The Dornier Do 24 was produced before and during World War II by the German Dornier Flugzeugwerke. It was originally designed as a civil aircraft for the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia ). It was a 3-engined flying boat intended for passenger and cargo transport and also for sea rescue. In this role, the floatplane is believed, according to Dornier records, to have saved the lives of some 12,000 aviators and passengers during its flying career. A total of 279 were built from 1937 to 1945, some of them in Holland and others in France where they served until 1952. In 2004, a modified Do 24 called the Do-24 ATT (new engines) began flying around the world on a UNICEF mission. As of today, it's the last Dornier Do 24 in working condition.
The Kit's content
Fonderie Miniature's 1/48 scale Dornier Do 24 T is big, and the box in which the kit is packed is big too (picture 1). Fortunately, the bottom is made of strong cardboard and this gives the package a minimum of solidity considering its volume. However, in spite of the size of the box, the kit's content hardly fits in it! And even more surprising, the injected sprues and the clear parts were not protected at all but simply put "as is" in the box. From this point of view, it's not a shake and bake kit!
So what do you find in such a big box? A lot of plastic (13 sprues, see picture 2), a bag of white metal parts (picture 3), a bag of resin parts (picture 4), clear parts (injected and vacuformed, see picture 5), decals (picture 6), instructions (picture 7) and marking guides (picture 8). Quite a lot and I must admit that, perhaps surprisingly, nothing suffered despite the poor packaging of the injected parts.
One problem with Fonderie Miniature kits is that it is nearly impossible to check if parts are missing, as there are no parts layout shown in the instructions. This is something I would really like to see because it definitely makes the build easier. Admittedly, some plastic parts are numbered on their back (picture 9 and 10), but only one small sprue benefits from this! If you take a closer look at the cockpit's assembly instructions (picture 11), you will be able to note at which point the identification of the parts is likely to be hazardous. Adding a parts layout drawing in the instructions shouldn't be that difficult Mister Fonderie Miniature! So please, could you add one in your next kit? Model builders all over the world would be very grateful if you do so!
The kit's quality
If you have already built or seen F.M. kits, you have probably noticed they are typically "short run". This means that the plastic parts are made with low pressure injection moulding machines and that the molds are not made of Steel but rather of Zamak, a much more fragile metal (that's why the kits are produced in a limited number). The point is, you can't expect a short run kit to be the same quality as a Tamiya or Hasegawa one because of the limitations of the moulding process used. However, short run technology has improved hugely over the years and some manufacturers have produced kits of which the quality is almost equal to that of some mainstream manufacturers.
With the above explanations in mind, what is the quality of the Do 24 T kit like? Well, it's rather a mixed bag; some parts are very nice, others acceptable and some will require a lot of work (read scratchbuilding).
Let's start with the cockpit area. The bigger parts are made of injected plastic (picture 12). The bulkheads are quite nicely done, especially the cabin doors. However, the parts will have to be cleaned and some sink marks will have to be removed with some putty. The fuselage sides have an internal structure molded on them (picture 13) but the main detail parts such as instrument panel, radio station, control wheels, seats, etc... are made of resin (picture 14) or white metal (picture 3). Out of the box, it is possible to make an acceptable but not hyper-detailed cockpit. I gathered pictures on the net and I noticed this area was much more busy in the real aircraft. So additional scratchbuilt or spare parts will be needed to bring the kit to a higher standard. Anyway, if you do not plan to enter the finished model into a contest, you can leave it as it is and only add the seat belts which are not included in the kit.
The engines are made of resin (picture 15) and are superb. They will also need some scratchbuilding (push rods, ignition wires) as these are not present on the single resin piece. This is something that should be done as the engine will be very visible on the completed model. Other detail parts are the air intakes made of resin (picture 14) and the exhausts made of white metal (picture 3). The engine cowlings are injected and I must say they look bad (picture 16). In particular, the cowling flaps have suffered from the short run moulding process and I would at least fill them and rescribe them, or replace them with plasticard if they are to be displayed in the opened position. The engine nacelles (picture 17) look good, with nice engraved panel lines and subtle raised detail were they meet the wing.
The overall exterior detail is nice, but here too some areas have suffered because of poor molding. If you go back to picture 13, you will note that flash is present in sometimes huge amounts. No, what you see on the picture is not the instrument anti-glare protection! As I checked the kits parts for the first time, I was shocked to see huge ejector pins marks on the fuselage halves (picture 18). After reading the instructions and after a more careful examination of the parts, I was relieved to see that in fact, these were meant to be the openings for the port-holes! Obviously, the two mold halves didn't fit 100% together while the plastic was injected and the resulting flash completely covered those. The engraved and raised details on the fuselage halves are nice but the surface of the kit will have to be cleaned and sanded smooth. On the port side, you can find two large doors (picture 19) which you can display open as F.M. have thinned the interior of the fuselage to make cutting easier. However, there is no detail provided here so beware of the "Pandora's box" effect! The typical Dornier floats are nicely done (picture 20) and if you think the trailing edges are too thick, don't worry about it, it's like that on the real aircraft.
Other areas that will require some additional work are the ailerons (picture 21) which have some molding issues, the struts which have sink marks here and there (picture 22) and the main wings support struts (picture 23). The latter have an odd surface and look more like tree trunks than metallic support frames. Anyway, cleaning the parts won't be too difficult and the fact they are made of white metal is a good thing as it well ensure the model to be more solid once the wing will be attached to the fuselage.
The defensive armament (three gun turrets) is made out of vacuformed pieces, resin and white metal parts (picture 3, 4 and 5). The vacuformed parts are not that clear and a coat of Future won't go amiss to give them a little bit more transparency. Unfortunately, only one sample per turret is provided so one will have to be careful when cutting them to shape. The guns are nice but very fragile. Some were distorted but it's easy to get them back to a more natural state by slightly bending them. Round metal or resin frames are also provided to fix the machine guns to the turrets. The entire cockpit glazing is provided in a single vacuformed piece and here, fortunately, two have been provided (picture 5)!
The decals look good and will allow you to depict two German machines with the usual splinter scheme (RLM 65, RLM 72 and RLM73). Markings are provided for a floatplane coded KO+JT and another coded DJ+ZM (picture 6). Two code sets are present for the latter one and obviously an error had to be corrected as they are on separate sheets. Both planes have unit insignias as well as custom inscriptions on the forward fuselage.
The kit's Accuracy
From what I gathered on the net, it seems Fonderie Miniature's kit is a good representation of the Dornier Do 24 T. If you want to know more about the plane, check these two links:
Dornier Do 24 website
Dornier Do 24 on Aircraft Walkaround Center
The first one is a great website dedicated to the Do 24 Floatplane and the second one has lots of walkaround pictures of a preserved plane. You can also use Google and type "Dornier Do 24 T" in the search window.
This is certainly not a kit for beginners! It's rather an ambitious project even for experienced modelers. Though it should not be too difficult to build out of the box, as it really only needs some good cleaning-up of the parts, making a high detailed model out of it is another story! If you want to go the second route, prepare for a lot of references researches and scratchbuilding. But in the end, you will be rewarded with a spectacular an original model. This Fonderie Miniature kit is recommended to every modeler with some modeling skill and also comfortable with multimedia short run kits. Oh, and I almost forgot, with a lot of available working and display space as well! (see picture 24)
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