Friday 14 June 2013

Johan de Wolf builds a Manko Junkers Ju 86Z in 1/72nd scale

It is a delight to be able to present this second build article by Johan de Wolf in which he tackles the very handsome Junkers Ju 86Z airliner used by the quasi-military Manchurian airline Manshu Koko Kabushiki Kaisha (MKKK - known familiarly as 'Manko') by combining two Italeri kits. I look forward to further China-related model builds from Johan.

Kit Details
Aircraft: Junkers Ju 86Z
Scale: 1/72
Kits used: Italeri #1029 (+ #120)
Parts: 104 light grey + 8 clear injection molded
Surface detail: finely raised
Decals: 2 options
Accuracy: very good
Price: bought for 10 euro in a sale.


The Junkers Ju 86 is one of those mid 1930’s designs that were modern at birth, but soon overtaken by rapid advances in aviation technology. It was designed to a 1934 specification for a fast airliner/medium bomber. Although Junkers opted for the modern smooth stressed skin instead of the tried and tested corrugated skin, he still stuck with the drag-inducing “double wing”. Flight testing of the prototype revealed unpleasant handling characteristics which necessitated some redesign work. Stability problems were only alleviated by the introduction of a long fin like extension to the rear fuselage in the C version. The somewhat weak narrow track under carriage remained a problem throughout it service life. Another feature that prevented the Junkers 86 from becoming an export success was the original choice of engine. Junkers had chosen to use their new Jumo 205 diesel. Although these engines had a less favorable power to weight ratio than conventional engines, they offered a far superior fuel efficiency. The drawback was that the Jumo 205 needed a different fuel and maintenance crew were not used to dealing with diesels. In 1937 in order to improve the potential for export orders Junkers decided to offer the 86 with optional BMW license-built PW Hornet radial engines. Although the fuel consumption of these engines was increased over the 205, they offered a significant improvement in performance. The radial engined variant attracted more customers, the most well known being the Swedish air force. Other customers were Chile, Hungary, South Africa and Japan/Manchuria. The Ju 86 performed satisfactorily during the Spanish civil war but the He 111 was clearly superior. By the time the Second World War began the 86 was simply too slow to be of any operational value. Most ended their days in the training and transport role. There were a few exceptions to this though. Junkers had developed two very high altitude versions of the 86, the P and R, and these remained operational throughout the war as strategic photo-reconnaissance machines.  Although Junkers had orders for some 840 aircraft, for both the civil and the military versions, less then half that number were actually built when the outbreak of war dictated other priorities.

The Kit

Inside a top-opening box you will find two light grey sprues and a clear one, with a total of 112 parts. Of these 32 will not be needed for this version. The moulding quality is very good with no flash, sink marks or ejector marks. The transparent parts are clear and free of scratches despite being packed in the same bag as the other sprues. Surface detail is by way of very fine raised lines. The instruction leaflet includes a short history, a parts location diagram, six easy to follow construction steps and two 4-view colour schemes. The large sharply printed decal sheet offers markings for an all metal Swiss Z-1 type and a B-0 type of Lufthansa. 


Dimensionally the kit is right on track.  Built straight from the box it will result in an accurate replica of the original Ju 86 Z-1. The kit captures the graceful lines of this mid 30’s design very well.


As I wanted to build a Manchurian Z-2 I needed to replace the Z-1 kit diesel engines with radial engines. I also needed a longer tail. For these I resorted to Italeri's sister kit of the Ju-86 E1/E2. I started by glueing the wings together and then the engine fairings and set them aside to dry. The interior of the fuselage was next. The structural detail was simulated with Evergreen plastic stock strip of various sizes. The floor was lengthened so it extended all the way to the rear bulkhead. The cockpit area is made up of 7 parts. I replaced the rather clunky armchair type seat with a more suitable item from the spares box. I also added some equipment boxes and other details. The fuselage door was put into place and I added hinge fairings to the outside. Then the cabin windows where installed and the fuselage was closed. 

After the fuselage had dried I chopped of the short tail end and replaced it with the long part removed from the E version. As this is the civil version, the holes for the bomb bay doors and the crew access hatch have to be closed in the wing center section. These parts don’t fit very well, and as they are rather thin I strengthened the whole assembly with more strips of Evergreen stock. This will prevent break up during filling and sanding. The center section was then glued to the fuselage and left to dry before sanding everything smooth. 

I turned my attention back to the wings now. The first thing was to add rib detail to the wheel wells. Then the engine fairings where mounted. These fitted so well that no filler was needed at all. The engines where now painted and installed in their cowlings. After the fuselage was sanded, the wings where put on. I needed to remove quite a bit of the locating tabs to get a good fit. I replaced the strengthening strip over the join with a new one made from Evergreen strip. The tail wings and fins where next, followed by the landing gear. The canopy didn’t fit very well and needed to be faired in with filler. The “double” wings went on without a problem. The cowlings were fitted next followed by the rest of the smaller exterior details.

Painting and Decals

Painting details are suggested with Testors Model Master numbers as well as generic descriptions and, where available, by FS595b numbers. The instructions suggest pale green for the interior but I chose to use RLM 02 instead. Several other colours were used for the smaller details. The instructions of the Blue Rider decal sheet that I chose to use (BR-256) only states light grey for the airframe and dark blue for the engines. I pondered for a while what these colours could actually be, and in the end decided that they might be German pre war colours. I looked for colours that would be closest to colours the Japanese used at the time. So I used a light blue grey for the airframe, which appears close to L40/52 Hellgrau although the actual paint might have been Ikarol single paint 132/3 Grau which is recorded for the Ju 86 in a Lufthansa list from 1936. And for the engines I used dark blue gray. This colour  resembles a very dark navy blue. The Manchurian machines remained in service throughout the war and pictures show that the dark paint on the engines faded rather badly. I simulated this by dry brushing the upper areas with azure blue. I could not find evidence that the fins of these machines were only painted yellow on the upper half as per the Blue Rider instructions. In photographs there is no evidence of a demarcation line between the yellow and light grey. So I painted the whole fin yellow. This seemed more logical to me as the Fokker Universals and Ki 34 of the MKKK also had all yellow tails. 

I painted the spinners in roundel blue. The panel lines were highlighted with a black pencil. The model was given a clear gloss coat in preparation for the decals. The decals went on ok but had trouble conforming over the raised details. As the normal Agama setting solution had no effect I used the extra strong formula. This made the decals start to shrivel terribly but I resisted the urge to touch them. After a few hours they had settled down so well that they almost looked painted on. The model was then given a wash with dark aquarelle paint to break up the plain finish of the grey paint. Then everything was sealed in with a coat of satin varnish. I used pastels to create an exhaust trail and staining on the underside of the wings where the wheels would throw up dirt. With everything ready I added the antenna wires. Although the Blue Rider instructions show three antenna masts I couldn’t find photographic evidence for that configuration so I just used the kit part, and ran wires to each of the fins.


This is very much an oldie but goody. Even though the basic military variant of this kit came out some 30 years ago it holds up pretty well. The civil variant is from a more recent date. While detailing is not up to modern standards, the kit builds with few problems and is accurate. The Italeri/Revell kits are still the only ones available and as they are pretty good it is unlikely there will be anything new in the near future. 

After completing the conversion I noticed that Revel had actually released a kit of the Z-2 (kit nr.4260), so I could have spared myself the trouble of doing my own conversion. If you are wondering what I will do with the left over parts from both kits… well the short tail and the diesels are exactly what is needed for a Ju 86A!

Waffen Arsenal Band 163 
Air Enthusiast #20
Putnam German aircraft of the Second World War
Monogram Official painting guide to German aircraft 1935-1945

Image credits: All model photos © 2013 Johan de Wolf; Box art © ItaleriJu 86 photos author's collection and via Insignia of China


Ken Glass said...

Nice work, Johan.

Ken Glass

Dan Salamone said...

Beautiful model of an "obscure" subject. Great job!

Ronnie Olsthoorn said...

Very cool model! If it wasn't for the pictures one would be excused to think that "combining two Italeri kits" and "Ju 86 Z" would turn out to be a twin (Zwilling) configuration! :D
But this one is special enough as it is.

One nitpick... the font. It's a pity the modeller chose the wrong font style for the serial, as it really looks a bit odd this way.

I have a gut feeling the engine cowlings might have been RLM 02 instead and indeed period postcards (in colour) as published in Arawasi's excellent book on Machurian aircraft seems to back this up. Even so the profile illustration in the same boom portrays the engines in black, which must be incorrect.

Whatever the case, the model does look great!