Aviation History

The Ju 388 Project: Restoring the Cockpit of a Rare Warbird

Ju 388

A German physicist is hoping to reproduce the cockpit of a rare WWII warbird  Ju 388 from scratch using the power of 3D printing.

Dr. Christoph Vernaleken is a physicist from Germany with a doctorate in engineering and has been an aviation enthusiast all his life.

He is particularly interested in the Junkers Ju 388 L, a high-altitude reconnaissance plane which appeared near the end of the war. Now he wants to reproduce the cockpit of this rare WWII warbird himself with the help of 3D printing, which he calls the “Ju 388 Project”.


The last surviving plane is stored in the Restoration and Storage Facility of the non-public Paul E. Garber Preservation (also known as ‘Silver Hill’), located in Suitland, Maryland, USA.


Vernaleken said to i.materialise: “My interest in the Junkers Ju 388 started in April 1993 with approximately two rolls of classic 35 mm negative film that I shot in the cockpit of this magnificent aircraft at the Silver Hill storage facility.”

What are the benefits of 3D printing in this project?


Dr. Vernaleken learned about online 3D printing services in 2013 and immediately decided to give it a try using a battered original Bakelite bezel of a cockpit switch panel as a basis for a 3D reconstruction.

For 3D software, he started with the free version of SketchUp, but is now using Punch! ViaCAD Pro 9. Once he is satisfied with his 3D model, he usually makes an STL export and uploads it to i.materialise. To assure the accuracy of his print is correct, Dr. Vernaleken usually creates a first test print using a cheaper material.

He said: “3D Printing is the only economically feasible way of creating reproductions of cockpit parts which were originally cast in metal or created from historic plastic materials such as Bakelite in small numbers.”

If this interests you, then make sure to check out Dr. Vernaleken’s website and let us know what you think of this project in the comments.