In the mid-20’s, the German aircraft designer, Claude Dornier began researching a layout of a twin-engine aircraft with both engines on the aircraft centerline; one pulling in the tractor configuration, the other, mounted behind the cockpit, pushing. In 1937, Dornier received a design patent on the centerline thrust and cruciform (crossed) tail configuration. In 1942, the German Air Ministry asked for production designs for high speed aircraft capable of maintaining airspeeds of 500 mph. Dornier’s design, which became the Do-335, was powered by two 1750 hp DB-603 engines and had maneuverability on par with the single engine fighters of the day. The design also incorporated an internal bomb bay capable of a 1000 Kg bomb load. Armament consisted of a pair of MG151 cannons above the forward engine and a MK108 30mm cannon firing through the forward propeller hub.
Few examples of the Do-335 were ever seen by Allied airmen in flight. One interesting encounter was Pierre Closterman in a Hawker Tempest, who encountered a Do-335 over Europe. Not recognizing the shape, Closterman came along side for a closer look. The German pilot, after exchanging salutes, flew away as if Closterman were standing still. The only remaining example of the Do-335 was restored by Dornier in the late 1980s and is in storage at the NASM Restoration and Storage Facility in Washington, DC.
Building a Nightfighter
When I received the recently released Tamiya kit, I was pleased with the engineering that has become the norm from them. A rather glaring difficulty arose, however, when I noticed the many pin ejector marks, often in the most inopportune places: the main gear wells, the exposed surfaces of the main gear legs and the interior of the forward gear doors. These could and would be dealt with, but their existence did lower my initial reaction to the kit.
There’s just something about the RLM 74/75/76 scheme that I like. After deciding on that scheme, the choice was obvious to build a night fighter. A little research pointed to the one night fighter prototype built, Work Number 240120, coded RP + UD. Conversion should be straightforward.
I began by making a template of the forward cockpit cutout. Transferring the template to the turtle deck, I made my cut. Committed now, I made the template for the fairing behind the rear cockpit and added it from thin stock. The floor and bulkheads are “siding” stock to provide a 3D appearance. The seat started life as a He219 seat, modified to mimic the kit-supplied seat. The radar set, radio stack, side consoles and radar antennae come from the RM Ta-154 Moskito kit.
Other modifications to the kit include replacing the MG151s with brass tubing; moving all control surfaces (including the flaps); removing the areas between the cowl flaps; replacing the wing tip navigation lights with clear stock sanded to shape; drilling out the nose wheel axle; drilling out the exhaust stacks and pitot tube; opening the boarding ladder housing, building the ladder and providing the retraction lever in the wing fillet. The cockpit also received throttle, prop and mixture levers and knobs, canopy “grab handles,” latch levers and stop ropes.
Construction was straightforward with the major time allocated to the aforementioned ejector marks. After the major components were assembled and minor seam repairs completed, I shot buffable Aluminum Plate over the entire model. After the patina was buffed out, continued buffing brought out the polished look that I was looking for. Covering this coat with Future, I applied random splotches of liquid mask, especially on the wing leading edges and on the wing walks. The lower surfaces were painted RLM 76 and let dry over night. I masked off the fuselage sides with Parafilm and painted the RLM 74. Cutting Parafilm masks on my table, I transferred the masks to the upper surfaces of the wings, vertical and horizontal stabilizers and shot the RLM 75. I removed the masks immediately and let the model dry night.
Next were the mottles on the fuselage sides. I lowered the pressure on my compressor as much as possible and backed off the needle in my airbrush. The point was thinned to almost water consistency. Holding the model only 1/8” away from the airbrush tip, I carefully applied the mottles. The color applied matched the solid color above.
After the camouflage had dried, I covered it with a coat of Future and applied the decals. The Work Number was modified from the kit decals while the aircraft codes were dry transfers, rubbed on to clear decal film, then added to the fuselage sides and wing undersides. After the decals were settled into place with a little help from MicroSol, I again covered the model with a coat of Future and let dry. I applied my weathering wash, thinned PolyScale grimy black with dish washing soap added. Wiping with a damp cotton ball provided just the effect I wanted.
When dry, I scraped the wing leading edges and all panel lines with the backside of a #11 X-Acto blade, removing chips of the camo colors, exposing the buffed aluminum finish underneath. The exhaust stains are grimy black with the center misted with neutral gray. The cordite stains behind the cowl guns are also grmy black. The addition of the gear legs, canopies and boarding ladder basically completed the kit.
I spent roughly two weeks on this model. That is probably in the 40 - 50 hour range. While the engineering of the kit is exemplary, I remain disappointed by the placement of the ejector pins. That notwithstanding, Tamiya’s Do-335 builds to a very good looking model and with a little surgery and kit bashing, an excellent addition to anyone’s stable.
I need to thank Bronto Models for vacuum-forming the canopy for me. Without it, the second cockpit installation would have been neigh impossible.