Kit No. 8082
Decals: Four versions – all Imperial German Air Force
Comments: Engraved panel lines, highly detailed cockpit and engine; photo-etch parts for interior and exterior; rigging diagram provided; pilot figure included
The Albatros D.II appeared on the Western Front in the late summer of 1916. Like its predecessor the D,I, it was a streamlined design featuring a rigid plywood fuselage of monocoque construction. The wings were covered with doped fabric, but the fixed tail surfaces were, like the fuselage, plywood, while the control surfaces were welded steel tube frames covered with fabric. The undercarriage was also of steel tube construction, with a V-type chassis fixed to the fuselage by means of sockets and sprung through the wheels with rubber shock cord.
Second in the series of Albatros ‘D’ fighters, the D.II was designed specifically to address a shortcoming of the successful D.I, namely that the upper wing obscured the pilot’s forward field of vision due to its position in relation to the fuselage. This was remedied in the D.II by retaining the semi-circular cut-out in the upper wing, but repositioning the wing and lowering it so that it was closer to the fuselage. The trestle-type center-section cabane was deleted and replaced by two sets of splayed out “N” center section struts. The first D.II models retained the cumbersome “cheek” radiator system of the D.I, but later models featured an aerofoil-shaped Teeves & Braun radiator system installed in the starboard side of the upper wing. This noticeably streamlined the aircraft and significantly reduced drag.
The Albatros D.II was assigned to Jasta 2, and it was in one of these machines, No. 491/16, that Manfred von Richtofen claimed his first victory, a French Farman S.II on September 17, 1916. By November 1916 twenty-eight D.II’s were operating on the Western Front; by January 1917, their numbers had climbed to 214. Meanwhile the D.III had appeared in late 1916, but it was not until the middle of 1917 that the D.III replaced the D.II in significant numbers. Demand for Albatros fighters was so great that in order to meet it, the firm of Luft-Verkehrs Gesellschaft (LVG) was also licensed to build the aircraft under the designation L.V.G. D.I. A total of 275 D.II’s were built, 75 of them by LVG.
Wingspan: 27 ft. 10 in. (upper wing); 26 ft. 5 in. (lower wing)
Length: 24 ft. 3 in.
Height: 9 ft. 6 in.
Weight, Empty: 1,423 lbs.
Weight, Loaded: 1,980 lbs.
Maximum speed: 109 mph
Ceiling: 17,000 ft.
Duration: 1.5 hours
Armament: Two fixed 7.92mm Spandau machine guns, synchronized to fire through the propeller
Powerplant: 150 hp Benz BzIII or 160 hp Mercedes 6-cylinder in-line water-cooled engine
Eduard’s Albatros D. II is injection moled in gray and consists of 63 plastic parts, plus another 45 parts on a photo-etch fret. Noticeable at once is the smooth, utterly streamlined appearance of the fuselage, the engraved panel lines, and the precise fabric-over-frame effect of both sets of wings. The kit will make an interesting project as there are a number of small, detailed parts for the cockpit and engine, including photo-etch straps for the pilot’s seat as well as for the Spandau machine guns and early-style side-mounted “cheek” radiators. Construction looks relatively simplified, for the upper and lower wing attach to each other and to the fuselage by a mere six struts. The kit is unusual in that it includes a pilot figure, who appears warmly dressed against the inevitable cold at altitude in a bulky flying suit and what may be a scarf. He is understandably hunched, but the torso (which bears a visible sink hole) seems to be of a bit smaller scale than the rest of him. Once he’s seated in the cockpit, however, this lack of proportionality may not be all that noticeable.
There are markings for four different aircraft, two different machines of Jasta 16b, a Bavarian unit which operated in the southernmost sector of the Western Front through the early months of 1917. The first of these was flown by Lt. Robert Dycke, who entered service with Jasta 16b in December 1916, scoring two victories, against a tethered balloon and a Spad. After a year’s service with Jasta 16b he was named commanding officer of Jasta 78b, where he was shot down in July 1917, surviving but never returning to flying. Dycke’s machine is the subject of the kit’s box art, and bears a blue-and-white checked coat of arms on a white diamond outlined in black on the fuselage.
The second Jasta 16b machine belonged to an unknown pilot, but has a prominent horseshoe marking on the fuselage.
Third is an aircraft from Jasta 19 piloted by Lt. Wilhelm Leusch, who shot down a Spad while serving with the unit in May 1917. He gained four more victories during 1918, two of them as commanding officer. Leusch continued flying after the war, and died in 1921 in a glider accident. This aircraft bears a black “L” outlined in white on the fuselage.
The final version is the mount of Hauptmann Rudolf Freiherr von Esebeck, who had a stint in Kampfgeschwader 2/Kampfstaffel 11, later serving in Jasta 8. His only confirmed kill was against a British F.E.2. He went on to serve as commanding officer of Kest 7 and Jasta 17. This aircraft bears a large white “X” on the fuselage.
The paint guide for all four versions is remarkably similar: all sport a wood brown fuselage and tail, red brown rudder, and wings with upper surfaces bearing thick uneven diagaonal bands of red brown, dark green, light green and grey, with hellblau (light blue) undersides.
An excellent kit showing the evolution of an important WWI fighter, the second generation of the Albatros.
- Albatros D.II instructions
- Classic WWI Aircraft Profiles: Volume 2; Cerberus Publishing Limited; Bristol, England, 2002.