Airmodel 1/72 DFS-230 Assault Glider

KIT: Airmodel 1/72 DFS-230 Assault Glider
KIT #: ?
PRICE: €5.00
DECALS: None provided
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Vacuformed kit.


 In 1939, Germany, like Russia, had a large force of airborne troops. These were capable of being dropped from Ju52/3m transport aircraft or as it happened on the 10th of May 1940, carried in by gliders. On that day the whole success of capturing the Belgian fort at Eben Emael depended upon getting a small force of assault troops within the walls of the fortress and it was the DFS 230 that made the capture possible, owing to their completely silent arrival.

The development of the DFS 230 goes back to 1937 when after military interests a contract was awarded for an initial construction of six prototypes. Subsequently it demonstrated successfully that resulted in a type order into a limited production as DFS 230 A-1. The total production reached 1,510 aircraft. The glider provided an accommodation for a crew of two and eight fully armed troops which were accommodated in tandem seating facing backwards inside the aircraft fuselage. The DFS 230 used jettisonable landing gear for take off, and landed on a central skid mounted under the forward fuselage.

 Until the day of the successful capture of the Belgian Fort in May 1940 the DFS 230 was a secret weapon of war and a year later the element of surprise was completely lost and only sheer numbers could make an impression during the successful invasion of Crete. The cost in transport loss was so enormous that operations such as the planned attack on the strategic island of Malta was postponed until shelved indefinitely. At the time of the meticulous plan, Malta was in a dire situation, literally in need of all essential supplies in order to remain standing. There was no aviation fuel, ammunition being exhausted, inadequate defensive fighter aircraft, and complete lack of essential food staffs, most especially wheat. Looking hindsight the Malta operation was possibly among the blunders by the German regime at the time of the war in Europe. Perhaps it was a divine intervention that this situation evolved at a time when events in Russia were  going from bad to worse for Germany and all the war supplies were heading in that direction. The defensive fortifications, bastions and walls of Valletta from where the Grand Master of the Order of St John along with the local inhabitants had struck a crippling blow to the 35,000 strong Turkish Armada during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 were of no use 350 years later. The walls had adequate AA guns to protect the port and Admiralty Dockyard but elsewhere on the island there was literally nothing that could have halted an all out German invasion with a full force of DFS 230 had the plan went ahead.

 RAF reconnaissance flights conducted over airfields in Sicily brought back evidence of an immense number of DFS 230 gliders being amassed for this planned Malta operation. Had this plan moved forward the adverse effect for the allies would have been catastrophic. But the loss on the German force would have been very high as morale on the island was high against such an eventuality.

 In due course the strategic island was replenished via convoys. Locally based aircraft from five air bases on the island struck endless blows on axis shipping that was starving the African campaign from most essential war supplies. Even to this day, deep sea divers are astonished at how the sea bed all around the island and further off shore is still littered with sunken ships and war material such as an innumerable number of aircraft engines.

 Apart from this unaccomplished issue there still remained many tasks for this cheap and efficient glider transport. The seats could be quickly removed to make way for other internal loads. So much so the DFS 230 also saw service in supply missions on the Eastern Front.

 The DFS 230 had a gliding speed of 180 mph. It had a wing span of 72’ 1.3 “ and a length of 36’ 10.5“Carried an armament of 2x .312“ MG34 fixed forward firing machine guns in the nose and one .312“ in upper fuselage decking. 


Airmodel vac-form kit No 287 comes in polythene bag, containing a single sheet of white plastic containing the principal vac form parts comprising two fuselage halves, 8 parts for the main and tail planes, and a clear acetate vac form canopy is also included. The 4-page A4 size instruction sheet contains a brief history of the glider, assembly instructions, a three view 1/72 scale plans, an exploded assembly view and a cutaway drawing of the forward fuselage that shows internal detail. Small items such as the control column, floor, seats, instrument panel, u/c legs, struts which are shown in detail must be self made. There are also vac form wheel set. The kit was checked for dimensions and was found to conform to a scale of 1/73 making the kit a tiny bit smaller than if it was a true 1/72 scale.


 In same way as any other vac form kit, the parts are first scored with a sharp knife and snapped from the backing sheet. These were sanded down and checked for correction using outside calliper and the scale drawings given. Non kit parts are made and checked for fit. Cockpit floor was first assembled o the forward fuselage, Crew seats and instrument coaming added. Fuselage interior and cockpit detail was painted. Fuselage windows were cut open using a twist drill followed by shaping with a pointed carving blade. Half of the fuselage was then assembled adding most of the interior: floor, seats etc. Small plastic guide tabs were glued to inside edge to assist in a self aligning secure joint. I used Humbrol liquid cement to fix parts together. Instructions suggested fixing a balsa spar through the fuselage centre section. I preferred to make a plastic spar of L section from surplus plastic backing sheet (see sketch). This consisted of an L shaped beam ‘B’ and an interior spar ‘A’ which will have the dihedral of the wing at an angle checked from the scale plans. The upper fuselage had a roof section ‘C’ cut to allow the Beam A+B to fit inside. Once assembled the upper wing was first attached to flat part of item B and the lower wings were then fixed with the upper.

 Bracing struts were added to fuselage to wings. A landing skid was shaped from plastic card and fitted under the forward fuselage with three support brackets shaped from stretch sprue. I preferred to replace the wheels with an injection moulded set of same diameter and format. Other detail items as the towing arm at the nose, the tail skid were built up from thin steel wire and fixed in place at pre drilled holes using super glue. A pair of wing tip skids were shaped from plastic and fitted in place. Fitting of the tail plane necessitated scraping of lower tail fin root so that the tail plane was semi immersed in the fuselage. These were then glued in place. The cockpit canopy was cut to size and fixed with white glue. In the end joint seams were checked once more and any excess filler rubbed down. Trim tabs were engraved to lower rudder and tail planes. The glider model was now ready for painting. 


 The DFS 230 cockpit and troop area / cargo area was RLM 02 grey and adding dark shades at various areas. The exterior was in standard Luftwaffe scheme of RLM 70 and 71 at upper surfaces and RLM 65 to lower surfaces using White Ensign Model colour paint. The matt colours were given a coat of semi gloss floor polish liquid. This was essential to allow the decals to have better adherence properties. Allmark decals were used for the German insignia and swastika.  Finally the kit was given two coats of semi matt clear varnish of Model Master Brand and allowed to set. 


 Allowing the little extra work that was needed the kit assembled well. It was the glider type connection with Malta that made me build it. In spite of all, the DFS 230 played a vital part in the history of WWII. However, failure to use it in the cancelled Malta Operation remains a definite false move by Germany and certainly a deep breadth of fresh air for Malta and the allies. Outside the UK the island remained the sole defiant spot in the war against Germany in Europe and was dabbed ‘The unsinkable aircraft carrier’ by Sir Winston Churchill.

Carmel J. Attard

May 2008

Edotor's note. For those of you would would like to build a model of this important military glider, but who have 'vacuphobia', Huma makes a nice injected version in 1/72 and Special Hobby did one in 1/48. Reviews of both can be found in the archives.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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