Special Hobby 1/48 Pfalz D.XXI




$29.95 MSRP


two options including lozenge


Tom Cleaver


Short Run


     Pfalz began its existence as an aircraft factory to build airplanes under license for the Bavarian government.  The first major contract received was to build fuselages for the Roland C.II, which introduced the company to the Roland method of construction, which created a lightweight monocoque shell.  Pfalz used this on their own for their successful D.III and D.IIIa fighters, introduced in 1917.  The Pfalz D.XII was developed for participation in the Second Fighter Competition in January 1918, where it was unsuccessful. Though judged inferior to the winning Fokker D.VII, the D.XII was reworked and entered in the June 1918 fighter trials, where it was judged good enough to receive a production contract, to be produced as a replacement for the obsolescent Albatros D.V and Pfalz D.III.

      Powered by the 180 h.p. Mercedes engine, the Pfalz D.XII had a satisfactory climb, and its level flight performance was similar to the D.VII, while it could dive faster and steeper than the Fokker.  It was not as maneuverable in combat as the outstanding D.VII and was considered by pilots a poor second choice to the D.VII.  The D.XII remained in the public consciousness due to the fact that several were returned to the United States after the war, where they were flown in such movies as “Hells Angels” and “Dawn Patrol” in the 1930s.  Several original D.XIIs were flyable as late as the 1960s.




The Special Hobby Pfalz D.XII is the first 1/48 mainstream injection molded kit of this airplane. Previously, the best D.XII kit was the now long out-of-production Blue Max limited-run kit, and it was also released as a good quality vacuform by Tom’s Modelworks in the late 1980s.

     The kit supplies two sprues of injection-molded parts and a package of resin parts for details.  Each wing is one piece, and all the flying surfaces are acceptably thin and free of the “hills and valleys” manufacturers have persisted in believing (in the face of all evidence to the contrary) represent the look of a fabric-covered airplane. Decals are provided for two different aircraft flown on the Western Front in the last months of the war.

      Prior to receiving my copy of the kit, I had heard quite a bit of negative comment about it from other World War I modelers. Thus, I was very surprised to open the box and look at what seems to me to be a very different kit from that described at the various discussion boards.  Compared to my built-up Blue Max kit, this kit’s main parts are all accurate.  Yes, the engine may be a bit undersize, but quite frankly, so what?  Once the gun troughs are in position over the engine, there is not that much of it to be seen.  (One must understand that to be a “serious” World War I modeler, you have to worry about the accuracy of parts that no one will ever see in the built-up model.  Sorry guys, but if I can’t see it, I don’t sweat it.)

      Complaints have also been made that the kit only provides lozenge decal for the upper surfaces of the wings.  I checked with my friend and World War I modeling guru Robert Karr, who informed me that, while the airplanes were produced at the factory with lozenge on upper and lower surfaces, the lower surfaces were frequently repainted light blue - as the kit’s instructions call for.  Thus it appears that Special Hobby did their research and have provided accurate markings.


      The kit looks accurate in outline and details other than the engine, and simple in production design. With the injection-molded interplane and landing gear struts, it looks like it will be less-fragile than the Blue Max model.  I would rate it as being of moderate difficulty for the rigging necessary.  Overall, this is an excellent addition to anyone’s collection of significant aircraft flown in the world’s first air war.

 Review Copy courtesy of Hannant’s.

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