Tamiya 1/48 Dornier Do335 Pfeil (Arrow)
In 1937, Dr. Claude Dornier patented the unique design of a "push-me, pull-you" power system for a combat aircraft. However, it wasn't until 1942 before the German High Command authorized development of this radical design.
In many respects, the Do335 is fairly conventional design employing a low-mounted wing, tricycle landing gear, and a relatively low frontal cross-section for reduced drag. The fact that the aircraft was powered by a Daimler Benz DB603 engine in the nose, modified to allow a 30mm cannon to fire through the spinner, was also nothing radical. It was just the other DB603 in the tail, which drove a second, 'pusher' propeller that was new.
While the Do335 was evidently not available for combat duties before the end of the war, flight test results had shown the promise of this design, and design variants were already underway. These included a two-seat night fighter and a fighter-bomber version with a payload of 1000kg of bombs at high speed.
Performance data for the Do335 showed that it had a level top speed more than 40 mph faster than the P-51 Mustang, and despite the twin-engine design (and associated weight), the Do335 possessed the same agility of its single-engined contemporaries. For air-to-air firepower, not only did it have the 30mm cannon firing through the spinner, it also had two 20mm cannons mounted over the front engine. The Do335B carried two additional cannons, one in each wing.
For survivability, the Do335 incorporated several innovations. In the event of a landing gear problem, the ventral fin could be jettisoned before attempting a belly landing. On the other hand, if bailing out of the aircraft was the only option, the aircraft was equipped with an ejection seat. Provisions were also underway to allow for jettisoning the rear propeller as well.
The jet-age had all but rendered this concept obsolete for a combat aircraft. Even Dornier's designers foresaw the promise of jet power and had provisions for a Do435, powered by a piston engine in the nose and a turbine engine in the tail (this wasn't a unique idea, Ryan was already working on the same type of power combination in its FR-1 Fireball for the USN.
This innovative piston-powered tractor/pusher system would not reappear until Cessna's Skymaster series. Since then, only a handful of prototypes and unique aircraft, like Rutan's round-the-world 'Voyager' have also embraced the centerline thrust concept.
Tamiya's latest release is molded in medium-gray plastic, features engraved detailing throughout the external surfaces, and is flash-free. The kit is comprised of 106 grey parts and 5 clear.
There are some small ejector-pin marks inside both maingear wells that will be difficult to remove without destroying the nice details molded inside. All of the landing gear doors and the inside of the weapons bay doors are also plagued with ejector pin marks. These will also be a bit of a challenge to remove without damaging the surrounding details.
The kit features a nicely executed cockpit, complete with ejection seat, an accurate Y-styled control column, a nice instrument panel and rudder pedals.
The fuselage is molded in such a way that the two-seat variant will also be available in the near future. In fact, two pilots are included in this release (you'll only need one this time).
The weapons bay is also laid out nicely, and includes the bomb cradle and 1000 kg bomb. The layout of the cockpit floor and weapons bay bulkheads is very similar to the way Tamiya crafted their 1/48 Mosquito, so assembly should be tight and flawless.
Given the volume of plastic aft of the main landing gear, this model would be a definite tail-sitter if not for the steel ballast that Tamiya also includes in this kit.
The landing gear detailing is likewise nicely done, though in a reversal of trends, Tamiya did not include flattened tire options in this kit. We'll have to simply sand down the round wheels or locate a set of Squadron's True Details Do335 Resin Wheels (Part Number 48064).
Markings are included for Do335A-0 VG+PH (W.Nr.240102), Do335A-0 (W.Nr.240107), and Do335A-1 #1-3 (W.Nr.240161). If you want to do an interesting variation, VG+PH was used for flight evaluations by theUS before being stored away in the Smithsonian's Silver Hill restoration facility. This would entail some field-applied 'cover-ups' of the German markings and application of USAAF insignia. By the way, VG-PH was rescued from Silver Hill with the help of Lufthansa and some private donations, restored, and is now on display in a museum in Munich.
I am a bit disappointed with the number of ejector pin marks on this kit. This is not the usual situation with Tamiya kits to date. The loss of flattened wheels is unfortunate as well. Nonetheless, this kit will build into a great version of the single-seat Do335, and I can't wait to tackle the nachtjager two-seater in the future. I can recommend this kit for virtually any skill-level builder.
Dornier Do335 "Pfeil", Heinz J. Nowarra, Schiffer Publications, 1989