License built fighter aircraft have always been a fascinating subject for modelers. Roden’s 1/32 scale Albatros D.III (OAW), kit #608 was a logical step for them to make. Even in early issues of the standard Albatros D.III kit # 606, we all knew Roden would offer this OAW variant sooner or later. ( OAW stands for the ‘East Albatros Works.)
Since the first article** on the basic or early Johannistahl version (kit #606) in this series has been highly regarded, this review will include a revisit of the general build, the variations of the OAW version (#606) and also discuss the Eduard aftermarket etched metal set #48217. A sub-variation of both the standard and OAW versions is the ‘Tropical.’ As will be seen in the included end over view commentary the OAW ‘Tropical’ saw service in Palestine and in the Dardanelles in Turkey. May we yet see a variation of this?
"The appearance of the Albatros D.I and D.II fighters in 1916 was a very important technical breakthrough in the history of the development of German fighter aircraft. English and French pilots now faced a formidable opponent which eliminated their previous advantage in the air. However, the nations of the Triple Entente wasted little time in producing an answer, and the appearance of the neat little Nieuport 11 Bébé in the sky became a real shock for Germans. The Nieuport sesquiplane with its diminutive size and unsurpassed maneuverability compelled the Germans to modify the design of the Albatros D.III in a radical way.
In this fashion one of the finest German developments of the Great War period was born. It was with this type that Germany recovered its superiority in the air in 1917, and Allied pilots now had to take account of a serious and very dangerous opponent.
The speed of development in military aviation was improbably fast in those days. Having only just appeared in any quantity at the Front, the Albatros D.III soon had to give way to its successor from Albatros the new Albatros D.V. At the same time, the previous order for the Albatros D.III had still not been completed, and aircraft were required at the Front in impossibly large quantities. It was decided to pass on the manufacture of the Albatros D.III to the firm's OAW branch in Schneidemühl, thus the main factory in Johannisthal would concentrate on the release of the D.V. In April of 1917 the OAW factory received an initial order for 200 fighters, and eventually over 800 were to be required by the end of that year. The situation became even more pressured, when early build Albatros D.V machines, soon after delivery to the front, were returned to the factory for the elimination of design faults. The Albatros D.III was the reliable 'workhorse' of the German Army, and its production was constantly increased. In June of 1917 the first licensed machines passed their tests. (Even at that they were a month to 5 weeks from arriving at the front due to train routing and arrival at the air depots.)
There was a number of concerns about the machine, however they were insignificant. The final verdict was more than positive: the plane could be passed directly to the Front. German experts, and such as the famous Manfred von Richthofen, declared that in comparison with the Albatros D.V its predecessor was better in many technical respects; and constant problems with wing construction in the D.V constantly sidelined it during the most important moments of the military campaigns of 1917.
Visually, the Alb. D.III machines produced by the two different factories (Albatros and OAW) differed physically only in the shape of the rudder the Albatros machines had straighter lines, as their predecessors had, while the rudder of the OAW machines had a more rounded outline. The fuselage cross was further forward. Another slight difference was in the form of the hood near the armament's recharge mechanism. Some of the machines had their wing radiator shifted from the centerline even further. An additional wing radiator was fitted to fighters sent to the Front in Mesopotamia and Palestine.
As a whole, the OAW firm built 838 Albatros D.III’s, in comparison with 500 built by Albatros itself. They took part in combat on the Western Front until the final days of WWI. Some of the machines were used in experiments the rocket pioneer Rudolf Nebel experimented with rocket launchers, for the intended interception of British bombers; and there were plans for the use of the D.III as a parasite fighter under huge Zeppelins. The Albatros D.III (OAW) was at war on every front, from France to the Near East, and it figures large in the history of aviation as one of the most successful early fighting aircraft." (from the Roden website)
The Albatros company’s practice of wing camouflage involved an alternation in most cases of every 50 or so machines between the painted two toned shading and the 5 colour Lozenge printed camouflage. This is the break down, generally speaking for the Albatros D.III (OAW) as noted by Mr. Dan-San Abbott.
D.1650 - 1849/17, two colour painted.
D.2362 - 2424/17, five colour printed.
D.2425 - 2599/17, two colour painted.
D.2600 - 2661/17, five colour printed.
D.3156 - 3199/17, two colour painted.
D.3200 - 3255/17, five colour printed.
D.5022 - 5071/17, two colour painted.
D.5072 - 5161/17, five colour printed.
Albatros D.III (OAW), s/n unknown, Jasta 39, flown by Obltn. Josef Loeser, Italian Front, Early Fall 1917.
Albatros D.III (OAW), s/n unknown, Marine Field Jasta III, pilot Vzflgmstr. Mayer, Late Sept. 1917.
Albatros D.III (OAW), w/n unconfirmed, Armee Abteilung B, Early Fall 1917.
Albatros D.III (OAW), w/n unconfirmed, Oblt. Erich Loewenhardt, Jasta 10, Western Front, Early Fall 1917.
Rigging diagrams are included.
Albatros D.III Feasting on a Do - Do by S.T. Lawson, 2001 Model Aircraft Monthly Vol 1 #1.
Albatros D.III by P. Gray, 1966 Profile Pub Profile # 127
Albatros D.III (OEF) by Peter Grosz, Windsock Datafile #19.
Albatros Scouts Described, by Chas Schaedel, 1971 Kookaburra Tech. Pub.
Albatros Fighters Datafile Special by Ray Rimell, 1991 Albatros Pub. Ltd.
Lafayette Foundation Archive. Denver CO. USA.
Spandau Machine Gun by David Watts,1998 WWI Aero.
The Last Albatros by Colin Owers 1988 Aviation News Pp.216-221.
* Stands for the City in which the factories were located..
My favorite so far has been the on line build of Aeroscale member Brad Cancian. Now Aeroscale member Rick Geisler (callsign RAGIII) will begin his version in 2008. He will be augmenting his efforts using the Toms Modelworks aftermarket brass fret set. Also Carl Althaus' build of the Jasta 31 daffodil scheme was seen as the MOM here at Aeroscale for June 2007.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Excellent details, Insteresting subject matter, decent fit, wide range of colour schemes. Scale thickness it wings right to the trailing edges.Lows: Some sinkhole and ejector pin marks.Verdict: The positive definately out weighs the negative. The lines of this kit definately take you back to 1917 -1918. Not only to the Western front but Italy and the Med.
About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash) FROM: COLORADO, UNITED STATES
I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...