Another type of aircraft that saw action in WWII was the twin-engine, high-winged Ju 88. Although it can be seen as just a German version of the British Gloster Gladiator, the German version saw action in the North African, Mediterranean and Eastern Front theatres. It was used against Britain’s iconic Spitfire in the aerial dogfights of the Battle of Britain. Today, there is a special place in aviation history for the Ju 88, which saw action throughout the war in the hands of the Luftwaffe. In this article, we look at the similarities and differences between the Ju 88 and the Spitfire Mk.IX.

The Ju-86R, a fast, two-seater, unarmed reconnaissance biplane designed by the German Luftwaffe during World War II. The Ju-86R was designed to operate far behind Soviet lines, in the cold, remote regions of Russia, and to act as a “spy-in-the-sky”. This aircraft was the brainchild of Ernst Udet, at the direction of Erhard Milch, the head of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (Reich Aviation Ministry). The Ju-86R was one of the most unusual aircraft in the Luftwaffe’s fleet, and was one of the Luftwaffe’s most advanced designs

Two aircraft, a twin-engine Junkers Ju-86R and a Supermarine Spitfire IX, clashed in the rarefied air over southern England on September 12, 1942, in the highest aerial battle of World War II (see “The Luftwaffe’s High-Flying Diesel”). The Junkers were built to spy on airfields and facilities from altitudes where the Luftwaffe believed the specially modified former medium bomber would be impenetrable. The Royal Air Force, on the other hand, had different plans, and modified a pair of Spitfires to meet the new danger.

I was pleasantly pleased to discover a Junkers Ju-86R kit for sale. In 1/72nd size, RS Models, a small Czech manufacturer, offers a variety of various versions of the aircraft. The kit is well-detailed, with an etched metal detail set included. There are decals for three aircraft, one of which is engaged in high-altitude warfare. For a high-flying duet, I chose to combine it with an Spitfire Mk.IX by Airfix (with a few small tweaks).

Airfix Spitfire Mk.IX

The fighter was an early Mk.IX that had been modified for this mission. The ground team removed more than 400 pounds of extra weight to allow the Spitfire to reach the enemy’s operating altitudes. They also took off the fighter’s cockpit armor and four.303-caliber machine guns, leaving just two 20mm Hispano cannons. A single solid light-blue hue would, ideally, obscure the fighter. Unfortunately, no photographs of the two modified planes have been discovered. The pilot’s description is the only information available.

The Airfix Spitfire Mk.IX is a great little kit with crisp molding and good fit. Modifying the fighter isn’t too complicated. Pavla, a small company from the Czech Republic, produces a number of reasonably priced resin detail sets that add a little extra to the build. First you’ll want to fill the under-wing machine gun ejector ports, as those weapons were removed. This Spitfire was an early production version and would probably have had slightly larger bulges on the wings to accommodate the 20mm cannons. The detail set includes those bulges. Removing the panel on the wing and inserting the new piece is relatively minor surgery. Sanding down the armored headrest is next, and by following the detailed drawings, you’ll produce a nice cockpit. 

The wings and fuselage fit together fast after the cockpit is complete. The solid overall hue of the plane was characterized by Flying Officer Emanuel Galitzine (a Russian nobleman), who flew the September 12 flight, as an unique lightweight finish that gave the jet a “Cambridge blue” look. The precise color may be interpreted in a variety of ways. The markings on the wings and fuselage are basic, with roundels in six different places. The serial number (BS273) on the back of the fuselage had to be pieced together. Even the serial number itself seems to be up for debate: According to some sources, BF273 was the original, while BS273 was the result of a painting error—or was it the other way around? Galitzine’s Spitfire would most likely be somewhat shiny. With a little weathering, the landing gear, propeller, and canopy, this one-of-a-kind fighter is ready to take on its foe in the stratosphere.

Junkers Ju-86R RS Models

Fair warning: This kit is not for the novice. It does come with an etched brass detail set that will enhance the cockpit, but the molding is a bit heavy. Be ready to spend some time cleaning parts and dry fitting at least a couple of times before assembly. The instructions are a series of detailed drawings, but nearly half pertain only to the cockpit and the metal detail set. Your best tools are experience and the ability to think ahead. It’ll take patience to get through the complex assembly. After finishing the cockpit, turn your attention to the tapered outer wing. To help support that long tapered section, I inserted a piece of sprue that made the joint more stable. There are no alignment pins throughout. Dry fitting and plenty of time to make sure pieces are well aligned is a must. Fuselage halves, the inner wing section and engine nacelles—all need a little more prepping before assembly. Be ready to spend some time sanding the putty you’ll need at nearly every seam. Your patience will be rewarded. 

Building a High-Flying Duo: Ju-86R vs. Spitfire Mk.IX For the Junkers’ distinctive camouflage, get an extra big box of patience and a sharp blade.

The finished fuselage and wing may now be put together by adding the parts for the two diesel engines. It’s almost time to start painting. Care and a sharp blade are required to mask the greenhouse-like canopy. The underbelly of the aircraft would have been Hellblau, a light blue hue. The plane’s top surfaces are camouflaged in a mottled two-tone gray scheme in photos. Camouflage requires a lot of masking and a lot of patience. Using the box art and references as a guide, cover the top surfaces with neatly cut out forms of Tamiya masking tape. The tape is made specifically for this purpose, and it adapts to corners and is simple to remove. Apply a light gloss layer to everything. It’s time to add the finishing touches, like as landing gear, propellers, and the iconic Junkers flaps. Apply the decals that come with the kit on our protagonist’s marks. A semi-gloss finish seals the deal once the decals have dried. Remove the masking from the canopy, and this one-of-a-kind plane is ready to face off against an equally one-of-a-kind Spitfire. Your high-flying duet has come to a conclusion.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • german ww2 planes
  • german planes ww2
  • german bombers ww2
  • junkers ju 86
  • junkers ju 86r
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