Special Hobby's 1/48 Ju 87A Stuka
The bent-winged Stuka is one of the most distinguishable shapes seen in the skies over Europe and its combat history covers the entire Second World War. While the later versions of the Stuka have received plenty of attention both in model form and the history books, but the first variant, the Ju 87A, hasn't been covered nearly as much. This first version introduced the concept of dive-bombing to the Luftwaffe, first in the Spanish Civil War and later over the skies of Poland. The outstanding success of this early variant led to the adoption of dive-bombing tactics by the Luftwaffe, even when air superiority was lost.
The Ju 87A, distinguishable from later variants instantly by its streamlined wheel spats, continued service past its introduction, flying training squadrons as late as 1944, proving the sturdiness and stability of the airframe. The Ju 87 will forever be known as the plane that proved the concept of close air support.
While the obvious difference between the Ju 87A and Ju 87B is the wheel spats, there are some other subtle differences that make a new kit pretty much essential. A different engine gives the nose different contours, the tail has some slight shape changes, and the canopy features a more streamlined rear portion. All of these differences are well represented in the Special Hobby kit. Featuring recessed panel lines throughout, the plastic parts are cleanly molded with no flash. Complementing the plastic is a bunch of beautifully cast resin parts, much for the cockpit area. Covering the cockpit is a crisply molded vacuformed canopy.
The cockpit is a real jewel in this kit, with resin sidewalls, cockpit floor, seats, machine gun, and other detail parts. With so much visible under that large canopy, it's a good thing that Special Hobby decided to make the cockpit all resin. You'll be spending quite a bit of time in this area just in painting everything. While the instructions have you put the sidewalls on the cockpit floor, it might be easier to glue them to the fuselage sides first, then fit the cockpit floor through the wing opening after the fuselage is together. Any gaps could then easily be filled with sheet styrene. Other resin bits for the fuselage include the exhaust stubs and chin radiator. The kit is a Ju 87A-1 out of the box, but the only difference between an A-1 and an A-2 is a change of the outline of the tail. This change is outlined in the instructions, which is good considering that the decal sheet has two Ju 87A-2s and no Ju 87A-1s.
The bent wings of the Stuka, with its external flaps and ailerons, offers a challenge to model manufacturers. Special Hobby met this challenge by breaking the wing into five pieces. A center lower section fits into the fuselage. This part also includes the attachment points for the wheel spats. The outer lower wing panels are separate, while the upper wings include both the inner and outer sections. This design, while outwardly seeming complicated, actually works out well. The only part you need to worry about aligning is the center bottom section, as the rest fit onto that. The flaps and ailerons are separate, as are the dive brakes.
The landing gear is simple, with the wheel spats being made up of right and left halves. The wheels are molded in with the spats, but a set of resin wheels are also included. The tailwheel is injection-molded and one piece and that is the only part that will need some cleanup. Other external details include various scoops and bumps on the cowling provided in resin.
The decal sheet is printed by Propagteam and is in excellent register. Two choices are included, one from the Spanish Civil War and one from a late-war training squadron. The Spanish option is a Ju 87A-2 from St.G. 163 and is coded 29-2. Camouflage is in RLM 61/62/63 splinters over RLM 65, with white wingtips and rudder. The second example is W.Nr. 139 from Schlachtgeschwader 102, winter 1943/44 and is finished in the standard RLM 70/71 splinter over RLM 65. Yellow wingtip undersides, fuselage band and numbers dress this example up.
This kit will make an excellent companion piece to the nicely done Hasegawa Ju 87s and is the first injection-molded 1/48 Ju 87A kit out there. With the Spanish Civil War, Polish campaign, and foreign operators such as Hungary, there are plenty of colorful choices for this early Stuka. With the beautiful resin cockpit and fairly straightforward construction, this kit should find its way onto the workbench of any Luftwaffe modeler.