Albatros D.III by Eduard

1/48 scale
Kit No. 8017
Cost: $25.00
Decals:  Two versions, both for the Luftstreitkrafte (Imperial Germany Army Air Service), including one for Baron Manfred von Richtofen, April 1917
Comments: Exquisite detail, engraved panel lines

History

In January 1917, the German air fighting squadrons were equipped with Albatros D.III bi-planes.  The successor of the Albatros D. II had the same engine as the D.II and D.I, but was designed as a sesquiplane similar to the French Nieuport, with the lower wing having a significantly smaller area that the upper.  The narrow bottom wing was joined to its larger, upper counterpart by “V” struts.  Despite initial problems with the warping of the wings, the D.III was very successful at the front, particularly during “Bloody April” 1917 when the German Army launched a massive offensive in the West an attempt to deal a decisive blow to the Allies before the United States, which had just declared war that same month, could join the hostilities in force.

The D.III first flew in late summer or early autumn of 1916.  It had the same monocoque, plywood skin as its predecessors.  It had very good maneueverability and rate of climb and was popular with pilots, being the favored aircraft of many aces, including Baron Manfred von Richtofen.  However, a series of wing failures — including an incident in which von Richtofen cracked the lower wing during a manuever — lead to the determination that the lower wing spar was located too far aft, causing the wing to twist under the stress of aerodynamic loads.  Due to this structural defect with the spar, pilots were advised not to perform prolonged or particularly steep dives.  Despite efforts to rectify the problem, it persisted on through the development of the D.V.  Overall, the D.III was considered pleasant and easy to fly, if somewhat heavy on the controls.  Despite its shortcomings, the D.III was well-liked by pilots and a dangerous adversary to Allied fighters.  Production continued through December 1917, and the D.III remained in front line service until the end of the war

Specifications

Length: 7.33 m (24 ft 0 in)
Wingspan: 9.00 m (29 ft 6 in)
Height: 2.90 m (9 ft 6 in)
Wing area: 23.6 m² (254 ft²)
Empty weight: 695 kg (1,532 lb)
Loaded weight: 886 kg (1,949 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 955 kg (2,105 lb)
Powerplant: 1× Mercedes D.IIIa inline water cooled engine, 127 kW (170 hp

Performance

Maximum speed: 175 km/h (94 knots, 108.5 mph) at sea level
Range: 480 km (261 nm, 300 mi)
Service ceiling 5,500 m (18,044 ft)
Rate of climb: 4.5 m/s (886ft/min)
Wing loading: 37.5 kg/m² (7.67 lb/ft²)
Power/mass: 0.13 kW/kg (7.7 hp/lb

Armament

2x 7.92 mm LMG 08/15 machine gun

The instructions include a detailed rigging diagram, at left. Also shown at right is the recommended paint scheme for the D.III flown by the Rittmeister Manfred Freiherr von Richtoften – the Red Baron – during April 1917. While the fuselage and wheel covers are red, the wing undersides are hellblau, and the upper surfaces are a 3-tone pattern of green, grey-green, and brown.

The Kit

Eduard’s D.III is molded in grey and consists of 57 injection molded parts.  The cockpit is extremely well detailed and accounts for 19 parts by itself.  There is a complete engine assembly (4 parts) and good molded detail on the two machine guns.  It’s worth noting that the propeller will not spin, and is simply cemented to the forward end of the fuselage, with the spinner cemented over it.  A glance at the instruction sheet reveals that construction is relatively simple — the kit has good detail, but does not present the modeler with any particularly intricate assemblies.  The real challenge comes with painting and rigging the wires.  No wires are provided, but the kit does feature a fairly straightforward rigging diagram (see photo)

Decals

The decals are Aeromaster and printed in Italy, so they should be excellent.  They provide two versions, one of which is the red D.III of Baron von Richtofen, Jagdstaffel 11, April 1917.  Interestingly, unlike his other famous mount, the Fokker Dr. I,  the Red Baron’s D.III is not painted a uniform red — the undersides of the wings are Hellblau, and the upper surface of the top wing is a three-tone camouflage pattern of brown, grey-green, and green.  There are also decals for a second version, painted in overall Hellblau with a black and white diagonal flash on the fuselage.  This aircraft was known as “Blau Maus” (Blue Mouse), the mount of Leutnant Hermann Frommherz of Jasta 2 (Boelcke), Spring 1917

References

%d bloggers like this: