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Do 17Z

Classic Airframes 1/48 Do 17Z 'Finland' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2007 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject Do 17Z 'Finland' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4114 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Easily the best Do 17Z kit produced in any scale Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

Do 17Z
Do 17Z
Do 17Z
Do 17Z
Do 17Z
Do 17Z
Do 17Z

During the early 1930s, the RLM was looking for a 'schnellbomber' (fast bomber) that was designed to be faster than defending fighters. Several companies submitted designs but Dornier received the contract for a high speed freight aircraft with 'special equipment'. This was post World War I armistice-speak for a bomber being built in violation of standing peace treaties.

The Do 17 evolved through a number of design improvements and engine changes before serious production was focused on the Do 17Z. The Do 17Z-2 was the most common variant with 1000 hp Fafnir engines and optimized superchargers.

The Do 17 served the Luftwaffe in the early years of the Blitz across mainland Europe. In this environment, the Do 17 was an effective light bomber, but when it finally faced off against the RAF in the early stages of the Battle of Britain, the schnellbomber wasn't schnell enough to evade the defenders. The aircraft was transferred to allied nations while Dornier brought its larger, more powerful replacement online - the Do 217.

Classic Airframes has tackled another interesting niche in the quarter scale aircraft line-up - the Dornier Do 17Z. Until now, the only option the modeler had for this unique aircraft was Hobbycraft's series of Fliegender Bleistiften - the Do 17E/F, Do 17M/P, and Do 17Z. So how does the new Classic Airframes kit stand up against a kit that is roughly half the cost?

First off, the Classic Airframes kit is molded in medium gray styrene and presented on five parts trees, one tree of clear parts, and one set of nicely cast resin details. The detailing on the styrene surfaces is finely scribed and the surfaces are baby-butt smooth, you could easily apply a bare metal finish to this model if that were appropriate. I wish other manufacturers who make kits of bare metal airplanes could also achieve this quality of glassy styrene surfaces.

The clear parts are absolutely clear and from what I've seen, are drop-in perfect fits. If you stop over to Hyperscale, Brett Green has already completed a test build of this kit and the model appears to come together nicely.

So why pay two times more for this kit over the Hobbycraft Do 17Z? It all depends on how much time, material, and trouble you want to endure with the Hobbycraft kit. The Hobbycraft Do 17 has some serious issues with the clarity of their clear parts.

If you're modeling your Dornier with the mist of the early morning dew on the windows, the Hobbycraft kit is exactly what you're looking for. If you actually want to see inside those windows, you could replace those opaque clear parts with vacuform replacements, but then you're faced with the reality that there's not much to see inside the Hobbycraft kit in terms of details anyway.

The Classic Airframes kit offers a really nice styrene and resin interior for this kit. In fact I believe this is one of the nicest cockpits I've seen in a Classic Airframes kit so far. The beautiful interior detailing doesn't stop in the cockpit, there is a nicely appointed bomb bay provided in this kit with nice racks and internal bay structures.

Look at those resin engines! They're even nicer looking up-close. When you look at this model from the front, you're going to have lots of eye catching detail to see. And if you like the engines, you'll love the landing gear as well.

Decals are provided for three examples:

  • Do 17Z, DN-63, 1/LeLv 46, Oct 1942
  • Do 17Z, DN-53, 3/LeLv 46, Feb 1942
  • Do 17Z, DN-52, PLeLv 43, Summer 1947

So is this kit really worth two times the cost of its competition? You will probably invest twice the cost of the Classic Airframes kit in terms of time, energy, and materials (not to mention flowers for all of the 'colorful metaphors' your spouse will no doubt overhear) to bring the Hobbycraft kit up to par with what comes out of the box in this kit. Each release from Classic Airframes gets a bit nicer than the last, and this is the nicest kit they've produced to date (though that Anson is still an impressive kit as well).

I highly recommended this kit to intermediate/advanced modelers.

My sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for this review sample!