Koster Aero Enterprises1/48 Dornier Do-217K-2/M-11 Conversion

Kit #32                                            MSRP $37.95
Images and text Copyright 2004 by Matt Swan

Developmental Background
        The Dornier Do-217 was a refinement of the original Do-17 fast bomber/reconnaissance aircraft. The history of this refinement has been covered previously in my review of the Dornier Do-217-J and rather than repeat that Ill briefly cover some of the peculiarities of the K and M versions. The RLM (Reichs Luftfahrt Ministerium) and for that matter, the entire German Military mindset was to take a good idea and develop it to its ultimate capability and the 217 is a fine example of that process. From 1940 to 1944 there were many improvements in this aircraft including increased engine power and performance, revised wing configurations and electronic packages and true to form, each improvement and upgrade received a new designation.
        The K and M models received the distinguishing bulbous glazed nose and upgraded electronics packages specifically designed to deliver early versions of the cruise missile or glide bombs. The K was specifically outfitted with electronics to carry the Fritz FX 1400 glide bomb and featured a wider wing (81 feet, 4 inches) than the previous models of the 217. The aircraft carried a crew of four and was powered by Two 1700 hp (1268kW) BMW 810D 14-cylinder radials driving three blade paddle propellers. On Sept 9, 1943 two Fritz-X guided bombs dropped from Do 217s sank the Italian battleship Roma, with the loss of 1,255 of her crew. Further attacks crippled the Italian battleship Italia, the British battleship Warspite, a British cruiser Uganda and the U.S. cruiser Savannah (CL 42).
        The M version was powered by Two 1750 hp (1305kW) Daimler-Benz DB603A inverted V12s driving large four blade paddle propellers and featured the shorter 62 foot, 4 inch wing that was found on all other versions of the 217. The M version could be fitted with a dorsal gun pack and was often used as a night fighter in addition to its bomber role. Both aircraft carried defensive armament of four 7.92mm and two 13mm machine guns. The M could attain a maximum speed of 348 miles per hour at 18,700 feet and could cruise at 248mph and had a maximum operational ceiling of 24,170 feet. Overall, 1,730 different examples of Do-217s were manufactured and of those, 520 were of the K and M variants.

The Kit
        This conversion kit is intended to be used on the Pro Modeler Do-217E. Now with a suggested retail price of $37.95 for a conversion to a kit that is going to cost you yet another $41.25 you may be starting to experience a little butt clenching. I have to say that it is money well spent; the Koster kit is a wonderful multi-media package that includes one large sheet and one small sheet of vacuformed parts done in a robust 1mm white polystyrene plastic. These pieces feature nicely engraved panel lines, much better than some of the previous offerings from Koster and include the pieces for one Fritz glide bomb, replacement engine nacelles and a large interior cockpit side panel. Also included in the vacuform department is a solid little sheet with the clear bulbous nosepieces. One complaint that I had with previous Koster kits was that the framing detail on the clear parts was always soft to nonexistent but that is not the case here; these pieces display excellent definition and great clarity. Overall there are 33 vacuformed pieces on three sheets. Pay attention to part #18, the fins for the Fritz X bomb, there are two back to back on the sheet. I thought it was only one for quite a while before my error was pointed out to me (thanks Bill, youre okay).
        Now I did say this was a multi-media kit so lets take a look at some of the other goodies that come in the box. There is a small bag of resin detail parts that include the four-blade paddle propellers for the M version, propeller back plates and oil cooler inlets. One additional resin piece here is a tail fitting for the Fritz bomb. The resin pieces do have some flash on them and I did find a few casting boogers but nothing a competent modeler could not handle. There is yet another small bag weighted down with several white metal pieces. Here we have four well-done exhaust shrouds for night fighter operations, four machine guns and several well detailed control panels. These pieces have virtually no flash and very minimal mold separation lines. In the resin and white metal pieces we have a count of 21 pieces but wait, were not done yet! In addition to all this good stuff there is this little fret of PE parts thats just chock full of little tidbits. Here we have many little interior detail pieces, engine radiator screens, hinges, rudder pedals, seat belts and many, many more little goodies that are certain to drive you crazy on the installation. There are 109 pieces crammed onto this little fret. So lets see what we have for a total count in this box; 34 vac pieces plus 21 resin and metal pieces along with the 109 PE details gives us 164 pieces.

Decals and Instructions
        The instructions for the conversion consists of a single large sheet printed front and back with thirteen exploded view construction/conversion steps. While my research showed the M as having the shorter wing the instructions indicates that the M-11 had the same extended wing as the K-2. This seems to be where the modeler will have to fall back onto their individual research material. About 30% of the instructions are devoted to the interior areas of the bulbous nose. Without actually building the kit yet I have to say that they appear to be well laid out and cover all the items needed to complete this conversion. The final section of the instructions shows decal placement and exterior camouflage schemes for three different aircraft, a single K-2 and two different M units, one of which in a night fighter scheme with a fuselage mounted Fritz bomb.
        The decals consist of two sheets, one large sheet and one small sheet that cover the markings needed for the three aircraft illustrated in the instructions. There are no service stencils or generic markings included here rather making the modeler rely on the Pro Modeler sheet for these items. Ive used Koster decals before and they have always behaved nicely and responded well to setting solutions, I see no reason why these would not behave in a similar manner.

        The 217 sure is a great aircraft to model. It was used in so many roles for so many years with lots of variations so you can model the standard E or get really weird and go for the esoteric and this conversion certainly takes you there. The vacuform parts most definitely fall into the robust category being made from very solid sheet stock and having excellent panel line definition. The clear parts are very well done which is a nice improvement for Koster items, the directions look to be very straightforward and comprehensive. The decals are nice and cover the offered examples quite well.
        While this conversion kit combined with the Pro Modeler kit pretty much covers it all, there are a few additional items on the aftermarket that you might want to consider adding to the package, for instance; Cutting Edge makes a set of replacement propellers for the three blade paddle propeller that are very nice, Aires makes a Daimler-Benz DB603 engine that could be added if you wanted to open the engine bays on the M variant. Cutting Edge makes a set of fans designed for the BMW 801 engine that could easily be substituted for the 810 engines and a set of flying surfaces that could be useful. FM makes a detail set that includes a dash and resin wheels. In summation you can build a really sweet K or M with this set and the Pro Modeler set or you could go even further with some additional aftermarket material. If you are into esoteric then this kit is for you.

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