by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
backgroundThe AEG G.IV has remained largely overshadowed by its better known Gotha and Friedrichshafen contemporaries, despite being highly regarded by its crews. Developed from an unsuccessful line of heavy escort fighters, the G.IV evolved into a highly efficient tactical and strategic bomber that could lift a greater offensive load than its Gotha rival. Initially used in daylight raids, heavy losses forced the German raiders to operate by night where, despite their relatively small numbers, they caused extensive damage and disruption behind Allied lines. However, landing in darkness proved particularly dangerous and accidents were common, with the result that production struggled to keep up with the wastage. The precise number of AEG G.IVs built is open to doubt, although company records indicate 324 machines were delivered from January 1917 through October 1918.
the kitIt’s almost impossible to avoid using superlatives when each new Wingnut Wings release appears, but little can prepare you for the new AEG G.IV. It’s quite simply one of the most amazing kits I’ve ever been lucky enough to examine.
It arrives in a surprisingly compact and deep box, and the first clue as to what awaits you is just how heavy it is. Lifting the lid, there’s not an iota of wasted space - the box is crammed full with an astonishing sprues. Examining each one, you rapidly run out of fresh ways to so say “Wow!” - the AEG blows you away with its detail and moulding quality at every turn. But, coming back down to earth, what do you get in return for what is undeniably a substantial outlay? The kit comprises:
416 x grey styrene parts (of which 44 are not needed)
5 x clear styrene parts
23 x etched brass parts
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
As we’ve come to expect with WNW kits, the moulding is outstanding. There is no flash evident, and the only very faint sink marks I've found on the sample kit are on the underside of the fuselage where locating pins are positioned inside. These will be a doddle to remedy. Ejection pins are nice and light, and those in the cockpit will be hidden behind side panels. They are visible inside the cowls, so you may want to give them a quick sand there. The surface finish is exceptional, with a mix crisply engraved and raised details, a beautifully subtle fabric effect and delicate stitching.
Test fitAs you'd expect, there's not an awful lot you can sensibly dry-assemble in a quick look like this - and, as it's my intention to start a Blog as soon as possible, I'll refer you to that for full details as the build progresses. Basically, though, the fuselage clips together very precisely, and sits neatly on the lower wing centre section solidly to provide a sound foundation for the rest of the build. The tail surfaces are a neat fit and lock together cleverly with the fin to keep everything true. The outer wing panels are heavy one-piece mouldings - dead straight and with excellent thin trailing edges. They have very substantial locating tabs, which should help ensure a they align correctly and don't sag under their own weight. The wingspan will also be a factor, and it's encouraging in that respect to see the AEG is really quite compact, coming in at a little under 2ft from wingtip to wingtip. By comparison, that's about 6in less than WNW's earlier Gotha - and nowhere near the massive 3ft wingspan of the recent Felixtowe.
A few detailsThe cockpit is very comprehensively detailed with over 50 parts. You're faced with a decision straight away as to whether you want to build an early- or later-production machine, because the internal nose layout and bomb stowage differs, along with the style of gun position and mount. The early "Kanzel" is undoubtedly tempting with its triple racks of light bombs to be dropped over the side, but choosing that option means you won't be able to model a lozenge-painted aircraft - a classic case of not being able to have your cake and eat it.
The commander’s seat and auxiliary controls can be modelled in use or stowed away, and there are etched pulleys for the control wheel. The main instrument panel and radio console are beautifully moulded with individual decals provided for each bezel and placard. WNW do admit to a small error with the instrument panel though, so you'll have to do some delicate surgery to remove a couple of British instruments (presumably fitted to a captured machine) that were included by mistake.
The photo-etched seatbelts should look excellent with careful painting and, while pre-printed aftermarket etched or paper belts will no doubt be available soon, the kit parts will certainly suffice.
There's a choice of LMG 14 or LMG 14/17 Parabellum machine guns - with a further option for solid or etched cooling jackets for the former. There are 3 styles of nose coaming, with a rail-mount or a ring for the forward machine gun, with optional upper and lower armament for the rear gunner.
A pair of 16-part engines form the basis for highly detailed assemblies that can be displayed in fully cowled or open mountings. It'll certainly be worth adding ignition wiring and a little plumbing, while a useful reference shot in the instructions shows binding on the intake manifold. The supporting framework for the cowls is a work of art - and comes complete with the struts moulded in situ, making assembly much more straightforward. A choice of Behrend, Wolff and Anker propellers are provided, each with maker's logos as decals, with the interesting additional option for counter-rotating props for one colour scheme. The propeller guards are a bit heavy, so I'll replace them with wire of stretched sprue.
The 4-wheel undercarriage looks straightforward, and nice and sturdy - a good thing, because this will be quite a heavy model. The kit includes both plain and weighted wheels, and I'll definitely go for the latter to depict the heavily-laden fully bombed-up beast. Talking of which, beautifully detailed external bomb racks are provided along with a selection of 12.5kg, 50kg and 100kg bombs. The fins are moulded quite thin and have a distinctive aerodynamic twist to spin the bombs as they fall.
The transparent parts are beautifully clear - ironically, perhaps you could argue they're a tad too clear, but you could always add a little grime. The belly panel is moulded with light ripples, which match one shown in an original photo perfectly. Landing lamps are provided for the night bomber versions but, oddly, the tiny navigation lights aren't moulded clear. However, their lenses are so small, you'll hardly notice.
Smaller additional items are the delicately moulded anemometer and rear-view mirror, and a nice touch for potential vignettes and dioramas is the inclusion of a dolly to support the tail
As a twin-bay biplane, the rigging is almost inevitably going to be reasonably complex, and I'd certainly advise newcomers to Early Aviation modelling to get a few simpler builds under their belt before tackling the AEG. That said, the sheer size of the model will make accessing the rigging easier than a smaller scale kit, so - so long as you work carefully - it shouldn't prove too taxing. Experienced builders in this genre will no doubt take it in their stride. The instructions include a full page of colour-coded rigging diagrams, and the numerous reference photos included both with the kit and on WNW's website will also be invaluable.
Instructions and PaintingThe instructions are printed as a 34-page A4 booklet, beautifully illustrated in WNW’s distinctive “vintage” style. The assembly sequence is logical and each section is small enough to be manageable, in many cases accompanied by useful reference photos. These are a mixture of period photos and colour shots of the AEG G.IV in the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Tamiya, Humbrol and FS matches are provided where possible for most colours.
The kit contains no less than five huge decal sheets. The first includes the national and unit markings, while the remaining four are devoted to the lozenge camouflage carried by some of the featured subjects. The colour schemes offered are:
a: AEG G.IV 155/16, early to mid 1917.
b: AEG G.IV 157/16, Kagohl IV, August 1917.
c: AEG G.IV 1118/16, "V", Bogohl IV?, 1917 to early 1918.
d: AEG G.IV 1125/16, Bogohl III?, December 1917.
e: AEG G.IV 1131/16, "III", mid1918.
Schemes "a" and "b" are camouflaged in a disruptive pattern, with the topsides suggested as Light Green, Dark Green and Red Brown or Mauve. The first aircraft is also shown in a photograph with the early smaller rudder, which would make for a simple and interesting modification, while the second machine can be painted in either daylight colours, or with the undersides heavily mottled with dark paint for night operations.
The remaining three schemes all sport the hand-painted lozenge camouflage. This is superbly printed in panels to allow the entire airframe to be covered. Holes are "ready-punched" to accommodate raised details but, of course, you will still need to take into account the complex curves of some parts of the airframe. The nose and engine nacelles look to be the trickiest areas, so scheme "d" offers a good compromise with its plain painted cowlings. In fact, with the successful application of the lozenge decals being crucial to these colour schemes, I'd be very tempted to begin the build with the nacelles in order to leave one's options open - that way one can always change course if you get into trouble.
ConclusionWNW’s AEG G.IV is a magnificent kit, even judged by their own standards of excellence. It's beautifully designed with a view to reasonably straightforward assembly, but it’s certainly not a beginner’s kit. I must admit I find the prospect of building it both exciting and slightly daunting in turn, but I'm confident it will provide a hugely enjoyable challenge like no other. I can honestly say it rates among the very finest models I’ve ever seen in 50 years of modelling and I recommend it without hesitation to those with some experience of largescale WWI kits.
Of course, such quality inevitably comes with a hefty price tag attached, and when the kit was announced, there were concerns raised in some quarters over the asking price. It undeniably represents a considerable investment in one hit for any modeller. Looking at it in terms of the many weeks' of quality modelling time this kit will provide puts the asking price in a different perspective (especially compared with the cost of a few sport or concert tickets). Nevertheless, I realise just how fortunate I am to have the chance to build the kit as a sample, and it’s certainly not an opportunity I’ll squander. I’ll start a Blog as soon as I can.
ReferenceA useful reference for building the kit is:
Windsock Datafile 51 - AEG G.IV by P. M. Grosz, Albatros Productions, 1995
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