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1/48 Tamiya Do335A
by Lee Rouse

 

The development of the Dornier 335 was triggered by a call for bids from the German Air Ministry in early 1942 for a high-speed bomber. Unconventional in design, the Do335 was powered by two DB603 1800 horsepower engines, capable of achieving 474 mph at 20000 feet. Unlike other twin-engine aircraft of the time, the Do335's engines were set at opposing ends of the fuselage, known as the tractor-pusher arrangement. This design allowed the power of two engines without the introduction of additional air resistance associated with wing-mounted configuration.

Dornier's original design of the 335, submitted in May 1942, was for a high-speed heavy bomber. But as the fortunes of war changed for Germany, the German Air Ministry repeatedly changed its expectations, going from heavy bomber, to heavy fighter, reconnaissance aircraft, and night fighter. Needless to say, constantly shifting expectations for this aircraft, along with increasing harassment from Allied bombing raids, significantly slowed the practical implementation of the Do335. The Do335's first test flight was made on October 26 1943, with test pilot Hans Dieterle at the controls.

In addition to its unusual engine layout, the Do335 incorporated other unusual features, including a compressed air powered ejection seat, hydraulically operated flaps, and a reversible-pitch tractor airscrew. The latter was helpful in shortening the aircraft's landing run. The tail fin and rear propeller could be jettisoned in an emergency to help ensure the pilot's safe ejection. Perhaps owing to its unusual design characteristics, the Do335 had an unusual nickname. Although Dornier christened it the 'Pfeil' (arrow), it was also know as 'Ameisenbaer' (ant-eater) due to its long nose.

Delivery of the A1 (heavy bomber) version began in January 1945.

The Do335's tactical operation history is rather obscure. There are no records of actual air-to-air combat, although there is some evidence that the Do335 may have been used on several nighttime interdiction missions before the war's end. Today, the sole remaining aircraft, a Do335A0, is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

Tamiya provides markings for both the A0 and A1 versions. Cosmetically there appears to be little if any visible difference in these versions- both versions included an internal bomb bay, while the A1 carried an uprated version of the DB603 engine, as well as underwing hard points for additional bombs or drop tanks.

The Kit
Tamiya released the single-seat version of the 335 in 2000, followed several months later by the two-seater version. Much as been written about both versions of this kit, so I'll be brief by saying that all the good things you've heard are true. This kit is beautifully molded in dark gray plastic. The level of detail is outstanding in all aspects. And the fit of all parts is outstanding. n general, if you follow the assembly instructions and you should encounter no difficulties in building this model. The wings snap into place and at least on mine needed no glue or filler.

The cockpit was painted with Tamiya XF22 as the base color. Some modelers will find this color a bit too dark a match for RLM02, but I think the result gets at least passing marks. Several references including the kit instructions, Monogram Publications German Aircraft Interiors, and some excellent photos I found on the web were used to identify the proper detailing colors. Rather than using the kit instrument decal, I painted the instrument panel XF22, applied a small drop of gloss white in each instrument location, and punched out individual instrument dials using my Waldron Punch and Die set. The result looks much better than using the kit decal alone.

The kit was built out of the box with the exception of Eduard pre-colored photoetch seat harnesses, and hydraulic brake lines created from fine wire originally marketed by Detail Master for plumbing model car engines. Seat harnessing is provided in the form of a decal, but I found that when I installed this, it actually detracted from the overall appearance of an otherwise outstanding cockpit.

Wheel wells were painted with RLM gray XF22 and masked off using masking tape and paper towel pieces. I used Tamiya paints on the exterior, starting with XF23, light blue. Although this isn't an exact match for RLM 76, it looked right to my eye. After applying XF23 to the aircraft's undersides, I mixed a slightly lighter version of XF23 by adding Tamiya white (XF2). This was heavily thinned and then sprayed into the center of each panel. Finally the original XF23 was heavily thinned and airbrushed to decrease the contrast between center and outer panel shades as needed (to my mind, this is the point when the modeler slips into the realm of the artist, rather than just a builder of models). The lower fuselage and under-wings were masked off using a combination of drafting tape, Tamiya tape, and Parafilm, and RLM 82 (XF67, as recommended in a recent article in Tamiya Modeling Magazine) was applied in the general locations for the camouflage scheme. Areas to remain RLM 82 were then masked off using Tamiya and drafting tapes, and Tamiya Dark green (XF61) was airbrushed over the upper fuselage. After this was dry, masking was removed and shading variations were achieved using the same technique as described for the undersides of the aircraft. A gloss coat of Future followed this. With the Future dry, I applied Payne's Gray artist's oil color, thinned with lighter fluid, into panel recesses. I really like using lighter fluid as a thinning medium because it evaporates within minutes. Remain paint pigment can be wiped off as desired with a piece of paper towel, or even your fingertip.

The canopy was masked using the Cutting Edge vinyl mask set. These worked fairly well, although in hindsight, I think I could have achieved at least as good results by applying and trimming Parafilm. Although some modelers find Parafilm finicky to work with, I have achieved good results with it (note that Parafilm was used to mask off the cockpit area before painting the exterior surfaces). The canopy has hinge pins and is designed to be set open. I wanted to preserve the sleek visual contours of my model, so I elected to shave off the pins and seat the canopy in closed position. It fit perfectly, and can be easily removed for a better view of the cockpit.

If this kit has one fault, it is the number of ejection pin marks that populate all landing gear bays, the bomb bay, and all gear and bomb bay doors. These marks are noticeable as chicken pox on a 3 year old, and are a pain to remove without sanding off adjacent detail. I eventually eliminated all marks with the exception of a few in the main landing gear bays, which are rather small, and not as noticeable due to the rather complex landing gear. Speaking of landing gear, each gear strut assembly is a multi-piece affair that required carefully design and tooling on the part of Tamiya to ensure that everything fits together and seats properly in the gear well. Fortunately, Tamiya did its job, and everything fit remarkably well.

I'll have to say that this is one of the most satisfying builds I have done in a long time. The Do335's fascinating appearance, Tamiya's outstanding model design, and careful attention during the construction process, will result in a beautiful model that will look good on your display shelf.