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Reviews : German Last Updated: Aug 21st, 2020 - 13:06:35

Dornier Do 317V-1, Special Hobby. 1/72nd
By Steve Woodward, MM Pub
Apr 10, 2006, 22:57

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Yet another multi-media kit from eastern Europe, this one is of a late development of the well-known Dornier 217 series, themselves derivatives of the earlier Dornier 17. The 317 was essentially similar to the later model 217-M, but was powered by the higher performance DB 604 engines and with a pressurised cockpit area. The twin fin/rudders were also changed, being triangular in shape. As was the case with so many RLM sponsored projects, it never came to full fruition. The first prototype, the Do 317V-1, first flew in 1943 but it was not the great success hoped for. The five further prototypes (V2 to V6) already on the production line were eventually completed without pressurisation, and designated Do 217R. They were used operationally by III/KG100 in late 1944 as missile carriers, each carrying a Henschel 293 missile below the fuselage.
On examination of the parts, the kit looks great. In particular, the internal detail for the cockpit area, cast in resin, is as good as anything Iíve seen. The transparencies (very important on an aircraft type without a stepped windscreen) are vac-formed in superb detail on a clear acetate sheet. The remainder of the kit is moulded in a softish grey plastic with fine engraved panel lines. A little bit of flash here and there, and heavy-looking joints holding the parts to the sprue (which I assume assists the easy flow of molten plastic in the manufacturing process) but nothing Iíd class unacceptable. The diagrammatic instruction sheet has good pictures but very few words; a necessity I suppose when aiming at the international, multi-lingual market. The package is completed by a nice decal sheet, simply containing the crosses, radio call-sign codes (applied to Luftwaffe prototypes in lieu of squadron codes) and the swastikas, although these are printed in separate parts to get round the outlawing of such crosses being displayed on public material.
With regard to accuracy, Iím not too sure about the girth of the fuselage, which appears more bulbous from the wing trailing edge back than the drawings I have of the late 217s. As I could not locate a reliable drawing of the 317 I cannot determine whether this is correct or not.
So, basically, the kit looks great. The resin internal parts go together a treat and fit nicely into the fuselage shell. Just be a bit careful with some of the more delicate resin parts when removing the excess material from the part. The fuselage itself is in two halves and fits together very well. There are no locating pins on the two halves which is a move in models Iím coming to favour, as it allows a bit of movement when offering-up the halves for assembly. This helps keep join-lines to minimum by getting a nice fit. So far so good, but now comes the trouble.
The wings are in the usual four halves (two top, two bottom), but being a high-winged monoplane, the top halves includes the top centre section of the fuselage, with the join exactly down the middle. It looks tricky. On the old Airfix Do 17 they got around this by having the wings in three parts; two bottom halves and one top section consisting of both wings and the centre section. This worked great. The method employed on this model of the 317 turned out to be a complete nightmare. Not only was the breakdown of the parts perhaps lacking in thought, but the fit of them was not at all good. If the wings were at the correct angle the fuselage section didnít sit properly. If the fuselage was lined up, then the wings were at very strange angles indeed. After struggling for a couple of hours and trying various ways I opted for getting the wings at the correct angles, then making good the calamity that was the top of the fuselage with half a tube of filler and a sheet of wet and dry! I must be honest here; were it not for the fact the editor had entrusted me to review this model, I may well have given up at this point. The undersurface of the lower wings was covered in a gritty, rough texture, but that was easily removed by sanding. The engine nacelle assemblies were then started and again, the fit of some of the parts was not too good. It was improved by removing plastic on the inside of the nacelle halves and filing away at the internal parts to reduce their overall width, allowing the nacelle halves to actually meet. The air intakes and exhaust shrouds were drilled out to improve appearance.
The main undercarriage legs fitted well and are nicely detailed, but the retracting legs seemed too far apart for the width of the undercarriage bay and again, much filing and fiddling about was needed. Each airscrew is in five parts, a spinner and four blades and although they are a good shape, I feel that if they were moulded in one part they would prove a bit more sturdy on the finished model.
The model was then painted in the standard 3 grey scheme (RLM 74, 75, 76) and the decals applied. Caution here again; they are very thin so take care, but this is fully justified by the more ěpainted-onî look you get with fine decals. Finally, the canopies were added using white PVA glue. After my struggle with the airframe, I was expecting the worst. It didnít happen! Full marks here for excellent canopies that fit perfectly provided you trim them properly.
In summary then, a box full of beautifully moulded parts that do not necessarily fit together too well in some crucial areas. I think the end result justified the effort I needed to put in, but were I not reviewing the kit, Iím none too sure the model would have got finished because of the difficulties I had with the fuselage/wing joints. If you want a Do 317 in your collection then this is probably the easiest way to get one, but be prepared for a bit of work. As for my uncertainty about the rear fuselage, the finished model looks right when viewed against the few photos available of the actual aircraft.
Steve Woodward
Photos of the Do 317 V1 suggest the kit's colour scheme details are slightly in error. The upper surface colours wrap around the wing leading edge, for one. I am also a might suspicious about the 74/75 upper surface colours - the photos indicate the upper surfaces to be rather dark and with poor contrast between the colours. Could it have been 70/71, or indeed 72/73, greens rather than the greys? Anybody know more, or have a better guess?! Ed.

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