|Kit:||Dragon, 1/72nd; kit bought in 2012 for $17.16; model finished on 2023-04-27|
|Aircraft:||"107", W.Nr. 240107, Dornier's Oberpfaffenhofen facility, Germany, September 1944.|
The Dornier Do 335 "Pfeil" (German for "arrow") was a late-war German fighter design based on the aerodynamic idea of reducing the overall drag of a twin-engined aircraft by using one propeller to pull and one to push, placing the engines on the same line. This type never reached full operational service, and only a few dozen were ever built; to be exact, there are Werkenummern - manufacturer's construction numbers - for 37 airframes [4, p.172], but we know that some were not fully assembled by the time the Americans reached the Dornier production facilities in 1945. As for the aircraft my model depicts, the designation "A-07" refers to the fact that it was the 7th preproduction aircraft (series "A-0").
Before the Do 335 prototypes were built, the aerodynamic concept was tested in a smaller testbed aircraft: Dornier contracted the glider manufacturer Schempp-Hirth to build a prototype, Göppingen Gö 9.
The Do 335 was possibly the fastest piston-engined aircraft to fly during WW2, and certainly the fastest that was built in Germany. According to the famous British test pilot Captain Eric M. Brown, "I think I'm right in saying that the Germans claimed a speed of 472 mph at 21,000 ft, and we had no reason to disbelieve this figure" [2, p.1]. Potentially the Republic XP-72 Ultrabolt could have been faster; it also never reached operational status.
The Do 335 was one of the first aircraft to use an ejection seat. It also had explosive charges to separate the rear propeller and the dorsal fin in the event the pilot decided to eject.
Do 335 with its predecessor, the Gö 9.
The Dragon kit is generally accurate and well-detailed, but like - per my experience - other kits from this manufacturer, takes considerable amount of work (and putty) to build. The kit is clearly engineered to allow all Do 335 variants to be built (even though it does not come with parts for all of them). The cockpit is very well detailed, but I added Eduard's photo-etch seatbelts and decided to leave the canopy open (note that different Do 335 prototypes had canopies that opened differently: some to the right, some to the back). I had real trouble with the exhausts, not understanding that they should have been installed before the fuselage halves were closed. I built up the main wheel wells using styrene sheet. Finally, I cut the elevator from the horizontal stabilizer, and affixed it in a slightly drooped position, as this is what I have seen in many photographs of parked Do 335s. Note that because of the tip counterbalance, the whole operation had to be done in multiple parts.
The model requires a lot of weight in the nose to not become a tail-sitter. After I attached the landing gear I realized I did not have enough weight, and had to break off the front cowling to add more ball bearings.
Main wheel wells under construction.
Main wheel wells nearing completion.
Interior super-detailed. Lots of weight was needed in the compartment where the front engine would have been.
Filling all the seams from the complicated fuselage construction.
Ditto for wings.
Original horizontal tail part.
Elevator cut up from the stabilizer. Because of the tip counterweight, the whole tip had to be cut out as well.
Ensuring correct placement of propeller blades.
Having access to an actual Do 335 proved invaluable (SMA photo, 2009)
I was puzzled about the camouflage colors, as particularly the lighter green looks very bright and almost garrish. But as I have explained in my linked blog article, after some careful study and the conclusion that I trust the folks at the National Air and Space Museum to do their research correctly, I ended up with the colors that closely match those of the surviving, restored aircraft. I painted the model with Mr.Color lacquers, and also ended up painting most of the national markings. No weathering whatsoever, since most of the photos of this aircraft from 1944 were taken immediately after it rolled off the production line.
Perhaps because of its exotic nature, the Do 335 is extremely well documented, and of course a superbly restored survivor is on display at the National Air and Space Museum. I had several excellent scale plans to work from, including a set of large plans I got from my late friend Bill Koster; he was, many years ago, given access to the unrestored NASM airframe to measure and to produce these plans.
The splinter camouflage is well documented and not difficult to mask. Note that at this point I was still very much confused about the colors.
Camouflage pattern finally completed.
Masking and painting the canopy framing happened in stages.
Most national markings were masked and painted, and decals were not used.
These are some of the most important references I used in this project:
NASM's Do 335 photographed in 2006 (SMA photo).