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Mike

Dornier Do.217N-1 Night Fighter (48271) 1:48

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Dornier Do.217N-1 Night Fighter (48271)

1:48 ICM via Hannants Ltd.

 

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The origin of the Do.217 was the Do.17 flying pencil as it was colloquially know, to extract more power from the engines, extend its range and give it a better bomb load amongst other improvements.  The resulting airframe was a good one and left the early war designs in its wake becoming known as a heavy bomber in Luftwaffe service, something they were very short of throughout the war.  It was also a versatile aircraft much like the Ju.88, and was adapted to many other roles like its predecessors, including the night fighter role, to which it was suited, although not initially.  Various engine types were used through the endless rounds of improvements, with radial and inline engines fitted in a seemingly random pattern throughout the aircraft's life.

 

The first night fighter was the J-1 with radial engines, had a crew of three in an enlarged cockpit and solid nose sporting four MG17 machine guns for concentrated forward fire.  The crews disliked it however, and criticism led to an order to cease production of the night fighter variants, which Dornier either didn't receive or chose to ignore.  This resulted in the improved N series, which eventually entered service in small numbers as the N-1 and N-2 variants.  The N-1 was first into production and used the DB603 inline engine with the defensive armament sometimes removed and replaced by wooden blanking plates to lessen weight and improve handling.

 

 

The Kit

Although the aircraft itself it a very close relative to the Do.17 and Do.215, this is quite a different tooling due to the changes made to the fuselage and cockpit, the inline engines that are partially moulded into the top of the wing.  There are some common parts, but the sprues are all new layouts from what I can make out as I don't have access to all the various boxings that have been released.  Detail is of course good, with lots of engraved panel lines, raised details where appropriate and a pair of Daimler Benz engines with optional cowlings, detailed cockpit and gear bays, and new crystal clear glazing.  Inside the top opening box with inner flap on the lower part you will find six sprues in grey styrene, one in clear styrene, a decal sheet and instruction booklet with decal options printed on the glossy outer cover.

 

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Construction begins with the pilot's small raised floor with seat and substantial head armour surrounding its rear, the instrument panel with control column and bomb-sight attached, then the port sidewall is added to the fuselage with the sub-assemblies affixed to their mounting point.  A pair of bulkheads are fitted fore and aft along with a short spar unit that pierces the fuselage and is linked to the rear plectrum-shaped bulkhead by a long panel that is useful if you were wanting to pose the bomb bay open.  You can leave these parts out if you wish, but I'd be tempted to add it for a bit of extra strength.  Later on the bay is detailed with ribbing before the doors are added in the open position.  The starboard fuselage half has its sidewall inserted next together with more floor and a crew seat plus some boxes at the rear, then the fuselage can be closed up as long as you have remembered the bracket in the tail wheel bay.  The solid nose is added to the front along with a gun-pack insert just under the cockpit floor, then the tail wheel yoke, two part wheel and surround.  The upper wing closes up the fuselage and is joined by the lower wings, which in turn receive the separate aileron parts, then the big H-tail is made up and this straddles the fuselage closing up the last gap (apart from the cockpit).

 

detail-engine.jpg

 

The engine nacelles have their fairings moulded into the wings, but the bulk of the cowling is supplied as a separate sub-assembly that is made up from halves with bulkheads and the boxed in areas of the wheel bays, plus a radiator bath underneath and a streamlined cowling over the top.  This is done in mirror image (minus the engines, which are identical) on both nacelles, with shrouded exhausts and a four-bladed prop.  If you are using the engines and leaving the cowlings off, you cut off the front of the nacelle during construction to reveal the firewall to which a nicely detailed rendition of the DB engine is added on each side with supercharger, radiator and engine mounts giving extra detail.  The wheel bays are filled with an H-shaped strut with mudguard, retraction jack and two part wheel held between the two legs.  The gear bay doors are fitted to the edge of the bays and then the sub-assemblies are added from below to the wings.  Most people will likely leave the gear off until after painting, but there you are.

 

Finishing off the airframe involves the rear of the under-nose gondola with its single machine gun and glazing, the bomb bay doors in either open or closed configuration with an additional fuel tank in the forward part of it as was sometimes carried, which to my way of thinking is the only reason for displaying the doors open.  A pair of tail wheel doors are added, then the model is flipped over and the rear gunner's seat and circular mount  are fitted at the rear of the cockpit and that corresponds with the hole in the rear of the single-part glazing.  The gun and its fairing are glued in place after this, and a set of armoured front windows are glued to the front.  I'd use some clear gloss here to bond the two layers, being careful not to get any bubbles between the layers.  Aerials, gun muzzles under the nose, clear searchlight at the tip of the nose and the radar dipoles are the last items fixed in the instructions with good reason as they're rather delicate.

 

 

Markings

Night fighters.  Black, right?  Not this one, and from the four options available on the sheet, only one of them is black.  The others have RLM76 undersides and RLM75 grey uppers, with two also having an RLM74 splinter pattern that extends onto the fuselage and a choice of low or high demarcations.  There are scrap diagrams of the inner tail fins, and an alternative nose for option B, which has the lower RLM76 area covered with blotches of the camo colours.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • GG+YD Rechlin, Germany, Spring 1943Reviews
  • GG+YG Rechlin, Germany, Summer 1943
  • 05+SM I./NJG 3, Denmark, 1944
  • 3C+DV II./NJG 4, Germany, late 1943

 

 

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The decals are crisp with good registration, colour density and sharpness, but are printed anonymously but look a lot like DecoGraph to this reviewer.  Instrument decals are included on the sheet along with a substantial number of stencils that are dealt with separately on the page before the profiles to avoid confusion.

 

 

Conclusion

I have a thing about night fighters so I'm a little biased, but these new kits from ICM are excellent and provide the right amount of detail at a good price, with some unusual or lesser known subjects and variants.  Long gone are the days of only a couple of models of Dornier's successful bomber range in this scale.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd.

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Review sample courtesy of

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The box says it is 1:48 ,while the review states it is in 1:35? :) 

 

The box says it is 1:48 ,while the review states it is in 1:35? :) 

 

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18 minutes ago, Golikell said:

The box says it is 1:48 ,while the review states it is in 1:35? :) 

 

The box says it is 1:48 ,while the review states it is in 1:35? :) 

So good you said it twice?  I was going to do a 1:35 review, but changed my mind last minute :shrug:

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Must have been a glitch... We have network issues overhere... :( 

Ah... that explains everything :D 

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