Special Hobby's 1/72 Ju 388J
The Ju 388 series was the final aircraft based on the Ju 88 bomber and while only a handful were produced they showed great promise. The Ju 388J was one of the high-altitude night fighter variants and featured a nose sprouting radar antennae and a belly gun pack. Three prototypes were constructed, the V-2, V-4 and V-5. The Ju 388V-2 started flight tests in January 1944 and featured the characteristic tail barbette turret that was remotely operated. To speed up production, though, the later prototypes were produced without this turret. The V-4 and V-5 also featured "schräge Muzik" arrangement in the rear fuselage, with two 20mm cannons angled up at 70°. These later prototypes also had the regular radar replaced by a Neptun set in a thimble nose.
None of these made it into service, however, as the war precluded their production. Had it entered production it likely would have caused the night bombers great concern, what with its heavy firepower and radar intercept ability.
This kit is nearly the same as the earlier Ju 388K/L kit released earlier (see the July 2000 inbox review), with the main differences being in the resin, photoetch and the canopy. Like the first kit, the whole cockpit is made up from resin. They appear to be the same resin parts as in the Ju 388K/L, which looks more like a Ju 188 cockpit. Since the Ju 388V-2 was coverted from a Ju 188T this is probably accurate and once these parts are painted up they will provide a very busy-looking interior. The vacuformed canopy will show all of this detail off, so some careful painting is definitely the order of business here.
The plastic parts are identical to the first Ju 388 release, although in this example they seem to be a bit crisper and with less flash. There is still no locating pegs on the parts, though, so care will be needed in getting things aligned. The injection-molded wings & engine nacelles are complemented by finely cast resin wheel well inserts and engine faces. The impellers for the engine are provided in plastic, as are the propeller blades, which fit into resin hubs. No positive alignment pegs are offered for the latter, so you'll want to whip out your propeller jig for these guys (you do have one, don't you?).
There is only one option provided in the decal sheet, as there was really only one Ju 388J built. Labeled the Ju 388V-2, it is finished in the standard bomber camouflage of RLM 70/71 upper surfaces with RLM 65 lower surfaces. The engine nacelles are painted overall RLM 02, offering a bit of variation. The decals provide wing and fuselage crosses, as well as the swastikas for the tail, although those have had the center cut out and provided separately. The code letters are also included, for both the fuselage and wing undersides. The decals are printed by Propagteam and the usual comments apply.
While I'm more partial to the look of the Ju 388K/L, this kit is also welcome, and the breakdown of the parts hints at a future thimblenosed Ju 388 in the future. While it may not go together as well as a Tamiya kit, it will still be a fairly quick build and the balance between resin, photoetch and plastic will ensure a detailed model in the end.