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Modelling the Bombers

Ju 87R-2 Picchiatello

Kit No: 25013

Scale: 1/72

Type: Injection Moulded Plastic

Manufacturer: Fujimi

In part one of this series I said it was my aim to briefly tell the story of Operation Pedestal a day at a time, to identify the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica bomber units that took part, and then to select and model a bomber that seemed to me to be representative of the Axis attacks carried out on each day. However there were no attacks on the Ohio on the fifteenth. All the other remaining Pedestal merchantmen were in dock by the fourteenth and the convoy protective Force X was well on its way back to Gibraltar, and yet I wondered whether there still might be an air story to be told. It didn’t take me long to start thinking about the Italian Ju 87 of 239 Squadriglia that had crashed onto the Ohio’s upper works on 13th August, and which was still embedded there as she hobbled into Grand Harbour. Ohio’s arrival was both proof and symbol of man’s courage and steadfastness. I realised that this Picchiatello and her crew represented the sacriice made by both sides during these desperate few days, and I decided I would have to model it.

But what to model exactly? The aircraft in question was piloted by Sergente Maggiore Oscar Raimondo of 239 Squadron, 102 Gruppo, but it is not on record whether it was a Ju 87B-2 or an R-2. Its individual aircraft number is also not known. I would therefore have to make myself content with a reconstruction, but I decided to model the longer range R version because on balance the crash victim was probably an R-2; of the nine Ju 87s that had taken off from Castelvetrano, Sicily that morning, the majority were Ju 87Rs.

The Italians had begun to take delivery of their first Stukas, which the Italians dubbed the Picchiatelli, or Mad Ones, as early as August 1940, a total of fifty Ju 87B-2s and fifty nine Ju 87R-2s being received. Some, but not all, were tropicalised. Some sources record that the R-2s were in fact R-5s, or at least were later converted to R-5 standard after the addition of a few items of desert survival equipment, although other sources do not acknowledge the existence of the R-5 subtype. Forty six Ju 87D-2/D- 3s were also later delivered, but not in time to see any use by the Italians against Pedestal.

The Fujimi range of Stuka kits has been regarded by many as the best in 1/72. I already had a Ju 87B/R kit in the stash, and having previously built and been pleased with their Ju 87D, I was hopeful that another good result could be obtained. As good as these Stukas are, as with most kits there is always something missing, in this case the pilot’s ventral viewing window and a lens for the landing light. The bomb trapeze is also suspect. Whilst building, it is necessary to make sure that undue pressure is not applied when joining the top and bottom halves of the wing, otherwise a curvature can easily be imparted to the outer wing panels. On the positive side the indented panel lining and the general level of detail is very nice, as is the quality of the plastic.

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About Scale Aircraft Modelling

January 2018