Albatros D.III (OAW)
By Tom Cleaver
The Albatros D.III was the result of German experience fighting the Nieuport 17 sesquiplane. The agile Nieuport was thought to owe its flying characteristics to the sesquiplane layout, and Idflieg, the command of the German Air Service, required that all German aircraft manufacturers present sesquiplanes for possible orders. At the time, Albatros GmbH had already received orders for its truly excellent D.I biplane, which would be modified into the even more successful D.II; these were fighter aircraft that were a generation ahead of anything that opposed them on the Western Front and would set the style for everything that followed them on both sides of the struggle and for 20 years following their introduction into service.
Following Idflieg's orders, Albatros took their relatively-heavy biplane and adapted it for the sesquiplane layout, which was not really suited for the kind of fighter Albatros had created; in fact, the sesquiplane layout would prove to be an aerodynamic dead-end, suited only for lightly-loaded designs like the Nieuport. Unfortunately, the D.III appeared successful, and was ordered into production to replace the earlier, better airplanes. Eventually, it would become the dominant German fighter of 1917, even though it suffered some wing twisting from the change to a single-spar lower wing. Production orders were such that Albatros turned over most construction to the Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke (OAW), a wholly-owned subsidiary, which undertook the production of the majority of D.IIIs following production of the first 200 by the parent concern; all OAW-built Albatroses had strengthened lower wings and did not suffer the wing twist found in the products of the main company.
Every German ace of the period flew the Albatros D.III, and every Allied fighter pilot who came up against it found it a worthy opponent. Had enough been known about the laws of aerodynamics to avoid the sesquiplane trap, it would have been an even better airplane than it was.
Eduard first released the early-production Albatros D.III in late 1998, following the first release with a "profipack" of the same kit. This kit differs from the first in that the radiator in the upper wing is offset to the right, rather than centered, as the earlier position was discovered to put the pilot in danger if the radiator took a hit during combat, and also obstructed forward vision in the central position. The kit also differs from the first release in that it only provides the rounded OAW rudder, while the earlier release included both vertical surfaces. Parts are presented on two sprues of medium-grey plastic, and decals give the markings options of two D.IIIs from otherwise-unidentified Jastas, one with the newly-discovered 3-color camouflage of light green/dark green/reddish-brown, and one in the alternative 2-color green/mauve camouflage. This lack of really interesting markings can be easily satisfied with any of several Albatros D.III aftermarket decal sheets from SuperScale and Aeromaster.
Based on experience with the previous kit, this model is one of Eduard's best releases to date. It is easy to assemble and simple to rig, making it another excellent possibility for the modeler thinking of trying to do a first World War I fighter project. As with the previous releases of this kit, it is highly recommended.
1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00
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PO Box 90933