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Build/Review Article
 
ipms logo Founded 1964 amps logo Founded 1993
Last Update: 27 Sep 2009

Matchbox 1/144 Dornier Do-X Flying Boat
by
John Ratzenberger


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This is the Matchbox 1/144 scale Dornier Do-X flying boat kit of 1970's or 980's vintage. Actually it isn't real Matchbox, but a repop of the Otaki kit.

I decided to build it for the Un-official Airfix Forum / Classic British Kits SIG 2009 "BlitzBau", which is a challenge to build a kit in 24 consecutive hours. There was, fortunately, an option to break the build in two parts just in case there was a need to accommodate real life. I chose to take that option, calling it the "senior citizen option", because I knew I'd never make 24 straight hours and in fact might even reach a point where I no longer remembered what I was doing ... If you recall, I have done two of these already, building the Airfix 1/144 Pan Am Clipper and the Airfix H.P. 42 -- those articles are also on our website.

This will not read like a "normal" review -- it's more a series of snapshots in time, corresponding to the postings I made on UAMF. There may be some comments which don't seem relevant but they would if the entire thread, with other's comments, were read. Nonetheless, if you decide to build this, I think you'll find some useful suggestions.

Introductory, 9 July.

I flip-flopped around, thinking about one of the Airfix 1/32 cars, but then decided to stay with my prior theme of 144th scale airliners, something I don't normally build. Of course, I don't usually build cars either ...

I picked up the Otaki Dornier Do-X earlier this year, then remembered that Matchbox had re-popped it as PK-571, so I went looking for that. Unfortunately all I could find was the Chinese repop of the Matchbox repop, so my instructions are ... well, in Chinese. I relied on the matchboxkits.org website for a peek at English-language instructions to sort out the paint. Anyway, I should get some credit for a quasi-CBK, or maybe a "cbK" ...

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Interestingly enough, the Otaki kit has red registration letters and the Matchbox kit has black -- from what little I can find, the black appears correct. Another discrepancy is that the Otaki kit has the overall and underhull color reversed, assuming I interpreted their instructions correctly.

Very few photos show the underhull color in place, and where they do there are variations. I'll go with what the kit shows, or something close ... Also the kit says the overall color should be a 50-50 mix of aluminum and lightgray -- I'm going with straight aluminum.

There are 123 pieces in this puppy -- I will resist any urges to go enhancing this kit or wandering off in a fit of AMS-lust over some detail. It's OOB all the way.

So, I'll see you tomorrow(Friday) morning, maybe 9am-ish, EDT. I'll be doing a split build.

10 July 0900 EDT = Start Point, 24 to go

Actually we were supposed to go clamming today, but the wind has kicked up too much for that so here I am.

[article image] A couple thousand bluegrass, folk, & Cajun tunes, my modeling music, set up in the player.

As a counterpoint to all the wonderfully neat set-ups we've seen so far, I have pushed back a perimeter to make a workspace on my bench .....

My usual coffee cup -- just for Paul Bradley -- unfortunately I think SWMBO washed it since the last BlitzBau ... What you see in it is pure coffee, I've already had my shot of Bailey's to start the day ...

A clock, although I gotta admit, there's no room for this on the bench and the cell phone may come back ....

And SWMBO is, so far, supportive ....

I have a "plan" for this build -- just 4 letters long -- HOPE ...

And with that we're off doing all sorts of prep stuff .... Back in a while ...

10 July 1010 EDT = 1:10 down, 22:50 to go

[article image] Not going as well as planned. I 1st sprayed outside of hull so I could just put windows in and run a single strip of tape to mask 'em -- worked on the HP.42. I don't like the finish & will have to wait until it dries to get another coat on. A setback, but not major.

Meanwhile I've started sub assemblies -- tail, fin, wing, display stand .... No glitches and clean-up looks to be minimal.

It'll probably be a couple hours 'till next post, I'm going to focus on getting the 6 engine assemblies built and painted.

This thing is huge !

10 July 1400 EDT = 5:00 down, 19:00 to go

Time goes by when you're having fun ....

Next will be to put the 3 fuselage parts together. Test fit looks quite nice.

I finished cleaning the stubs, the tail, and rudder -- and I'll be starting the tail assembly shortly.

[article image] I have the wing together, and getting a preliminary coat of paint to see if I've got the seams all fixed. I had to do a little repair of the trailing edge, but otherwise it fit together great.

The issue has been the engine nacelles and props. The plastic is soft and there was some breakage of parts. The prop blades are very fragile and required a lot of clean-up. The nacelles had several broken supports that had to be repaired. The big glitch is the oil coolers (?) that are on the underside of each -- they won't fit through the support struts so I cannot assemble and paint the nacelles the way I wanted to. The front radiators & the oil cooler faces are supposed to be a gray. Anyway I have lots more clean-up of pieces to do -- I know I said AMS would not kick in, but I found sink marks on the rear of the oil coolers, probably not visible, but ....

A warning, keep the nacelles & props organized -- I have mine in numbered cups, also handy for holding the cleaned up parts for each.

All-in-all, this is going well, except my nacelle "plan" ....

Paul -- the clock is for my grand-daughter, I'm taking it on a test drive.

Wait until later, when I have another grand-daughter item for the BlitzBau ....

10 July 1700 EDT = 8:00 down, 16:00 to go

But first, an interlude -- a BlitzBau within a Blitzbau if you will .... And as my model kit is made in China, so is the rocker "kit" ....

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25 minutes later we have a rocker for grand-daughter when she visits next month. The seat arrangement is poor, a couple screws were defective, and I may just tear it all apart and do it my way later ... This shouldn't have taken 25 minutes, but I had to dig up replacement screws ...

So, back to the Dornier ....

Lots of progress.

[article image] The fuselage is together and the glue setting. All parts fit wonderfully and I'll have only a small seam to clean up on the bottom.

The tail assembly is built and just needs to be installed on the fuselage. There are two minor ejector holes on the underside of the tail itself which I have declared to be inspection ports.

Props are painted "wood" and await the bosses to become metal-ish.

The wing is looking nice, I have minor seams to take care of and do a little restoration of the corrugation on the leading edge.

A dinner break and we'll be back at it in a while ....

10 July 2100 EDT = 12:00 down, 12:00 to go

Wifey & I had a pleasant dinner & chat, so I didn't get back to this until near 7pm.

[article image] Here's where we are at quitting time.

Fuselage together, sponsons on, seams fixed, glass & openings masked. Tail assembly still done. Wing cleaned, corrugations restored, and partially painted. Props all painted. All struts cleaned on the sprue and given a shot of paint so all I'll need is touch up. I've started on the engine nacelles (their storage cups are under the props).

Not the ideal time to break -- I should have at least had the underhull paint on so it could dry overnight and had the top of the wing painted. Oh well, lots of time tomorrow ... at least I think so. I've tested the wing to fuselage fit and it's great so no filler will be needed.

This is a pretty nice kit -- fit is great, no problems.

Let's see. 12 hours, 3 large cups of coffee, 2 glasses of water, 3 Guinness, lunch, dinner, and 112 songs from my playlist have been consumed ....

See you 9-ish EDT tomorrow morning ....

[article image] 11 July 0800 EDT = 12:00 down, 12:00 to go

Good morning !!

Getting an early start today, here's the starting pic showing things more or less where they were last night ... except the Guinness has been replaced with coffee .... my 1st cup, with Bailey's, has already gone downrange ...

Got to get some paint on and drying ....

11 July 1000 EDT = 14:00 down, 10:00 to go

Those little "wings" above the tail/elevator & wing/aileron may be trim tabs or mass balances, I don't know. I elected to put them now so I could paint the whole surface. We'll see if I can keep from smashing them.

If you build this kit: the instructions don't show, but the "wings" do have an airfoil -- I got the wing/aileron ones correct but the tail/elevator are wrong. Also the instructions sort of show putting the "wing" on the rear part of the supports, but other pix and intuition says they should go on the front part as I have done them. Also the holes on the wing/aileron are a hair wider than the support legs -- you can force 'em to fit, but a test fit & widening is probably a better idea.

[article image] Anyway, engine nacelles are built and awaiting paint shop.

Underhull is black and drying so I can remask and paint rest of hull.

Wing & tail are waiting paint shop ...

Does anyone know what a bottleneck is ?

Back in a while ....

11 July 1200 EDT = 16:00 down, 8:00 to go

No pix this time -- the wing, tail assembly and all the engines are in the paint booth drying -- the wing & tail are done, the engines need to be turned over and done on top, then details painted. The underhull is about dry and ready for masking -- for safety I'm giving it more time.

I think I see a small problem cropping up -- the right sponson isn't quite level. I don't know if this is a kit issue or something I did -- the fit of sponson to hull is almost seamless. I didn't see it until attaching the hull-sponson struts. I imagine I'll have another, larger issue when attaching the wing-sponson struts.

Drat !!!

OH, BTW -- a little study of the boxart and some pix shows this thing to have X-rigging on the tailplane and wing struts, as well as a little network of support wires around the nacelles. Aint' gonna happen ... been there done that with the HP42 last time.

Anyway, those 3 beers I had last night were the last in the house, so wifey & I are off to the store for that and other things.

Back in a couple hours ....

11 July 1500 EDT = 19:00 down, 5:00 to go

Well, about an 1-1/4 hours shopping, etc, but at least I have something in the house to either celebrate or drown my sorrows with .... priorities you know ...

A problem cropped up painting the nacelles & the tops looked ugly. I had to spend time drying them & repainting. I took 'em out in the sunlight to hasten the drying process.

[article image] Anyway, painting is done, or at least finishing drying. I am a bit concerned at this point. I have 5 hours and 8 steps to complete.
-- decal wing and sg-coat (semi gloss)
-- unmask fuse except windows, decal fuse, add tail assy, then sg-coat
-- paint exh, radiators, air horns -- sg-coat nacelles
-- unmask windows, mount wing to fuse, also cockpit & paint
-- add struts
-- add nacelles
-- add aerial & stuff
-- touch up as needed

And, BTW, remember this is a Chinese repop of Matchbox -- there's a good chance the decals are worthless in which case there are several options, none pretty ...

I may not be back until 24 hours or finished, whichever is sooner ...

There's a breathless hush in the close to-night
Ten to make and the match to win
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play, and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat.
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

11 July 1830 EDT = 22:30 down, 1:30 to go

I won the decal lottery !!!! Very warm water, long soaking and they slid right off. I went for it -- no Future, no Micro-Sol/Set -- I don't have drying time nor did I want to risk some reaction ... All or none, just like to good ol' days ...

[article image] And yes, the wings markings are on right -- the kit instructions and every pic I have shows them going the same direction.

Tail-fuse struts are iffy, note one of mine doesn't appear to be anchored at both ends ... and it isn't.

Everything is as dry as it can get -- final assembly starts.
-- unmask windows, mount wing to fuse, also cockpit & paint
-- add struts
-- add nacelles
-- add aerial & stuff
-- touch up as needed

[article image] This got hectic. Wing on and clamped while I mess with struts. They are at odd angles and no fun.

This showed how so not dry my paint/gloss was -- the rubber bands tore up some finish -- all I could do is swipe some silver & black over the problems and choose camera angles well ....

It was not meant to mount 6 engines with 10 struts between them in about 12 minutes.

Almost declared victory when I realized the props weren't on ...

1945 -- Finished -- 15 min to spare. (should have built two!)

I am of course assuming that all glue doesn't have to be exactly dry, but I will claim all parts are on and hanging on without external support.

Here's the record pix ....(pix are 5 min after official finish) ...

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Here's the stats, 23:45 hours, cutting it a bit close. But unlike my other GB, I spent time doing other things -- the rocker, dinner with wifey (twice), shopping for beer (see pix), a total of 4:15 hours more or less. So my real bench time was only 19:30 hours. That's a large improvement over past builds.

I'll do some glamor shots for the gallery tomorrrow and maybe some lessons learned.

And with that -- good night, I have some celebrating to do ....

12 July - Postmortem

[article image] As I said, 19.5 hours actual bench time in the 24. I know I can't go 24 straight, not even 19, so the split option is a necessity for my participation. Wifey was home this time, she is usually at quilt camp, and we managed to survive -- she was nice enough to leave me in peace, waiting to shake her head until she was out of sight.

[article image] Time Management. I figured, that going pure OOB, I would have plenty of time, but I mismanaged the first half and didn't get enough paint laid down before the split break. I noted this at the time and it came back to bite me, as I was pushing it on drying time from then on and I've already noted some damage incurred (and visible). Next time, no rocker build and a shorter dinner ...

[article image] The Kit. I think there are 5 releases of this kit -- Original Otaki, Original Matchbox repop, Chinese MatchBox repop, Revell repop of something, Entex (? not sure of this). I have the 1st and the 3rd, and I built the Chinese Matchbox version. The Otaki plastic is harder and the detail crisper, as would be expected. The Chinese Matchbox plastic is softer, as is the detail, but not significantly so. The Otaki decals are wrong, as is their paint scheme (you'd have a black aircraft with silver underhull). I noted that I was more than pleasantly surprised that the Chinese repop decals were so good.

[article image] It is a good kit - it goes together rather well. The fit of the main pieces was very good, requiring little cleanup. The struts were a minor problem -- cleanup and length -- but the fore-aft lineup was right on. Two of the nacelle halves were mismolded on the rear, something I didn't realize until they were together and I had to gouge them out to make the props fit. Getting 6 nacelles, 10 struts, and 12 props all lined up in 3 dimensions requires slow setting glue and more than 10-15 minutes to get it done -- I have a couple props out of line.

[article image] If you want a contest model, I'd probably go with the Otaki original for the plastic and solve the decal problem in your favorite way. Of course, unless doing it OOB, you'll have to pay attention to the rigging on the wing, tail, and most importantly, on and between the nacelles.

[article image] Assembly. The instructions are good, carefully detailing the various nacelle parts and the order to install them. Pay attention and have a good scheme to track nacelles, props, etc. I suggest a couple changes. First they want you to glue the lower half of the wing to the fuselage, then the upper half to that. I built the wing & glued the whole thing to the fuselage, having prefit it. What I forgot to do is fit it with the cockpit glass installed & ended up with a gap I had to "fix". Next, after test fitting the wing, and with it held in level position, then install the tail assembly so you can check alignment. I installed the tail assembly 1st, at it looked aligned right against the fuselage and sponsons, but you'll see it isn't quite.

Summary. I had a lot of fun with this. It got tight with time at the end, but the rest of it went smoothly. It was a big kit, but as I said, went together nicely so that balanced out. Now to go clean off the workbench ... and think about what I'll do for the next BlitzBau -- I've probably run out of old-time airliners, maybe a car as I had originally planned.

Here's the for-record glamour shots.

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And my BlitzBau Family Photo ....

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