Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2 Book Review

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Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2

By Chris Goss, profiles by Chris Davey

Series:  Osprey Combat Aircraft 129

Softcover, 96 pages, appendices, 30 color profiles, and index

Published by Osprey Publishing, September 2019

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1472829638

ISBN-13: 978-1472829634

Dimensions:  7.3 x 0.3 x 9.8 inches

State of the art when introduced in the mid-1930s, the Dornier Do 17 was fast approaching obsolescence at the beginning of the Second World War.  It was intended that the “Flying Pencil” would be able to out-run defending fighters, but such was the pace of aeronautical development that it was not considered fast even for a bomber by the start of the war.  Coupled with its poor range and limited bomb load it was destined to be replaced in short order, but along with the Heinkel He 111 the Dornier Do 17 made up the medium bomber arm of the Luftwaffe for the first year of the war.

The Do 17 served with the Condor Legion in Spain, and in the Battle of France.  In the Battle of Britain losses mounted and several units began transition training to the new Ju 88.  Surviving units fought in Greece and in Russia, but by 1942 front-line units had converted to the Ju 88 or the more powerful Do 217 development of the design.  Still, some Do 17s soldiered on in auxiliary roles through the end of the war.

This work tells the story of the units which flew the Do 17 in Luftwaffe service and in the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War.  Much of the text reads as a loss list, with dates, places, and crew names given for the aircraft involved.  Being a type with marginal performance figures, attrition was constant and the detailed listing of losses soon becomes repetitive.  The profiles offer little relief, as the vast majority are finished in the same standard Luftwaffe bomber camouflage scheme of 70 / 71 over 65, with a little variation provided by the Condor Legion schemes or those aircraft wearing black distemper for night raids.

Overall there are no surprises here for those familiar with Osprey’s Combat Aircraft series.  The format follows the familiar formula with photographs and color profiles.  The repetitive nature of the writing provides some useful information for amateur researchers, but tends to make recreational reading a slog.  Good for picking a specific Do 17 as a modeling subject.

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Fine Molds Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-2 of Werner Mölders in 1/72 Scale

Werner “Vati” Mölders fought in the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War and was the leading German ace there with 14 victories.  He flew with JG 53 during the French Campaign, where he was shot down and captured, later to be released after France surrendered.  He was credited with 25 victories during the Battle of France and another 30 during the Battle of Britain.  Mölders was the first pilot to be credited with passing the 100 victory mark, which he did on 15JUL41.  This resulted in a promotion to Oberst (Colonel) at 28 and a ban from further combat flying.  Mölders effectively ignored the ban, leading his squadron on “instructional flights” against Soviet aircraft.  Mölders was killed while flying back to Germany aboard a transport for the funeral of Ernst Udet, the aircraft crashing during a thunderstorm.  He was credited with 115 official victories, and as many as 30 more were unofficially scored after his ban on combat flying.

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Airfix Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I in 1/72 Scale

This is the Airfix new tool Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I turret fighter, markings are from Xtradecal sheet X72117.  The model depicts a Defiant from No. 264 Sqn based at Hornchurch in August 1940.  This was the aircraft used by Plt Off E. G. Barwell on 24AUG40 to claim a Bf 109E for his sixth victory.   The aircraft was lost over Thanet on 28AUG40.

The Defiant is generally thought of as an unsuccessful design by aviation enthusiasts, so I was a little surprised to learn that it was credited with quite a few victories given the small numbers deployed.  The most successful Defiant ace was Sgt E. R. Thorn of No. 264 Sqn who was credited with twelve victories.

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Airfix Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I Build in 1/72 Scale

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Airfix released their new-tool Boulton Paul Defiant Mk.I in 2015.  A nice kit, and we see Airfix building upon their success with finer panel lines while still providing nice wheelwells and cockpit components.  Assembly is also straight forward and the kit is well engineered.  The unusual configuration of this subjects leads to a few traps for the unwary, but these are easily avoided with a little planning.

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The cockpit is well appointed and goes together without difficulty.  Either on this build, or Airfix’s Spitfire, or Hurricane I had no issues with fitting cockpit components or over-sized cockpits spreading the fuselage sides.  There is one issue to mention at this point however – the turret gun ring must be installed before the fuselage halves are joined or it will be difficult (impossible?) to insert without damage later.

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Here is the interior all painted up, washed with black and drybrushed with silver.  The instrument decal is a bit basic but adequate, superdetailers will want an aftermarket substitute here.  Seatbelts are Eduard PE, and I scratchbuilt a leather seat cushion for the pilot.

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I thought the landing gear covers were too thick, so I cut replacements from plastic stock using the kit pieces as patterns.  This is a simple fix which adds a lot to the model.  Check out the depth of those wheelwells, one of Airfix’s strengths and much appreciated.

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The landing light lenses are installed at this point with copious amounts of superglue, and the navigation lights on the wingtips get the same treatment with bits of clear sprue.  I should also mention that the trailing edges of the wings are much too thick and need filing down before joining.

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The transparencies on the wings are filed down and polished smooth to restore clarity in this view.  They will be masked off before painting.

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The camouflage pattern is masked off with poster putty.  Eduard masks were used for the canopies, highly recommended on this kit due to the complexity of the gun turret framing.  Airfix gives the modeler three option for the canopy on this kit – open, closed with the rear section up, and closed with the rear section down so the turret can be traversed.  Likewise, the turtledeck behind the turret can be modeled up or down.  I had intended to build my model with an open canopy, but the sliding portions did not fit well so I went with the closed canopy and lowered turtledeck.  Also my kit had the dreaded Airfix flow lines in some of the clear parts, so inspect your parts before deciding which option you want to build.

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Painting went without difficulty.  Markings are from the Xtradecal sheet X72117 for the Battle of Britain.  The camouflage pattern on this particular aircraft was not completely standard as it appears to have received some replacement engine panels.

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I replaced the gun barrels with brass parts from Master.  These are remarkably detailed and much, much more rugged than the Airfix soft plastic barrels.  The pitot tube was also replaced with Albion Alloy tube and bronze rod as I am quite capable of ham-fistedness and would likely break it off if not replaced.

Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia in 1/72 Scale

This is the Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia kit with markings from Xtradecal sheet X72117.  X4474 was assigned to No. 19 Sqn during the Battle of Britain.  It was flown by Sgt Jennings on 27SEP40 when he downed a Bf 109 of JG 54 south of the Thames.  It was later assigned to No. 602 Sqn where it was flown by Plt Off Archie Lyall to score a probable on 06NOV40.

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Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia Build in 1/72 Scale

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This is the Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia kit released in 2010, one of the first of the Airfix renaissance.  The kit is now well known to modelers so I won’t post sprue shots, those can be easily located on the web if desired.  The kit has several strong points but has been justifiably criticized for having overly deep and wide panel lines which are reminiscent of a die-cast model.

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One of the strong points is the interior.  The cockpit is well detailed, and the wheel wells are deep.  The plastic is soft compared to other manufacturers.  If you notice the fuselage halves are thick, but there were no sink marks on any of the parts so I suspect that is the reason for Airfix choosing the softer plastic.

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The cockpit painted up and washed with black acrylic to bring out the details.  The instrument panel is a decal, which is adequate but could be improved for those wanting more detail.  I added Eduard belts and seat cushion made from plastic stock and masking tape.

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Airfix has molded the landing gear legs as part of the doors.  Eduard’s Spitfire IX kits left a large bag of leftover parts for the spares box, so I raided the extras for some better landing gear components.

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The Eduard spares actually fit the Airfix kit pretty well.  Airfix provides some nice wheelwell detail, but this shot also illustrates the excessive panel line engraving.

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I sprayed the undersurfaces Sky and the upper Dark Earth, then masked the camouflage pattern with poster putty.

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I used Mr. Color for the uppersurfaces and Testors Model Master for the Sky.  I think the Mr. Color Dark Earth is a bit too dark and not yellow enough, and the Dark Green could be a little darker.  The colors should have a little more contrast.  For what it’s worth, the Model Master Dark Earth matches the tone of the Mr. Color paint, so maybe the problem is my perception.

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Here is a shot of the finished model.  Decals are from Xtradecal sheet X72117 for the Battle of Britain.  These laid down well but have a tendency to want to ball up so be careful when applying them.  As an aside I test fit a spare Eduard canopy to the Airfix fuselage, the Eduard kit is much more narrow compared to the Airfix.