Albatros D.Va

Published on
Review Author(s)
Scale
1/48
MSRP
$22.95
Product / Stock #
8111
Company: Eduard - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Eduard - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

One of the best looking aircraft of WWI, in my opinion, is the Albatros series of fighters. This streamlined plywood aircraft was widely used during the war. Flown by many of the great aces such as Manfred von Richtofen it proved itself a worthy warplane. Despite this, the Albatros had a fatal flaw, in that the lower wing would twist and occasionally fail.

The kit contains two sprues of light grey plastic. The plastic has fine engraved panel lines and raised access panels. It is beautifully detailed. There are two frets of photo etch. One is pre-painted, and the other is brass. There is also a set of masks to aid in painting the wheels, an oil cooler, and the red surround on the tail surfaces, should you decide to use that marking option. Decals are printed by Cartograf, so you know they are perfect. There are markings for four aircraft, plus lozenge decals for the wings, along with a sheet of stripes for the ribs.

I’ve built exactly two biplanes prior to this model, so I wanted to stretch my skills and learn how replicate the plywood. With that I was ready to start.

Now to see if it all fits together. The construction starts in the cockpit. In 1/48th scale this cockpit is quite complete and perfect. The only drawback I can see is that the small parts are not ‘indexed’. You will need good references or at least pay attention to the Eduard instructions. I used the instructions and they worked out perfectly. Test fit each part as you assemble the cockpit. You’ll be glad you did.

This was the first time I had to practice on how to do the plywood finish. First I wanted to try some Ushi plywood decals. This involved painting the interior with Tamiya Desert Yellow, and then applying the veneer decals over them. I used Tamiya tape to figure out how much decal to cut. I picked out the detail of the stiffeners with Burnt Sienna artist oils. On some panels I tried using just the Burnt Sienna artist oils and creating the plywood finish. I was happy with both finishes. So I was at least prepared to do the outside plywood.

The hardest part of the cockpit was to fold the photo etch seatbelts realistically. Once this was sorted out the rest of the cockpit was perfect and easy to finish.

Rolling the gun cooling tubes was the hardest part of the build. If you don’t have a The Small Shop SMS006 Photo Etch Bending & Rolling Deluxe Brass Assist, I’m not sure how you would do it. Certainly not as well. The tool made the work relatively easy. It is a little expensive, but it is a superior tool. I don’t mind spending money on tools.

The engine builds up nicely. The instructions are vague on where the engine goes in the cavity. It should fit all the way aft on the mount. Construction of the fuselage proved to be easy and no filler was required on it. The horizontal tail planes did require a slight sanding to get the fuselage to fit into the tail. Nothing drastic, but just a little bit of filler was needed to fill a small gap. A very small gap. The lower wing, vertical tail, and tail fin, all fit perfectly. Adding the guns proved to be a pain as there were no mounting points. In the end all that was required was to pin them in place.

I used a earplug to fill in the cockpit opening, the whole model was primed with Alclad Grey Primer. The entire fuselage minus the tail was painted in Tamiya Buff and some Desert Yellow in a very random pattern. The tail assembly was masked off and painted Polly-S RLM 24. Eduard provides EZ Masks for the red outline on the tail. I’m happy to say that they worked really well, and the red was added without an issue. The spinner was also painted red while I had it loaded in the airbrush. Then the tail assembly was masked off while I worked on the plywood panels.

While I was decaling, I decided that I needed more decals, and decided to use the Uschi van der Rosten wood grain decals. To use them, I made templates from Tamiya tape using the panel lines as a guide. These were then transferred to the wood grain decals, and each panel was cut out individually and added to the model. Once dried, the wood grain was oversprayed with Tamiya Clear Yellow to give it a finished look.

So now it was time to add the kit decals. The first decals that go on are the lozenge ones. Eduard supplies these and they look really nice, however, I had an issue getting the upper ones to sit down and eventually I screwed them up to the point I stripped them off. It was my fault and not Eduard’s. I ended up purchasing aftermarket ones to replace the kit ones. The new ones worked much better, or more precisely I learned what not to do. The Eduard lower lozenge decals worked like a champ. The various panels that required RLM 02 were all painted now by hand with AK paints before the individual aircraft decals could go on. The individual aircraft markings went on easy enough with no issues. A coat of Future was added to the whole model.

I painted the wheels with Tamiya Neutral Grey and Gunze RLM 02. I used the Eduard masks but found that they were too large for the wheels. It was easily fixed by just cutting one slice and adjust the masks to do what they were designed to do. It wasn’t an issue for me.

While I was at it I decided to paint the prop. I painted overall Tamiya Desert Yellow and then cut strips of Tamiya tape and laid it over the prop blades from one end to the other. I then hit it with Tamiya Red Brown color. After removing the tape, the prop was oversprayed with Tamiya Clear Orange. This turned out better than I expected.

Now came the time that makes or breaks a biplane, and the part that has prevented me from building one in the past: attaching the upper wings. But I had an ace in the hole. Years ago I bought an Aeroclub Biplane Rigging Jig Mk.II. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth every penny and then some. The first thing to do is to decipher the assembly instructions. Once I got that sorted out, I set the model inside and got to work on it. How anyone could build a biplane without this tool is beyond me. Alignment was easy to attain as was the stagger of the wings. It really made the whole process relatively pain-free. The jig allowed the model to be held upside down and sideways. Attaching things like the cabane struts was easy, except I had to pin them in place to give them strength. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? Another learning point, pin the attachment points of all the struts for strength.

Another coat of Future sealed everything in. I trimmed the axle for the wheels, as they were a little too long. Final pieces were added for the engine plumbing, and it was time to do the other thing that I worried about, rigging.

Rigging was actually remarkably easy. I had pre-drilled some holes where appropriate. I had previously purchased some carbon fiber wire. This was fragile stuff, but it was pliable enough to move around, and maintained its stiffness regardless of temperature or humidity. I added the rigging with Elmer’s white glue, and armed with Wingnut Wings instructions and some Windsock Datafiles, I proceeded to add the wires were appropriate. The Eduard instructions shows you how to rig it too, but they are pretty vague. If you had no references you could still make the rigging look good with the Eduard instructions, but I had plenty of references.

Adding the prop and spinner was all it took to finish up the model. Eduard doesn’t indicate which prop blade or spinner to use for which aircraft, or even what their designation is, so I chose what I thought was cooler looking. Not scientific and probably not historically accurate but it is my model.

A quick coat of Alclad Flat was added over the whole model. The flat finish looked fine for the wings and tail, but I liked the gloss varnish look on the fuselage. So I added a light coat of Alclad Gloss to the fuselage to represent the varnish finish, and a heavier coat to the prop because it too looked much better shiny. With that the model was done.

One thing I did not add and that was provided by Eduard, were the aileron hinges. My research didn’t show any. Another thing that is provided but not used was the rearview mirror. Again it was on a few machines but not mine.

The extra items that I used like, the Microsculpt lozenge decals, worked like a champ. The wood grain decals from Uschi von der Rosten were great and add a lot of visual interest on the finished model. The Aeroclub jig is a godsend. It is worth every penny once you figure out the assembly of the jig. How you can build a biplane and have everything aligned without it is beyond me. The carbon fiber rigging also worked better than expected.

I really liked how well this model turned out. It was definitely outside my comfort zone, but I really enjoyed the build, despite my best effort to screw up the decals. The model itself builds up beautifully. The attachment points could have been more prominent. I should have pinned all the joints. The small attachment points make this a very fragile model. I’ve since learned my lesson. Next time. The fit was fabulous with no problems being noted anywhere. The decals were also very nice. I thought the lozenge ones were a little thick, but they were certainly usable if you take your time. The masks worked as advertised. The marking options were quite nice as well. Overall this was a fun kit. You better like to do decals, because this whole kit is nothing but decals, and they look great. Should it be your first WWI model? Probably not with full wing and fuselage being decals along with the rigging and such. For me it was a challenge, but not in a bad way. My challenge came from all the new things I learned while building it. I liked it so much I went out and bought another one to do in different markings. It may be time to do the Red Baron Albatros DV. That is the best recommendation I can give any kit. So load up the DVD player with “The Blue Max” and get inspired to try something outside your comfort range. You’ll enjoy the challenge and the different techniques, as well as, the cool model when you’re finished.

Highly recommended

Thanks to Eduard and IPMS/USA for the review kit. You can obtain yours by contacting Eduard at www.eduard.com or at your local hobby shop or online retailer.

Reviewer Bio

Floyd S. Werner Jr.

Building models since the age of 7, I’ve become known for my Bf-109s and helicopters. I currently run Werner’s Wings. I was previously the ‘star’ of the Master Class Model Building Video series. I’ve been published numerous times on various website, including Hyperscale and ARC. My work has been in FSM and Great Scale Modeling 2001, as well as, numerous other model magazines. I’m a published author with my Squadron/Signal Walkaround book on the Kiowa Warrior. My models have continuously won many regional and national awards. My unique model photography gives my models instant recognition for their historical perspective.

I’m a retired from the Army after 21 years of flying Cobras and Kiowa Warriors, including tours in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and Germany. I’m also a retired Flight Officer for the Baltimore City Police and flew their helicopters chasing bad guys. I’m currently flying Cobras and Hueys with the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation.

I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart, Yvonne, for 42 years. Our daughters have blessed us with six grandchildren. My passions continue to be his family, friends, helicopters, models and airplanes, especially the Bf-109 and my beloved AH-1 Cobra. My motto has always been - MODELING IS FUN!

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