Stapenhorst: was Re: QUERY: von Raben's Dr.1

Bill Shatzer (
Wed, 21 Jun 1995 20:08:07 -0700

> Question: weren't the ailerons different as well? If my memory
>serves, they were larger than production Dr.I's (and possibly the
>reason why Revell got it wrong in 1/72nd scale).
>Matt Bittner

The ailerons on the F.I and the early Dr.I's were identical.
They were changed from the smaller to the larger ailerons
a short time into the Dr.I production run sometime in
October, 1917 around number Dr.I 130/17 or so.

The asymmetrical ailerons on the Revell kits originate from
the drawings of one particular triplane, Dr.I 144/17. This
aircraft, piloted by a Ltn Stapenhorst of Jasta 11 was the
first intact Dr.I captured by the British. Stapenhorst was
captured on January 13, 1918 when he was surprised by
British fighters and forced down in allied territory. Apparently,
his aircraft had previously suffered damage to its starboard
aileron and, as a field expedient, the damaged aileron had
been replaced with one of the earlier, smaller ailerons.

This triplane was the subject of a long article in Flight
magazine in March, 1918. It was also used to create a set
of plan view drawings of the triplane which, quite naturally,
incorporated the asymmetrical ailerons. Originally, no one caught
on to the fact that the asymmetrical ailerons were a field
expediency modification but rather assumed that they were
a part of the original design - "to offset the torque of the rotary
engine" was the favorite explanation. By the time the true state
of affairs was figured out, the original drawings and Flight article
had been circulated widely and incorporated into
numerous other publications. Presumably Revell used one of
those sets of drawings when it did its two triplane kits.

Actually, everyone should have realized the starboard aileron
was a recent replacement - the end of the eisenkruez had not yet
been painted on to the aileron when Stapenhorst was captured.
There's a photo on page 21 of the "In Action" publication which
shows Stapenhorst's triplane and the missing tip of the cross quite

As a small side light on this whole aileron business, the 1/72
Revell kit mold was originally made in England. The kit, as
originally released in England had some rather serious inaccuracies
in the fuselage but it had the correct symmetrical ailerons. When
the mold was shipped to the US for US production, Revell cleaned up
the mold to correct the fuselage but, at the same time, changed the
ailerons to the incorrect old/new asymmetrical arrangement which
has persisted until the present.

Cheers, Bill