Dragon 1/72 Do-335B-4

KIT: Dragon 1/72 Do-335B-4
KIT #: 5033
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


The origins of the Do 335 trace back to World War I when Claudius Dornier designed a number of flying boats featuring remotely-driven propellers and later, due to problems with the drive shafts, tandem engines. Tandem engines were used on most of the multi-engined Dornier flying boats that followed, including the highly successful Dornier Wal and the gigantic Dornier Do X. The remote propeller drive, intended to eliminate parasitic drag from the engine entirely, was tried in the innovative, but unsuccessful Dornier Do 14, and elongated drive shafts as later used in the Do 335 saw use in the rear engines of the tandem-engined Dornier Do 26 flying boat.

In a tandem layout the engines are mounted back-to-back in pairs, the front engine "pulling" and the rear one "pushing." There are many advantages to this design, when used in the so-called "centerline thrust"' layout as the Do 335 had, over the more traditional system of placing one engine on each wing, the most important being providing the power from two engines with the frontal area (and thus drag) of a single engine design, allowing for higher performance. It also keeps the weight of the twin powerplants near-to or on the centerline, so the plane can roll faster than a traditional twin. In addition, a single engine failure doesn't lead to asymmetric thrust, and in normal flight there is no net torque so the plane is easy to handle. The choice of a full "four-surface" set of cruciform tail surfaces in the Do 335's design, allowed the ventral vertical fin/rudder assembly to project downwards from the extreme rear of the fuselage, in order to protect the rear propeller from an accidental ground strike on takeoff.

In 1939 Dornier was busy working on the P.59 high speed bomber project, which featured the tandem engine layout. In 1940, he commissioned a test aircraft to validate his concept for turning the rear, "pusher" propeller with an engine located far away from it and using a long driveshaft. This aircraft, the Göppingen Gö 9 showed that there were no unforeseen difficulties with this arrangement, but work on the P.59 was stopped in early 1940 when Hermann Göring ordered the cancellation of all projects which would not be complete within a year or so.

In May 1942 Dornier submitted an updated version with a 1,000 kg bombload as the P.231, in response to a requirement for a single seat high speed bomber/intruder (other entries included the Blohm & Voss BV 155). P.231 was selected as the winner after beating rival designs from Arado and Junkers, and a development contract was awarded as the Do 335. In the Autumn of 1942 Dornier was told that the Do 335 was no longer required, and instead a multi-role fighter based on the same general layout would be accepted. This delayed the prototype delivery as it was modified for the new role.

Fitted with Daimler-Benz DB 603A engines delivering 1,750 PS (1, 726 hp, 1,287 kW) at takeoff, the first prototype flew in October 1943. The pilots were surprised at the speed, acceleration, turning circle and general handling of the type; it was a twin that flew like a single. The only sore spots they found were the poor rearward visibility and weak landing gear. V2 and V3 incorporated several minor changes; the oil cooler under the nose incorporated into the annular engine cowling, blisters were added to the canopy with small rear view mirrors, and the main undercarriage doors were redesigned.

On 23 May 1944 Hitler ordered maximum priority to be given to Do 335 production. The main production line was intended to be at Manzel, but a bombing raid in March destroyed the tooling and forced Dornier to set up a new line at Oberpfaffenhofen. The decision was made to cancel the Heinkel He 219 and use its production facilities for the Do 335 as well. However, Ernst Heinkel managed to delay, and eventually ignore, its implementation.

The first 10 Do 335 A-0s were delivered for testing in May. By late 1944, the Do 335 A-1 was on the production line. This was similar to the A-0 but with the uprated DB 603 E-1 engines and two underwing hard points for additional bombs, drop tanks or guns. Capable of a maximum speed of 474 mph (763 km/h) at 6,500 m (21,300 ft) with MW 50 boost, or 426 mph (686 km/h) without boost, and able to climb to 26,250 ft (8,000 m) in under 15 minutes, the Do 335 A-1 could easily outrun any Allied fighters it encountered. Even with one engine out it could reach about 350 mph (563 km/h).

Delivery commenced in January 1945. When the U.S. Army overran the Oberpfaffenhofen factory in late April 1945, only 11 Do 335 A-1 single seat fighter-bombers and two Do 335 A-12 conversion trainers had been completed.

In his book The Big Show, French ace Pierre Clostermann claims the first Allied combat encounter with a Pfeil in April 1945. Leading a flight of four Hawker Tempests from No. 3 Squadron RAF over northern Germany, he intercepted by chance a lone Do 335 flying at maximum speed at treetop level. Detecting the British aircraft, the German pilot reversed course to evade. In spite of the Tempest's considerable speed, the RAF fighters were not able to catch up or even get into firing position.

There were numerous variations planned for this aircraft, including the subject of this kit, but none got any farther than the planning stage.


Those of us who remember 'Shanghai Dragon' will recall that they were rather well into aircraft, both 1/48 and 1/72. The new Dragon is more into armor, as you might have noticed, but also dabbles in 1/144, where they have a very nice selection of kits, and now into 1/32 with their Mustangs.

Well, from time to time, we see other variants of some of their older 1/72 and 1/48 kits that were not done in years gone by. This one is a variation of the Do-335 that was proposed for photo recon work. It was not, to my knowledge, ever built, but would have made for a fine platform for this sort of work as it was fast. The aircraft would have had extended wings and that is catered to in the kit with an additional sprue. One cuts off the existing wing tips and simply inserts these in their place.

I say simply, though I should put that in quotation marks. These Dragon aircraft kits build into superb replicas, but require careful construction of each part. Fit twice and glue once is a good way to build these. The kit comes with photo etch steel for the landing gear retraction struts, engine wiring and a few other bits, like the rear engine side intake scoops. There is a small brass one to represent camera lens covers for the bomb bay door.

You get two complete and very nicely done engines, but if you want your model to even think about sitting on its nose gear, it might be advisable to not install the front engine and use that space for weight. I found it interesting that the instructions show you putting weight in the wing leading edge inserts as well as behind for forward fire wall. I guess you could also fill the forward engine block with weight as well. To display the engines, the various cowling panels will need to be cut from the fuselage.

The rest of the model is up to the standards of what we build today from Hasegawa and others. I found the surface finish to be slightly 'pebbly', but this has always shown to disappear under paint. Dragon's instructions are well done in several colors and with Gunze and RLM/FS 595 paint references. This fictitious aircraft is in FS 36375 light grey with whatever H69 paint is as it is not shown on the chart. Most of us will paint it overall RLM 76 with RLM 74 or 75 splotches. The decal sheet is well done and provides basic markings as well as one for an 'unidentified unit' in 1945.


I'm sure that many of you have been awaiting this version or at least the opportunity to build a 335 as something different from the norm. I'm hoping that this will spur a number of other 'near builds' based on this airframe.


My thanks go to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. Get yours today at your local shop or ask them to place an order for you.

February 2008

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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