by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Originally published on:
This winter has seen Valiant Wings release a second edition of Richard Franks' popular study of the Dornier Do 335 Pfeil (Arrow). Comparing the new edition with the old, there are an additional 16 pages, with the coverage expanded in a number of areas, including a complete new build by Steve Evans of the Zoukei-Mura 1:32 kit.
The content of the 160-page softbound A4 book breaks down in the now well-established style of the series, with a very useful combination of historical, technical and modelling reference material, divided into Airframe Chapters, Miniature Chapters and Appendices.
Although it's not listed in the contents, the Preface is actually far more than its title might suggest, being a very handy 21-page history of the development of the Do 335. Starting with the first proposals before WW2, and the Göppingen Gö 9 that featured a tail-mounted propeller for its engine placed mid-fuselage, the chapter described the prototypes and pre-production machines along with the planned uses for the Do 335. The evaluation by the Allies after the end of the war is described, along with the fate of each of the captured airframes. The new edition includes some interesting new period photos that I've not seen before, including shots of the completed M14 in France.
The Evolution section actually breaks down into three separate chapters, covering the prototypes, A-Series and B-Series. In each chapter, the development airframes and sub-types are described individually and illustrated with a side-view and (where possible) period photos, while the large number of unfinished and abandonned variants are brought to life in the clear and detailed side-view drawings by Marek Pacyński.
Projects & Drawing Board Designs follows a similar format, with a look at the many "paper projects" that sprang from the original design and were brought to a halt with the end of the war. Some are conventional developments of the familiar aircraft, but others are quite radical, including the "Do 350" jet-powered canard which bears little resemblance to the Pfeil, but would certainly have been at the very cutting edge of aeronautical design for the era had it been built.
Camouflage & Markings pretty much "does what is says on the tin" (as the advert says), but is actually a little bit unusual in making use of some very useful modern colour photos of the wonderfully restored NASM exhibit along with period photos. The section begins with the usual warning of the perils inherent in interpreting vintage photos when assessing colours, and later on it offers a really clear example of another pitfall - censored photos. The same shot is included with and without a swastika on the tail, and you could quite easily accept the doctored image as genuine. With more and more material being copied and shared without checking via the Internet, it's a timely reminder of the importance of original references from verifiable sources.
Illustrating this section are a number of excellent colour profiles and plan-views by Richard Caruana, with a nice mix of machines to whet the appetite for some interesting builds, and a very useful inclusion for modellers is a reference chart for common WW2 colours with matches in widely available enamel and acrylic paint ranges.
The modelling content proper begins with a round-up of the many Do 335 Kits that have appeared over the years. All the old favourites are included, going right back to the classic Lindberg model (which I hate to admit I'm old enough to have bought in a corner shop as a kid in Bromley back in the '60s (strangely, Lindberg kits didn't seem to be on the shelves in the regular model shops in my home town)) and with extra coverage added in this edition for the Zoukei-Mura 1:32 kit.
Building A Selection now features four excellent builds by Libor Jekl, Steve Evans and Dani Zamarbide:
1:72 Revell (ex-Dragon) Do 335A-1
1:48 Tamiya Do 335A-12
1:32 Zoukei-Mura Do 335A-12
1:32 HK Models Do 335B-2
There's really something for everybody in this section, as each of the modellers has such a distinctive style and approach. Libor's work never fails to impress me, because his small-scale models easily rival larger kits in their detail, while Dani is an undoubted master with his complex finishing and weathering. I can always relate to Steve, because we seem to share opinions so often on kits - so I found it especially interesting to read his take on the big ZM kit (which I haven't had a chance work on). I won't give away any spoilers - you'll have to buy the book - but it certainly tallies with my opinion on similar kits.
Building A Collection covers a lot of the same territory as the Evolution and Projects & Drawing Board Designs chapters, but in a different style. This time we get useful annotated isometric views by Wojciech Sankowski to highlight the differences between each version. I have to admit I'm always left wondering in this series of books whether the sections couldn't be combined advantageously, because it would save a lot of flipping to and fro around each volume, cross-referencing the material.
If there's one thing we modellers love, it's Walkarounds! And Valiant Wings provide a distinctive take on the genre with their combination of vintage and modern material. In Detail: The Do 335 is a case in point, with over 40 pages combining vintage shots and illustrations from original manuals with modern colour photos. The inclusion of original material is crucial for me because, as attractive as walkarounds of restored airframes undoubtedly are, they can be misleading.
Valiant Wings provide a really detailed look at the Do 335, with no less than 8 sections over 37 pages, covering the aircraft as follows:
Cockpit & Canopy
Engine, Propeller & Cowlings
Armament, Ordnance, Sighting & Cameras
Rounding off the book's text, there are the Appendices, with a useful round-up of kits, accessories and references. Inevitably, it can only be a snap-shot of what was known at the time of going to print - there will undoubtedly be future releases not shown - but it's a neat illustration of just how many releases there have been for an aircraft that never entered full service. Proof, as if it were needed, of the undiminishing popularity of Luftwaffe subjects among modellers.
Folded inside the rear cover of the book is something that modellers will find very useful - a set of 1:48 plans by Richard Caruana of five Do 335 variants, from the first prototype through to the cannon armed M-13 and 2-seat 'A-10. 1:48 is an ideal choice in my opinion, offering a mid-point for modellers to scale the drawings either up or down according to what they're working on with least problems.
ConclusionValiant Wings' study of the Do 335 must aruably rate as the definitive modellers' reference for this aircraft, with its combination of historical material, top quality builds and the all-important "walk-around" section. Pure aviation enthusiasts won't be disappointed either, because Valiant Wings' have balanced things nicely to ensure a wide appeal.
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