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In-Box Review
148
Albatros D.III
World War I German Albatross D-3
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]


Originally published on:
AeroScale

Aurora Albatross D-3 was the fourth model of Aurora's 20 "Famous Fighters" 1/48 World War One aircraft. It was released in 1956 with five other single-seat. (Curiously, although Aurora released their "Sopwith Tripe" years later, it was originally numbered 100.)

Albatross D-3 was not one of the models Aurora reworked in 1972 by adding fabric texture and removing raised insignia and data markings for subsidiary K&B as K&B Collectors Series. (Usually when model makers add "Collector" to a model it equals a junky kit at triple the price. Not K&B! These were packed in large square boxes with detailed art, and the square box held the beloved vacuformed diorama base - shown at the bottom of the photos although not a part of this original kit.) However, Aurora did rework the fuselage to resemble the Albatros D.V and reissued it as a 700-series model in 1976: kit 752. (For images of the many styles of box art for this model, please see View This Item under the summary area under this review.) Subsequently, after Aurora went into administration, their molds and tooling suffered different fates. Monogram bought the molds and tooling but lore holds that most were destroyed in a train wreck; a few were saved by Glencoe Models who re-issued it with several decal options. It seems the Aurora Albatross D-3 survives only by 50-year-old copied mold by Merit, which eventually came under the possession of SMER. The Glencoe Models Albatros kit looks nothing like the Aurora kit.

Many Albatros D models have been kitted over the years in various scales and media, including a balsa D.V & D.Va in 1/3 scale! A quick spin around the net shows that Aurora's original can be built into a beauty!

Flightline walk-around
This review is of an original 1956 model in a ‘long box’ kindly provided by Mr. Alan Bussie of oldmodelkits.com for review. The box is dramatically decorated by the great artist Jo Kotula. Inside are instructions, decals, and 31 leaf green and black parts. One piece is a display button imprinted with “ALBATROSS DIII GERMANY".

Molding is high quality with no flash and virtually no mold seam lines. There are some visible ejector marks although they are neither as obvious nor extensive as other Aurora "Famous Fighter" kits. I found a couple very minor sink marks. Tooling scale-thin struts and such were beyond Aurora's ability (or interest). I held the fuselage halves together. Filler will be necessary although squashing the glued halves together may be enough to seal them. The fit between the fuselage and stabilizer is pretty impressive, as is the fit of the cabanes and interstruts.

The model was made with a slot under the fuselage for Aurora's separately sold wall display bracket.

To populate the kit a seated pilot and standing mechanic are provided with a ground base.

detail
Aurora put enough effort into the crew that they are not lumps of humanoid shaped plastic. However, the detail is soft and the mechanic's hands look awfully big. Both figures are marred by ejector marks and the mechanic has a sink hole in the groin. Most of the flash and seam lines are on these crew figures.

Sadly, as was the fashion of the era, all insignia and data stencilling are molded onto the wings, fuselage and rudder in relief. Removing it is a horrible exercise at best even on flat surfaces! Otherwise the fuselage looks good. It features both raised and recessed detail. The engine cooling louvers are rounded and not open. The top sides of the wings have ribbing detail but the undersides do not. They do have the top wing underside mounting brackets for the cabanes. If it were not for the ejector marks and thick edges the overall molding would rival third-generation kits.

Aside from the pilot, seat-floor, instrument panel with a dial and two switches, and stick, there is no interior detail. A tiny gun sight is included.
The wheels blend the tires to the hub covering.
The Mercedes D.III in-line engine is pretty impressive for the era. I like it so much I kept two or three after dispatching the airframe with fireworks!
Two 7.92mm Spandau LMG 08/15 machine guns are awful. Just lumps of plastic.

Accuracy
Aurora made the model too wide at 30-feet 6-inches. Aurora was one of - if not the - first companies to mold continuous scale models instead of "box scale" kits. I did not place the plastic parts over accurate line art to check the model profile and plan form. My impression is that it is off:
  • The general profile is pudgier with the rounder fuselage of the Albatros D.V
  • Cockpit opening is cut too deep into the fuselage
  • It does have the flat rudder, although the OAW-built Albatros D.III had the rounded rudder of the Alb. D.V
  • The model has two radiators which is not standard
Otherwise, it looks reasonably like an Albatros D.III - what references did they have back then? - what references did they have back then?

Instructions, painting, decals
Aurora made no effort to even hint that an Albatros had rigging in the textual and exploded view instructions. They did advertise Aurora's Polystyrene Cement and enamel paints. A history of the Albatros D.III is included. The back side is a catalogue of Aurora's models.

There is no painting guidance other than Aurora directing the modeler to reference the box art!

The decals are sharply printed and opaque, although thick and slightly off register. The only identity of the model is serial Nr. D.1941/16; Ernst Udet few Albatros D.1941/16 in Jasta 15 but these markings don't look like photographs of Udet's Albatros. The fuselage band may or may not be authentic.

Conclusion
Aurora did a commendable job of molding and detail for the era. I appreciate the figures and display base. Visible ejector marks, token detail, and soft detail on the figures detract from the overall model.

Those who wish to build it to current standards will find it ripe for detailing and in need of serious surface sanding. No doubt you can make a respectable model with it, as evidenced by the many examples online. Great War expert and Aeroscale staff member Steffen Lawson kindly provided four photos of this kit built up.

I thank Mr. Alan Bussie of oldmodelkits.com for providing this model to Aeroscale for this hop around memory 'drome!

Aurora history of the Albatros D.III
With Aurora punctuation and spelling HISTORY OF THE GERMAN ALBATROSS D-3 SCOUT
When the Albatross D-1 Scout Biplanes were first introduced towards the close of 1916, they quickly achieved a marked superiority over Allied planes such as had not been known since the days of 1915, when the Fokker monoplane was at its peak. On September 17th, Boelke, the German ace, led the first large formation of scouts organized on "circus" lines ever to cross into Allied territory and engaged eight British planes from the R.F.C. No. II Squadron. The obsolete British planes were completely outmoded by their heavier, more powerful opponents and none of them survived the onslaught. The Albatross D-1 was the first to use twin synchronized Spandau machine guns mounted above the motor cowling immediately in front of the pilot. After the advent of the Albatross, the twin synchronized guns became standardized on both Allied and German types.

The D-1 went through a number of changes, designed to improve its performance and in the spring of 1917 the Albatross D-3 made its appearance over the Western front and helped give "Bloody April" its name. The D-3 retained many of the characteristics of the earlier 1916 models but the large lower plane of the wing and the parallel interplane struts were abandoned in favor of a sesquiplane design with a narrow single spar lower wing and the famous "Vee" interplane strut and they were immediately dubbed "Vee-strutters" by the Allied pilots. A further modification to the wing design was the marked sweep-back on the ailerons of the upper wing.

For a short time the D-3 proved virtually invincible against the current Allied planes which enabled many German aces to build up their early scores. During "Bloody April" they were largely responsible for the destruction of 368 British planes and in the same month British hopes were dashed when a formation of the new Bristol fighters, led by Capt. Leefe-Robinson, was defeated by a group of D-3 Scouts. Baron von Richthofen, leading this "Vee-strutter" equipped Jagdstaffel II, gained a good deal of his prominence, counting among his victories, Major Lanoe Hawker, V. C., commander of the R.F.C.'s crack No. 24 Squadron, whom he shot down in a De Havilland DH-2 pusher.

Further improvements to the highly successful D-3 resulted in the D.V., which came into service as a replacement for the earlier versions in the summer of 1917. The final blow to the Albatross reputation came in the autumn of 1917 when it was abandoned in favor of the radical Fokker Triplane by the foremost German Staffels.


Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
SUMMARY
Highs: Good fit and molding.
Lows: Overscaled parts and simplified detail. Fanciful paint scheme.
Verdict: OK, she's not today's Wingnut Wings quality but for a 57-year-old kit, I think it makes a good looking Albatros. It will require work if you want to improve it but as a fun model, I'd be glad to have it on my shelf.
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 104
  Suggested Retail: 69₵ in 1956
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Oct 03, 2014
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.00%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 61.17%

Our Thanks to Old Model Kits!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)
FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2017 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


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