Tuesday, August 11

Construction Review Pt.II: ICM's 48th scale Do 217J-1/2 WWII German Night Fighter

Part II of Andy King's build of ICM's new 48th scale Do 217J-1/2 WWII German Night Fighter is with us. Today he puts the rest of the kit together after overcoming some hurdles and adds a few improvements to the kit in the second part of the story...

Construction Review Pt.II: Do 217J-1/2 WWII German Night Fighter
From ICM
Kit No #48272
1/48th scale
Previous parts of the story:
Construction Review Pt.I: ICM's 48th scale Do 217J-1/2 WWII German Night Fighter

Today - Construction Review Pt.II as Andy seals the deal on this Do 217J-1/2

In the first part of the build review, I looked at the overall quality of the kit parts and glued some bits together and in this part, I will be showing how it all went together and highlight a couple of issues with the construction.

The first job was to finish the cockpit and although the colour call-out in the instructions is for RLM 02 Grau I feel that it should be the much darker RLM66. I'm sticking my neck out by basing this assumption on the fact that the German Air Ministry (RLM) regulations called for all cockpit interiors to be in dark grey from November 1941, the production run of the Dornier 217J didn't start until March 1943. No doubt someone out there will prove me wrong but hey-ho, the decision was made and I prefer the darker grey anyway.
The cockpit was sprayed black first with Tamiya XF-67, after which a lightened coat was sprayed on the top of various surfaces. Final details were picked out using Vallejo paints then the cockpit was dry-brushed with a medium grey, again using Vallejo.
ICM provides dials for the various instrument panels and at first, I used a round punch and die set to remove them from the decal sheet but soon realised that they fitted within the bezels without the need to punch them out so that saved some time.
Once the cockpit was finished and the tail wheel bay painted (this time with RLM02) the fuselage was glued together. The upper main wing is a one-piece moulding that fits onto the top of the fuselage and this way avoids what can be an awkward wing-to-fuselage joint, the only problem here is it created fit issues front and back instead. 

The front joint is designed to fall on natural panel lines but the gaps here were pretty big plus due to the soft nature of the polystyrene used, the joint was prone to flexing. To overcome this I superglued some scrap plastic sheet behind each joint then filled them. 
The rear joint was not as bad as the front but it also needed shimming out otherwise there would have been a step between the wing and rear fuselage, again scrap plastic sheet was used to pack out the joint. In hindsight, I should have tried moving the wing forward to close up the gap more and just be left with the rear wing joint to deal with.
The lower wings were glued next and although there were gaps between them and the fuselage, I wedged the inside of the fuselage until the gaps closed up. These were then glued with Tamiya Extra Thin cement followed by superglue to add more strength to the joint.
The engine nacelles were next to be fitted and again there were gaps either side between them and the lower wings. I closed up the gaps on one side of each nacelle so that I only had one joint to fill and when set and using liquid glue and superglue.
I was able to close the gaps somewhat using finger pressure until the superglue had set.
Most other parts were glued into place such as the tailplane and bomb-bay, the worst fitting area was below the nose but to be fair, most kits I have built with a similar layout to the Dornier have always been a poor fit in this area.
Once I was happy with all the joints the vertical tails, flying control surfaces and cockpit canopy were then glued into place. The canopy was a pretty good fit but before-hand I had coated the inside with Johnsons Kleer (Future) floor polish to prevent the clear parts from fogging should I need to use superglue. Good job I did as although the canopy fitted well, the actual surface area for gluing it was very thin and prone to flexing. Any further gaps were filled with black Milliput.

You have the option of an open or closed bomb bay but I opted for the latter as although the detail included is OK this area still needs lots of extra work especially for the bay interior and fuselage sides. The closed bomb-bay doors fit better if you glue one side at a time and leave to set rather than in one go. The balance horns for the rear elevators were thinned out quite a bit before being glued into place as these were quite chunky;
The one on the right shows just how thick the parts are, the left one is after thinning. After-market etch will be better when it's available for this kit but just doing this improves the look substantially.
Another part of the kit that needs attention is the 'towel-rail' aerial underneath the rear fuselage;
Even though it is covered by the transparency that would magnify the chunkiness of the part so I replaced it with styrene rod and copper wire. Before doing this it was a good opportunity to clean up the fuselage joint too.
Before the clear part was glued into place the area was painted with RLM02.
With the model virtually built I assembled the FuG202 radar array and again due to the limitations of injection-moulding they were quite thick;
For the purposes of the review, I'll include them to show what the kit parts are like but as they were bugging me I started to look for alternatives as I really didn't fancy making them from scratch. 

The answer was a model firm in Greece called Gaspatch Models who as well as making full kits also do accessories including radar arrays for both the FuG202 and FuG212. 
Looking at them online I thought that maybe these would also be a bit overscale but better than the kit items. I placed an order anyway as they were not expensive even with postage (they arrived pretty quickly too) and my initial scepticism was unfounded as these aerials are VERY delicate. Unlike other FuG arrays out there that are etched metal and two-dimensional, these are 3D printed and they look far better than etched ones.
Be warned though, they are VERY delicate and care needs to be taken when removing them from the mould block. Although I managed to remove them I still broke a couple of the dipole rods so replaced them with heat-stretched sprue, also note that in the picture I had not removed the joining piece between the dipoles either (I rectified this later). To help with painting, I drilled out the four supporting rods and glued wire into the ends, I also drilled holes in the nose where they locate to help with fitting.
With that, the construction phase was done and the model was cleaned down and prepped for painting. Transparencies had been all masked earlier on as I needed to paint the insides with the cockpit colour. For photographic purposes, I assembled the model just to show what it looks like when built...

Pretty impressive (and big)! The model was then dis-assembled after the money-shots. Before priming it I drilled holes in the rear cockpit canopy, port fuselage side and port vertical fin for the aerial cable that will be added after painting.
That was a very enjoyable build and although it has a few fit issues (what kit doesn't), I have to say the overall quality is very good. There is plenty of scope for extra detailing in the cockpit, wheel-wells etc., but for what you see through the canopy, the extra bits I added is probably enough.
The polystyrene used is on the soft side which makes the clean up of parts trickier as it can leave strands of plastic, however, if you brush them with liquid glue they disappear. Also, the soft plastic can be a huge advantage as I have shown when closing up gaps on joints.

ICM have certainly upped their game in recent years by doing some really good (and interesting) subjects and this one is well worth getting, plus to my knowledge, it's the first time the Dornier 217J has been kitted in 1/48th scale. 

Part 3 will cover the painting and finishing so watch out for the next instalment at this link

Andy King

Thanks to ICM for sending this to Andy to build and review for you - You can find out more about this kit or the rest of the range on the ICM Website

You can see more of Andy's work on Andy King's Model Blog