Battle of the Ju 88s: Revell vs. Hasegawa vs. AMTech

For our third battle of 1:72 kits, we’ll go from a head-to-head matchup to a head-to-head-to-head matchup. We’ve seen a lot of German twins come out lately, including the He 111 and the Ju 188 from Hasegawa, but one subject that’s received a lot of attention in the last 10 years is the Ju 88. There have been four Ju 88s issued in the last year; one of them, the Zvesda kit, did not make it into this contest. Let’s just say it had visa issues getting out of Russia and was unable to make it for this contest.

Here are the ground rules. This will be a 12-round fight, scored on a modified 10-point must system. The winner of each round gets 10 points, with second and third scoring 9 and 8, respectively, except in the event of a knockdown. A knockdown is any area where a model excels in detail or accuracy, or where one falls down badly in those same areas. Your judges for this evening’s bout are… Hailing from Alameda, California, me!

Let’s meet tonight’s contestants. We have three models from three continents in tonight’s showdown. First up, this was an entry from 2002 that provided the Ju 88S-1/T-1 variant, making it unique and an option for a “Baby Blitz” Ju 88. Hailing from West Des Moines, Iowa, with its roots in the old Ertl kit, it’s AMTech’s Ju 88S-1/T-1.

And in this corner, dating to 2006, it’s a model that raised a lot of eyebrows and was what was considered to be the best Ju 88 we’d see for a long time. The kit in today’s tussle is a Ju 88A-4. Hailing from Shizuoka, Japan, it’s Hasegawa’s Ju 88A-4!

And, finally, the upstart. This kit appeared on European shelves in November, 2011 and in the U.S. just recently. It too is a Ju 88A-4, and it comes to us all the way from Buende, Germany. Please welcome the Revell of Germany Ju 88A-4!

And now, let’s get bereit zum rumpeln (ready to rumble, translated poorly)!

Round 1. Box

AMTech has a decent painting of two Ju 88S-1s diving to attack, one with an engine starting to burn in the background. It’s framed by AMTech’s standard graphics presentation, which is fairly boring . Hasegawa has a Shigeo Koike painting of three Ju 88A-4s cruising along in a stately manner, also framed by Hasegawa’a usual dull graphic presentation. Revell’s box art is fantastic – it has two Ju 88A-4s attacking a harbor, with the main aircraft just having released its bombs. Detail is outstanding – note how the sun is shining on an angle through the canopy, which is reflected on the left nacelle. Action packed and evocative! Revell is cruising to an early win – but then printed this image on a fold-up side-opening box! Ouch! Both AMTech and Hasegawa go with a sturdier top-and-bottom arrangement. The edge goes to Hasegawa for the Koike art, with AMTech in second and Revell staggering in at third despite a promising start.

Round 2. Surface detail

AMTech’s basic kit is old, but it does have recessed panel lines, and they’re pretty decent. However, the two newer kits really benefit from modern mold-making technology. Hasegawa has all the access panels and the model is fully riveted where appropriate; Revell is close in degree of detail, but they leave off the rivets from several locations where Hasegawa has included them. Why? Who knows. But in a head-to-head battle, this gives the edge to the Hasegawa kit, with Revell in second and AMTech in third.

Round 3. Fidelity of outline

This is where AMTech really suffers. The nacelles are noticeably too small, and the fuselage retains a squarish cross-section as it tapers to the tail. The Hasegawa and Revell kits have both of these areas handled well. The Hasegawa and Revell tail parts match in outline almost exactly, and the wings are both bang on, although Revell provides separate flaps and ailerons while Hasegawa provides only the ailerons. This is really a close battle; Hasegawa gets the edge only because the Revell vertical tail seems to be missing the horizontal separation line on the rudder. Hasegawa first, Revell second, AMTech third.

Let’s take a lot at the scorecard: Hasegawa has won all rounds, and has a 30-28-28 lead. There’s lots of room for the other kits to catch up!

Round 4. Ordnance

AMTEch includes the external bomb racks and four rudimentary SC1000 bombs. They’re okay, but no match for just how well the other two kits handle their ordnance. Hasegawa provides both SC250 SC500 bombs, which are of similar five-part construction; the kit also includes decals for the bombs. Revell provides a load of four SC500s and two SC1000s, but each have separate fins, adding two to the parts count. Revell wins this round, with Hasegawa in second, and AMTech takes it on the chin for a 10-9-8 round.

Round 5. Wheel wells and landing gear

Starting with the wheels, the AMTech wheels are noticeably small and lack detail in the tread and the hubs. The Hasegawa wheels are perhaps the most crisply rendered, but the Revell wheels have better detail on the strut-side hub, making it a tough call between the two. The AMTech struts are long but are reasonably well detailed, although the detail is somewhat heavy. Hasegawa’s struts are less well detailed than Revell’s, so Revell gets the nod there. AMTech’s wheel wells have a flat face on the bottom of the lower wing – it’s stepping in post holes, staggering around the ring, showing its age! Hasegawa has inserts for the wheel wells that have mounting holes for the gear and a little rudimentary structure, but nothing special. Revell has the same structure molded into the wing. Because of the struts, the round goes to Revell, with Hasegawa in second and AMTech in third once again.

Round 6. Cockpit

Revell comes out swinging and connects again and again in this round! 25 beautifully-detailed parts make up the cockpit; there’s a full complement of radios and tons of molded-in detail. One step in the instructions dwells entirely on interior painting. The various types of machine guns are depicted – not a generic German machine gun, but distinct renditions of the MG15/17, MG 81 and MG 81Z are present. It’s a terrific kit cockpit – maybe not as perfect as the Tamiya P-47D interior, but very good. Hasegawa gives it a try, with 16 parts to the cockpit, and the detail is good, but not as good as Revell, and it drops its gloves in one area Hasegawa fails in time and again – the nice sidewall detail is pockmarked with ejection pin marks, meaning you’ll have to do some careful filling to make this area usable. It also has a solid floor, which will need to be cut open. AMTech’s interior is soft and rudimentary. Revell scores a double knockdown here – it’s 10-8-7 in round 6.

Round 7. Engines

AMTech is immediately hit by a haymaker; its Jumo engines are missing the cooling fans, and they’re noticeably small. There’s a resin replacement on the market for these parts – never a good sign. Both Hasegawa and Revell get the cooling fans right, but Revell also includes the area behind the propeller spinner, a bit of extra detail that works very nicely. Hasegawa has a bit of a comeback by offering shrouded and unshrouded exhausts, a detail Revell misses. It’s a close 10-9-7, with Revell getting the round.

Round 8. Propellers

The props in the AMT kit are a bit too fat at the centers of the blades and need to be slimmed a bit in order to look like the real items. The Revell and Hasegawa kits get their props right, capturing the pitched spade-like shape of the blades. The spinners are good, with the Revell spinners being slightly larger than the Hasegawa spinners. It’s too close to call – make it 10-10-8 in this round.

Round 9. Clear Parts

AMTech’s clear parts are good and clear; they benefit from lacking the gondola parts (the gondola was omitted from the Ju 88S-1). Hasegawa provides the entire gondola in clear plastic, a great idea that minimizes filling in the small windows, although it does mean you’ll have to paint both sides of the plastic to avoid a shiny interior. Revell’s gondola has clear insert sections, making it more complex and still requiring the two-sided paint job. Both kits have the rear canopy section in two parts. For simplicity of construction, we’re giving this one to Hasegawa, 10-9-8.

Round 10. Instructions

Hasegawa shines here, too. Their instructions are simple and straightforward. Revell’s is its usual graphical mess; it’s so busy it could be easy to miss instructions to open holes or follow the specific instructions needed to get the model subassemblies put together properly. AMTech’s instructions are visually less sophisticated but are very easy to follow – and the kit is simpler, so that makes sense. We give Hasegawa the edge, with AMTech in second and Revell in third. If there’s a weakness in Revell’s game, it’s the instructions.

Round 11. Decals

AMTech give you four sets of markings – three in the instructions, with an extra addendum. The options all date from 1944 – a reconnaissance T-1 based in Italy in the factory splinter scheme; an S-1 from KG.1 with a mirror wave pattern sprayed over the splinter scheme, and two KG.66 machines with black undersides and gray uppersides, one with small RLM75 grau-violet spots over RLM76 light blue, the other with large and widely spaced RLM75 spots over RLM77. The decals cover the rudimentary markings, and they’re printed quite well. Hasegawa offers three schemes, all with the splinter scheme: KG.51 in Russia, with RLM65 licht blau undersides and yellow lower wingtips; a KG.30 machine flown by Oblt. Werner Baumach in Norway in 1941, in the same scheme; and a black-bellied machine from 2./KGr.106. The markings are far more comprehensive, with decals for the cockpit and access panels included on the sheet. There are also non-standard insignia covered with decal markings. The decals suffer from the cream-white printing that has plagued Hasegawa decals for years. Revell’s sheet has two options: one KG.30 aircraft based in Catania (with markings that are apparently spurious) with the splinter scheme, yellow engine nacelles, rudder and elevators and white lower outer wings, and a second plane based in Greece and painted in matt brown with RLM 71 blotches over RLM65. Though the basic markings are a disappointment, this sheet includes the external instruments for the engine nacelles and complete data markings. How to score this? It’s another 10-10-8 round – although both the winners of the round have some limitations.

Round 12. Extras

AMTech has no bells or whistles; it’s a basic kit, and as such is the clear loser here. Its one chance at glory – the EZ6 DF antenna mounted on the back of the fuselage – is rendered poorly as a clear part with detail molded to the inside surface. The other kits offer the antenna as a decal, with a clear part over it. The Hasegawa kit, with its separate ailerons, also includes separate mass balances; so does the Revell kit. The edge goes to Revell because of its more effective treatment of the wing-edge landing light.

And there’s the bell! Let’s go to the cards!

The final score here is Revell 115, Hasegawa 114, and AMTech 99 – a closer battle than I expected! The Hasegawa kit is six years old, but it’s no slouch, and its surface detail is a big plus. The Revell kit, however, is about half the price, and the interior is spectacular. It boils down to what you can afford and what your preference is. AMTech was a distant third, but this is a unique version – if you want to do a Ju 88S-1 or T-1 reconnaissance version, it’s a solid starting place if you can replace the cowlings and adjust the landing gear (perhaps by making copies of the Revell gear).

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6 Comments

  1. Chris – thanks for the critical breakdown. I’ve got both these kits and would give the edge to Revell too, but it won’t stop me building the Hasegawa (who have also treated us to nightfighter variants). Now, what about the Italeri offering?

  2. I have both the Revell kit and the Hasgawa kit, and could not dissagrre more with your findings. The Revell kit is a light year better in the rivit deatil. Panel lines are similar as well as construction. I thought Revell could have done a little better in the wheel well detail, but also felt Hasegawa could have as well. But the actual main gear wells looked better in the Hasegawa. I agree with you thoughts on the main gear legs and wheels. Interior wise there is no contest. I thought the clear parts were pretty similar on both kits, but I also think the frame work on the Revel is slightly more accurate. I have not looked over the engine and props that much, so I can’t say much. I also never bothered to examine the bombs on either kit, but also would be more interested in the bomb mounting hardware as well.

    With the above in mind, and taking in the price structure; I’d rate them as 125 to 100 points with the Revell ontop. This is not my own personal thoughts as well. Everybody that’s looked them over seems to have similar thoughts. And this dosn’t mean the Hasegawa kit is bad or anything like that, as it known as a great kit. The Revell is now the new kid on the block. I only hope that Revell decides to do a JU88G6 and an HE111 of the same quality.
    gary

    • Just FYI for all the folks who make comments about what scores “should” be: the mathematical maximum is 120 points.

      • Please accept the ability that I can’t add well! I’ll still rate the Revell kit as noticablly better. But I still wouldn’t toss out the Hasegawa kit because the Revell kit is so good. I wish somebody would do a series of conversions for the Revell kit (hint hint)
        gary

  3. I generally agree with your assessments. However, one of the details in the Revell stencils is the pilot’s Angle of Attack AOA lines on the canopy – that really cries out ‘TKO’ in my book…

  4. A problem with all older Ju 88 kits in 1/72 scale is the failure to capture the subtle changes in fuselage cross-section along the aircraft’s length. The center fuselage housing the fuel tanks and bomb bays is essentially a rectangular box with rounded corners. Moving aft towards the rudder post the lower fuselage begins to taper ever so slightly; this makes the cross-section appear more like an inverted rounded trapezoid. As you correctly note, this configuration is missing in the AMTech kit.

    However, there is a second shape change which has in the past escaped manufacturers and modelers. The cockpit section is gently “belled” forward of the wing. That is, it widens out to a pear-like section until it ends in a flattened egg-shape at the nose cap base. You can envision this by thinking of a squirrel with his cheeks full – the lower fuselage just below the canopy sill bulges out to accommodate the crew and cockpit equipment. This fuselage widening is very difficult to pick out in photos and almost never appears in Ju 88 drawings. The three main “new technology” Ju 88 kits, by Hasegawa, Revell and Zvedza, have all managed to capture this subtlety in shape to some degree. It can be added to the AMTech kit with a little putty and/or plastic laminae and a bit of sanding and rescribing. In my opinion, due to their various other shortcomings in comparison to the 21st century H/R/Z kits, no other 1/72 Ju 88 kit is worth the trouble to correct.


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