Windsock Datafile 146: Pfalz D.XII At War
The Pfalz D.XII was the logical development of the line of Pfalz fighters developed for the German Air Service during World War I, and it was tested and entered limited production towards the middle of 1918. The superb Fokker D.VII was already in mass production and widespread service, and the Pfalz product, while close, was not quite up to the Fokker standard in speed and maneuverability, only exceeding the Fokker in maximum diving speed. A clean two bay biplane, entering service when the steel tube fuselage D.VII was in service, the D.XII, while better than the D.III, could not compete effectively with the D.VII, and always remained an “also-ran”. It had its weaknesses, including the main landing gear, which had a tendency to collapse during any heavy landing, and its complexity did not endear it to maintenance personnel. In short, pilots preferred the D.VII. Although many more were ordered, probably only 100 were actually built, and many survived the conflict to be distributed among the Allies as reparations. Several came to the USA, and were used in movie work in the late twenties, and four originals survive, at the NASM (Washington, DC), Australian War Memorial (Canberra, ACT) , the French Air and Space Museum (Paris), and the Museum of Flight (Seattle, WA). In addition, at least one replica has been built, this one done at Phoenix’s Deer Valley Airport, AZ. This was built with the idea of flying it, but it has reportedly been sold to a museum in Germany, where it is destined to become a static display. It is illustrated in this review, as I was invited to photograph it upon its rollout in August, 2009. I was hoping to see it fly, but the management at Deer Valley frowned upon the use of their paved runway by a plane equipped only with a tailskid, and a tailwheel would have destroyed the authenticity of the replica. Not very sporting chaps, these.
This book, which the author acknowledges is a revision of one written years ago by the late renowned aviation historian, Peter Grosz, had been updated to include information not only on the history of the D.XII, but also on the various restoration projects that have now been completed. The quality and completeness of the publication is unsurpassed, and it would appeal to the historian and modeler alike. It contains excellent three view drawings in 1/72 and 1/48 scale, and many detail drawings and photos to allow the modeler to recreate the details inside and out. The photos are works of art in themselves, and are of the highest quality, especially since most of them were taken about 90 years ago. Needless to say, the color photos are of restored examples.
The author, Colin Owers, has done a number of excellent books on airplanes of this vintage, and this is one of his best so far. He even lists the kits available of the D.XII in all three major scales, although he does not comment on the quality or accuracy of each kit, but the kit brand names should give the modeler hints as to these factors. All in all, this book should serve as a one-stop reference for the D.XII, and there is enough information there for any serious modeler interested in the type. Most highly recommended. Don’t miss out on this one.
Thanks to Albatros Publications and John Noack of IPMS/USA for the review copy.