Special Hobby 1/48 DFS-230




$30.00 MSRP


Two Aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Multimedia with resin and etched brass


Without a doubt, Germany's most successful glider, The DFS-230 was able to handle nine fully armed combat troops or an equivalent weight in cargo. Used with great success in the capture of the Belgian Fort of Eban Emael, the 230s landed on the roof of this imposing structure, taking the defenders completely by surprise. It was also used extensively in other theaters for similar missions. Unlike the Allies, the Germans also used gliders for general cargo hauling, often towing them behind a Ju-87 or Bf-110. Frequently, German squadrons were hauled around from base to base during the very fluid fighting on the Eastern Front. This way, they bypassed the horrid road conditions that often left vehicles stuck in muddy bogs during the wet season. As with most auxiliary aircraft, remaining DFS-230 gliders were destroyed after the war, and to my knowledge, not one of the over 1,000 built survives.


The kit is very typical of new MPM-molded kits. The surface detail is very good with the fabric surfaces properly subdued and what panel lines exist are of the engraved variety. Resin is used for the rudder pedals, seat, skid shocks and tow line attachments. Unfortunately, the small sprue is just chucked into the bag with the rest of the parts and mine was damaged with many parts broken off or missing. There was a hole in my bag and so those missing are gone. The clear parts are very well done, however, my canopy was ripped where it came adrift of the sprue during shipment. There is also a small etched metal fret for seat belts and instrument panel.

There are no alternate bits, though the really lazy modeler may wish to forego the installation of the seats and do just a cargo version. It will cut construction time considerably by eliminating these parts. I should mention that the interior bits will be visible through the clear windows.

Instructions are pretty well the same as they've always been, but I have noticed to my dismay that MPM is now doing the 'Humbrol Numbers Only' deal when it comes to non-RLM shades.  How hard can it be to simply add the name of the color? Markings are given for two gliders, both in RLM 70/71/65, the standard for bombers and assault gliders. Other than fuselage codes, the only difference between the two is the degree of mottling. The instructions give no information as to unit. If you have other photo resources, you can find a wide variety of interesting schemes for these aircraft.


First thing is to build up the interior. In this case, it means cutting and cleaning the framework for the troop seats. There are two small indentations on the floor for the framework, so make sure you don't trim off the posts on this framework too short. The seats cushions are next and installation instructions are rather vague when it comes to these. I thought that they fit atop the framework, but if you do that, then the seat backs won't fit so the cushions have to go between the framework. It is a rather fiddly construct, but not impossible. Next was the resin seat. When you cut it off the resin block, angle the attachment post so that it sits level when you glue it. The hole for the control column is too large for the column mount so you'll have to just take a good shot at gluing it in place. My rudder pedals were broken and had parts missing so I didn't install them.

Inside the fuselage are ejector pin towers that will need removed. At least from the cockpit area as they are most easily seen. I'd also suggest cleaning up the visible braces that go across window openings as they are a bit rough. At this time, I installed the small side instrument panel and the two forward braces. These were not the best fit, but they eventually managed to make it in place.

While this was drying, I glued the wing halves together and the tail plane. Returning to the interior, I cleaned up all the seat backs and glued them in place. One thing for sure, it was a rather cramped and uncomfortable ride for the nine souls in the back. Then the interior bits were painted RLM 02 green-grey using Testors ModelMaster enamels. Seat cushions themselves were painted leather (though in reality, they were probably cloth and the same grey as the rest of the interior). Seat belts from the etched brass set were then installed on the pilot's seat. After a bit of touchup, I started attaching the head restraints to the upper side of the fuselage half as shown in the instructions. Once all were there, I did a test fit. No way was everything going to fit. Either the attachments were too low, the seat backs too high or I messed something up in a big way. Only cure was to remove them as they would not be seen that much anyway (or at least, that is what I convinced myself!)

Next the instrument panel was glued in place as best as I could get it. It doesn't fit well and some trimming is needed to get something decent. Then the interior was glued into the left fuselage half and a small cross-brace (which is too long and needs trimmed) was installed behind the pilot's seat. Throughout all of these various steps, much dry-fitting was done to make sure things would not cause problems later. Once all of that was installed and dry, the fuselage halves were glued together. I did it in stages from the back to the front and clamped each stage as it needed it. It appears that the clamping was a bit much in the front as there was some overlap when the clamps were removed. It shouldn't be much of a problem. Then I took out a sanding stick and sanded on all the seams to get them as flat a possible. Being a canvas/wood covered aircraft, no problems in removing panel lines! I still needed filler but not as much as I'd have thought.

Once that was done, I made sure all the seams were filled on the wings and horizontal stabilizer as well. Then the stab was glued in place. Now I know zilch about this glider other than a few bits and pieces but it seems to me that there may be a real glitch on the tail section. The stab sits on the upper fuselage on a pair of horizontal rails, which jives with my few references. There is a large gap at the back and top of the stabilizer. I don't think it is supposed to be there, but failing any concrete info, I'm leaving it as is.

Returning to the rest of the airframe, I decided to install the windows. The kit is designed so that these bits are installed from the outside and I'm quite grateful for that as it makes things much easier. Regardless of which way I tried to put in the side windows, the fit was very snug. I used a touch of glue as a lubricant to get them into place. The forward pieces have a slight, but  definite curve to them, but don't fit at all in the direction of the curve. It is as if they were made mirror image of where they were to fit. It left me with a lot of tight fitting clear bits that had pieces of them sticking out proud of the fuselage. Not good. I decided to sand them all down level (or close to it) with the fuselage side. I started with a coarse sanding stick to get them down to the surface, and then used several increasingly finer grits, using an old chambray shirt as the final polishing. Much better. These were then masked as doing so after the wings and struts were applied would be most difficult. I also test fit the canopy and after some sanding of it and the surrounding area, got it to where it would fit.

Then I started gluing on the wings. The attachment points are not very positive and it seems to me that there is insufficient dihedral in the first wing. Unfortunately, I was unable to attach the struts as the attachment points are small resin mounts and I hadn't installed those yet. While the first wing was drying, these items were removed from the resin blocks and attached. If you recall, I received this kit with a tear in the bag and resin pieces loose in the box. Fortunately, all of the various resin bits survived without being lost, which is a real miracle in itself. The locating points for the strut supports are easy to see and a small drop of superglue was all that was needed to get them in place. I test fit the struts to make sure they were properly located and the fit was quite good.

Moving down to the bottom of the plane, the tail skid bits were glued in. The alignment of the various holes on the lower fuselage for the tail skid and forward skid are such that they are off by half their diameter. The only option is to open the holes just enough for the parts to fit in place. Fortunately, the oval holes are covered up in the front section, leaving only the rear skid attachment point to be a problem. I should also mention that there are small indentations in the nose section for something, but there seem to be no parts that fit there. These were filled and sanded smooth.

After attaching the tail skid parts, I gently sanded down the forward braces to have them blend in more with the lower fuselage. Then I moved to the forward skid. This is a simple construct and there are three resin 'shocks' that fit in holes in the large skid and the lower fuselage. Each one of these is a slightly different length. Since mine had broken free of the block, it took a bit of fiddling to get them in the right order. Once that was determined, it was easy to glue them in place. Then the skid assy was glued on.

Over this go the various little struts for the landing gear. Not an easy assembly as the attachment points are not very helpful. A lot of fussing and adjustment needs done. In the very front is another small brace for the forward skid and the tow line attachment (I guess). It was as equally fussy as the main gear braces. The seat belts were glued in  and the canopy (which had already been masked) was attached. Again, more light sanding and trimming was needed to get this to fit properly. The rest of the windows were masked and it was time for paint. I left off the wing struts until after painting.


These gliders were your standard RLM 70/71/65 with varying levels of mottling. Some had very hard upper/lower camo lines and others were quite 'soft'. I chose a harder line to make painting easy. First the lower RLM 65 light blue. Then the usual masking and the upper RLM 71 dark green was sprayed on. This was followed by another longish session of masking in the proper splinter pattern for the RLM 70. Then I lost power for four days so it had plenty of time to dry!

Once the juice returned and the basement dried up enough to paint, I sprayed RLM 70 and 71 in a mottle pattern on the fuselage sides. A nice overcoat of clear acrylic gloss (Future) and it was time for decals.

The decals are superb. Very opaque and very thin. Also a touch off register, but you won't notice it until you apply them to the dark background. I was able to carefully slice away the white bits that protruded from the national insignia so no real problem. The swastika decal worked fairly well, but it is imperative that you have no wrinkles or any other misalignment in the outer section or the inner bit won't line up properly.

A coat of matte was then applied to the decalled glider. I should mention that only two options are provided and both are pretty much the same other than unit code letter/numbers on the side. If you have references with other codes, you can substitute those from your decal spares box.


Final construction is very simple. First, the wheels were painted and then glued in place. They look just like early Bf-109 spoked wheels so if you have some aftermarket ones or spares, I highly recommend replacing them. The kit wheels have rough detail that just doesn't look right and are quite hard to paint thanks to no strong wheel/tire border. Once those were glued on, the masking taken off and the wing struts glued in place. I found the two smaller struts to be too long so you'll need to trim them prior to gluing them in place. No need for a bunch of soot, thrown up mud or other dirtying up as that stuff just isn't that appropriate for most gliders. It was not uncommon for some gliders that were operated from improved surfaces to keep the wheels on all the time. Oh yes, and those rudder pedals that I lost. I found them right after applying the decals!


I really liked this kit. Not too difficult with some interesting challenges to work on while building. The shake and bake crowd won't like it as it doesn't fall together, but it isn't so challenging as to incur the wrath of the builder. A very pleasant kit that will find favor with those who like things a bit different. It would be great if this kit does well so that a Waco CG-4 could be done in 1/48!

June 2003
#1272 in a series

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