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Spiros Pendedekas
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Revell/MPM 1/72 Junkers Ju 290Z Zwilling w/He-178P

November 19, 2021 · in Aviation · · 40 · 2.6K

Hauptman Steinhoorn was a true envisionist (some called him mad): upon seeing the first Ju 290s developed from the civil Ju 90 versions, he put pressure on everybody to adopt concept of joining two 290s with a common central wing, using a reinforced central wing part, strong enough to tolerate massive twisting stresses the unjoined tails would impose! The resulting plane would have exceptional range and endurance, a so sought after maritime patrol aspect, retaining (more or less) the “original” 290's reinforced construction (the lack of which doomed the Condor). There were concerns that such projects would desperately need their “parasite” fighter protection, in case an enemy fighter showed up, yet, the proposed Me-328 “Parasite Fighter” project was far from being materialized. The daring Steinhoorn would undertake the task of constructing a heavily modified He-178V1 prototype, making it all-metal, adding 4 small guns at the wings and install two aft pulsejets (!), with two down facing winglets to compensate for the stability problems the pulsejets would impose. His superiors (well, everybody, apart from the Junkers Company mad designer…), told him he was crazy… Well, beginning is half of everything and Steinhoorn knew that. All (!) he had to do was to somehow manage getting his project started simultaneously with the beginning of the standard 290 project, otherwise, any potential interest would fade in time. The siege of his superiors lasted for two weeks before they gave up, signaling a “green light” to him, them remaining in wondering how on earth they gave permission to use two (!) Ju290s, practically prototypes, in order to be joined after having their preciously designed wings cut, with a gremlin parasite prototype carried on top… The rest was untold history…
It was one of those cold February nights in 1943, with Steinhoorn comfortably seated in “his” Ju 290Z left cockpit, executing yet another long maritime patrol. “Long” is an understatement! With those extra fuel tanks added in the central wing and 4 of the 8 engines feathered during patrolling, his flying giant could stay airborne for the whole night! Enemy night fighters had little luck discovering him with their primitive (if any) radars. That “night blue” camo (Steinhoorn's idea) helped the massive remain unseen above the Atlantic in practically all weather conditions. This really daring scheme consisted of a disruptive pattern of “Navy” dark blue/intermediate blue tops, their borders highlighted with light blue. That disruptive top camo kind of “stealthed” the giant over the endless Atlantic waters, even under the moonlight. Indeed, his one-off Zwilling had already accumulated a full operational year, patrolling the vast North Atlantic area, being responsible for many ships and submarines sinking.
Based at Merignac, operating strictly at night, covered by large camoed canvases during daytime, the Zwilling was really a lucky giant, for not having been discovered. The effects of weathering were evident: pressed into service, chipped paint could be seen at places, mainly as no proper salt resistant priming was applied under the “night blue” camo. Quite a bit of dirtying was evident, as it was avoided to remove the canvas cover of the giant for cleaning during daytime. Oh, and those underwing RATO exhaust gases stains….It was another Steinhoorn's idea to fit two prototype RATOs under the central wing part, in order to shorten the takeoff run. He loved them, used them everytime!
So there he was, with his 18-man crew, plus his friend, Hauptman Ziegel, patiently seated in the modified parasite, sporting the same “Midnight Blue” camo, as well (only an extremely skillful pilot would be allowed in the handful Heinkel). Steinhoorn had somehow foreseen the war outcome, not very favorable for his country, his one-off Zwilling not enough to make any difference. Still, he was proud that he insisted on this ultra-long range and endurance maritime reconnaissance project, with time proving that he was right. Deep in his heart, all he wished was an end for this mad war, with the least possible damage, so he could establish some magic friendships with his – by that time – enemies…

And the real story

The Junkers was a large German, four-engine long-range transport, maritime patrol aircraft and heavy bomber used by the Luftwaffe late in World War II that had been developed from an earlier airliner.
Junkers project documents from 1942 to 1944 indicated that a Zwilling variant was proposed. It was to be composed of two Ju 290 fuselages and powered by eight BMW 9-801 engines; two mounted on each outboard wing and four on the inboard wing. It was to carry a single Messerschmitt Me 328 parasite fighter on top of the right fuselage. The Ju 290Z was canceled in favor of the Ju 390.

This was a what-if project that combined two Ju-290s and a He-178. All are wonderful kits in their own ways (the Revells very detailed mainstream ones, the MPM equally detailed short run, but easilly built). The two Ju-290s were joined in the middle by sawing off corresponding wing parts and glue them together, with some sanding/filling/resanding and rescribing taking place. The Heinkel was scratch-modified to look like a hybrid gas turbine/pulse-jet prototype. The camo was inspired by imagining the Zwilling flying at night over the Atlantic, playing with the moonshine.
Should you wish to read the full build review (which, understandably, is not amongst the smallest), you may do so by visiting my beloved Modelingmadness via the link below:

Happy modeling!

Reader reactions:
9  Awesome

1 additional image. Click to enlarge.

40 responses

  1. @fiveten
    Spiros, this is one of the wackiest zwilling combinations I’ve seen in a model form, and that small Heinkel with pulse engines as a piggyback fighter is just the cherry on top of the cake.
    It’s a stunning/daring model, and the camouflage looks terrific also. Bravo and thanks for posting!

  2. WoW, very nice project. Well done mate (@fiveten). I was thinking about building some willing by my own. This was some cazy machine. I am always wondering how they was navigate (probably pilots of both machines should be perfectly synchronized). Best regards

  3. Fantastic build as usual, Spiros @fiveten.
    Amazing camouflage pattern on this wacky combination as well.
    Your article on MM was also a pleasure to read.

  4. Wowzers once again, Spiros!
    Excellent paint work - and fancy mods to match the kits together.
    You might need an actual aircraft hanger to have this one on display.

  5. And one more great build Spiros @fiveten. Like the outdoors pictures.

  6. Strange concept, love the camo finish ...real nice !

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  7. Cool! Wonder if the parasite pilot would sit in the cockpit all night during patrols... 😀

    Now, find yourself a couple of Blohm & Voss Viking to do the same with Could fit 4 parasite planes underneath the wings.

  8. I don't know where you find the time to get all these fantastic build done Spiros, @fiveten. Excellent build and I love the paint scheme. That would have been massive in flight.

  9. Very cool, love the paint scheme! I hadn't heard of the Ju 290, so had to read up on it. I learned something new today! 🙂

  10. it is. I was waiting to see if you would post additional photos and you did. Such a mind blowing model @fiveten. You’ve done it again. I can’t imagine this beast could ever get airborne. Nice thorough piece you wrote for MM but your “what if” tale is pretty cool.

  11. Amazing Spiros @fiveten, this is a very big build. The story is very catchy, but the real story is still interesting. You do build some very interesting subjects! Great paint job and finish!

  12. Brilliant work, @fiveten. A monument to serious creativity and talent.

  13. Wow Spiros, that is a real monster project!

  14. What they said, great work!

  15. Amazing work. Big ! It reminds me strangely enough of Jules Verne’s
    Robert the conqueror !

  16. @fiveten Spiros, that is a giant beauty! ? Great job on a fantastic aircraft! ?

  17. Inspired build! Love the backstory and all the attention to detail. You made this insane idea seem plausible.

  18. Man, that has to take up some real estate on the display shelves! A great-looking project - love the paint scheme.

  19. It's mad and cool at the same time 🙂

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