Matchbox 1/72 Do-18G-1






Three aircraft, see review


Scott Van Aken




In 1934, Deutsche Lufthansa ordered a replacement for its very popular 'Wal' flying boat. Dornier was tasked with its replacement and produced a much more refined version of the Wal. It kept the built in lower sponsons (which eliminated the need for wing floats), and the upper wing engines in the push-pull arrangement. Standard crew was two pilots, a radio operator and an engineer. It was intended for trans-Atlantic flights, mainly as a mail carrier. 

Fitted with Junkers diesel engines, the first prototype flew in early 1935. It was followed by five other aircraft, all but the last being designated Do-18E. That last one had different engines so was the sole Do-18F. When fitted with radials, it became the Do-18N. These Do-18s could be catapult launched from ships if needed.

Though designed for the civil airlines, the Luftwaffe was also interested as they flew the old Wal boats as well. The first one was delivered in mid 1938 and designated Do-18D. It also had a crew of four and two gun positions; one in an open bow and one in a midships turret. Later versions, which were delivered in 1939, had more powerful engines and were designated Do-18G. When production right after the start of the war, over 100 had been produced, 70% of them the Do-18g variant.

The aircraft were mostly used for coastal reconnaissance, though later in the war they were used for air-sea rescue and for clandestine operations. To my knowledge, none have survived to the present day.


Molded in the typical Matchbox fashion of several colors, the Do-18 kit carries on another Matchbox trait; trenches. First of all, the kit is very well molded and flash free. There are no ejector pin marks that will be visible once the kit is built. The clear parts are a bit distorted, but not bad. Detailing of the fabric control surfaces is way overdone. There are four crew members included, though they seem a bit stiff!

I think a word on Matchbox needs to be made at this time. Matchbox have never considered themselves to be at the cutting edge of kit production or design. Their goal was to produce interesting kits and make them easy to build. Based on those premises, the goal has been met. Who else produced an injected Do-18? As for easy to build, the majority of Matchbox kits I have built have been just that. This is accomplished by designing a bit of slop into parts. While it results in some seams, it also means that kids will have little problem with most of the kits. Their single seat fighters can easily go from box to imagination in a few hours. The more serious modeler will have a basis for producing a very detailed kit once those modeling skills are fully used!

Ostensibly, the kit is molded in colors so that you don't have to paint it. Right. Frankly, olive drab, green and aqua wouldn't be my main choices of colors! Panel detailing is heavy handed as with many Airfix kits, detail in cockpits and cabins is minimal or non existent. Being a flying boat means no problem with wheels, but a beaching dolly would have been nice.

The instructions have ten construction steps that follow a logical sequence. No color info is given in the construction steps, but in a separate section. Color references are for generic colors, but are quite adequate. For overall colors and decal placement, a combination of the back of the box and a section in the instructions need to be used. There are three options. One is a Lufthansa civil flying boat in overall silver with an RLM 65 underside. Next is a prewar military boat with RLM 02 uppers and RLM 65 lower surfaces. Both have a large red tail band with a white circle. Finally, a wartime Do-18 in RLM 72/73 with RLM 65 undersides. No RLM colors are given in the instructions, but those are what colors they should be. The swastika is not provided and will have to be obtained from another source.

While not exactly a 21st century model, it is one that can be built and enjoyed by modelers of all skill levels. This kit has been recently reissued by Revell Germany (who owns Matchbox) so should be able to be found at your local hobby shop.


German Aircraft of the Second World War, by JR Smith and Antony Kay, Putnam, 1978 (3rd Edition)

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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