Monday, September 7

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

The third part of Andy King's build of the 48th scale Dornier Do 217J-1/2 WWII German Night Fighter is with us today. ICM's kit has held up pretty well so far, see how Andy finished it off in the final part of his build guide & review...

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

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

With the assembly finished it was time to throw some paint onto the model and straight off a word of caution is needed here. I like to prime my models first and my 'go-to' for many years has been Games Workshop Chaos Black in a rattle can as I've never had an issue with it. Unfortunately, it reacted with the plastic in some areas and the model had to be sanded down and repainted. 

The aircraft depicted in this article is this one - D5+ DM" of 4./NJG 3
The issue is (as I found out recently) the GW stuff etches itself into plastic surfaces, which is no problem if the polystyrene is relatively hard however the styrene ICM use (as well as Airfix for that matter) is quite soft so be warned.

With that sorted, I sprayed the undersurface colour first using a mix of Tamiya X-2 White (due to the pandemic my local hobby shop had run out of matt white), XF-23 Light Blue and XF-66 Light Grey roughly to a ratio of 7:1:2. With all the RLM colours ready mixed these days it may be an odd choice to mix my own but having had issues recently with masking tape lifting paint that had been left to cure for a couple of days, I needed something bulletproof and Tamiya works for me.
Once the under surfaces had been sprayed, I airbrushed XF-53 Neutral Grey around all the panel lines then lightly over-sprayed that with the base colour. 
Finally, I lightened the mix with more white and sprayed in between panel lines.
The lower surfaces were masked off completely with Tamiya masking tape then the first upper surface colour (RLM75) was sprayed which was a mix of Tamiya X-2, XF-24 and XF-27 in a ratio of 7:3:1. 
Panel lines this time were sprayed using XF-69 Nato Black then the process as above was repeated.
The upper surfaces were masked off using the kit instructions as a guide then the second colour (RLM74) was applied using the same colours but in a different ratio (3:2:1), again repeating the process used for panel lines and highlighting.

The next stage was to gloss coat the model and I do this for two reasons; the first being it makes a good surface for decals to bed down onto without 'silvering' when varnished over and the second reason is it helps (in my experience anyway) with panel line washes. I know that some people think you don't need to gloss coat for decals which is fine, it's your model so do it the way you want, personally, I'd rather not chance it in case I screw up the decals on a method that is risky especially if using after-market decals that can be expensive.
With that and working in sections at a time, I sprayed Tamiya X-22 thinned with their acrylic thinner first then using a 2nd airbrush filled with Mr Hobby Self Levelling Thinners I misted that on over the gloss varnish. I've always had mixed results with X-22 as it dried patchy and seemed to need bottles of the stuff to get a decent shine, however with the Self Levelling Thinners lightly sprayed over it seems to reconstitute itself and dry to a nice glossy finish plus I didn't need to use as much X-22 either.

When dry I began applying the kit supplied decals starting with the red hatched wing walk lines and promptly messed up as I put them in the wrong place. By the time I realised and having used Micro Sol to help bed them down it was too late to rectify my mistake as the decals had well and truly stuck and I had to lightly sand them out as even Sellotape wouldn't lift them. 

The affected areas were resprayed and I found an alternative online from Uschi Van Der Rosten in the form of a masking stencil (DL-48). Uschi was out of stock, but luckily I found a UK supplier and the stencils were here within a couple of days.
The walkways were removed from their backing sheet and applied to the model (in the right place this time), masked off and sprayed with XF-7 red.
In retrospect, I should have used X-7 red (the glossy one) as it might have matched the other red decals but this method worked very well anyway and as the stencils are re-useable I'll use them on other Luftwaffe WW2 subjects.
The decals included in the kit are commendably thin but because they are VERY thin I had a lot of trouble applying them as they wanted to curl up into a ball at every occasion. Even with putting the backing paper onto the model after soaking them the decals wanted to curl underneath. At one point I had just got one of the wing crosses smoothed out nicely after a struggle but caught it with a brush and it lifted and wrapped itself up.
Most of the decals were a struggle to get on (a couple of the stencils were destroyed in the process), the worst being the upper wing and fuselage crosses. In future, I'll use masks for national insignia and spray them on instead of using decals.

Once the decals were on the model received another coat of X-22 to seal the decals in. This was particularly important for the fuselage crosses as the middles were over-prayed on the real aircraft to tone them down. For this I made a mask for both crosses as well as ones for the swastika's on the vertical fins as these are not supplied by ICM;
The painting instructions suggest RLM02 Grau for the centre of the crosses but another source says it was RLM76 so weighing up the evidence and sticking my neck out yet again I went for the latter but darkening it with Neutral Grey. My reasoning being that over-spraying the black centre of the fuselage cross would darken the RLM76, the same for the swastikas on the fin.
(Yes, there is a hole in the top left of the fin as I drilled a bit too far for the aerial cable. Meh...)
As the Dornier was powered by BMW engines there was supposed to be BMW badges on the lower cowling ring. These are not featured on the kit decals but luckily they are included in a Great Wall Hobby 1/35 BMW motorbike and sidecar that I had in the stash so I photocopied the decals from the kit and printed them out onto photo paper. The BMW badges were punched out using a round RP Toolz punch-and-die set then 2mm holes drilled into the lower cowling, deep enough for the badges without drilling through them completely. Making sure they were the correct orientation the badges were set into place using Johnsons Kleer floor polish (that stuff still has its uses).

With all the decals in place and sealed in I moved onto the weathering using Mig Productions Dark Brown Wash for the upper surfaces and their Panel Line Wash Blue Grey for the lower surfaces as I felt the brown was would be too strong for the light blue.
The one problem here was the panel lines on the model were pretty shallow and the washes wouldn't stay in them so I left them to dry for an hour so and gently wiped the excess off using a paper kitchen towel and that worked pretty well.
Although I said I used the dark brown wash on the upper surfaces, I did use it on the lower cowlings as a photograph of the actual aircraft shows this area to be heavily stained presumably from engine oil leaks.
With all washes done and the exhaust staining applied the model was sprayed with Winsor and Newton acrylic varnish from the Galleria range and left to dry for a day or so.

Final details such as paint chipping using Vallejo Model Colour were painted, the bits I had knocked off during handling and the undercarriage and doors were glued into place along with an aerial cable from the cockpit to the port tail fin added using EZ line. Masking was removed from the cockpit canopy and ventral gun position and finally, the Fug202 radar aerials were glued into place. The rear turret dome was such a good fit it didn't require any glue. Impressive!

A walk around the completed kit...
That was quite an enjoyable build and my first WW2 Luftwaffe subject for a few years. 
ICM is certainly doing some good stuff at the moment and although the build has had its moments with construction and the decals (nothing major), it is certainly worth getting if you have any interest in the subject. 
The kit is pretty good straight out of the box but as I have shown, some refinements such as the FuG202 radar array and the 'towel rail' aerial under the rear fuselage will lift the model that bit more. You might have noticed I didn't use any etch on this build either so what you see here is pretty much what you get.
Good stuff and I hope ICM keep up the work they are doing as it really is paying off.

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