by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Background The Do 215B-5 Kauz III followed the lead of the Do 17Z-10 "Kauz II", with a streamlined solid nose that housed 4 x 7.9mm MG17 machine guns and a single 20mm MG FF cannon (some sources state two cannons). An infra-red sensor was also fitted, part of the Spanner-Anlage system that was intended to pick up the hot exhausts of enemy bombers, with a small Q-Rohrdisplay screen installed in the cockpit. In practice, the device proved to be of very limited value, as it was very unreliable and could not differentiate between friend and foe. The Do 215B-5 entered service with 4./NJG 1 in early 1941, with around 20 aircraft eventually being modified to carried the FuG 202 Lichtenstein B/C radar system. While the clumsy aerial array knocked around 15 mph off the aircraft's top speed, the first "kill" was claimed in August 1941, with additional victories soon following.
The Do 215B-5 soldiered on in limited numbers until 1944, with its original armament augmented by an additional pair of cannon mounted side-by-side in a pack under the nose.
The kitThe sample kit took a bit of a battering in transit, so it was good to see the capacious flip-top box did an excellent job in protecting the contents. ICM's Do 215B-5 comprises:
187 x grey styrene parts (plus 19 unused)
10 x clear styrene parts (plus 4 not needed)
Decals for 2 x colour schemes
As you’d expect, the new kit shares the bulk of its parts with the original release. The sprues are actually the same, but with a number of alternative parts used, including the second canopy. Strangely, this was left unpolished in the first boxing, so it was the first thing I checked in case the designers had forgotten about it. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried - it’s highly polished, and crystal clear.
As before, the overall moulding is of high quality, with just one or few faint sink marks that'll be quick and easy to take care of. The exterior carries a satin finish, with neatly engraved panel lines (perhaps a touch heavy for some tastes), although they do get a bit indistinct due to moulding limitations around the deepest curves. More importantly, the kit is packed with some really crisp details throughout, with the interior forming a great basis for superdetailers to go to town on.
With the parts unchanged, it's no surprise that the overall fit remains excellent. Of course, the tail is unmodified and so still lacks the hump over the incidence adjustment gear. It really is worth considering adding Sergey Kosachev's Vector resin correction set, which also includes a much improved replacement tail wheel.
The big change in the kit is the inclusion of the new solid nose. This fits very neatly and comes with a full "bedstead" array of FuG 202 aerials. Not surprisingly, these are somewhat overscale and will look much better replaced with stretched sprue or thin wire. The kit's cockpit fit-out is identical to the reconnaissance-bomber kit - which leaves me thinking there should surely be a corresponding receiver for the radar array, along with ammunition and equipment for the 20mm cannon. Despite hunting through my own references and on the Internet, I haven't managed to turn up any shots yet of the nightfighter's cockpit, but a look the Ju 88C and Do 217N "offices" gives at least some idea of what sort of items you might expect.
One surprise is that ICM haven't included the ventral gun pack for an additional pair of MG FFs, as photos of both the aircraft for the chosen colour schemes show them mounted. It's doubly strange, as ICM's 1:72 kit does has the missing parts.
The new canopy with its cut-out for the night sight is very nice and comes with a choice of separate external armoured windscreens - with and without a matching cut-out. This does raise another question - namely, what was done on the full-sized machine when the sight wasn't fitted; should the hole in the standard windscreen behind the armour should be filled? You could do some careful surgery and graft in part of the windscreen from the bomber version - but it wouldn't be a job for inexperienced modellers.
Instructions and decalsThe assembly guide is produced as a neat 20-page A4 booklet, with clearly shaded drawings. There are 88 stages - a heck of a lot, but most of these are actually more what I'd call sub-assemblies consisting of just a few parts. Overall, the layout is uncluttered and easy to follow, and the sequence is pretty logical. Colour matches for Model Master paints are given along with RLM names in most cases.
Two pages of profiles and plan views show a pair of colour schemes:
1.Do 215B-5, Stab II./NJG 2, Leeuwarden, Spring 1942
2.Do 215B-5, flown by Oblt. P. Gildner, II.NJG 2, Giltze-Rijen, Autumn 1941
The decals look very good quality. Printed by Begemot, the sample set is nice and sharp, and printed in excellent register. They appear to be a major improvement over early sets from this source. No swastikas are included, so you’ll need aftermarket items for these.
ConclusionICM's new Do 215 nightfighter is a fine kit that will build into a very impressive model straight form the box. I can't help but think the designers must have missed some details in the cockpit fit-out for the aircraft's new role, and the lack of the ventral gun-pack is strange as they included it in their 1:72 kit which offered the same colour schemes. Still, with the basic kit so affordable, it provides an ideal canvas on which to add aftermarket extras for missing items and to correct the tail.
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