Thursday, January 11, 2007

WWI Pfalz DIII - 1

This is a 1/300 scale Albatros that I converted to a Pfalz DIII for use with the Blue Max rules. It is from Irregular Miniatures 6mm World War I Aircraft range and has the code GWP15. The model itself is only about 2.5cm (1 inch) in length. I had ordered three Albatri (which I understand is the correct plural form of the Albatros aircraft) and one of them had incorrect wings. So, making lemonade from lemons, I decided to see what other type of aircraft I could convert it to. The Pfalz DIII had a similar shaped fuselage to the Albatros so I decided to go with that.

I used a needle file, or jeweller's file, to change the shape of the wings and also to file down the tail plane elevators and replace them with card of the correct shape. After priming it in white I painted it in the colour scheme of a Pfalz DIII flown by Vfw Hecht of Jasta 10, September 1917. (source - Kenneth Munson, Fighters 1914-19 - Blandford Colour Series, 2nd edition 1976). This particular aircraft, piloted by Vfw Hecht, was downed by a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) two-seater flown by Lts. Hanna and Burnand on 27 December 1917. It musn't have suffered too much damage because the RFC later gave it British markings and flew it as an RFC aircraft. I am unsure of Hecht's fate.

Also of interest is that this aircraft, serial number 1370/17, had been flown by the famous ace, Werner Voss from July 1917 until his death in September 1917. Voss was killed in his other plane, a Fokker DR.I. Vfw Hecht must have then inherited this aircraft.

Although I like this colour scheme, further research on the internet suggests Vfw Hecht's Pfalz DIII, serial number 1370/17, actually had a green rudder, fin, elevator and tailplane instead of yellow. Also, there were black bands on either side of the large iron cross on the fuselage and not yellow as indicated in Fighters 1914-19. Once again, it was a black stripe, and not yellow, on top of the left upper wing halfway between aileron and wing root. There is often this type of confusion when attempting to confirm particular colours from black & white photos. It is an unusual trait of yellow in some early black & white photos that it shows up very dark, almost black.

I used 1/285 scale decals for the markings. On this particular aircraft I also had to draw in the tiny cross on the tail fin with a black micropen. I filed off the static propellers as I wanted to achieve an 'in flight' effect. To achieve this I punched out a small circle of clear plastic with a hole punch and attached it to the front of the plane with a cut-off pin head.

The Pfalz DIII was a single-seat fighter and entered service in August 1917, but was not considered a match for contemporary designs like the Albatros DV, and instead found a niche role in attacking observation balloons where it's high diving speed was a major advantage. You can click on the image for a closer view.

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