Classic Airframes 1/48 Dornier Do-17Z
Kit #4114 MSRP $77.00
Images and text Copyright © 2007 by Gary Buchanan
The Dornier Do17Z was to be the definitive development of the Do 17 series and was based on the M version and experience gained in with earlier versions in combat usage. In this version the entire forward fuselage was changed. The 17 series had always had rather cramped crew quarters and on the Z version the roof was raised and fully glazed. The bombardierís station was glazed with flat panels and the lower part of the fuselage was bulged and extended aft to a point near the leading edge of the wing, terminating in a position for a rearward and down facing machine gun position. Additional gun locations were added to the rear portion of the cockpit. The Z-1, which was first produced near the end of 1938, was essentially the same airframe as the M-1 apart from the new forward fuselage and performance remained the same in spite of the increase in drag. It retained the good handling characteristics of its predecessor but the additional crew member and armament caused it to be underpowered when carrying the maximum bomb load and this was reduced to 1000 lb. The bomb load was restored in early 1939 when the 17Z-2 equipped with engines with two stage superchargers became available. The original bomb load of 2,205 lb. could then be carried but at the cost of range. The 17Z-3 carried automatic cameras in the entry hatch. The 17Z-4 was a field modification to a dual control trainer and the 17Z-5 was fitted with flotation bags and additional life saving equipment to make it suitable to long range over water reconnaissance missions. The aircraft was said to be popular with both flying and ground crews and was the most reliable of all the Luftwaffe bombers but it lacked the bomb load of the He 111 and the speed of the Ju 88 and production was terminated in the summer of 1940. The total number of Z's produced was around 500.
When word was released that Classic Airframes would be doing a Do17Z it was great news as the only other extant 1/48 scale kit was the Hobbycraft version which was at best lackluster and beset with errors including the banana fuselage and lacking good interior detail. From the looks of things CA has not let us down. The kit comes in a two part box that is a bit thin but adequate, with a nice looking rendition of the 17Z in flight. Inside the box is a large zip lock bag containing the five main sprues, a smaller zip lock bag with the resin parts and a sealed plastic bag with the clear parts. While the zip lock bag for the main parts is nice in that it can be resealed to keep parts from sneaking away, I would have preferred to see each of the sprues bagged separately. There was some scuffing on the parts from shipping and a few parts that had come loose from the sprues.
The parts all have a nice smooth glossy finish and the panel lines are nicely engraved (to my eye anyway, the ones Tamiya and some others use always look too wide and deep to me) but they may not be deep enough once itís painted for washes to work well. The main parts appear free of surface defects. The only sink mark I found was a small one of the backside of each of the main landing gear struts. The small parts had light flash and mold parting lines that will need to be cleaned up. I found no ejector pin marks anywhere that would show such as the inside of landing gear or bomb bay doors. There are a couple ejector towers inside the bomb bay you will want to remove if you display the kit with the bomb bay doors open and others on the inside mating surfaces of the horizontal tail halves that will need to be removed prior to assembly.
You may click on the small images above to view larger pictures
The vertical tail fins and rudders are one piece moldings. All of the control surfaces are molded integral to the wings and tail. Some of the injection gates are heavier than that of the main stream kits so some care will need to be exercised removing parts from the sprues. The fuselage has been divided to make future versions possible. The main fuselage from the forward edge of the wing back is split vertically while the forward portion is split horizontally to make it easier to install the interior parts. With this set up it should be possible to make most of the Do 17 versions the E/F, M/P, K, 215 and the night fighter versions. I don't know what CA has planned but I imagine that they will want to get a maximum return on the investment in the dies. There are five sprues of a medium gray plastic with 104 parts on them; two are identical so only four are shown above.
The bag of resin parts contains 19 cream colored parts consisting of the two engines, cockpit seats, cockpit side panel details, bomb bay parts, instrument panel, tail wheel housing, air scoops, and bomb sight. All parts were crisply molded with no voids or pinholes that I could find on casual inspection. There was some light flash but it should clean up easily. All parts were intact. The two crew seats were very delicate and some care will need to be exercised when handling and cleaning them. The instrument panel has raised detail for bezels and switches but no raised detail for the instruments themselves. The backside has raised detail for the instruments. There are nine clear parts, which are thin and transparent with good demarcation for the framing and should look great with a coat of Future.
The cockpit is built up of both plastic and resin parts with enough detail to make for a great looking pit. The machine guns are nicely molded with separate ammunition cases.
This view from the instruction sheet (first image at right) gives an idea of the level of detail in the cockpit.
The bomb bay is also well detailed with bomb racks and ribs molded into the upper surface and the kit comes with two 250-kg bombs. This view from the instruction sheet (second image at right) shows you the level of detail in the bomb bay.
The entry hatch can be positioned in the open position. The wheel wells are boxed in with ribs molded into the upper wing for the wheel wells. The landing gear are nicely rendered and there are mounting lugs on the forward bulkheads for positive location of the gear.
Even with the good level of detail I won't be at all surprised to see Eduard release a photoetch set to dress it up even more. One of their colored instrument panels would be welcome and some seat belts and harnesses are needed as none are supplied with the kit.
The decals provide markings for three different Finnish aircraft; primarily national markings and those in the swastika shape are multipart. There are squadron badges and a couple stencil marks as well. The decals are from Techmod and are appear thin and in register. On my sheet there were small defects on the large national markings but I don't plan to use them anyway so for me it's not an issue.
The instructions are printed on two legal sized pages (8 1/2" x 14") that are folded in half to create 8 pages. The first page has history and specifications. The second page has a part map for the sprues and a color guide calling out colors in RLM numbers where necessary with FS numbers and the rest are just generic colors. The balance is for assembly. A second sheet is supplied printed on one side with painting and marking detail for the three aircraft on the decal sheet.
Comments and Conclusions
The kit appears accurate in outline and dimension and I'm very pleased that CA decided to release this kit. CA doesn't mention which version of Z this is but the information I have states that early in 1942 Goring gave the Finnish Air Force 15 ex-Luftwaffe Do 17Z-2's, So Z-2's they must be although it would be difficult from the outside to tell the versions apart. Looking over the kit I noticed a few details that were missed. Although not all 17Z's had them, the three shown in the painting profiles have loop antennas that the kit does not supply. Also, I believe the 17 had fabric covered control surfaces that are not rendered on the kit. This may actually be a blessing as they usually tend to be overdone and looking at photographs they really don't show up that well except for being slightly lighter in color. Also missing from the external details is the towel rack antenna on the lower fuselage and the slanted tube for the retractable long wire antenna, although there is a recess in the fuselage where this should mount. The ailerons are missing trim tabs. All of these items are shown on their painting profiles and none would be that difficult to do from scratch. The engines have a hole molded in the front for a propeller shaft but there is not one included with the kit. The propellers are one piece with a separate spinner and spinner backing plate. The backing plate has a small nub only, which would not be strong enough if just glued to the engine so you will want to drill it out and make your shaft. The most glaring oversight, in my opinion anyway, was not including the engine to cowling bracing. This is very prominent when looking at photos. I was hoping these would be included, as it is very difficult to tell from looking at photos the exact arrangement and doing it yourself could be tedious and fussy. Some kits model these as if they were symmetrical pairs of V's but I'm not convinced that such an arrangement is entirely accurate. In most photos the braces are in shadow and are easily confused with the push rod covers as they are close to the same size and often appear to be the same color. Perhaps CA couldn't figure it out either. Hopefully one of the after market suppliers will address the issue. As with most limited run kits there no alignment pins and there are some fit issues, at least one concerning the cowling to wing fit has been reported. Test fitting of all parts before assembly is advised.
In spite of the aforementioned items this is still a really nice kit and light years better than the Hobbycraft kit and would recommend it to anyone who has built a few limited run kits.
I'm hoping that their choice for the next variant will be a 215 as it only requires different engines but I guess we'll see what the future brings.