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Roden 1/32 scale Albatros D.III

Kit: No. 606
Scale: 1/32
Manufacturer: Roden, available from Squadron Mail Order, 972- 242-8663,
Price: $59.00
Comments: Injection-molded, 99 parts, film-strip windscreen, decals
Pros: Detailed engine and interior spaces; good decals
Cons: Only four of seven marking schemes usable; no seat belts or instrument faces
The Albatros D.III, which temporarily tipped the balance of air superiority in favor of the Germans during the spring of 1917, was flown by several German aces, including the Red Baron. The release of this kit is a welcome addition to Roden's 1/32 scale World War I line.

The kit has 99 tan, crisply molded plastic parts as well as a small film strip with two windscreens on it. Quality decals are supplied for seven marking schemes, but you can only choose four of them: three of the versions require an upper wing with the radiator offset to the right, and only an earlier upper wing with a central radiator is supplied. The four versions you can do are a red-banded-fuselage Jasta 11 craft flown by both Manfred and Lothar von Richthofen, a Jasta 11 craft with red fuselage and tail flown by Manfred, a black-and-white-striped craft flown by Bruno Loerzer, and a captured Jasta 24 craft with "Vera" on the fuselage sides. Interior and exterior colors are indicated in the instructions.

The 12-page, black-and-white instruction folder provides a parts map and stepby- step, exploded-view assembly sequences.

All control surfaces are separate. Two kinds of props and two kinds of wheels are supplied, as well as fully molded Spandau machine guns and ones meant to be completed with perforated photoetched-metal jackets. The latter are not supplied; neither are seat belts or instrument faces. However, the engine, engine compartment, and cockpit interior are exceptionally well done, with multiple plywood formers represented.

Fit of the parts is generally good. But test fitting is needed, especially where the top decking fits on the fuselage sides. The plans don't tell you to trap the engine shaft (part Z9) between the engine halves Z10 and Z11. Also, the rear radiator hose (part B7) should not be glued to the engine as noted but should be fastened to the under surface of the upper wing after assembly.

The fuselage contents fit well within the fuselage halves. I painted and decaled major components prior to assembly. Using Mister Kit WWI acrylic colors on the wings and horizontal tail saved mixing colors to match WWI standards.

The stained plywood fuselage was a painting challenge. I first sprayed a base coat of Polly Scale French beige, then streaked on a mix of Vallejo tan and brown glazes. When the paint had dried I used Sanford's Prismacolor pencils in earth tones to simulate grain. Then I applied chalk pastels with a microbrush and a paper-cone artist's blender to accentuate panels. Finally, I sprayed outer surfaces with a mix of Polly Scale clear flat and clear gloss.

I used a jig stand to assemble the upper wing to the struts and the landing gear to the fuselage. The accurately thin cabane struts were first fastened to the fuselage, then to the upper wing; then, I could add the also-thin interplane struts without a problem.

For rigging, I used Aeroclub's silver elastic rigging thread from Roll Models. It is gently elastic and easily tied to struts, but it doesn't pass though small holes as easily as monofilament nylon. I also used Eduard's photoetched-metal turnbuckle attachments (from my spares box) to anchor lines at the wing-fuselage joint.

This kit builds into an accurate, attractive model of a significant WWI aircraft. I spent well over 50 hours on the model - I am slow, and I fussed with the interior and the fuselage painting. I recommend this good kit to experienced modelers.

- Dr. Bill Funcke


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