AZ Models Aero Ae-01

KIT #:
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Chris Peachment
NOTES: This is a re-issue of the Legato kit of the Hansa-Brandenburg B.1. kit with some resin parts for the differences between the two aircraft and some etched parts including spoke wheels with rubber tires.


The Aero Ae 01was a Czechoslovakian military trainer biplane built in 1919, and was the company's first attempt to modify one of the aircraft designs they had been manufacturing under licence during WWI, the Hansa-Brandenburg B.1.


And so I looked up that latter aircraft and got this: The Hansa-Brandenburg B.I. was an unarmed military trainer and reconnaissance biplane of WWI, flown by the Austro-Hungarian Air Service. Early models were known internally to the Hansa-Brandenburg firm as the type D, while later models with a more powerful engine were designated FD. This aircraft was one of the earliest designs of Ernst Heinkel, who was working for Hansa-Brandenburg at the time. It was an entirely conventional two-bay biplane with staggered wings of unequal span. The pilot and observer sat in tandem in a long open cockpit.


It isn't the most handsome of aircraft, with its inward sloping struts, its radiator slapped on the upper wing and also the strange cockpit which had no division between the front and rear seats, and must have left the instructor or observer  in the back very drafty.


And it is interesting to note that it was one of Ernst Heinkel's early outings as a designer. He is not renowned for aesthetic perfection on his later aircraft. Not for nothing is the He III known as The Spade, although some of his high speed efforts have pleasing streamlining.


The aircraft was produced under license by Aero both during the war, and afterwards (when it became known as the Aero Ae 01), and also by Letov, as 10.  Experience gained with this design would provide Aero with the basis for a number of derivative civil and military designs throughout the 1920s.

The design formed the basis for the C.1 and C.II armed reconnaissance types.


AZ Models are to be congratulated for covering some of the most obscure subjects, especially from the inter-war period. It won't have made them a huge profit, as I can't believe that there are queues around the block for this particular machine. I chose it mainly because I was intrigued by the 'splatter' camouflage, offered as one of three schemes on the box art.


The modeller should note here that there are some very good pictures on the internet of one machine in a museum in Prague, but which are labelled Aero Ae-10, rather than 01. I don't know if this is an error. Or if there was a later model called the 10. If so, it differed very little from the 01. If an error, I think it might have come about because the machine in the picture has a code 10 on its side.


The plastic is moulded in grey and is easy to work. Some of the etch parts are tiny, and it is often easier to replicate them with plastic rod, especially the mudguards.



The basic construction follows the usual pattern. AZ have included some extra parts in Polyutherane for those areas, especially the tailplane, in which the Aero differs from the Hansa Brandenburg. It is worth noting that polystyrene glue seems to work on them, though without welding a bond.


I followed my usual practice with biplanes of building and painting fuselage and wings separately, which was especially necessary here as the camouflage is tricky.


The interior is basic, though plenty enough for what can finally be seen. The cockpit actually fitted when the two fuselage halves were offered up, which is unusual in a short run kit. The control columns have a 'steering wheel' on top, and etched wheels are provided. One of mine pinged off during construction never to be found again.

Once the fuselage seams had been sanded down and the wings given a few tweaks with some wet and dry, painting can be started in some trepidation.


I note on the pictures of the museum aircraft that there are two distinct shades of clear doped linen on top and bottom, the upper side being of a darker hue. Whether this is true to life, or an example of later museum painting, I don't know, but I decided to follow it.



For the underside I used Light Stone 36400 from the Lifecolor range, which they also call Deck Tan, if any ship modellers are reading this.  And Vallejo beige which is darker for the upper surfaces. I then decided to try the spatter camouflage on a lower wing.


The trick here is to load a medium size flat brash with your green, which here is Lifecolor RLM 99 Green 34227, a pleasing, muted medium green with a slight tinge of grey. Something a little more olive might work well. Hold the brush lightly between finger and thumb of left hand above the area, and flick or tap the metal hasp of the brush with your right forefinger. (Reverse if left-handed.) I tried various combinations of hands and fingers, but this seemed to work the best. And try to get the amount of paint right. Too much and you will get ugly large blotches, too little and it will be invisible. Once you have covered the wing in light flickings to your satisfaction, then increase the amount of paint over the areas where you want it to coagulate into solid colour and mottle to appear. This can finally be touched in, in the centre, with full contact from the brush, leaving the splatter between the mottling patches. It is a suck-it-and-see method and I only had to go back and do one wing again, the first one on which I was experimenting, on which I had overdone it slightly.

Then go to it on the fuselage.


It is time consuming but the end result is satisfying and you don't often see this kind of scheme. It is there on the box art, if you are seeking validation, although I wonder if they have taken their cue from the museum machine, and that that may have been  done up by some fanciful curator long after the aircraft was flying. Whatever, it looks unusual.


 Fuselage and wings can now be joined, taking care to clean up the struts carefully, cant them inwards at the right angle and paint them the same beige as the rest of the colour scheme. The cabanes need some care and dry fitting. The undercarriage legs also.


Markings should be fitted here from the excellent decal sheet, and no problems were encountered. I gave everything a clear matt coat from a Citadel rattle can of satin, which is actually more matt than the Vellejo equivalent.


Once the wings are all set then a few evenings can be spent on the rigging which is straightforward in pattern, and I used elastic thread coloured by a silver gel pen, anchored with drops of superglue gel.  The gel is very handy as it makes placing easier, and the thread is multi-stranded and so soaks it up nicely and dries quickly.


For finishing details you now have that awkward radiator, which is mounted on two triangular etched pieces which have to be superglued to the front cabanes. They ended up glued to my thumbs more often however, and I was tempted to try and make them from plastic rod, but they were just too small and spindly. We got there in the end after much cursing. The radiator is brass, toned down with some matt black dry brushing.  And a matt black centre.


The radiator tube was made from a paperclip, carefully bent with some needle nose pliers, and superglued in place. Painted gunmetal.


Problems arrive with the two mudguards. The etch triangular mounts are too wide and interfere with the wheels. And the mudguards themselves are thick and difficult to bend to a semi-circle. This time I scratch built them by bending a thin length of plastic card to the right radius, and then fixing them in place on two small rods attached to the u/c legs. Much easier than fiddling around with metal and superglue. If God had intended us to use etched metal, He wouldn't have called it plastic modelling.


I tried using the etched spoke wheels at this point, but failed. I annealed them by holding over a lighter flame  and then tried to create a dish effect, but it just would not work, and I ended with two hopelessly wavy rims. They went back in the spares box, and I resorted to the fabric coveted wheels. A shame, because I have never found a suitable method of doing spoked wheels.


Etched sets are always flat and two dimensional, without the roundness of the spokes.  And if anyone can enlighten me on how to dish them I would be grateful. Because I have an old Pyro Martin-Handasyde kit, finished, and looking altogether excellent except for the miserable clear plastic spoke wheels, which ruin the whole thing.  I would write it up for this website, but would be too ashamed to show you the pictures of those wheels. And I suspect that this is one kit which you can't cheat on with fabric covered wheels.        


Finally, the large windscreen can be cut from the acetate sheet and prodded into place using Clearfix. And the propeller was painted in mid-stone (Lifecolour again, but any light to medium brown colour will do. Dark Earth is a bit too dark.) With a clear orange coat for polish and a little etched boss I had in the spares box, then that was that.


  Not the most handsome beast in the world, but sure to excite some interest at a club if you take it along. The camouflage would raise a few questions.


I would recommend it to anyone but a beginner. Especially someone, who is tiring of all the  Western Allies' aircraft and likes to set out for distant shores. There are huge areas of Middle European and Russian aviation only recently coming to light thanks to the fall of the Iron Curtain, now more than 20 years ago. It is strange to think that there is a whole new generation coming up who never experienced the Cold War.



Chris Peachment

October 2013

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