Aurora Kits

Aurora kits (ETYWTKBWATA!)

By: Bill Shatzer or

The recent discussion of one of my particular passions - old Aurora kits - has spurred me to compose the following article which probably contains more than anyone, except myself, wishes to know. None the less, here it is, with grateful thanks to Brad Hansen's wonderful book, "W.W.I in Plastic", from which most of this information is taken.

The following is a listing of the entire Aurora WW1 series

Kit #		Name			Scale		Color/1st issue
=====   =============================   =============   ================
100	Sopwith Tripe			1/48		black
101	French Nieuport 11		1/48		olive
102	Sopwith Camel			1/48		olive
103	SE-5 Scout			1/46		olive
104	German Albatross (1) D-3	1/48		green
105	Fokker DR-1 Triplane		1/43		burgundy
106	Fokker D-7			1/46		dk green
107	SPAD XIII			1/48		olive
108	Nieuport 28			1/48		lt. gray
109	German Pfalz D-3		1/48		gray
112	DeHavilland DH 4		1/48		olive
113	F2B Brisfit			1/48		olive
114	Curtiss JN-4 'Jenny'		1/48		yellow
125	DeHaviland (1) DH-10 		1/48		olive
126	Gotha Bomber			1/48		burgundy
134	Fokker Eindekker		1/43		tan
135	Fokker D-VIII			1/48		dk. green
136	Halberstadt CL II		1/48		gray
141	Breguet 14			1/48		dk green
142	Albatross (1) (2)		1/48		lt. gray

Notes:  (1) Aurora's spelling, not mine!  (2) actually an 
Albatros C-III although neither the box nor the instructions
say so.  
Aurora first introduced its line of WW1 aircraft in 1956 with the production of kits 101-106 - six single seat pursuits nicely balanced between the western allies (Nieuport 11, SE-5, and Camel) and the Germans (Albatros, D-7 and Dr. I). In 1957. six more WW1 models were introduced - three more single seaters (nos. 107-109) and three two seaters (112-114)

Aurora followed in 1958 with its two 'monster' WW1 kits, the Gotha and the DH-10. (The Gotha was a rather obvious choice for the German bomber and obviously a western bomber kit was required for 'balance' but the selection of the rather obscure DH-10 seems a puzzling choice - a Handley Page 'bloody paralyzer' or a Vickers Vimy would seem a more logical pick.)

In 1960, the Fokker D-VIII and the Halberstadt were produced followed by the Sopwith Triplane and the Fokker E-III in 1963. The final two WW1 Aurora kits, the Breguet and the Albatros C-III, appeared in 1964.

In 1973, Aurora entered into a marketing arrangement with K&B, a California manufacturer of flying models, and produced the series of K&B 'Collectors series' These models were produced by Aurora but distributed by K&B and featured a large, squarish white box with some impressive artwork and (be still my heart!) a vacuformed diorama base for displaying the model! Aurora kits marketed under the K&B name were the Sopwith Tripe (#1100). Nieuport 28 C.1 (#1108), Pfalz D-III (#1109), DeHavilland DH-10A (#1124), Gotha G.V (#1126), Fokker E-III (#1134), Fokker E.V (D-VIII) (#1135), Halberstadt CL-II (#1136), Breguet 14 (#1141) and Albatros C-III (#1142). Note that the K&B kits numbers were merely the original Aurora kit numbers prefixed by a '1'.

Apparently, it was originally intended to 'upgrade' all the molds for the K&B kits but apparently Aurora was either losing interest in plastic kits or running short of money by 1973 because most of the kits received only a new set of instructions and decals. However, the Sopwith Tripe and the Gotha did get the engraved markings removed from the fuselage (but not the wings), the Pfalz had all its engraved markings removed except the fuselage data, and the Fokker E.V had all its engraved markings removed. The Breguet had the most extensive mold revisions, with a completely revised set of wing moldings to incorporate the bomb racks which had been omitted from the original Aurora kit.

Aurora's 'last gasp' was in 1976 when it issued the 700 series.

Kit#		Name				color
=============   =============================   =================
750		Fokker Dr.I Triplane		red (what else?)
751		Sopwith Camel			olive
752		Albatros D.V			tan
753		Fokker D-VII			blue
776		Bristol F.2B Fighter		tan
785		Gotha G.V			green/black
786		DeHavilland DH-10		olive/black
754		Nieuport 11 'Bebe' (1)		silver/black
755		Airco SE.5.A (1)		olive/black

(1) was not actually issued until Jan. or Feb. of 1977
All of these kits had substantial 'improvements' to the molds by the removal of all engrave markings and addition of a 'fabric' texture to the surfaces. In addition, the Camel had 'ribs' added to its wing undersides, the Albatros had its fuselage and tail altered to more closely resemble a D.V., and the Fokker D.VII got new machine guns, foot steps, and struts. Other minor additional changes were made to some of the other molds.

In late 1977, all Aurora's plastic kit assets, including the WW1 aircraft molds, were sold to Monogram and Aurora ceased all plastic kit manufacture. Reliable sources indicate that during the transfer of the molds to Monogram, three of the Aurora WW1 molds were damaged beyond repair - the Breguet, the Halberstadt and the Albatros C.III. The other molds are apparently still in the possession of Monogram's successor corporation but with the exception of a short production of the Camel, the D.VII, and the SE 5A in the '80's, none have apparently ever been produced by Monogram.

And, I've got *lots* more if anyone's interested! Cheers, Bill

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