Do 215B-4

The Dornier Do 215 was essentially a 17Z powered by Daimler-Benz DB 601a liquid cooled engines. This came about as a result of Dornier soliciting orders from foreign countries, specifically Yugoslavia, which was already tooling up for the Do 17K version. The RLM insisted on assigning a new designation for export versions and hence the 17Z was re designated 215. Initially it was to be equipped with Gnome-Rhone 14 cylinder radial engines but these didn't offer a sufficient improvement in performance over the 17K that was just going into production in Yugoslavia. However, when the DB 601's were installed it showed a significant improvement in performance and as a result Sweden placed orders for 18 aircraft. Before these could be delivered, an embargo was placed on exporting bombers and the order went instead to the Luftwaffe for use as reconnaissance duties. Dornier was ordered to continue producing the 215 for the Luftwaffe. Several versions were built, The original order for Sweden were designated B-0 and B-1 variants when taken over by the Luftwaffe.   These were modified on the assembly line for long range reconnaissance tasks. The B-2 designation was allocated to a pure bomber variant but none were built. The B-3 designation was applied to two examples supplied in early 1940 to the Soviet Union under the Russo-German agreement. The B-4 variant differed from the B-1 variant in its camera equipment. The main cameras were mounted in a fairing below the lower gunner's position and an additional camera was mounted on the inside of the crew hatch. The B-5 designation was given to airframes that were modified to the night fighter role. These were found to be much better at the task than the 17Z's that had been similarly modified due to the better performance provide by the DB-601 engines. In all 101 of the 215's were built.

The Kit

The ICM kit comes in a medium sized box with a lid hinged to one side. Better than an end open box but I still prefer a separate top. Inside the box one finds a large recloseable cellophane bag with all the sprues in it. The decals and instruction sheet are in the bottom of the box. Inside the large bag the clear parts are enclosed in a separate smaller resealable bag. Better than just thrown in with the rest but one of the clear parts in my kit had still broken loose from the sprue. The parts are molded in a medium gray plastic. The surface is matte and smooth with some light flash on some parts. Surface detail consists of recessed panel lines. The panel lines are wider than those on the Classic Airframes Do 17Z but finer than those on the Hobbycraft kit. In my opinion while they are large for the scale (aren't they all) but they should be just right once painted to provide a good conduit for weathering. I found no major surface defects on the air frame parts. There are some flow patterns in the plastic but they should not show under paint. There were a few places where I found a bit of rough surface that might require a touch of filler to smooth. The cockpit interior parts mount into recesses in the fuselage walls and due to the thinness of the walls the recessed areas leave only a very thin amount of plastic. Thin enough to be able to see light through the wall. I'm not sure this will be a problem but I could see these bulging or melting through if too much glue is applied to the interior part. Like many limited run kits the sprue attachment points are a bit large on some parts, especially the smaller ones. The kit parts do have alignment pins for those who get nervous without them. Ejector pin marks have been kept out of sight for the most part but there are a couple in the cockpit area and in the gear wells that some will want to deal with.

From a detail stand point the control surfaces are all separate with the exception of the flaps and feature subtle fabric representation, something that CA missed on their 17Z. The kit contains two complete engines each comprising 14 parts. These can be seen by leaving the upper cowlings off if desired. The cockpit is well appointed with detail that should satisfy most although some parts would probably be better rendered in resin or PE. The instrument panels feature raised bezels and the decal sheet included instrument decals but they are rather featureless and would probably look better with some Airscale replacements if you have the required patience. In my case something from Eduard would be preferred. The bomb bay is also well detailed with bulkheads and structure. Since this is a reconnaissance aircraft the forward part of the bomb bay is equipped with a fuel tank and bombs are supplied for the aft section. The bay doors are supplied both as open parts and a single piece closed part. The landing gear struts look nice and appear to mount securely. The gear bays are boxed in as part of the engine cowling assembly and feature some structural detail. The cowlings themselves are made up of 13 separate parts and look like they could be a bit fiddly to assemble. The wheels are in halves and are not weighted. The tail wheel is molded with the tail wheel fairing which will make painting difficult but it is nicely detailed. The propellers are molded as a single piece saving messing with getting the pitch angles right. ICM did pick up some detail that Classic Airframes missed on their 17Z kit, the tube for the trailing wire antenna and the towel rack antenna on the bottom of the fuselage. Like Classic Airframes they missed the fact that the starboard tail plane should be offset 3.5. I have seen some profiles drawn both ways so I guess it's easily overlooked and not all that noticeable. 

To provide an idea of the level of detail of the kit here are some excepts from the kit instructions. first the interior and bomb bay...

The engine and cowlings.

OK enough verbiage let look at the sprues. First up the wings...

A close up to show the recessed detail. Except for the engine mounting detail the panel lines pretty much match those on the Classic Airframes Do 17 kit.

And yes Virginia the fuselage is straight.

Some of the interior detail.

Fabric representation on the control surfaces.

Engines, cowling and miscellaneous parts, there are two of these sprues.

More interior and cowling parts. Radar antennas are supplied so it's a good bet a night fighter version will be forth coming although I believe only about ten of these were converted to night fighter use.

Note the fine detail on the seat webbing, also note the tail wheel.

The clear parts are nice and clear, reasonably thin and have nice raised frame lines and are frosted in painted areas. There are two main canopies supplied, one has a large opening on the pilots side for the infrared gun sight for the night fighter version and there are three different lower gun position parts supplied.

The decals are a mixed bag, the printing on mine was not all that good, things are in register but some of the letters and edges of the thin parts on the national insignia seemed to have spots missing ink and edges of some of the letters were a bit non uniform. There is a good amount of stencils supplied. The decals appear thin and have a lot of excess clear areas on them. My experience with ICM decals is limited but they don't seem to have a very good reputation. Marking are supplied for four aircraft, three German and one Hungarian. 

The instructions are in the form of a 20 page A4 sized booklet printed on thin glossy paper with nice cad style illustrations as show earlier. They include a parts map, a paint chart with generic names and RLM numbers where applicable and Model Master numbers and the usual icon chart and safety warnings.

OK, so after all that how does it fit ? Well ICM kits are limited run style kits and seem to have at least some reputation for not being the easiest to build. While a test fit will certainly not answer all questions it does give one some idea of what is ahead. Taping together the fuselage was a bit of a test due to all the open areas, assuming that the interior does not create problems the fuselage should go together easier with some structure inside. The wings fit together well but in order to get a thin edge at the trailing edge the edge is molded with the top wing and the bottom half ends before the edge creating a seam where there is no panel line so some clean up and filler may be required there. The tail parts fit well but were a bit loose in the mating holes in the fuselage and I had to use some sticky tack to hold on the fins. Because of the number of parts and the rather fiddly fit I only did one of the engine nacelles. Note that only a minimal amount of trim was done. Here is the overall view.

A close up showing the fit of the forward portion of the wing to fuselage. The gap between the engine cover and the leading edge of the wing was a bit wider than I would have liked, won't be an issue if left off to display the engine and it may fit better once the nacelle assembly is actually glued together and attached to the wing.

Tail fit.

Rear wing to fuselage join.

Under side of tail and rear fuselage join.

Underside of wing to fuselage.

The worst area of fit was the outside of the nacelle as shown with the red arrow. At first I thought it was due to not having the bulkheads installed in the nacelle but adding them didn't help. The nacelle fits into a recess in the wing which should make a nice clean joint but the nacelle appears to be narrow leaving a gap. It may be that the opening in the wing that allows the gear bay sides to fit into the wing needs to be opened up a bit, at this point I didn't want to go there. I do like the recesses supplied for thing like the nacelle and the under wing radiators as they should provide a cleaner fit than a butt joint, assuming the part fills the opening.

The other side shows how it should fit. To me the nacelles will be the most fiddly part of the kit as there are a lot of small parts that need to play well together in order for it to all fit together well. Over all I'm encouraged, hopefully the interior parts won't make matters more difficult.

After Market Goodies
Eduard has PE sets both full and Zoom as well as a mask set. I felt that the Zoom set provided all that I wanted but failed to scan it before using it but you can see what it provided in the build section. Also used is a tail plane correction set from Vector (VDS48032) This corrects the portion of the rear fuselage that housed the elevator trim mechanism. It replaces the kits horizontal stabilizers with a one piece resin casting with separate elevators and provides the jacking gear cover that fits over it. The set provides also provides a replacement tail wheel housing and tail wheel with separate wheel hubs and a tail wheel fork. The parts are all nicely molded as is usual with Vector. The set does require some cutting to install but is not that difficult. See the build section below to see how it fits.

Overall I am pleased with the kit, it is limited run and ICM has a reputation for fiddly poor fitting kits but this one at least from the outset and limited test fitting seems better than most and I'm always happy to see another Dornier on the market. Recommended to Dornier fans and those with some limited run kit experience.

Links to kit build or reviews


Warplanes of the Third Reich by William Green

The Flying Pencil by Heinz J. Nowarra

AirDOC Photo Archive No. 3 Dornier Do 17 E-Z, Do 215B by Manfred Griehl

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The Build

In some what of an unusual move I started by building up the engine assemblies. I will not be displaying these so very little time was spent cleaning up seam lines and the like. I just wanted to get a feel for the fit and finish of the smaller parts of the kit. The only function these will serve on my build will be a place to hang the propeller so only the block with the prop shaft and the engine mounting brackets needed to be used. I was quite impressed with how they fit together and the detail level shown. A little bit of wiring and piping and a bit of paint would turn these into real jewels.

One note to anyone building these, you can see in the next photo that the cross member connecting the two side engine support brackets is not full seated into their mounting holes and they need to or you will have an interference fit when you go to install the engine cowling. either shorten the pins or deepen the mounting holes. Since mine wasn't going to be seen I just clipped off the protrusions on the outside of the brackets.


The starboard side of the fuselage showing the Eduard parts used. The two forward most panels in the center had Eduard parts supplied but the kit parts were more three dimensional so I did not use the Eduard parts. All of the kit parts had positive locaters on them and they all fit as advertised. Much better than sketchy diagrams in the directions and a lot of guessing at assembly time.

The port side gets really dressed up. I did not install the large trim wheel behind the seat at this time as I felt it would be in the way of installing the levers on the panel behind the seat. Eduard gives you an inner and outer panel for this that needs to be formed to shape. I cheated and just cleaned the detail off of the kit part and applied the outer panel over it. That way I could use the kit part's locater to position it. I should have installed the trim wheel once the levers were in place but didn't. This would come back to haunt me later.

At this point the fuselage was assembled. Unfortunately I didn't notice the trim wheel till later and had a devil of a time installing it. I did get in eventually but it's not in quite the right spot or positioned the way it should be.

Next thing to be done was to modify the rear portion of the fuselage to accept the Vector parts which corrects this area which does not properly depict the horizontal tail incidence adjustment properly. This required cutting away part of the tail section of the fuselage and replacing it with a resin part. This part eliminates having separate left and right tail sections and the joints required. A separate piece mounts atop this to simulate the cover for the incidence adjusting mechanism. The photos below show before, after with the removed piece and a close up of the finished part. The whole process was fairly easy but getting the single piece horizontal tail to fit was a bit fiddly take care that the tail plane sits level.

This set also includes a replacement tail wheel bay with a separate wheel and fork to replace the one piece molded kit part. The resin bay is a drop in replacement but I found that mine was slightly narrower than the opening possibly due to resin shrinkage and I had a gap to fill on one side.

The assembly of the two engine nacelles was probably the most fiddly part of the entire kit, not because of poor fit but the number of pieces that needed to aligned between the two lower nacelle halves, the forward and rear gear bay bulkheads, a radiator, a radiator baffle and two vent flaps. Three hands would have been real handy. Over all fit was pretty good but I ended up using some filler to even out a couple of the side panels.

When I test fitted the wings I found that on the bottom the wings didn't meet the fillet on the fuselage real well and I found that I could solve this by gluing in a couple of styrene blocks as spreaders. It didn't take all that much, about 1/32" to fix the problem that would have been a difficult place to fill and sand.

Wing mated to fuselage, again I was pleased with the fit. I had a bit of an interference fit issue with the inside forward bomb bay bulkhead frame. Since the bomb bay wasn't going to be open, the offending area was just clipped off. I did use some filler here and there. The engine cowlings actually fit better than in the test fitting. I still used a bit of filler there though. I added the intake splitters in the two wing openings, shown on the box art and plans I have but not including in the kit using some .010 styrene.


The gear doors are just press fit in place for painting purposes.

Painting went well and no difficulties were encountered until decal time. The decals were thin and went down well but proved impervious to Micro Sol and in attempting to trim them close to eliminate the excess clear film resulted in chipping of the paint on the decal. As a result I did incur some silvering in a few places. Also the upper wing crossed were out of register and no swastikas were supplied, not even the assemble them yourself type. I would highly recommend sourcing other decals for this kit. The final result is show below.

The aircraft represented is one from France in August of 1940. Photos from that period show fairly clean aircraft with exhaust streaking being the most prevalent weathering. As a result I kept weathering to a minimum. The kit guns though very close to scale proved to be way too delicate and were replaced with Brass ones from Master. Overall I was most pleased with how the kit went together and give it a high recommendation.

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Updated 12/27/14