MATCHBOX 1:72 DORNIER SKYSERVANT
Reviewer: Myself (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Dornier Do 28 Skyservant is a simple but effective light transport able to carry between 8 and 13 passengers depending on the duty - early variants generally only had room for 8. It was based on it's predecessor, the Do 27, but with twin mounted engines on stub wings in place of the single nose engine. This kit features a Do 28D in West German Marineflieger markings, a STOL communications transport aircraft with its characteristic box-like fuselage.
Being a Matchbox kit one can't go in with too much expectation on the finished product and this proves to be no exception. Panel lines are oversized but are nonetheless engraved, detail is bordering on sparsity and the plastic is thick but robust. There are three sprues in typical Matchbox flare - brightly coloured in red, yellow and brown. A sprue of clear parts is also provided - again quite thick - the windscreen is actually reasonably clear while the fuselage side windows will clearly be cloudy. Instructions are laid out in a strip with a number of diagrams showing paint colours for individual items, there are about 8 steps in total for assembly. Colour call outs are from Revell and Matchbox range.
The cockpit is made up of a base with two pilot seats & figures and a section to construct an instrument panel out of. Six smaller seats are also provided for the internal cabin area. The first thing that one notices is the vast contrast in size of the pilot's seats compared to the cabin seats - like a couple of thrones to half a dozen deck chairs! The next thing you notice is how difficult it is to paint these very brightly coloured parts. You really need a couple of coats to prevent the sprue colour from showing underneath. In spite of the steel-grey colour suggested by the kit I actually painted the interior in sea grey with medium grey seats.
The fuselage halves go together very nicely and the cockpit/cabin unit lines up nicely inside. One gets the feeling that this model suits the Matchbox label very well, because the aircraft is really rectangular and box like in form. The instructions suggest that you can put in the fuselage windows on the outside but I actually did this from the inside and they were a bit oversized but set into place reasonably well. Perhaps a little playing around here is recommended because I think the job could have been done a bit better than what I achieved - perhaps attaching them from outside is better? The windscreen proved to be a very nice and snugly fit and needed just a dab of glue at its top to fill in the smallest of gaps. I was very pleased because my experience with Matchbox suggests their windscreens are usually a real problematic fit.
An option available in this kit is to have the cabin doors open. I've been unable to locate a reference shot of this aircraft with the doors open but by the way the hinges are I gather that it would constantina toward the front of the aircraft, which is how I depicted my example. The kit does not quite allow this - there is a tab either side of the door way to fix your doors but this means the tab will be visible on one side if you display the doors open (I therefore suggest cutting this off). Its important to remember to paint the interior of the fuselages completely even underneath the cabin floor - especially if you have the cabin doors open - because there is a gap between the floor and base of the fuselage, as well as the nose floor section of the fuselage is visible when looking top down through the windscreen. This is more compounded by the fact that the pieces are bright yellow so these sections show through like sunlight. One could very carefully apply a bit of putty between the cabin floor and fuselage bottom, which is what I did and carefully ensured it was even with a toothpick.
Assembly of the engine components is best done one at a time because it is very easy to mix up the parts for the port and starboard engines. I managed to mix up the port inside half with the starboard outside half (and vice versa) and was lucky to have spotted this before the glue dried. The propellors are moveable but are best advised to be attached after the engine internal components have been painted. Again these were a nice fit and attach to small stub wings for affixing to the lower section either side of the fuselage. After these dried I painted them as well as the whole fuselage as this would prove to be a difficult task if I left til after the main wings were attached.
The main undercarriage covers are attached to encase the wheel with a small pin to allow the wheels to move freely. Of course one can glue the wheels to the pins to prevent this. I opted for moving wheels for something different. The legs are attached underneath the engines and fit nicely. The tail wheel also fits nicely but its strut is too long and is also best attached with super glue to strengthen it. Use the assembly diagram to position it correctly.
The main wings were assembled and painted before attaching to the aircraft as experience thus far showed quite good fit of all the components. The leading edge flap can be positioned and is rather unique on this aircraft, being half the thickness of the wing itself. I think it is overdone somewhat on the kit but otherwise it fits okay, again be careful when selecting the port and starboard flaps for attachment. I used some silver paint to replicate landing lights on the outer section of each of the main wings and a dab of red and green for the respective navigation lights on wingtips. The rudder can also be positioned to one side if you want. The tailplanes were a bit of a problem - their alignment pins that go inside the allocated holes are a bit long and thus meet each other inside, thereby not allowing the tailplanes to fit flush against the aft fuselage section. This was simply overcome by snipping off an end section of the pins and they fitted nicely.
On the back of the box you have the two versions that the kit will reproduce - a 1972 Federal Navy version with orange rudder and wingtips from West Germany and a Swedish Red Cross Flying Doctor aircraft. I have a number of photos of the Skyservant in various schemes and I cannot see why one of these versions can't be copied. In any event I chose to more or less replicate the Federal Navy version with orange tips, aluminium undersides and a uniquely different but effective dark sea grey and olive drab camouflage upper scheme. Primer is definitely recommended as the brightly coloured non-painted parts are only too happy too otherwise bleed through. A couple of coats was necessary.
The decal sheet is very basic with the Red Cross and a couple of serial numbers for the Swedish example and only the german flag, navy symbol and West German insignia for the German example. I didn't expect much from the decal sheet and was not either let down or pleasantly surprised, I was spot on. They have enough carrier film to make another decal sheet and are a bit gluggy. Trim them first or replace them is the best advice I can give. I used the decals from the kit and they peel off the backing paper very quickly so be aware. I simply dipped them in water then left them on the towel rather than leaving them into soak. They went on quite easily, a little prone to moving around, but otherwise satisfactory. They were fine on my finished product, but the trimming of excessive carrier film certainly boosted the appearance.
Overall this was a very easy and nice fitting kit. Being Matchbox there was a complete absence of detail other than a few scribed lines and the Skyservant shape (which is captured quite well). I added a few extra bits like the underside Tacan aerial, antennae and probes using stretched sprue and it surprisingly looks quite much like the Sky servant. I had to paint in the Starboard wing tip landing light, navigation lights and windscreen wipers. For best results the decals should also be replaced but you can use these if you want, they turned out okay on my finished product. Not a bad kit and as I am only aware of this kit for this aircraft in this scale it's worth the buy and adds to the diversity of the model collection.
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