Meikraft Models 1/72 Dornier D.I
KIT #: 2001
PRICE: $34.00 from rare kit dealers
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Very rare kit of an interesting subject.

HISTORY

The Dornier D.1 was probably one of the most structurally advanced airplanes to come out of World War I.  Although only six were built, the airplane was far ahead of its time in structure, using metal torsion box wing spar construction with an all metal fuselage and tail unit.  The wings were entirely cantilever. Some parts were fabric covered, but there were no wing bracing wires, and the landing gear was at first cantilever.  Later a spreader bar was fitted.  The plane had a streamlined belly fuel tank, which could be jettisoned if necessary.  The first prototype had a 160 hp. Mercedes DIIIA engine, while the other five had 185 BMW IIIa  powerplants.

The first prototype was destroyed during testing, which the second almost altered the course of World War II.  It was first test flown by Hermann Goering, after which it was taken up by  Hptm. Wilhelm Reinhard, CO of JG Richthofen, who promptly pulled the wings off, crashing to his death. Too bad Hermann wasnít flying it.  This dampened official enthusiasm for the fighter during the Fighter Competition of 1918, and no more were built.  Postwar, two were tested in the U.S. by the Army and Navy, and one survived in the Dornier Museum in Germany until destroyed by a bombing attack during World War II.

THE KIT

Cast in light grey styrene, this is a very limited edition kit, and I believe only a few hundred were produced.  The molding looks accurate, but there is a lot of flash to be trimmed off, and a lot of detail is minimal.  The cockpit consists of s floor, seat, control stick and instrument panel, although the instructions give no indication of what should be on the panel.  There is a photo etch sheet which provides some radiator detail, but not much mention of it in the instructions.  The wheels have almost too much flash to be useable, although with a lot of work, they were finally attached to the landing gear. 

In short, this is a fairly typical short run kit, and should only be tried by someone with a lot of experience.  Most of the parts fit fairly well, but a lot of  trimming and filler are required.

The kit comes with one legal size sheet covered with information on both sides.  Page 1 give a good historical sketch, some color information, and a bibliography of five sources of information on the airplane.  There is no publication date given.  Page 2 gives a three view and more color information for the model. It also includes an exploded assembly drawing, although no part numbers are mentioned, and there is no reference to the PE sheet included with the kit, although a couple of PE parts are shown in the drawing. The box art is a reprint of part of the exploded drawings.

CONSTRUCTION

The kit is rather simple to assembly, given that a lot of trimming is needed.  The landing gear fits into a recess in the lower fuselage, and some putty will take care of fit issues here.  The upper wing is mounted on four struts, which fit into the forward fuselage structure.  One of the struts on my kit was warped somewhat, so I glued three of them onto the upper wing, and then bent the fourth strut and attached it with superglue.  The little belly tank looked crude, but it smoothed out nicely.  The nose radiator looks good once installed, and the horizontal tail unit fits into a slot on the tail with only a little trimming, and it is useful in lining up the wings.  The lower wings fit into two small holes in the fuselage sides, and these should be assembled last.

COLORS & MARKINGS

The airplane has a rather strange color scheme, and a decal sheet is provided.  The fabric areas used a light lozenge pattern on top and bottom surfaces, while the rest of the plane was pale grey.  The problem here is that there is not enough lozenge decal to cover both wings and the tail unit, so I ended up using a different pattern for the horizontal stabilizer and elevators, which looks funny, but beggars canít be choosers.  The decals go on easily, and a little setting solution helped them to snuggle down on the surfaces.  There is one confusing element in the instruction sheet, as the plan view drawings shows no lozenge pattern on the wing undersides, which would allow enough decal for the tail unit, but there is no indication in the instructions as to what color the wing fabric sections should be painted.  The cross decals go over the other decals, and these look very nice when installed.

CONCLUSIONS

This kit is the only one I know of depicting this airplane, and anyone wanting a 1/72 Dornier D.1 in his World War I collection should not pass up this issue. The online prices seem high, but this is the only show in town, but it is probably available at swap meets, where I got mine.  In any event, get one and do the work. It is worth it.   

Brian Baker

July 2015

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