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Mike

Dornier Do.217J-1/2 (48272) 1:48

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Dornier Do.217J-1/2 (48272)

1:48 ICM via Hannants

 

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The origin of the Do.217 was the Do.17 Flying Pencil as it was colloquially known, 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 and another four 20mm cannons in the front of the gondola for concentrated forward fire.  The crews disliked it due to the increased weight of the extra equipment 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.  The J-2 was little better, changing the 20mm FF/M cannons out for MG151s and removing the vestigial aft bomb bay, which was faired over with an appropriate drop in overall weight.  Some of this weight was gained back with the installation of the  FuG 202 Lichtenstein radar.  This still wasn’t enough and the crews continued complaining, leading Dornier to produce the improved N series, which eventually entered service in small numbers as the N-1 and N-2 variants. 

 

 

The Kit

This is a minor tooling revision from ICM, based upon the sprues from the J series’ successor, the N series that ICM tooled first.  You can see our review of the N-1 here, and you might recognise the main sprue pictures below if you view them side-by-side (hint: they’re the same pics).  The additional sprues cover parts for the backdating of the engines and nacelles to the earlier BMW 801 radials, as well as a new nose cone and cover for the radar equipped J-2 and earlier J-1 with its clean radar-free nose.

 

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New Sprues

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Construction begins with the well-detailed cockpit and fuselage, which is almost identical to the N until you reach the nose cone, giving you a choice of the unadorned J-1 nose with cover for the tip where previous variants had searchlights, or the similar J-2 nose that has a pair of supports for the radar whiskers.  The wings and tail are also identical to the N, although the new engines and nacelles are where things start to diverge properly.  The radial BMW units are made up from two banks of pistons, the rear set having a bulkhead moulded in, then has the ancillaries and cooling fan added to the front.  The cowlings are built in sections with exhaust stubs fitted to the insides, with three sections linked to complete the cylindrical cowling into which the engine slots before being locked in by the front cowling lip.  This of course is done twice, as are the nacelles, which have ribbing detail moulded within and bulkheads to add detail and prevent see-through issues.  The engine cowling slots onto the front of the nacelle and the retraction jacks are installed from above before it is fitted to the wing, as are the main oleos, mudguards and the two-piece wheels.  You can also add in the gear bay doors at this point if you’re a masochist, or leave them off until main painting is over.

 

The underside is completed by adding in the engine nacelles, completing the rear of the gondola under the nose with its glazing and inserting the closed bomb bay doors for the J-1, or by leaving the bay open, adding the extra fuel tank that was used to extend range, and installing the bifold doors in the open position.  The retractable rear wheel also has its doors fitted with a small insert in front of the bay, finishing off the area.  Flipping the model over shows the open cockpit, which needs the remaining parts adding before the glazing can be glued in place.  Some small parts are added to the inside of the canopy before it is put in place, with the rear turret and defence machine gun added into the rear fairing.  Additional appliqué armoured glass is present on the two front canopy panels, which can be “glued” with some clear varnish, making certain you haven’t trapped any bubbles between the parts before you set it to one side to dry.  The next steps involve guns.  Lots of them.  All the barrels are slotted into the nose and your choice of nose cap is fitted, with the radar whiskers made up and cut to size for the J-2 decal options.  The props are made up from a single part with all blades moulded in, then trapped between the front and rear parts of the spinner.  The last parts are a set of cheek “pouches” at are fixed to either side of each nacelle with a set of curved grilles moulded in, and two exhaust deflectors on the top of the nacelles.

 

 

Markings

There are four decal options available from the decal sheet, only one of which is a J-1, the rest being J-2s of course.  There are a variety of paint schemes too, with three using splinter on the upper surfaces but with three different heights of demarcation between the top and bottom colours that will require you to stay on the ball when masking.  The other option is an all-black machine with all the opportunities of weathering and fading that black allows.  I remember my art teacher telling me there is no such thing as true black, but that was before Black 3.0 was released!

 

From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Do.217J-1 II./NJG 1, Hungary 1944
  • Do.217J-2, Germany Spring 1942
  • Do.217J-2, Germany Autumn 1942 (with optional camouflage variation)
  • Do.217J-2, 4./NJG 3, Denmark, 1944

 

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The decals aren’t marked by its printers, but they’re in good register with colour density and sharpness that should be more than acceptable for use and have a glossy carrier film that is cut close to the printing, with a few exceptions on the codes.

 

Conclusion

Another detailed kit of the Flying Pencil and its relatives, filling a gap in the range that’s now available from ICM.  I can’t wait to see what’s next?

 

Highly recommended.

 

Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd.

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Review sample courtesy of

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