by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
The Dornier Do-17/215 family has been the recipient of much overdue modelling attention recently, thanks to excellent new-tool kits from Airfix (1:72) and ICM (1:48). To go with the new kits, it’s fitting that Valiant Wings have released what is far and away the most detailed easily accessible reference on the aircraft that I’ve found to date as part of their Airframe Detail series.
As its title suggests, the book focuses firmly on the Do-17Z - although earlier versions are covered briefly in the introduction. Hopefully there’ll be further volumes devoted to other marks and the Do 215 - but even as it stands, the overwhelming bulk of the coverage here will undoubtedly still be of great value to anyone modelling them.
The book breaks down into the following broad sections:
Camouflage & Markings
Building a Do-17Z
Richard Franks provides a concise 12-page account of the development of the “Flying Pencil” and its introduction into service. Backed up by clear vintage photos, the author steers you through the prototypes and early Luftwaffe and export versions that lead to the definitive Do-17Z in its various forms. This is followed by a brief service history, and it’s interesting to note that, whereas the type was already showing signs of obsolescence in Luftwaffe hands as early as the Battle of Britain, it soldiered on effectively with the Finnish Air Force until 1948. Sadly, having survived the war, none of the Finnish machines were spared from the scrap yard.
Technical DescriptionFrom a modeller’s point of view, the technical description is the start of the real “meat” of the book. As it’s impossible to shoot a walkaround of a preserved airframe (who knows what may be possible in years ahead thanks to the recovered airframe under restoration in the UK?), Valiant Wings go the other route and cover the aircraft in great detail, section by section, inside and out, with the aid of period photos and illustrations from original manuals. The result is, arguably, even more useful than present-day shots that may not be totally accurate; this is the Do-17Z as its crews and ground crews knew it - albeit, all in black and white.
The sections covered are:
4.Controls and control surfaces
6.Engines, Exhausts and Cowling
7.Fuel, Oil, Hydraulic and Oxygen Systems
Each of them is further subdivided so, for instance, “Fuselage” covers:
1.1 - Cockpit Interior
1.2 - Nose and Canopy
1.3 - Mid and rear fuselage
The detail is excellent, with dozens of clear photos and illustrations that will be a real boon to anyone building a kit of the Flying Pencil. Each shot is accompanied by an informative caption that often serves to focus you on details you might otherwise overlook.
Camouflage & MarkingsSection two tackles the colours worn, beginning with a wise caveat that judging colours definitively from black and white photos is fraught with difficulties, leaving educated guesswork often the only option. Beginning with the straightforward factory schemes and the styles of national insignia worn, the author quickly delves into the far trickier subject of tactical markings. A classic example being the “white” markings sported during the Battle of Britain, that may in fact have been pink (according to an RAF crash report). Temporary coatings are discussed, along with how they weathered, giving a very good grounding in Luftwaffe finishes in general. Coverage then turns to Croatian units, and finally the Finns who adopted some very striking schemes that were quite distinct from the Luftwaffe.
Following the text and photos come 6 pages of high quality profiles that offer a very nice variety of schemes - the Do 17Z certainly offers no shortage of tempting modelling subjects.
Building a Do-17ZSpeaking of modelling, the main sections of the book conclude with a fine build of Airfix’s new kit by Libor Jekl. Both the construction and finishing are excellent, and the very readable description is accompanied by over 30 clear step-by-step photos.
The appendices give a useful overview of the various kits that have been released over the years, lists of the aftermarket parts and decals, and finally a bibliography. Obviously, with fresh products appearing all the time, especially on the back of the new Airfix and ICM kits, the aftermarket list can’t be totally comprehensive, but it does offer a very good idea of what’s available.
conclusionFrom a modelling point of view, this is easily the most detailed reference I’ve read on the Do 17Z, and it’s pretty essential reading for anyone looking to superdetail their kit. It’s perfectly timed for the new-tool kits appearing - now all we need is for Revell to complete their largescale line-up of Battle of Britain Luftwaffe bombers with a 1:32 kit! Highly recommended.
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