January 2016

RUAG Dornier Do228NG

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RUAG/Dornier Do 228-212 NG

Netherlands Coastguard 2015, DeKooy Airfield, Den Helder, Netherlands 2015.

Revell with scratch conversions 1/72

The Dornier 228 STOL utility aircraft first flew in the late 1970s, taking advantage of a new supercritical wing design financed by the German government, that allows an excellent balance between performance and efficiency. Production by Dornier in Germany and licence production by HAL in India continued until 1998, with over 270 aircraft built.  

In 2009, Swiss Government owned RUAG began building a New Generation Do228 variant, with wings, fuselage and tail produced by HAL in India.

Production has continued since then at low rates, with many customers specifying maritime patrol and SAR variants.  Equipped with more powerful engines and propellers, a glass cockpit, advanced radar, FLIR, automated mission systems and ECM systems, the Do228 NG’s box section fuselage, high payload and long endurance make it a good choice for this role.

The Netherlands Coastguard (Nederlandse Kustwacht) use two modern Do228-212 aircraft as coastal patrol aircraft over the North Sea.  Equipped with Sideways looking airborne radar (SLAR) and and IR Camera turret, the aircraft are civilian registered, but flown by pilots from the Royal Netherlands Navy and Royal Netherlands Air Force on Fisheries, Search and Rescue, Security and Anti-pollution patrols.  

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Background Image: RUAG 228NG on display at RIAT 2015

Whilst the kit does go together well, there are definitely a few potential “snaggettes” for the unwary and at least one major challenge!  

Although it only has a few parts, the undercarriage is quite a fiddly assembly that is not well illustrated in the instructions.  Once you work out how it is supposed to fit, it all makes sense, but the need to fit both door and leg at the same time demands an extra pair of hands!  

Revell would also have you stretch sprue for the eight Fowler Flap actuators on the wings; I really can’t see why they couldn’t have moulded these as an integral part, as it adds an unnecessary complication that I would bet most modellers ignore.   

The engines are particularly disappointing; they have no exhaust whatsoever, just a flat plate on their rear end, so a short piece of tubing was cut to size and fitted on each.  Landing lights are also missing - these are quite distinctive as can be seen from the photo on the left.  I simply painted them on after assembly, but the effect is disappointing.  If I were building again, I would probably cut them out and use some clear sprue, inserted then sanded to shape  to fill the gap.

Revells’ Do228 kit has been around since 1987 and has been released at least six times in a variety of different civil and military versions.  This is the 2009 issue that includes well produced markings for German and Dutch coastal maritime patrol aircraft.  

The kit itself is rather basic and a little disappointing - to its credit, parts fit is remarkably good, but detail is very soft and there is no interior to speak of, other than a generic instrument panel and pilot/co-pilot seats.  Unfortunately the kit  is based on two early versions of the aircraft that lack the obvious maritime patrol modifications needed to make the current in-service models, but the most important of these are fairly easy to scratch build.  The Dutch Coastguard replaced their original single 228 with two more capable aircraft (which seem to have been the basis of the 228NG) a few years back.  

Ever keen to get away from greens, greys and browns, I chose to build the more colourful Dutch option, not least because I had taken quite a few pictures of it at RIAT last year and the year before. I also chose to do the distinctive black “Toucan” anti-glare nose markings which seem to have been overpainted in white on my own photos.  In comparison with the kit version the most obvious change is the addition of TERMA SLAR antennae on either fuselage side. To represent these I used a strip of rectangular section sprue and some polystyrene strip.  In a similar manner, the FLIR turret was made from some thicker round section sprue, and polysytrene strip was also used to create the two strakes fitted to the rear fuselage.  Various communications antennae came from the spares  box.  The main cargo door on the maritime patrol version is different (it has no window and a sort of sub-door)  and this was  modified using some plastic card.  

Unfortunately Revell provide the older 4 bladed propeller and scratch building the most recent 5 bladed version was beyond me, but there are plenty of pictures of the real thing as originally operated with 4 blade propellers fitted.

BAe Sea Harrier FA.2

801 Sqn Fleet Air Arm, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS 2006.

Hasegawa with Heritage resin conversion. 1/72

Over the years I have built quite a few Harrier kits, including four 1/72 Sea Harrier FA2s, three of which were conversions from FRS.1 kits.  These are a set of pictures I took during one of the conversions, showing how easy it is. Although  there are now several FA2 kits available in 1/72, this is, I believe, still the best way to create an FA.2 !

And now the major challenge- painting!  I chose the Dutch scheme after seeing the aircraft in the static park at RIAT last year and the year before. It is certainly colourful, but not easy to paint, especially the orange white and blue sections.  Masking was a nightmare and I am not entirely happy with the result.

Revell do provide the blue stripes as decal, but I ditched these early on due to the problem of matching the blue paint (mine is a little too dark) and also because all of the picture I can find show a much thicker blue stripe than that provided.  Paints are Humbrol and Revell enamels, brushed on as usual.  Decals for both options are very well done, although I believe the “Kustwacht” title is a little too large and blocky (perhaps this has changed between the original and current aircraft?).

Final detail touches were added using a soft pencil, then a quick coat of Klear to help the decals to adhere.  New registration serials were also made up using Ink Jet Decal paper.  Finally, a coat of Micro Cote Satin Varnish was used to give the kit a suitably polished scale sheen.

This is a slightly disappointing kit, by no means bad, but (decals apart) significantly lacking in the level of detail one would expect from a modern issue and with some surprisingly fundamental detail shortfalls.  That said, other than painting, its  build “out the box” poses no problems  and adds another interesting aircraft to the collection!

The real thing:  TERMA SLAR Antenna and FLIR Turret

The real thing:  Landing Lights and FLIR Turret

The real thing:  Five bladed airscrew to accommodate increased power

The real thing:  RIAT 2014