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Dornier Do 17 Z
the Flying Pencil in Luftwaffe Service


Classic Airframes, 1/48 scale

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: 4115 - Dornier Do 17 Z in Luftwaffe Service
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: 104 parts in gray styrene, 19 parts in cream colored resin, 9 clear injection molded parts. Instructions, decal sheet and painting guide for 4 aircraft.
Price: MSRP USD$77.00
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Accurate in outline (and no banana-shaped fuselage); useful options including detailed bomb bay interior, two 250kg bombs and positionable entry hatch; crisp engraved and fine surface detail; high quality plastic molding; thin, clear and separately packed clear parts; impressively detailed resin parts; four interesting marking choices.
Disadvantages: Very clear but brittle clear parts. Absence of DF loop. As usual, modeling experience is always helpful.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended


Reviewed by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman

Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Do 17 Z Luftwaffe Service will be available online from Squadron




I am sure that a great number of modelers have been awaiting the arrival of this kit.  Whether you are adding to your 1/48 scale Luftwaffe bomber collection, or your Battle of Britain collection, the Classic Airframes Do 17Z in Luftwaffe markings will be a must have.   No longer do you have to think for a moment about the extensive plastic surgery needed to fix the notorious Hobbycraft “Flying Banana”. 

The contents of this kit do not differ from the contents of the pervious boxing for the Classic Airframes Do 17Z in Finnish Markings.  Brett Green did an excellent overview of the kit and a partial build, which can be accessed through this link. 

Brett went on to complete the build and the completed model can be accessed through this link.



It is the markings that modelers will focus on, especially the box art marking.  The decals are well printed by Cartograph of Italy.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Let’s discuss the box art first, which has a fascinating history.

F1+FH:  1. / KG 76, September, 1940.  This aircraft was piloted by Oblt. Robert Zehbe.  This is the Do 17 that has become the subject of a great and glamorous myth as a result of a T.V. show.

Intending to bomb Buckingham Palace, Zehbe’s aircraft was rammed at the last minute by a Hawker Hurricane piloted by Sgt. Raymond Holmes.  Zehbe and Homes both floated to earth on parachutes and Buckingham Palace was spared and the King and Queen saved.  “Long live the King!”

Now for the actual history.  On 15 September 1940, Zehbe was on his way to bomb Central London, approaching from the South-East, and then a dog-leg west.  On route he encountered engine trouble and lagged behind the formation by about a half-mile.  The Hurricanes of 310 Squadron quickly jumped the straggler, but failed to shot down Zehbe’s aircraft.

As Zehbe approached South London his left engine was on fire. He was jumped by Hurricanes of 609 Squadron and 504 Squadron.  The effort to bring Zehbe down was so intense that it seems 609 Squadron complained that 504 Squadron was interfering in its efforts.

Two of Zehbe’s crewman bailed out, the gunner was dead.  Zehebe’s aircraft was then attacked by Holme’s Hurricane, and Zehbe bailed out.  Holme’s wing may have struck the Dornier at that point.  Holmes bailed out of the damaged Hurricane.  The Dornier, engulfed in flames, began to spin wildly out of control.  The outer wing panels broke off and the fuselage broke in two.  A good part of the aircraft came down in Fulham, with other parts falling on Victoria Station.  It is believed that one of the bombs flung out of the spinning aircraft, landed on the grounds of Bucking ham Palace.  Robert Zehbe died from his wounds the next day.

Just like the actual aircraft, the markings seem to have two different stories.  The box art appears to be based on a profile published in an old Profile monograph, No. 164 The Dornier 17 & 215.  While the major markings are accurate (there is even an actual photograph of the front of this aircraft), it is the “tactical formation” marking which have recently come under examination.

The “tactical formation” markings were the allegedly white bands that appeared on the tail fin and rudder and on the upper wing surface during September 1940.  The purpose of the marking was to enable pilots flying in formation to quickly determine the position of other aircraft in the formation.  Aircraft with the bar on the port (left) wing and port fin meant that they were on the starboard (right) side of the formation.  Also the number of bars might have indicated the Gruppe or Staffel status of the aircraft.

I use the phrase “allegedly white” above quite intentionally.  Based on the recent research of Kenneth Merrick, which appears to be based on RAF reports on downed aircraft, it appears that a number of aircraft had the bars applied in various shades of pink.  Merrick surmises that red may have first been tried, but was not distinguishable from a distance against the 70/71 camouflage.  The pale color might have been found to provide for quicker identification.

Merrick indicates that the evidence shows that Do 17Z F1+FH had a pale pink bar across the fin and rudder on 15 September 1940.  Merrick also presents a picture of the fin and rudder of F1+FH as it lay on top of Victoria Station.  The picture, while being black and white does not confirm the color, does confirm the location of both the swastika and the bar.  The swastika is at mid-fin and appears to be centered on the rudder hinge line.  The bar is near the bottom, extending from the leading edge to about half way across the rudder.

Based on the fact that the bar is on the port fin, the wing bar would be on the port wing.  The actual location of the wing-top bar is conjecture as the wings were badly damaged, and the reports seem to only indicate that the letter “F” was outboard of the wing cross.  But it is not clear whether this was on top or underneath the wings.  It is quite possible that the bar covered the “F” outboard of the cross on the port wing-top, although there is a picture of another KG 76 aircraft with the bar inboard of the cross.

Finally, it should be noted that the bar appears to have been applied with a brush. 

F1+JT: 9. / KG 76, circa Fall 1940.  The aircraft is in standard 70/71, but the underside was covered in black distemper.  The black undersides were adopted when the Luftwaffe switched to nighttime bombing after September 1940.  The decals provide for the individual aircraft number under the wing should you decide to use the standard Farbton 65 underside.

U5+EP: 6. / KG 2, circa 1940. Simply 70/71/65.

U5+DL:  3. / KG 2, circa 1941.  This aircraft in 70/71/64 carries the yellow cowling and rudders that were the theatre markings for aircraft in the Balkans.  It carries the noseband marking common to KG 2.  The aircraft may or may not have had the unit emblem.  If it did, it may have been on a yellow background for this particular aircraft as it was a 3 Staffel aircraft.





This is a great kit.  Having built one, I can say that with a bit of care and effort it builds into a great model of the Dornier Do 17Z flying pencil.  For me, I found that that it was better, and easier, to leave the bomb bay open, as intended, rather than closing it up.  Care must be taken when fitting the nacelles as, they are not handed, and use of putty is required.  Also, one should take great care in attaching the clear parts to the nose.

There is one issue that will require a bit of scratch building and careful work.  If one wants to build an accurate representation of Zehbe’s F1+FH, one will need to remove the DF dome on the canopy top and replace it with a DF loop.  This will require carefully sawing off the dome, filling in with plastic stock and fashioning a DF loop.

I cannot verify which of the other aircraft had the DF loop. It seems that the DF loop was used on the Do 17Z-1 and was replaced by the covered dome on the Z-2.  However, Z-1s were often refitted with the dome.

If you really want to get obsessive, you can fashion gun travel limiting bars out of fine wire for the two side machine guns.  I did this for my Finnish Do 17, and I liked the results.  But be very careful, as the clear part can crack easily.

Highly recommended from experience.


  • Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings 1933-1945 Vol. One and Two; K. A. Merrick; Classic Publications, 2005.

  • Dornier 17 in Focus; Chris Goss; Red Kite Publishing, 2005 

  • Dornier Do 17 The Yugoslav Story; Boris Ciglić & Dragan Savić; Jeroplan Books, 2007

  • Kampfflieger Vol. One and Two; J. Richard Smith & Eddie Creek; Classic Publications, 2004

A special thanks to David Wadman.

Thanks to Classic Airframes for the review sample.

Classic Airframes kits are available worldwide through hobby retailers and from Squadron.com

Review and Images Copyright © 2007 by Steven "Modeldad" Eisenman
Page Created 13 December, 2007
Last updated 01 January, 2008

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