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Building Rudel’s Tank-Busting Stuka

By Dick Smith
8/2/2018 • Aviation History Magazine

Academy’s 1/72nd-scale kit (no. 1641) of the Junkers Ju-87G-1 Stuka is the early long-winged version of the dive bomber. It comes with two underwing 37mm “tank-busting” cannons.

Start by painting the cockpit and gunner/radio operator’s position with RLM-66, black gray. While the color won’t be absolutely correct, painting the radio set, gunner’s seat, pilot’s seat and stick FS-37031, aircraft interior black, will enhance the details. Lightly dry-brush the cockpit sidewalls with RLM-02, light gray, to open up what might otherwise be a “black hole.” Use paper strips stained with coffee as seat belts.

 

Ground crewmen wind the starter on Rudel’s Ju-87G-2. Like our model this Stuka carried two 37mm anti-tank gun pods underneath its wings. (Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-655-5976-04 Photo Helmut Grosse)
Ground crewmen wind the starter on Rudel’s Ju-87G-2. Like our model this Stuka carried two 37mm anti-tank gun pods underneath its wings. (Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-655-5976-04 Photo Helmut Grosse)

The kit offers a decal for the instrument panel. Note, however, that the faces of the instruments are raised; some careful painting and a few touches with a “cold gray” Prismacolor artist’s pencil will make the knobs and switches stand out. Cement the completed cockpit into one side of the fuselage, ensuring the cockpit floor is perpendicular to the side. Move on to the horizontal stabilizers and attach the tips. Then slip the completed stabilizers into their corresponding fuselage slots and apply cement from the inside. Be sure the stabilizers are positioned at a 90-degree angle before cementing the fuselage sides together. From the underside of the fuselage, cement the top sections of the wings into place—this assures a seamless fit and will eliminate sanding and filling later.

Paint the main landing gear wheels “tire black” and the hubs RLM-65, hellblau (light blue). Trap, but do not glue, the tires into the main gear “pants.” Make sure the wheels turn freely, then cement the pants together. Before gluing the bottom portion of the wing into position, drill out the fittings for the 37mm cannon mounts and the underwing radiators. Cement the gun mounts and the radiators from the inside, and then glue the wings together. While the main parts of the model are setting up, assemble the four parts of the long-barrel cannons.

This model is engineered very well, so if you were careful with assembly and gluing, only a few areas should need filling and sanding. The underside of Hans-Ulrich Rudel’s Ju-87 was painted in the standard hellblau. The topsides of Russian Front Stukas wore a “splinter pattern” of RLM-71, dunkelgrün, and RLM-70, schwarzgrün. To duplicate this sharp-edged camouflage scheme, first paint the entire top side RLM-71. When it’s dry, use a soft lead pencil and lightly sketch out and mask the pattern to be filled in by the darker shade. The color guide in the kit has a four-sided profile to help with this job. Creating and masking the pattern is tedious, but the results are striking. Rudel’s G-1 sported a yellow fuselage band near the tail, denoting Russian Front service. The band is included on the kit’s decal sheet, but I painted mine using RLM-23, gelb.

Finishing touches include masking the tires and painting the pants dark green and the cannon pods light blue, with “gunmetal” barrels. Painting the greenhouse canopy, which is a mass of tiny clear panels, is more manageable if you first mask all the vertical panels and then spray the frames. When that’s dry, mask and then paint the horizontal frames.

Spray your model with a clear gloss coat to provide a smooth surface for the decals. The kit markings, for an early version of Rudel’s Stuka, lie down well with the exception of the “B” that fits on the front of the main gear pants. That decal will likely need several applications of Solvaset, a strong decal setting solution. Also note that the decal sheet omits the swastika tail marking, which I took from Aero Master sheet 72-545.

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