. Gotta love it.

This view shows the nose of the Stuka, including the drybrushed silver radiator ‘teeth’ and the cheat line which was all touched up by hand. Note too the fine panel lines, something of a stock-in-trade for Academy kits of late.

This view shows the nose of the Stuka, including the drybrushed silver radiator ‘teeth’ and the cheat line which was all touched up by hand. Note too the fine panel lines, something of a stock-in-trade for Academy kits of late.

Once finished, the panel lines were coloured in using a filed down 0.5mm mechanical pencil. There’s a lot of detail on the Academy Stuka, including recessed rivets and panel/hatches. The cockpit and interior pieces were painted interior green (a mix of various different greens, greys and a bit of yellow, I believe) and given a black wash with silver drybrushed on for effect. The instrument panel is given as a decal, but it’s also moulded very nicely, so I went with paint instead.

The cockpit frames were painted by masking the canopy segments, inside and out, with Tamiya tape. Unfortunately, the lines separating the canopy bars and the glass are too shallow, and I did some damage trying to cut the tape off the bars. Thankfully, a little bit of post-painting Futuring had them more or less back up to snuff. Not only was the canopy difficult from this point of view, but the glass is very brittle, making careful handling a must. I cracked the rear canopy, but thankfully most of the crack was on ‘metal’ parts. Still, it would have been nice if the canopies were more robust, since they were very clear from the factory. One other thing with the canopies bothered me. Since the kit includes a 4-section hood, I thought I’d be able to build the Stuka “opened up”. Well, that was a lie. The part of the hood covering the pilot doesn’t ‘slide back’ at all; it won’t fit over the fixed third section of canopy, and there’s no notch cut for the radio mast. Thus, I just decided to leave that part off. The rear canopy slides back, but it obscures the fairly well detailed twin machine guns and the DF apparatus, encased in a clear panel. Still, I chose to build the Stuka open, since I liked the interior detail so much.

This shot shows a lot of the Stuka’s interior, as well as the missing hood from the pilot’s position. It was a shame that the cockpit couldn’t be opened correctly, but exposing the interior detail is well worth the sacrifice. Note too, the curious extra armour plates scabbed on the pilot’s position. I don’t have any photos of Stukas with this feature, and it might be something only Rudel did. Unsurprisingly, they don’t figure in the painting plan…

This shot shows a lot of the Stuka’s interior, as well as the missing hood from the pilot’s position. It was a shame that the cockpit couldn’t be opened correctly, but exposing the interior detail is well worth the sacrifice. Note too, the curious extra armour plates scabbed on the pilot’s position. I don’t have any photos of Stukas with this feature, and it might be something only Rudel did. Unsurprisingly, they don’t figure in the painting plan…
Another shot of the Stuka’s interior, this time before the canopies were fitted. This shot shows the rear-defence Mauser MG 81Z machine guns, as well as the DF equipment in the clear fairing just behind the cockpit. Note the fine details, including instruments on the cockpit ‘walls’, rudder pedals and radios for the gunner.

Another shot of the Stuka’s interior, this time before the canopies were fitted. This shot shows the rear-defence Mauser MG 81Z machine guns, as well as the DF equipment in the clear fairing just behind the cockpit. Note the fine details, including instruments on the cockpit ‘walls’, rudder pedals and radios for the gunner.

The decals included with the Academy Stuka are excellent. There are quite a few of them, including some small warning scripts, fuel triangles and other little labels. My favourite is the first aid kit marking, which is so prominent but usually disregarded on most kits. The decals go on very easily, and don’t seem to silver at all. The backing is amazingly clear, and the decals slide quite easily. They are also fairly tough, so you can manhandle them a bit without fear of ruining them. The only problem with the decals that I can think of is that they don’t fall into panel lines very well. However, some decal set might correct that.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that the Stuka is so accurate a model, the typical gross inaccuracy of no Swastikas continues to plague the industry. This is one place that the Fujimi is better. They actually provide the Swastikas! However, I still had a few Swastikas on the old Almark sheet I got from Eric Green’s (link) estate, so I put a couple on. They were the icing on the cake, although I can’t imagine anyone building this nice kit without bother to go and get some proper national markings. The lack of Swastikas is a personal bugaboo, and I won’t get into a rant here, but it’s just inappropriate, period.

In this view you can see some of the finer decals included with the kit, including fuel triangles and the red dotted outline on the leading edge. There are three such decals for each wing, as well as a few warning scripts with which I didn’t bother.

In this view you can see some of the finer decals included with the kit, including fuel triangles and the red dotted outline on the leading edge. There are three such decals for each wing, as well as a few warning scripts with which I didn’t bother.

Instructional Difficulties

The Ju-87 G-1 was an adaptation of D-model Stukas for anti-tank work on the Eastern Front. To my knowledge, they weren’t used at all against Allied armour in the West. As a result, every G model I’ve seen pictures of sports the yellow fuselage bands and wingtips associated with the operations carried out against the Soviets. However, neither the box art, nor the painting instructions (and thus the completed kit shown on the box) show the wingtips yellow. This is a rather serious mistake, and is disconcerting given the supposedly excellent nature of the kit.

In addition, the underwing radiators are a bit of a problem. On the instructions, they show them going on the WRONG WAY. I instinctively put them on the right way, but was horrified when I later checked and saw I was wrong. I tore one off and re-glued it, only to find it didn’t fit well. On the painting guide and the box shots of the completed kit, the radiators were the way I had originally had them. This is a particularly bad mistake, and one that will cause those who follow directions closely no lack of headaches. Also, the kit comes with two of the hanging rear crew steps, but only has a marking in the fuselage for attaching one, which is all the instructions show. Any book with a three-view of the G-model Stuka shows it having two, so the omission of the second one the instructions is a mystery. Of course, one of my steps went flying off into the void while I tried to glue it on, so I inadvertently ended up following the directions on that one…

 Conclusions:

The Academy Stuka is, without a doubt, one of the finest pieces of sprue I’ve ever assembled, and that includes all of my Gundams. It is highly detailed and fits together, for the most part, quite well. It is held in high regard, and should be. However, the problems with the instructions, as well as the fact that the 4-piece cockpit can’t be displayed open correctly detract from it. Some people might gripe about little things, like the nose being a bit blunt or the tail being a bit short, but overall, those aren’t problems for me.

Thus, while a very good kit, there are a few things about the Academy G-model Stuka that prevent it from being great. The flaw in the wing is certainly a detractor, and the panel lines on the cockpits could stand to be a bit deeper, to aid in masking. Other than that, this kit pretty much has it all, and will blow every other 1/72 Stuka away like Rudel busting caps into T-34s on the Russian front!

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7 comments

  1. Barry Webb · · Reply

    Oh dear, the real one has that same ‘defect’ at the wing bend! And the museum left it uncorrected too…. Tsk, Tsk.

    See at: http://www.arcair.com/awa01/001-100/awa016-Ju-87D/images%20Steve%20Bamford/sheb8701.jpg

    1. I believe that the “defect” is an inspection port for the landing gear that has been left off. If it’s not that exactly, it’s something very much akin to that.

      This is likely the reason that the Academy model has it on there in the first place. While it may not be a ‘defect’ in the sense that it is actually wrong to have it there, it’s a defect in that it shouldn’t be open on an in-service aircraft unless it’s undergoing maintenance. Since it wasn’t given as an option on the kit to make it open or closed, though, I DO consider that a mistake at best, if not a defect at worst.

      No need for sarcasm…

  2. Barry Webb · · Reply

    I think you’re probably right Adam, especially given that it shows on the right side of the museum sample and on the left side of the Academy kit. While most photos look ‘smooth’ in that area, I was able to Google up a few where the feature was visible. Maybe a case of a protective cover popping off and not getting replaced due to there being a war on. I wasn’t able to find it depicted on any cutaway or 3-view drawings.
    Apologies offered for unnecessary sarcasm.

    1. The Academy gang could have had a reversed negative, too, for all we know.

      I combed my library and couldn’t find anywhere that showed a panel there either, but clearly something is a foot! It likely is a cover off. I just wonder if it was removed/removable to allow the oleo more travel in rough conditions, like mud? It does seem to be right near where the oleo would be.

  3. Barry Webb · · Reply

    Possibly, but I was thinking more along the lines servicing or maybe even access to attachment bolts. I’m surprised that your museum contacts weren’t more helpful.

    1. Yeah, it could be that.

      I think there’s been a misunderstanding, though. I dont’ have any museum contacts; I’m in London, ONTARIO, half a world away. I apologize if I implied I did. I just remember discussing this back when the kit was new.

      Interestingly enough, though, I found an old book I’d forgotten about, that showed that hatch on the starboard wing. The book is a big red one called something like “World’s greatest aircraft” or something equally non-descript. Not a bad book, and there’s a top and side view artwork of each plane. The Stuka’s did show that round hatch, but for space constraints, the port wing wasn’t shown.

  4. I was intrigued by the misterious “defect” on the wing and that way I found your article. The book Aero Detail #11 on the Stuka has a lot of pictures from the example in the UK museum, and there is a closeup of the “defect” (picture 173). It can be seen to be on the port wing (!).
    It does look like the top of the oleo, now that you mention it, so being on both sides makes sense.
    I think Academy may have used this book as reference. It would explain why they included this detail on the port side only. (!?) That aircraft is the only surviving G model stuka, after all.
    Also, the stuka from the UK museum only has one step too, as instructions of the kit call for. A few wartime pictures in AeroDetail 11 also show only one step in several stukas. I think one-step-only is a feature of later production D/G models (late 43 onwards), consistent with Rudel’s Stuka this kit represents.
    Or maybe I have to research some more, LOL.

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