Central Powers Aircraft
by James Dickie

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Albatros C.III

Kit: Pegasus (1:72)

This was my first ever build of a Pegasus kit...and after building it I was hooked on their kits. Being a short run kit it requires more work and a deal of scratch-building, but the kit is remarkably accurate in outline and detail. I substituted all the kit strut material with brass Strutz, decals are homemade on Testors decal sheets using my HP inkjet printer (my kit was missing the decals). The "stained woodgrain" effect was done by first painting a base coat of Testors acrylic radome tan, then scuffing it up with some sandpaper to simulate wood, and finally painting a wash of Citadel brand "Flesh Wash" over that. I was pretty happy with the look of the wood effect, and its quick and easy to do!

Hermann Frommherz's Albatros D.III

Kit: Roden (1:72)

Built many years ago, this was my first Roden kit that I ever did. The parts are molded with fine detail, but also suffer from excessive flash and sink marks. But after cleaning up all the parts it really fell together quite easily and builds into a beautiful model. I decided to build Hermann Frommherz's "Blaue Maus" (Blue Mouse) mainly because it gave me practice in painting all the panel lines on a otherwise plain paint scheme. Yep, I hand paint all the panel lines on my models with a very thin brush, because I'm too lazy to use a scribing tool. All national markings were from an Eduard kit.

Kurt Gruber's Albatros D.III (Oef)

Kit: Roden (1:72)

A nice kit of a great plane...but sadly the Roden molds are getting pretty old and worn out apparently...this kit had the worst flash and "bulged bubbles" that I've ever seen on a model. It took a good amount of effort to clean up all the parts, but the build was pretty easy after that. I built Kurt Gruber's 53.60 for the simple reason that my wife was nice enough to buy this model for me as a surprise, so I asked her to pick out which scheme to model. Trying to represent the sworls in 1/72 scale was a bit more effort than I had thought, but I ended up using a very thin paint brush and just starting "sworling" each one by hand, the whole thing taking about an hour. Roden decals are well known for disintegrating once placed in water, so I applied two coats of clear lacquer over the decal sheet prior to using it. But for some reason about 80% of the white borders to all of the crosses still disintegrated...so I was forced to get out the ol' paintbrush and touch them up by hand. Oh well, the end result still looks okay.

Kurt Monningtons Albatros D.V

Kit: Eduard (1:72)

This is probably my favorite kit to build, the non-profipack version of the Albatros D.V...a wonderful kit that falls together with no real vices. Cockpit interior, all control surface hinges and rear rudder are scratch-built from Evergreen styrene. As with all of my models, everything is completely hand painted with Polly Scale, Testors and MisterKit acrylics. Since I could never find a decent 1/72 decal to represent the skull motif used by ace Kurt Monnington, I just made my own decals with a HP inkjet printer. The upper wing radiator was put together from odds and ends from a HO scale train grill (I love to dig through the local model train store for various fiddly bits!).

Albatros W.4

Kit: Roden (1:72)

This kit is very typical of all early Roden kits...nice attention to small details, but with excessive flash and poor fit of the forward fuselage parts. But I still highly recommend this kit...just get out your putty and sandpaper and you are set to go...and it really does build into very nice model. Naval lozenge decals are from Americal, which are still the best ones in my opinion...my choice of rib tapes was based on an old article from Ray Rimell, and will no doubt raise some eyebrows, but I still like it. The only problem that I faced in building this was that I accidently dropped a pair of pliers on the almost complete model, shattering the top wing and all struts...which led me to curse quite a bit and then replace the struts with brass Strutz (as well as the moving of the accursed toolbox far away from my model table).

Aviatik B.II

Kit: Scratch (1:72)

I love Austro-Hungarian two-seaters...even though many were far from successful designs they still have an elegant look to them (in my opinion of course). Built pretty much entirely from Evergreen brand plastic sheets, strips and tubing. All struts and undercarriage were made from brass Strutz. The entire engine cowling was made from Sculpey oven-bake clay. I love that stuff, you can mold and smooth it out it to any shape, and once baked in the oven it's rock hard but easily filed and drilled. As I always do, everything is hand painted in Testors and MisterKit acrylics. Decals are Americal with Blue Rider serial numbers. The prop was hand-carved from plastic...just for the simple reason that I was curious if I could do it. I think next time I'll stick to grabbing a spare from the parts box!

Alfred Lindenberger's Fokker D.VII

Kit: Roden (1:72)

Inspired by the color profile in the Osprey book "Fokker D.VII Aces of WWI", I hunted down photo's of Lindenberger's Fokker, and quickly realized the color profile was quite wrong. Oh well, even the experts make mistakes, right? After I built it in what I felt was the correct color scheme, I was happy (and humbly relieved) to see that Osprey corrected the profile later in their "Jagdstaffel 2 Boelcke" book. The point I'm trying to make is to go with what you want to build, trust your own intuition and have some fun. As for the Roden kit itself, the fuselage halves were horribly warped and badly molded. It took a good deal of work (and even more cursing) to correct all the molding flaws, but it came out well in the end. Lozenge, rib tapes and all national markings are from Americal. In fact the decals were the biggest challenge, since there are 189 of them. The nicely molded resin figures are CMK's "Richtofen's Circus".

Wilhelm 'Willi' Hippert's Fokker D.VII

Kit: Roden (1:72)

I had always wanted to make this plane, which is easily one of the most flamboyant aircraft of WWI. The holdup was that there are no 1/72 decals to model this plane...and I am not fond of making decals. I finally bit the bullet and it was surprisingly not as bad as I though it would be, even though there are 262 decals on it! I painted a white background and then cut out individual black decal checks. Studying photo's, it's clear that only about half of them are true squares, the others are various odd shapes. And beware of the color profile in the Osprey book, they mistakenly swapped the port vs.starboard pattern on the rudder (the two sides of this aircraft are mirrored opposites). The "Mimmi" was cut out from white decal paper, and then I hand painted the black borders to the letters. Allied intelligence reports simply recorded this Jasta with 'blue" cowlings (and naturally they don't say what shade of blue), so I opted for a medium shade of Prussian blue. Some sources also say the wheels were possibly decorated with four small markings, but to my poor old eyes the photo's only show 2-3 splotches of what appears to be mud or oil...so I left the wheels plain.

Rudolf Windisch's Fokker D.VII

Kit: Roden (1:72)

Honestly, in all my years of building models I never built the Fokker D.VII because I thought it was such an ugly aircraft compared to the sleek Albatros series of fighters. But Roden proved me wrong, their Fokker kit really somehow brings out the subtle beauty of this classic plane. Typical of most of Roden's early kits, the parts need lots of cleaning up and test fitting...but it has wonderful detail and comes with two superbly molded engines. I decided to build this particular aircraft because I liked the idea of an all lozenge fighter. The four color lozenge is from Eagle Strike, very high quality decals that were a joy to work with. Rudolf Windisch used an all white stag emblem similar to the silver one Carl Degelow used (in fact both pilots copied the same stag emblem of the Sanitorium at Weisser Hirsch). The stag emblem was a decal from FCM, all national markings were made from white decal paper with black decal strips...and yes, the serial number is wrong but it was the only white lettered Fokker serial number I could come up with. Oh well, it still works for me.

Frank Linke-Crawfords Hansa Brandenburg D.I

Kit: Eastern Express (1:72)

An ex-Toko kit, it's molded as a bit of a fusion of the three different series 28 variants, to build an accurate airframe I suggest you examine photo's. I decided to build 28.02, the personal mount of Frank Linke-Crawford. Being an early Phonix built series 28, I repositioned all the engine access panels and scratch-built an all new tail unit and rudder (what were the Hansa Brandenburg engineers thinking when they designed that rudder?). Toss out all the struts, they don't fit nor are all the cabane struts even provided. Despite these minor points it was a fun build and I really have to give thanks to any manufacturer that produces injection molded Austro Hungarian subjects.

Junkers D.I

Kit: Roden (1:72)

Many years ago I waited in barely contained anticipation after hearing Roden announce the release of this kit. As soon as I saw it at my local hobby store, I bought it and raced home. Once opened, I scratched my head thinking "The long fuselage version? Not the short fuselage version that saw service? What sort of bad joke is that?". But I was not to be discouraged, so I got out my trusty hobby saw and files, and chopped it down to a short fuselage. To replicate the interior fuselage corrugations, I used HO scale aluminum siding that HO train modelers use for roofs on buildings. While a great kit, it does have some faults in accuracy. First thing you should do is toss out the ridiculous instrument panel and dials that Roden supplied...it's completely wrong. As for fixing the other inaccuracies of the kit, nothing I say or do could compare to the incredible build by fellow WWI list member Octavio Mantua, his project on this plane is a basis that all others should use. Oh, and the resin figures are from CMK.


Kit: Hit Kit (1:72)

The Good,
This kit has a very nice fret of photo etch details, and superb decals. They give you decal options for five aircraft and are printed in perfect register with solid colors. They react very well with decal solutions and were a joy to work with. They even give you small British roundels to patch bullet holes...nice attention to detail on their part.

The Bad,
Pretty much everything else. I got the impression that maybe it was not even molded by injection process, it looks like plastic was simply poured over a bottom mold and then the top mold just squeezed down on top of it like a waffle maker. It's that bad. Most parts were indescribable blobs of plastic. All the parts had sharp metal shavings that were stuck in the plastic, which needed to be filed out. The parts also had a rough texture to them that looked and felt like course sandpaper. The fuselage is somewhat reasonable, but is about a quarter of an inch too short in the front. Correcting all these faults is compounded by the fact that the Windsock Datafile scale plans are extremely inaccurate. Rare, but not a first for Windsock (the scale plans in the original Junkers D.I datafile come to mind). Looking at the datafile pictures, you can spot and correct the major size/outline inaccuracies in the datafile plans Windsock got the wing control surfaces, upper wing cutout, the entire tail unit, elevator and rudder all wrong. HitKit captured the rudder pretty much right though...pictures show that it is not rounded like a teardrop, but rather with a "blunted" tip.

and the Ugly
Only after I was done with the kit did I realize that I failed to spot that Windsock also got the engine cover wrong too. Augh! The Windsock scale plans show it with two cooling vent panels centered directly on top of the cover (with two more on the side), but pictures show that the LVG C.V actually had four on top, with two on each side of a center line raised hinge. I took the cowards way out and filed off the plastic ones and simply painted them on by hand instead of making new ones from plastic. Honestly, I have to give thanks to all kit manufacturers that produce WWI subjects...but this kit is best summed up by the fact that I grabbed the kit box and a black marker pen, and then wrote a 'S' in front of HitKit.

Lloyd 40.15 Triplane

Kit: Scratch (1:72)

Last year I came across the Meikraft kit of the Lloyd 40.15 at a swap meet…what a cool triplane! But they wanted $30 for it (!), which made my Scottish genes balk. So instead I got out my beloved copy of "Austro Hungarian Army Aircraft of WWI" by Peter Grosz and decided to scratch-build one. The book has an “artists impression” of the plane, which looks oddly like the Meikraft kit (clearly one was inspired by the other), both having a very strange 3-sided rear fuselage. But looking at the extant scale plans I’m convinced that’s not right, the plans to my eyes show a regular 4-sided wooden fuselage, which was standard in all Lloyd fuselage designs (the sole exception of the turtle-decked Lloyd LS1 does not really count, since it was neither designed nor built by Lloyd, but rather by DFW in Germany). I made the wings and fuselage from Evergreen plastic sheets, radiator grill is some fine wire mesh that I dry-brushed and wheels and prop are surplus parts from some Roden kits. All struts are made from brass Strutz, which was not easy, since getting the bottom wing set at the right spacing was a headache. No surviving photo’s exist of the 40.15, but luckily there are photo’s of the Lloyd 40.16 which was designed, built and test flown at the same time, both planes sharing common features such as being powered by the 185hp Daimler and both having upper fuselage longerons conforming to the upper wing sections. So while building this model I took the idea that both would share some common design details (access panels, etc). Markings are also based on photo’s of the 40.16 (I’m assuming the same workers painted them more or less at the same time). The engine cowl gave me trouble in capturing the exact look from the 3-view extant drawings, but lots of plastic, putty and sanding finally won the day. So is my interpretation accurate? Well, until Allan builds a time machine for us, then who knows? And despite some references calling the 40.15 “ungainly” and “ugly”, I think this plane is rather beautiful and sleek…but I admit I may be looking at it with the eyes of a loving parent.

Busso von Alvensleben’s Pfalz D.IIIa

Kit: Encore (1:72)

This is a great little kit from Encore (Squadron)…it’s basically a bagged kit of the Roden model with a new sheet of lovely decals from Cartograf. Only one decal option is offered, but what an option! Ltn Busso von Alvensleben was no ace, but his spectacularly painted Pfalz just screams “I’m Prussian”. The nice thing about these Roden Pfalz kits is that they give you all the parts to build either the D.III or the D.IIIa…to build the D.IIIa version you will need to cut/lengthen the slot in the rear fuselage to accommodate the larger horizontal tail. While the overall fit is quite good for the parts, I was let down by the awkward upper cowling piece. It does not sit quite right, needs the upper panels thinned out in order to fit the engine inside properly and it leaves an ugly seam down both sides of the forward fuselage that needs lots of putty and sanding. Normally I don’t mind some sanding work, but the seam it creates is right next to the molded engine access panels, so sanding here is tricky at best if you want to preserve the molded details. I decided to just sand off all the plastic details and then replaced all the details with the photo-etch set from Part. As always, I hand painted the kit entirely by brush in acrylics…references depict the white fields on the upper wing as going to the outside of the first rib past the upper wing ailerons, but I don’t agree with that…measuring the white field and the ribs from the sole photo of this plane has convinced me the upper white field should be shortened to the direct edge of the ailerons. But that’s just me. Anyways, this kit was a fun build and it has superb decals for a striking scheme on one of the most beautiful fighters of WWI, recommended!

Phonix D.I

Kit: MAC (1:72)

I love this kit, it has extremely clean moldings and beautiful decals. But it has alot of inaccuracies as well. The upper wing cut-out is too deep, but easily fixed with scrap plastic to fill it in, and for some odd reason there are footsteps molded on both sides of the fuselage, even though photo evidence shows there was not. The prop is wrong as well, since photo's of this particular aircraft show it having the sharp angled Oeffag "scimitar" style, but fortunately Roden AH Albatros kits have spares to substitute. MAC has kindly supplied both types of tailskids that the D.I's used, a very nice attention to detail on their part. I scratch-built a new engine, exhaust manifolds and struts, and painted the "mottled cloud" camo with a sponge dipped in thinned acrylic paints, then dabbed over the kit after first dipping the kit entirely in water (to get a "saturated paint" look).

LFG Roland C.II

Kit: Scratch (1:72)

This was my first WWI aircraft I ever built, and my first aircraft scratch build as well. In fact I built it back in the dark ages before I even knew of the Windsock Datafiles, so I based it on a couple of old photo's and some plans from the Gray/Thetford book "German Aircraft of the First World War". The body is a fishing lure that I bought years ago in Japan (I never caught anything with it, so I decided to put it to better use). I filed and sanded the body to closer match the plans in the book, then I sawed it in half, built an interior, and made the wings from Evergreen brand plastic sheets. The wheels, prop and guns came from my parts box...the engine was made from plastic odds and ends and brass detail parts. Decals were homemade on my HP inkjet printer.

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