SA05010 1/72 Dornier Do17Z

Heather Kay

64 posts

My ongoing Battle of Britain project continues. My aim is to build at least one of each type of aircraft that operated on both sides of the conflict in the summer of 1940. My pedantic nature wants me to include all RAF commands that were on active offensive as well as defensive duties, as well as the usual Luftwaffe suspects. Having built the AW Whitley earlier this year, plus an example of a Bristol Blenheim MkIVF and the Gladiator, it was time to switch sides.


I already have a Dornier Do17Z in my collection. I built it about 20 years ago, using the Revell kit (out of Monogram: you could tell by the raised moulded "Monogram" on the outside of one of the tail planes!) with tons of aftermarket details and upgrades. I threw everything at that build, apart from sanding all the raised panel lines down and rescribing them. The cockpit took me several evenings of fiddly etched part folding and gluing alone, and I didn't fit everything even then! I am still proud of that build. It stacks up quite well against builds I've completed since. You can find it in my Flickr photo pages: "Air War 1940".


Nevertheless, when Airfix announced an all new kit of the Flying Pencil, I immediately added my name to the pre-order list. How could I resist?


The box is quite small. It's always a surprise that the Do17 isn't actually all that big, compared to some of its contemporaries. Inside, four sprues contain all the main parts, and one of clear parts. On my copy, very little flash is evident, and any that does appear doesn't affect components. The box tells me there are over 170 parts, but obviously some of these will be alternatives and items that may not actually be used in this build. I note various selections of bomb payload, as well as a full complement of defensive armament and crew figures with separate right arms. Weighted mainwheels and the possibility of setting the main cockpit access hatch open complete the now standard modern Airfix kit. The transfer sheet looks well printed, and contains two marking schemes as well as the common parts. I'll have to source the tail fin swastika markings from the trade.


This build will be out of the box. I shall be using the supplied parts and transfers. As my preference is for grounded aircraft, I won't be fitting the crew figures to the model. I will add an occasionally detail, where I can. An immediate modification I can see is the addition of the metal bar "fences" fitted to the machine gun mounts either side of the rear cockpit. These features are very apparent in photos of the 1940 period. The extra guns were added in the field after experience in battle showed the aircraft was vulnerable to attacks from the side. To avoid crew members inadvertently shooting the engines and wings of their own plane, metal bars were added to restrict the gun barrel movements. I plan to fit these bars from fine brass wire.


I'm already quite familiar with the aircraft, so I felt fairly confident I didn't need my reference material at the outset. I will dig it out and check on various things before I get too much further. I started out by painting interior colour (Humbrol 240) on all the parts so indicated in the instructions. This was a good way of familiarising myself with all the parts and where they were on the sprues. As an aside, I am hoping to use Humbrol enamels all through this build, but the tinlet of 240 I have is that ghastly stuff that's like emulsion. I shook and mixed and mixed and shook, but the paint simply wouldn't give any coverage by brush at all. In the end, I thinned the paint and slapped it on, let it dry, slap on some more, and so on until I got the density of coverage I hoped for. I will have to check the other tinlets to see if they're the same gloopy consistency, and then decide what to do about painting the exterior.


I recall some reviews of this kit complained about ejector marks on interior details. There were quite a few, it has to be said. Many were sited so as to be masked or covered by other details, but I had to deploy a little filler in places. Others were easily dealt with (undercarriage and bomb bay doors, for example) by scraping back carefully with a new scalpel blade. Equally, these modern toolings also have fine tolerances, so I made a note to pay attention to mating surfaces, pegs and slots to ensure a good fit before applying cement. The soft plastic allows for some very fine mouldings, but it is also very fragile at times. I shall be very careful when extracting the undercarriage legs and struts from the sprue in due course.


The instructions start off, as is traditional, with the cockpit fittings. The pilot's seat is a bit of a fiddle, with the base being three parts. I found it paid to do a little careful tidying of mould split lines around mating surfaces. Part of the fiddle was probably due to my having painted the parts on the sprue, and then having to scrape the paint off so the cement worked! It's important to get the base side components (B11 and D31) as square on the base (D1) as possible. In fact, fitting the seat helps this (I went for B26 out of the two on offer - no idea which would actually be correct for the KG77 choice I've made). Once the control column is fitted at Stage 4, it's time to set this assembly to one side to set nice and hard.


Assembly stages 5 and 6 cover the rear cockpit details. I decided to leave these components unassembled at this stage. It's not clear what angles the side cheeks (A5 and A6) are to sit at, and I plan to fit them to the end (C8) to the assembled fuselage in stage 18.


The next stages cover fitting details to the sides of the cockpit. The instructions do cover detail painting, mainly with Humbrol 85 Satin Black. It's at this stage you notice just how many MG magazines were stashed about the cockpit! The instructions fail to note many of the moulded magazines, so it pays to spend a bit of time checking you've painted them all! I also detailed up some of the panels with black.


Stage 8 covers installing part D12. I found this component then got in the way of trying to fit the pilot seat assembly at stage 9, so I carefully removed it before the cement had set. Once the seat assembly is fitted - not trivial, and needs some care to ensure it sits square - D12 can be slotted in. 



This is where I got to after a couple of hours (not counting paint drying and recoats). I have skipped over stage 10, as that covers fitting the tail wheel for in-flight configuration. Stage 12 is fitting crew seats (2x B25) to the starboard fuselage side. There isn't much location area for these seats, and I have found the leading seat will not sit square due to the back interfering with part of the side wall detailing. I'll live with it now, but a little trimming of the side of the seat might have been helpful. The small chair on the left of the picture is the rear gunner's position (parts B12, B13 and D11), assembled in stage 14. I haven't fitted it yet, as it relies on the fuselage halves being joined. 



You can see the rather patchy interior grey-green finish, due to the rubbish paint. I can't find a suitable reference for further detail painting, so I've used my own initiative to pick out various components in satin black. I've done a wash of very dilute matt black into the panels to give a little shading and depth - a little over done in places. Some dry brushing of the main grey-green can overcome that, as well as some careful dry brushed aluminium colour in places to show a well-used airframe.


As you can see, the kit designers have done a lot of work to provide details in the cockpit. Although much will not be easily seen with the canopy transparencies in place, I do recall the effort I put into the Revell kit with teeny-tiny etched parts to achieve the same thing. Construction is relatively straightforward, but it does reward patience, care and several dry runs to ensure a good fit all round.


There follows a short intermission in this build as once again paying work takes precedence!

A professional modeller of railway subjects, and a reborn Airfix fan. Definitely into combat aircraft in service on all sides in the summer of 1940, but known to occasionally veer off into other interesting things!


512 posts

Community Moderator

Great start and article once again, thank you Heather.


I've lost my mojo a bit, although I don't associate summer evenings with sniffing glue!

John Symmons

486 posts

Nice one Heather. I'll be following your build with interest as I recently managed to by this kit in Cape Town (after a long wait). Always liked the Do 17 series and even made a coulpe of the old 217's many years ago, converting one to the night fighter before it was issued as such. At present I've two old Monogram and a Frog Do 17Z in the stash plus the old Airfix Do 17E / F and thought about building all at once for a comparison build. (Wish the Do 17E was still available to combine it with one of the Monogram ones' to make the P version.)

Thanks for the detailed write up I'll be refering to it when I get around to building mine. Wonder if Airfix will be re-issuing the model in some of the myride of other schenes. Looking foreward to seeing more. Keep them coming.

In future you might try Vellejo 70.886 (101) Green Grey for the RLM 02 colour. I also have a tin of Humbrol 240 and have also found it wanting in opacity especially when brushing, spraying it is bit better but still require two or more goes, at least then you get a more even finish. 

Remember we do this for fun    John the Pom.


191 posts

Nice drab colours for the interior detail.


Heather Kay

64 posts

Thanks for the comments everyone! When this model is finished, I will do a comparison between it and the Revell model. It might prove interesting. I ought to do that with the Gladiator and its Matchbox cousin, too.


A little spare time appeared, so I picked up this build again.



After fitting out the cockpit, but before it can be completely finished, the fuselage halves have to be joined. This proved a relatively painless exercise. Just a little filler was needed at the join to the rear of the bomb bay, and some care taken to ensure the join in front of the cockpit was neat.



The rear gunner's seat and the surrounding panels were fitted. The seat is a bit of a fiddle, but pays careful attention and gentle sanding on the locating blocks to get a neat fit. If you recall, I decided to leave the rear panels as separate components to be fitted at this stage. This proved to be a sensible thing to do, because each side panel needed a gentle bend to sit neatly into the cockpit. Once the two sides were in, the rear panel could be fitted. 



Viewed from the nose, you can see the wonky co-pilot seat. While attempting to straighten it, it came away from the cockpit, so I took the opportunity to shave a little off the side and back that meets the cockpit side panel, and refitted it so it was more straight. Even the pilot's seat is wonky, but it looks worse here because of the massive tilt of the other seat!



With the main cockpit fittings in place, and the fuselage halves mated, the rear lower transparency has to be fitted. I'm not a fan of fitting transparencies too early in a build, but I felt I couldn't avoid this one. Dry fitting revealed the need for some gentle filling and sanding, so it had to go in now, before the area was hard to get at. Another glazed panel can be seen at the back of the bomb bay. A note here about the wing spars. It's not very obvious from the instructions which way round these should be fitted into their slots. The parts have a gentle curve to them, and I fitted them so the curve swept towards the rear of the aircraft. If the leading spar is fitted the other way round, the upper and lower wing halves won't sit down properly.



Getting there. Note the side gun mounting blocks. During subsequent fitting of the upper wing half, these snapped off. Luckily the break was clean, and along the weakness at the lower point, so I put the pieces to one side and refitted them after the wing was in place.



Fitting the upper wing half seemed like it would be a breeze. I did a lot of dry fitting and careful sanding to ensure it would be a nice clean fit with as little fuss as possible. Of course, when it came to applying cement, the opposite was true. It took a couple of goes, more sanding, and some cursing, to get the top half to sit as neatly as I could get it. During this procedure, the gun mounts mentioned just now came off. You can see one in the lower right of the picture.


While glue was drying, I fitted the rear wheel well detail panels to the lower wing halves. Each one need some sanding and cleaning up around the part itself and the opening into which it fitted to get things sitting square. This isn't down to faults in design, just tight tolerances at the design stage. Even the thickness of paint makes a difference to the fit of a part.


With the upper half attached the lower halves were fitted. While the overall fit was good, there is a large gap at the wing roots. Despite the spars, there's not a lot supporting the area either. If I were to build another Dornier from this kit, I might look to fitting some styrene sheet or strip to the spars to support this area. Some filler will be required in this case. While things were setting I joined the rear engine nacelle halves together.



I used filler round the wing root and rear cockpit joins, at the rear fuselage and top wing join, along the inner leading edges, and along the lower wing roots. Whether this is down to being ham-fisted, or slightly deformed material due to the unseasonably hot August weather ( CoolWink )here in the UK, I can't tell.


The lower wing root joins also required a little scraping to remove a step between the fuselage and wing. I wasn't terribly impressed, but as this is under the aircraft and won't be easily seen I made the best of a bad job. I'm not sure what caused the gaps, as the tolerances elsewhere in the kit have led to material being removed for fitting. It may just be an error with joining the fuselage halves. The area around the bomb bay has some flexibility, and can be deformed by heavy handling.



The gun mounts refitted. You can make out the filler and sanding to tidy the joins in this area. I've also marked out for holes to be drilled where the protective wire guards will be fitted. These will have to wait for the canopy transparency to be fitted.



Finally for this post, the engine nacelles fitted. Again, tolerances were tight, so some gentle scraping was needed to get a good fit into their locations. Unlike the AW Whitley, you can't fit the nacelles in the wrong wings! Retrospectively, I have had to apply some cement to the join running inside the flap slot. You can also see the amount of filler along the wing roots. I sanded carefully, so I didn't need to reinstate too many panel lines. Don't ask me why I used both white and green putty!


So, a little frustration fitting the wings to this model. It doesn't take long for the characeristic hump-shouldered look with dumpy wings to form. Another intermission looms, as I am away on a busman's holiday to a big model railway exhibition in Telford, where I shall be touting for business, meeting old friends, and spending money like it's going out of fashion! Everything aeroplane related is back in its red box and back on the shelf for the time being.

A professional modeller of railway subjects, and a reborn Airfix fan. Definitely into combat aircraft in service on all sides in the summer of 1940, but known to occasionally veer off into other interesting things!


191 posts

Well done on the build so far, everything seems to be going well and the parts fitting without to many problems!


Ian Price

32 posts

What an excellent build and loving all the detail.  Looking forward to your next post.



John Symmons

486 posts

Ditto to the above comments.

Waiting for more.

Remember we do this for fun   John the Pom

Heather Kay

64 posts

Apologies for the lack of updates. I'm afraid real paying work is taking precedence at the moment. The part-built model is sitting on a shelf above my workbench, looking hopeful.

A professional modeller of railway subjects, and a reborn Airfix fan. Definitely into combat aircraft in service on all sides in the summer of 1940, but known to occasionally veer off into other interesting things!


378 posts

"German bombers" aren't really my thing, but this is one epic review. Respect is due.

Though I fly through the shadow of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil, for I am at 65_000 feet and climbing.

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