Planet Models' 1/72 Ju 290
The Junkers Ju-290 was derived from the Ju-90 of 1936. (The Ju-90 was originally designed as a bomber but in practice was relegated to civil and military transport.) After a brief trial period with transport units of the Luftwaffe the Ju-290 was developed for maritime reconnaissance and bombing. In these more demanding roles the aircraft showed that it was completely unsatisfactory and in 1944 those surviving out of the 50 built were once more adopted to their original use.
The prototype Ju-290 flew in August 1942. The principal variants were: the A-1, transport; the A-2, A-3 and A-4 for maritime reconnaissance; the A-7 and A-9 were bombers, while the B-1 was a high altitude bomber.
The Ju-290 A-5 (which is the model subject) was a fully operational combat aircraft, and appeared in the spring of 1944. It had protected fuel tanks, armor plating for the crew positions, and redesigned beam gun positions. Also, all but one of the 13mm MG131 guns were replaced by 15mm MG151 cannon, with a difference in firepower much larger than the small increase in caliber suggests. The crew was increased for seven to nine. The Ju-290A-5 was well armed, could absorb damage and did not have the structural weaknesses of the FW-200C. This was a good replacement for the Condor, but only 11 were completed.
Three Ju-290A-5s were retracted from FAGr.5 after delivery. All their armament was removed, and additional fuel tanks installed. They made a non-stop trip to Manchuria, and a similar flight back, to exchange documents and strategic materials with the Japanese. After the loss of the Atlantic coast, the Ju-290s were all used as transports. Some went to the famous KG200, that seems to have used the bombers to drop agents and supplies behind the Allied lines.
The Planet Models Ju-290 A-5 is a very large resin kit. It comes well packed in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box. Warning: this is a large box. Some planning will be required when sneaking it into the house. Anyhow, my first reaction upon opening the box is the sheer size of the aircraft. It is roughly the size of a Boeing B-29. The parts are all individually packed inside plastic bags. The decals, clear vacuformed and photo-etched parts are also separately packaged.
The large parts look very good with nicely scribed panel lines. There were no casting plugs that looked to be difficult to remove. A little sanding should true them up quickly. I did not find any air pockets either. They all appear to dry fit together very well. Without too much trouble the larger resin components of this kit should fit together. I would suggest that some metal rod be used to support the wings. The big resin parts all look good to me.
The smaller parts are cast in a couple resin sheets. They all look nicely done too. Very light casting with fine details. Enough bits are included to nicely detail the areas of the cockpit which are visible through the canopies. Removing the resin detail parts from the resin sheet should not pose much of a challenge. A few moments with a sanding stick should be all that it required. On the other hand, many of the small parts are recognizable from other injection molded kits. The engine nacelles, propellers and turret details look to be copied from 1/72 Italeri kits. Since these are readily available it might be easier to obtain a few of these pieces from the spares box than to clean up resin copies. At any rate the detail resin bits looks as nice as the larger cast parts.
The clear parts are vacuformed. They look nice and thin. Planet Models even took the extra step to include two sets of clear parts in case something gets botched. Much like the rest of this kit these parts are good.
The photo-etched fret is for the radar anttennas. They look a little over scale to me, but they will work fine. Two white metal landing struts are also included. These are the only disappointing parts in this entire box. The detail on the landing struts is a little crude when compared to the rest of the kit. Perhaps some plastic struts can be found in the spares box.
The decals include all the national markings you will need. My example looked good. They were in register too. What surprised me most were the instructions. I have never seen such a comprehensive set of instructions included in a resin, vac or limited run kit. These should make this kit much easier to build.
Planet Models supplies everything needed to build a very impressive model of the Ju-290 A5. The kit is expensive so Iíd recommend you be familiar with resin kits before you tackle this one. As far as difficulty goes Iíd rate it as a moderately challenging build. This is mainly due to the size. If you have built plastic multiple engined models and a few resin kits I donít think the Ju-290 will prove too difficult.
The photos are of John Rollís completed Ju-290. His model was not built from the Planet Resin kit, but from the Frank Modelbau vacuform kit. Upon comparing the resin kit to the vac kit it became clear the resin kit is descended from the same masters. Itís nice to know that the kit, vac or resin, can be built. Itís also nice to know some of the proprietors of our hobby shops are also modelers.
The Planet Resin Ju-290 A5 is available from Roll Models. Special thanks to John Roll for letting me get a look at his copy of the kit as well as welcoming me into his home in order to photograph his completed Ju-290.