Dornier Do 335B-6
by Mike Millette
The Do335 make so much sense from an aerodynamic perspective that it makes you wonder why it took so long for somebody to think of it.
Of course Dipl Ing Claudius Dornier was using the "push me-pull you" configuration on his seaplanes for a long time before his big Arrow took to the air.
Dornier's seaplanes all used engines that were mounted above the wing where contact with the ground really wasn't an issue. That aft prop hitting the ground makes a heck of a lot of noise when the aircraft rotates for takeoff though - a characteristic that undoubtedly put a lot of designers and pilots off. Nevertheless. the performance gains for solving this little problem were definitely worth it.
The Do 335B-6 was one of the many planned variants of the big Arrow that never made it into production. It was designed as an interim night fighter until the longer winged B-7 and B-8 version came along. Two nightfighter prototypes were actually constructed. Werknummer 230010 (Do 335 A-6) CP+UK was built using a standard A- series aircraft with the fuselage fuel tank behind the pilot removed and a radar operator's station installed. This station was equipped with a flush fitting canopy. The second nightfighter, Do 335, M17 was to serve as the prototype for the B-6 series. The war ended before construction was finished. Neither of these was based on the "humpbacked" versions of the Arrow as shown in several sources. That was a training aircraft only.
My model represents a hypothetical aircraft from an equally hypothetical "Erprobungskommando 335", a night fighter test squadron. Formed using a number of personnel from the disbanded ZG-51 "Edelweiss" they have reactivated the squadron insignia from that unit. At least that's my story.
I started with the old Monogram Do 335A kit of 1970's vintage. This kit has been re-issued more recently under the Pro Modeler label with a few additional parts and updated decals, but is essentially the same kit.
Paragon Resin Conversion
Paragons conversion is quite complete consisting of a resin Radar Operators station, infrared binoculars, wing leading edge inserts, replacement wheels and nose gear strut, flame dampener fronts and radar antennae. It also includes a replacement vacuformed "B" series canopy for the pilot and the new canopy for the back seater.
To accommodate the new radar operator's station, an opening must be cut in the fuselage spine. The bubble canopy was cut from its vacformed base and sanded to fit the contours of the fuselage. Once this was done the canopy was tacked in place and a pencil was used to mark its location.
The canopy was then removed and the opening was cut, taking care not to exceed the canopy outline. The radar operator's cockpit consisted of a resin piece with instrument panel details and a seat. There is no sidewall detail for this station, but I'm not sure how much, if any, equipment the actual aircraft arrayed on either side.
The interior was painted the standard late war RLM 66 with washes and dry brushing used to pick out the details. Gluing the canopy in place was probably the most difficult part of this installation. Even though I treated the canopy with several coats of Future to prevent fogging, every attempt to superglue the canopy in place resulted in the interior clouding up to some degree. This required removal of the canopy, cleaning and re-coating with Future. I finally solved the problem by gluing the canopy in place and then drilling a very small hole in the back of the canopy where it meets the fuselage. Small amounts of Future were introduced through the hole and then swirled around to clear the fogging. The hole was then covered with putty and painted as part of the canopy frame.
In between cutting out the opening for the Radar Operator and actually installing the cockpit parts, the fuselage was sanded down and the panel lines were rescribed. This wasn't necessitated by any damage to the panel lines as with the XP-72, I just thought it would make the kit look better.
A few changes were made to the wing during it assembly. Like the fuselage, the panel lines were also rescribed. A few enhancements were made to the wing. The Paragon kit supplies some resin inserts to correct the wing root profile. The Do 335 had a very sharp leading edge on the inboard section that the Monogram kit does not capture well. There was nothing wrong with the Paragon pieces, but the plastic is thick enough that I decided to re-contour the wing root rather than cut it out & replace it. The Paragon pieces were used to lay out the limits and contour of the re-shape and the wing root was then sanded to match the Paragon pieces.
I also decided to add clear navigation lights to the wing tips. Clear sprue was drilled out and a spot of Tamiya clear green and clear red were added to simulate the lights. The navigation light area was then cut out of the wing tip, the sprue was glued in place and the tip lights were sanded to match the original wing contour.
The Paragon set comes with a new nose strut with the B series' a larger nose gear wheel and tire and two replacement main gear tires. All three tires are bulged and flattened, very flattened in my opinion. I was able to sand the nose tire back to a reasonable shape, but the main gear tires were not quite so cooperative. Despite the better wheel detail on the Paragon wheels, I elected to use the kit wheels instead. One other problem that surfaced was the nose gear strut is a bit short. The only way I can think to fix this would be to add some shims to the roof of the wheel well. Unfortunately by the time it became clear that this was the case, the strut was already super glued in place.
Since the Do 335B-6 never flew in operational or even test squadron markings, I had the rare pleasure of being able to paint the model without having to live or die by an elusive, yet documented scheme. I did, however want to paint the model in a scheme that was likely, if not actually "real". I went through quite a few of my Luftwaffe references (I really had to force myself!) looking for just the right scheme. Rather surprisingly, it was quite difficult to visualize what I was picturing in my minds eye.
The paint scheme went through several versions, most of which looked like a Wonder Bread wrapper in RLM colors. What I finally settled on was something similar to a number of Me 262B aircraft from 11/NJG10. This scheme consisted of black undersides and RLM 75 Grey Violet, 81 Brown Violet and 83 Dark Green medium sized, randomly shaped mottles over a base of RLM 76 Light Blue on the upper surfaces.
The decals were "liberated" from a various sources. The code M2 + LK was chosen by going through "Luftwaffe Codes Markings & Units 1939 -1945" to find a squadron code that was not used to by a real squadron. The name "Luane" was made from a cut up "White Lightning" decal from the old Monogram P-38 kit. I have wanted to build a model with my wife's name on it for quite some time and this provided the perfect opportunity. She chose the Scottie dog nose art and Edelweiss squadron markings.
Despite the frustrations with various construction elements of this conversion and the fact that it took several tries to come up with a reasonable paint scheme, I'm pretty happy with the final result. Hopefully I will be able to apply some lessons learned to my next Do335 project, using a different Paragon set to create the Zerstorer version.
Model, Images and Article Copyright
© 2000 by Mike Millette
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