Halberstadt C1.II by Blue Max

1/48 scale
Kit No. 633
Price: $35.00
Decals: One version – Imperial German Air Service
Comments: Limited run injection molded kit; white metal detail parts for cockpit (internal bracing), engine, machine guns, support struts, and Scarff ring; highly detailed painting instructions

History

The Halberstadt CL.II was a German two seat escort fighter/ground attack aircraft of World War I. It served in large numbers with the German Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Army Air Service) in 1917-18. The Halberstadter Flugzeug Werke company began supplying the German Halberstadt D-II during the summer of 1916. Along with the Albatros D-II, the Halberstadt helped the Central Powers to regain control over the Western Front. After the arrival of the superior Airco DH2 and the Nieuport 17, they were reassigned to training duty.

In 1917 Halberstadter Flugzeug Werke company began producing the Halberstadt CL-II. The plane was created to provide air support for ground troops. With three machine-guns and five 22-pound (10 kg) anti-personnel bombs, the plane soon established itself as one of the best ground attack fighters of the war. The Halberstadt C1.II was a response to an Idflieg (Inspectorate of Aviation Troops) specification issued in August 1916 for a new “light C-type” fighter with an engine of 160 to 180 horsepower. The purpose was to create a two-seat escort fighter to protect heavier observation aircraft from Allied fighters. In November 1916 Idflieg ordered three prototypes of the Halberstadt C1.II fitted with a Mercedes D.III engine. The first aircraft was flight tested in April 1917, and after a few wing design changes, the type made final flight tests in Adlesdorf in 2-7 May 1917.

Deliveries to front-line units began by August 1917, and were mostly supplied to Schutzstaffeln (Protection flights), and Schlachtstaffeln (battle flights — assigned to ground duties). The C1.II’s climb and maneuverability was excellent and it was regarded by its crews as very close in performance to such single engined fighters as the Albatros D.III/V. While the Halberstadt could carry photographic equipment as well as a radio, it was primarily used as and escort fighter and ground attack aircraft. Because of its agility and ability to rapidly change flight altitude it was able to avoid enemy ground fire and successfully used to hit enemy ground troops and other front-line installations. The C1.II was particularly effective while supporting infantry in both offensive and defensive roles, and was a major factor in the strong German counter-attack at the Battle of Cambrai on November 30, 1917.

Due to its good performance and ability to hold its own against enemy fighters, being light and comfortable to fly, the CL.II was preferred by pilots over all other types and remained in service for the remainder of the war, serving together with new types like the Fokker D. VII. Approximately 1200 machines were built by the end of the war.

Specifications

Type: ground attack
Powerplant: 6-cylinder inline Mercedes D.IIIa of 160 hp
Wing Span: 35 ft 4 in (10.77 m)
Length: 23 ft 11 in (7.3 m)
Height: 9 ft (2.75 m)
Maximum Speed: 103 mph (165 kph)
Maximum Height: 16,405 ft (5,090 m)
Endurance: 3 hours
Armament: One 7.92mm LMG 08/15 Spandau machine-gun, synchronized, with 500 rounds; one 7.82mm Parabellum MG 14 machine gun on a ring mount for the rear observer, with 250 rounds; 110 lbs (50 kg) of bombs; grenades

The Kit

The pewter Scarff ring (inverted here) on which a rearward facing defensive machine gun was mounted.

Blue Max’s multi-media Halberstadt CL.II consists of 28 injection molded parts in grey plastic, two lengths of pale white plastic rod, and 30 pewter or white metal detail parts (for the Mercedes D. III engine, cockpit side walls, ring for the rear-mounted observer’s machine gun, the machine gun itself (a crude but effective rendition of a Parabellum MG14), struts, and other small detail parts. The pewter parts will require some reshaping and a small amount of clean-up with a metal file. The fuselage halves bear raised detail, and the wings, the upper wing in particular, has good molded detail of the radiator located there.

Both wings have raised ribs running front to back, as does the rear elevator, as well as engraved detail for the ailerons. The two lengths of plastic rod provided appear to be for the interplance struts as well as the cabane struts — the instruction sheet with its single exploded drawing of the kit parts hints at this, but does not make it explicit. There are no locator pins or slots for the wings — and the lower wings are to be cemented directly to the side of the fuselage. The upper wing will be connected to the rest of the airframe only by struts — both cabane and interplane. Cyanoacrylate glue will be needed throughout construction, but particularly for the white metal parts. There are no written instructions to help with construction, but the text provided does offer great detail to assist with the paint scheme, which brings us to the markings.

Decals

The instructions highlight the fact that the Blue Max decals are hand-printed, thinner than usual, and should not be exposed to decal solvent, to avoid damage. They further advise that the decals will be thinner than hand-painted markings, if applied correctly. The decals include the national insignia, the German Balkenkreuz, a pair of white “Fives” on a red background, red flames, and a pair of black-and-white striped flashes for the fuselage on one of the two versions for which markings are provided. These versions are: a Halberstadt C1.II of Schlasta 26b, 1918 (white five with red flames); and another machine flown by Korporal Fegerker and Feldwebel (Sergeant) Tanzen, Schlasta 12, 1918 (black-and-white flashes).

The Schlasta 26b machine has a signal red fuselage, and the Schlasta 12 machine bears a paint scheme of what is termed “Scumble” — a type of lozenge camouflage — on its fuselage. The wings and tail assembly for both aircraft bear a five-color lozenge paint scheme, for which no markings are provided — this is where the highly detailed painting instructions come in, and they account for fully one-half of all text in the instructions. It will be necessary to decide whether to paint the lozenge scheme yourself per the instructions, or seek a set of appropriate aftermarket decals. The ribs on the wings are to painted either blue or salmon pink, as this was the color of the rib tapes employed. The painting instructions include details of how and where the paint scheme was altered by wear on the actual aircraft. They also include paint codes for the Federal Standard, Methuen, and Xtracolor lines. Finally, the instructions recommend consulting the Windsock Datafile on this aircraft for additional information.

Conclusion

Due to the white metal parts and what looks to be an involved lozenge paint scheme to be done by hand (if the modeler chooses), this kit will take an above-average amount of time and effort to craft a model you’ll be proud to display. But then, it’s a Blue Max kit, and those not ready for the extra effort, won’t buy it. Highly recommended to all who seek a new challenge and an addition to their Great War kits…

References

  • Spartacus Educational (www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk)
  • Rise of Flight (http://riseofflight.com)
  • www.wikipedia.org
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