Albatros upgraded their D.III to the D.V configuration by replacing the slab-sided fuselage with a more streamlined oval. Unfortunately, the upgrade did little to improve the fighting efficiency of the aircraft. The weak lower wing design was also a serious handicap, but such was the Luftstreitkräfte's desperate straits that the design was pressed into service regardless of its shortcomings. In the hands of a competent pilot, it could still make a good account of itself, and it served right up to the last day of the war.
In contrast to the earlier D.III, the aileron control cables were routed through the upper wing to a pair of bellcranks at each aileron. This was to save the life of Manfred von Richtoffen, who was able to retain control of his aircraft after its lower wing collapsed. Had he been flying a D.III, with its control cables running through the lower wing, he would definitely have crashed.
The D.V was updated to D.Va after complaints of wing collapses. The lower wing was strengthened, and a small auxiliary strut added from the leading edge to the forward V strut. This is not a definitive identification feature, given that many D.Vs were retrofitted in an effort to prevent wing twist. The D.Va reverted to the D.III's aileron control layout, which again ran through the lower wing in an effort to improve control response. The D.Va had a more powerful 180 Hp Mercedes engine (which was often a rebuilt 160 Hp engine, giving rise to a certain amount of confusion over exactly which engines a D.Va could be fitted with). The more powerful engine overcame the increased weight to return the performance to something equivalent to the D.III.
Eduard have once again re-released their exemplary D.V/D.Va kit in their Profipack range. In contrast to their earlier tan plastic, the sprues are now moulded in dark grey. There is no flash, and mould slippage is visible on only one cabane strut. The rest of the mouldngs are very crisp and clean. This kit comes with full upper and lower lozenge-pattern decals for the wings and tailplanes to suit the late war colour schemes included. A full set of rib tapes is also offered. Eduard claims that the salmon tapes are for the upper surfaces while the blue are for the lowers. In reality, most often the tapes were one colour or the other for both upper and lower surfaces.
A set of masks and photo-etch completes the kit.
Eduard chose the familiar left/right fuselage half breakdown. Each half is complete from nose to tail, and is detailed with some very fine panel lines. The various vents and inspection hatches are moulded to the fuselage with fine details, but they may be shaved off and replaced by their photo-etched replacements if desired. The cockpit furnishings are also competently done, and can look excellent built right from the box using only the plastic parts, but since Eduard has included some excellent etch in the kit, there's really no excuse not to use it. In this boxing, the seat belts and ignition switch panel have been included on their own separate pre-printed colour fret.
The engine is Eduard's generic inline Mercedes. To be completely accurate as the 180 Hp variant, an air pump needs to be added to the front cylinder, and representations of the valve springs added to the tops of the cylinders at the forward edge of each. Spark plugs and their associated ignition harnesses may be added, but they'll be almost invisible once the engine is mounted into the fuselage. The exhaust pipe is moulded solid, but a few minutes' work with a drill will cure that. The guns may be built using the plastic parts, or the solid cooling jackets trimmed off and replaced with the etch jackets. Rolling these is a bit challenging, but the look is so good that it is more than worth the effort. The guns must be glued in place before the upper wing is mounted. Two styles of propeller are offered, but the instructions do not offer guidance over which ought to be used, leaving the choice up to the modeller. Careful study of references is required. A rather anonymous pilot figure is included, which in the review sample suffers from a sink mark in his right chest. This seems to be chronic to the mould, because every review I have found mentions the same thing. Early D.Vs had a large headrest, which is offered on the sprues. None of the options in this box used it, and it was quickly removed in the field to improve visibility from the cockpit. Nonetheless, it is impressive that Eduard offers it.
The upper wing is moulded in one piece, with the ailerons in place. They may benefit from being removed. The Teeves und Braun radiator is very nicely moulded. In past etch sets, Eduard offered replacement radiator faces which are absent from this boxing. If desired they may be robbed from leftovers, or sourced from Eduard's 48218 Albatros D.V/D.Va
set. The etch does contain the radiator shutters which fit on the underside of the upper wing. The lower wing is one piece, with a small saddle for the fuselage to sit on. It will need a trifle of blending to smooth out the lower fuselage. Even though the wings are moulded in one piece, the trailing edges are commendably thin, and the fabric effect over the ribs is more restrained than the usual "starving cow" look that was fashionable when this kit was first moulded. In contrast to their first run D.V, this kit includes the radiator piping which ran between the wing-mounted radiator and the engine. It is quite thin, so care should be taken when clipping it off the sprue to prevent damage.
Strangely, even though all 4 decal options are D.Va aircraft, the instructions insist that the D.V style aileron bellcranks and fairings ought to be used. Since these are on the etch fret, they may be left off without causing difficulty.
The tailplanes and elevator are moulded in one piece. Since the elevator dropped to the full nose-down position on the ground, it ought to be carefully cut away. This will turn the one piece moulding into three separate parts. It fits to the fuselage fairly well, but a small amount of filling will be necessary. The fin and rudder are also one piece, and will also need a trifle of filling, so they may not be left off until after painting. The rudder may also be cut off and positioned as desired. Don't forget to pose the joystick and rudder pedals in the cockpit if you wish to show these surfaces deflected. The elevator control horns are moulded separately They are quite tiny, and prone to flying off to feed the carpet monster. They are duplicated on the etch fret, which makes this less of a problem.
Early versions of the Eduard D.V had main struts which were approximately 3mm too short. This has since been corrected, and comparison to my D.III kit shows that the struts are almost exactly the same length. The wheels look to be also properly sized. The lower fuselage tail strut fairing is a separate piece, as is the skid itself. The lower fairing ought to be added to the fuselage before painting to allow it to be blended in.
I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it will look like an Albatros.
Decals and Markings
Markings are offered for four late war aircraft
- 1. 6550/17 flown by Hans von Hippel of Jasta 5 with their characteristic green tail and a lightning bolt on the fuselage. This is the box top aircraft. There is some controversy over the fuselage lightning bolt. The box top has it with sharp corners while the instructions and decal sheet show it with rounded corners, and at least one profile published on the internet shows that it has an arrowhead and is much more uneven than the kit artwork. It may be that this profile is a different aircraft from the kit version.
- 2. Another Jasta 5 aircraft flown by an unidentified pilot who used a shooting star personal marking on a pale grey fuselage.
- 3. 6633/17 flown by Michael Sigman of Jasta 7b. This aircraft has an overall black fuselage with a wide yellow band at the cockpit and small white stars on the rear fuselage.
- 4. An unidentified aircraft from Jasta 14 flown by von Hunoldstein. In contrast with the other 3 options, this aircraft has the older mauve and green camouflage on the wings and tailplanes. The fuselage is unpainted plywood with a yellow and red personal marking aft of the cockpit.
Each of the decal options are presented in full colour 4 view drawings with sufficient detail to allow the modeller to properly paint and decal the model. Eduard offers the instruction sheet for download in PDF format
at their website. This will allow the drawings to be enlarged on the computer screen.
The first two options are repeats from Eduard's "Jasta 5" Limited Edition boxing of this kit, released as No. 1107. Curiously, the lightning bolt of von Hippel's aircraft is portrayed with sharp corners in that offering. I have included an image of the relevant decal from the kit.
Some people have complained about the colours of Eduard's fitted lozenge fabric decals.
I have included two photos of the kit lozenge against some privately printed aftermarket lozenge which I got from one of the regulars at a Great War forum before their model forum collapsed a few years ago. The colours are indeed different, but not radically so, and I think that they would look convincing on the model.
EDIT: Having been reliably informed that the kit lozenge decals are intended to portray the 5 colour pattern, I compared them to a set of AVI Print 5 colour that I've had kicking around for a while. The difference is astounding. It's almost like Eduard tried to use the 4 colour palate in the 5 colour pattern. The top decals only look a bit faded, but the undersides are much too mauve and almost entirely lacking yellow and completely lacking green. I cannot recommend using the kit decals for anything but patterns.
the real thing
There are only two surviving Albatros D.Va aircraft. One is in the care of the Smithsonian Institute, and the other
is resident at the Australian War Museum in Canberra.
Several flying replicas
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