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DFS 346 "Beutflugzeug"

by Floyd S. Werner Jr.

 

DFS 346 "Beutflugzeug"

48 Special Models
 


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Background

 

The German aviation industry during World War II is known for itís innovative designs.  One aviation manufacturer that is often over looked is the Deutsches Forschungsinstitut fur Segelflug-Darmstadt, or DFS for short.  This manufacturer was instrumental in the development of the Me 163 and the Horton Go-229.   

Until the release of this model by 48 Special I did not know of the existence of the DFS 346.  After some research I found out that the DFS 346 was designed to break the sound barrier.  Originally designed in the winter of 1944, three years ahead of the Bell X-1, there were three prototypes, two un-powered gliders and one powered aircraft.  Like the Bell X-1, the DFS 346 was carried aloft by a B-29 or the Soviet equivalent Tu-4 and dropped.  Looking more like a Buck Rogers spaceship than a research plane, the DFS 346 was incomplete at the end of the war.  The Soviets recovered the three aircraft and the design team and shipped them off to Russia.   

In an innovative move, the DFS team designed the cockpit to have the pilot lying down in a prone position, behind a pressurized bulkhead.  In the event of a problem, the cockpit could be jettisoned as an assembly. 

 

 

The Soviets completed the airframes, both the un-powered versions were launched with Russian pilots at the controls.  The aircraft displayed some instability problems and both aircraft eventually crashed.  Overcoming their fear of defection, the Russians turned to Messerschmitt test pilot, Wolfgang Ziese, to fly the powered version in 1950.  Now think about this, the un-powered versions crashed and now you want a man to fly at close to Mach 1.  What a test pilot or what an idiot.  But true to his skills, Ziese flew the DFS 346 and eventually flew it to Mach .95.  In 1953, due to an uncontrollable flutter, Ziese lost control and bailed out.  Although he got out and landed fine, the Soviets blamed him for the destruction of the DFS 346.  Ziese then died mysteriously in a hospital a few days after the failed record attempt.  My model displays this aircraft.

 

 

48 Special Models' DFS 346

 

48 Special Models provides a multimedia resin kit.  The resin parts are nicely molded in a hard light gray resin, but some have a few bubbles.  Nothing major and nothing that a little filler couldnít take care of.  There is a lot of mold release agent on the parts that will need to be removed.  All major components are resin with some redundant photo etched parts.  The photo-etched parts are made of steel.  The cockpit canopy consists of the pressure bulkhead, side window and outer cockpit assembly.  The clear parts are well formed, but are slightly deformed.  This is easily taken care of with a coat of Future though.   

The instructions are bilingual, German and English.  There is some spelling errors, but nothing that canít be deciphered.  Included in the instructions are lots of tips for assembly, which make building this kit easier for the resin kit beginner.  I recommend reading the instructions completely and repeatedly.   

There are no decals, as the original aircraft had no markings other than the red ring around the nose cone.

 

 

Construction

 


Getting Started - Cockpit

As usual constructions starts in the cockpit.  You have to decide whether to use the resin or photo etched parts.  I used a combination of parts.  For the bench I used the photo-etched parts.  Now the parts are made of steel and are difficult to remove from the fret and even more difficult to bend.  Taking a hint from the instructions I heated the parts on the stove first.  This made them softer and more malleable, but it was still tough.  In my research I was able to find one photo of the cockpit.  48 Special got real close, but if you want to superdetail the interior go for it.  I didnít because once assembled the interior is not seen at all, so why bother.  I painted the interior RLM 02 but you canít see it.  

 

 

The sidewalls are separate pieces that must be sanded to fit in the nose cone.  They must be sanded a lot, as well as, the nose cone interior.  I used my Dremel tool and thinned and thinned and thinned, well you get the idea.  Resin dust everywhere.  Wear a respirator.  The biggest part to worry about is the left side window because you have to line up the window and have it thin enough to look scale.  Once it all fits take it out and cut out the side window and smooth it into the exterior.  I attached mine with superglue but was careful not to apply too much.  Once dry I polished on the outside to get it to conform to the exterior contours.  I then brushed on a coat of Future on the inside.  I saved the outside for later.


 
Fuselage 

The fuselage is a solid piece of resin that the cockpit sits in front of.  This creates a situation where the model is a tail sitter.  If I had to do this over again I would cut off the tail area and thin out the back and add weight to the nose area.   

The tail assembly is added into a depression in the fuselage that ensures the tail unit is straight and at the correct height.  Some photo-etched strakes are added to the underside of the horizontal stabilizer.  You have to cut along a panel line about halfway through the tail.  If done properly the part will just fit in nicely and require very little superglue.  The horizontal piece is attached to the topside with a couple of pieces of tubing for strength.  Any area that needed to be filled was filled with 3M Blue Acryl.



Wings

The wings are interchangeable.  Once you decide on which side is which you will have to cut along some panel lines just like the tail surface.  The wings have no dihedral. The only thing to look out for was to ensure the inner flap is visible.  I used some tubing for strength again.


 

Landing Gear

Extended or retracted?  Your choice, but if you want to see display the aircraft on the ground then extended is the only way to go.  The gear consists of three braces and a landing skid.  Pinning these parts provides the strength necessary to support the model.  Superglue will not be strong enough.  The biggest thing with the landing gear is to ensure it is straight in the bay.  The landing gear doors were cut along the centerline front to aft.  Then they were attached to the fuselage after painting the interior RLM 02. 



Canopy Assembly

You will need all your patience for the canopy.  It is multi layered and multi media.  The one nice thing is that the canopy and the pressure bulkhead are press fit.  Now comes the fun.  First off you have to drill a hole in the two clear parts for the pitot tube and it has to be straight and not too big.  I think I mentioned that you only get one set of clear parts.  OK now that youíve done that you have to bend some of the steel photo etched parts and oh by the way it has to fit in the nose cone and it has to fit on the pitot tube.  I got lucky and got that to fit pretty well.  The next photo-etched piece is also a part of the pitot tube support but this one goes around the pressure dome. I couldnít do it.  I ended up bending it nicely and even had a nice hole for the pitot tube to sit in but it didnít fit.  I ended up scratch building the support from .010 by .020 and .025 tubing.  It all worked for me and I liked the results.   

 

 

If you havenít attached the cockpit assembly as per the instructions, you will need to do it now.  You are given a bench but I couldnít figure out how to attach it, so I didnít.  I did add an epoxy cushion.  Donít forget the instrument panel and chin support.  I couldnít figure out the panel so I ended up using an extra Hasegawa Ar-234 instrument panel with some modification.  I used this method to ensure that the cockpit didnít get broken off while handling.  Now attach the front nose cone and smooth it into the fuselage assembly.  I used two-part epoxy to do this and this aided in filling any gaps.  Once that is done attach the pressure dome, canopy, and pitot tube assembly.  I attached this with white glue and then filled around the area with 3M Acryl putty.

 

 

Painting and Weathering


Natural Metal Finish

I have to tell you this is only my second NMF aircraft.  I still have things to learn, but I did like the outcome.  I masked off the clear parts with liquid masking material.  I primed the whole assembly with Tamiya Primer White and then sanded it smooth.  I used Alclad II and Tamiya spray can AS-12 for my silver finish.  Can you tell what I used where?  The wings, nose cone and landing gear are Tamiya while the rest is Alclad.  I liked the finish of both.  You can spray the Tamiya over the Alclad for those so inclined.  I still need more practice.  Am I glad the Luftwaffe didnít have a lot of natural metal finishes.  I then masked off and painted the red ring.


 
Weathering

As this aircraft was brand new there is no real weathering.  I highlighted the control surfaces with Dark Grey India Ink. The panel lines were accentuated with Paynes Grey artist oils.


 
Final Touches

I removed the masks and brush painted Future on the clear parts.  The model wouldnít sit properly so I inserted a .5 needle in the tail.  The antennas were added to the spine and with that the model was done.

 

 

Conclusion

 

This is only my third all resin kit.  With that said this kit is not for a beginner, but I think the finished product looks like the real thing and is a good first offering from 48 Special Models.  Reading the instruction is imperative.  The tips are very helpful and invaluable.  I recommend this kit to experienced modelers only, but I definitely recommend it.  I enjoyed the model a lot and it stretched my modeling to another level.   

 

 

The DFS 346 is available directly from 48 Special Models at their website www.48specialmodels.com or email at info@48specialmodels.com .  The DFS 346 costs approximately $95, depending on exchange rates.   

48 Special has released other interesting aircraft including three different Mistels, FW-190/Ta-154, He-162 and Me-262 versions.  The models released by 48 Special are limited editions.   I would like to thank 48 Special Models for the review sample. 

 

 

References

 

  • Flugzeug Archiv Band 6, 1993, Flugzeug Publications 

  • German Jet Aircraft 1939-1945, Hans-Peter Diedrich, Shiffer Publishing, 2000, ISBN 00-105623 

  • Secret Aircraft Designs of the Third Reich, David Myhra, Shiffer Publishing, 1998, ISBN 97-81279

  • DFS 228, David Myhra, Shiffer Publishing      


 

 

Additional Images

 

Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Floyd S. Werner Jr. 
Page Created 17 October, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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