by: Tim Hatton [ ]
Series production of the Do 215 A-1 began in 1939. The order, intended for the Swedish Air Force, was stopped in August 1939, due to the political situation. The 18 Do 215’s were embargoed and pressed into Luftwaffe service upon the outbreak of World War II. Some modifications were made and the resulting aircraft were redesignated the Do 215B and became the standard production version. According to official figures, 105 Do 215s were produced between 1939 and 1941 by Dornier in their factory at Oberpfaffenhofen. The B-4 was an improved reconnaissance version developed from B-2 version and equipped with Rb 20/30 & Rb 50/30 cameras. The Luftwaffe initially operated the Do 215 as a bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. Aircraft were used for long-range reconnaissance missions, primarily at the Ob.d.L (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe). Later aircraft operated as night fighters. The last of the Do 215s were retired in late 1944.
Opening the box
The grey coloured plastic sprues share the same bag, while the two small clear sprues are individually wrapped. The single decal sheet is loose in the box. It certainly looks better quality than the Do 215B-4 that ICM released about ten years ago [kit no 72301].
The parts have very fine recessed and raised details were appropriate. There is a little flash here and there but nothing to serious. The multitude of parts for the interior of the fuselage and nacelles is good to see.
I reckon there are around thirty two parts making up the cockpit/crew area not including the defensive armament. The detail on the instrument panel, controls and radio equipment on the fuselage walls and the load bearing beams is very good. Some careful painting and highlighting will pay dividends in creating an interesting cockpit/crew area. All in all one of the best equipped cockpits of a WWII subject I have seen straight from the box.
The clear plastic glazing looks first rate: clear, reasonably thin with very little distortion. There are a few redundant parts on the two clear plastic sprues for this particular version. The instructions clearly mark on the parts map which parts are to be used for this build. This appears to be a well-armed aircraft, with five machine guns attached to the glazing for self-defence. The machine guns themselves look good with separate magazines and a hint of the cooling vents on the barrels.
The nickname “Fliegender Bleistift” [flying pencil] is apt looking at the fuselage. It is incredibly narrow; it hardly looks suited for its role as a bomber. The bomb bay has plenty of parts to occupy the space. The forward bulkhead forms part of the cockpit. There are three nicely moulded formers and a couple of load bearing beams from which the bomb bay doors hang. The inside of the fuselage around the bomb bay has a couple of ejector marks that need cleaning up. There is a two part fuel tank to install in the forward half of the bomb bay and a couple of racks of bombs for the rear. There is 10 x 50kg bombs included. The bomb bays can be displayed open or closed, the closed bomb bay doors is one piece making its installation much simpler. There are a couple of bumps to be added in what I presume are fairings for cameras.
It’s good to see that the upper shoulder mounted wing is one piece. Again the recessed detail is beautifully executed. There is even some raised detail where the roof of the under carriage bay is located. The housing for the oil coolers is a separate part. The ailerons are separate and each one is a one piece item. The ribbed detail is a bit overdone. The nacelles are pretty complex and each is made up from around eleven parts. It appears that the actuating gear for the undercarriage legs needs to be installed before joining the nacelle halves. One feature that will attract some modellers is the inclusion of two engines. Each one is built from eleven parts and the bearers of each engine take up three parts. The engine detail is very good straight out of the box. Obviously if you are not fussed about having the engines on display they can be omitted. The exhaust can be simply glued to the nacelle. The ribbed detail in the undercarriage bay is good, but slightly marred by the recessed ejector marks. The good news is that it would not be too difficult to remove them. There is even bearer detail on the firewall. The three blade prop is one piece and the spinners are separate. The blades are really thin with sharp edges. Some care will be needed removing them from the sprue.
The undercarriage looks impressive. The actuating gear is one piece as are the double oleos. There are even separate nicely formed mud guards. The legs and actuating gear all look a bit spindly, but they are to scale and as a whole they should make up a strong unit. The typically treaded wheels are two pieces. The tail wheel is moulded with a fairing, so will require some careful painting, but the detail is still very good.
Oddly the horizontal tail surface unlike the main wing does not have a one piece upper surface, but I am sure there are reasons for it. So each tail plane is built from two parts and the elevators are each one piece. The vertical tail planes are both made up from two parts, while the rudders are one piece. The rib detail on the movable tail surfaces is more subtle than the ailerons.
Markings and decals.
There are four marking options with this release:
-Dornier Do 215B-4, 4/Aufkl. Gr.Ob.d.L, France, August 1940
-Dornier Do 215B-4, 1/ Aufkl. Gr.Ob.d.L, Luonetjarvi, Finland, July 1941
-Dornier Do 215B-4, 3/ Aufkl. Gr.Ob.d.L, Ukraine, August 1941
-Dornier Do 215B-4, 1/1 Long range recce squadron of the Royal Hungarian AF, Ukraine, August 1942
The decals are created in house and look fine. They are semi matt, with good colour definition, and minimal carrier film. Unfortunately there are no swastikas.
The A4 instruction manual is nicely presented. The large parts map is very useful and it notes the parts not required for the build. The build takes you through a whopping ninety stages. Which seems a lot but each diagram clearly helps with the location of each part. The side views in the painting guide are in colour and the upper and lower plan views are black and white. The paints indicated are Revel and Tamiya as well as RLM numbers were relevant.
This is a very impressive release from ICM and they seem to be continuing releasing very good kits at reasonable prices. It certainly is an improvement on the early Do 215B-4 ICM released some time ago. Judging by the solid nose that is included on sprue A there will be a night fighter B-5 released expected in the third quarter of 2017. If you are interested in the Do 17/215/217 family then this kit by ICM is definitely worth considering.