Wingnut Wings 1/32 Pfalz D.XII

KIT #: 32019
PRICE: $69.00
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Otis Goodin
NOTES: Superb kit all the way around.

HISTORY

 

 The Pfalz DXII, otherwise a serviceable aircraft, had the misfortune of appearing at the same time as the Fokker DVII, so it never achieved the popularity or pilot acceptance it might otherwise have obtained. Although its square tipped wings often led Allied pilots to confuse it with the Fokker, performance deficiencies made the differences obvious to the Jasta pilots who had to fly it. While the Pfalz was as fast as a Fokker in level flight and even faster in a dive, it could not climb well over 3000m and, fatally, it was not as maneuverable in combat. A few Pfalz were equipped with the coveted BMW IIIa engine and managed to compare quite favorably with the Fokker. But alas the BMWs were hard to come by and those that did were more often than not assigned to the Fokker DVII which, by the time the Pfalz had its bugs worked out, was the favorite aircraft of the German Air Service. A few Pfalz DXII survived the war. One is at the NASM in Washington DC where it sports its inaccurate red color scheme from its appearance in the movie The Dawn Patrol. Another is owned by the Seattle Museum of Flight (formerly the Champlin Fighter Museum). There is also one in Paris and one at the Australian War Memorial ANZAC Hall. The Australian version is essentially the model shown here, although there are some slight differences in the camouflage.

THE KIT

Wingnut Wings released the Pfalz DXII kit in August 2011. I was very happy to see it as very few DXIIs have been produced as models, and, to my knowledge, none in 1/32 scale. As usual, the quality is terrific and certainly sets a new standard for models of this aircraft. Five versions of the DXII are offered in the kit: (1) Aircraft number 1394/18 sporting a gray fuselage with blue trim; (2) 1445/18, also with a gray fuselage, but with red markings; (3) 2454/18 ďK1Ē, probably the most familiar version of this machine, sporting a four color fuselage with black markings on the rear section (a second version of this aircraft is also shown minus the purple and pale green on the fuselage); (4) 2486/18, a similarly marked version flown by Paul Vogel; and (5) 2600/18, the version shown here. When this aircraft was originally shipped to Australia after the war, notes about the aircraft stated that it was ďold, could be rigged complete but not flown.Ē Other than that, very little is known about the aircraft although it is believed to have seen operational use. The aircraft has had numerous repairs, paint touch ups, etc. over its life, and was last given a complete restoration in 2008.

The kit contains five sprues of gray plastic, a clear parts sprue, a photo etch panel for seat belts and guns, and 2 pages of exquisite decals. The lozenge decals have the rib tapes already added making application much simpler. Wingnut Wings continues to find ways to make construction of WWI aircraft easier, eliminating many of the barriers (and excuses) for not building them.

CONSTRUCTION

 Construction as usual begins in the cockpit. The Pfalz cockpit is a simple affair consisting of a seat, floorboard, two sidewalls and a few interior details such as instrument dials, seat belts, and steering bar. Seriously, if you spend more than a day or two building and painting the cockpit, youíre probably also painting a bedroom or working on your car. If you like you can add a little rigging in the cockpit but donít go overboard because most of it wonít be seen.

          After the cockpit is complete attach the engine bay which consists of a rear wall, two horizontal support beams and three support formers designed to connect it all together. This is attached to the completed cockpit bay. If you like you can add the fuel tank, ammo magazine and empty belt container, although the instructions donít mention this for a couple of pages.

          The engine is next on the agenda and Wingnut provides a lot of detail, good instructions and some great pictures of the real thing for your reference. Iíll say what I always say about these engines: You have enough information to detail them to your heartís content, or you can simply build it as provided and still end up with a very nice looking engine. How much of the engine you wish to display will probably determine the level of detail you wish to add. The Pfalz mostly flew with the 200hp Daimler-Mercedes IIIa engine, and weíve seen these in a few other kits. After completing the engine I left mine aside and installed it later.

          Next the cockpit and engine bay are installed in the left fuselage half, to which is then joined the right half. I recommend spending a little extra time here making sure everything fits correctly before gluing the halves together. Iím not sure I installed mine in exactly the right spot as I later had some issues attaching the front cowling and radiator. I would use these pieces to make sure the cockpit/engine bay is far enough back in the fuselage. I think mine should have been about an eighth of an inch deeper because the front cowling wouldnít fit right until I carved away some of the front of the engine. Once everything was installed it doesnít show, but better to solve this problem beforehand instead of after the cockpit is installed. Once the fuselage was joined some minor puttying was all that was needed to eliminate any seams.

          Next up was the cockpit coaming and machine guns. Instead of the photo etch guns supplied by Wingnut, I used a set of Spandaus I purchased from Ultracast. The big advantage to these is that the cooling jackets are already rolled, something that I have never been very good at. The guns are made by Master, from Poland, and although a bit expensive ($16.95), itís worth it to me to end up with better looking guns. I put off the gun installation until later, but this is a good time to install the coaming and tend to any of the details associated with it, including some of the wiring. I also test fit but did not install the cover that fits over the machine gun bay, as well as the tachometer, although I did paint and decal it. These parts were installed before the top wing was added. I also painted and weathered the radiator, but saved it for later.

          I glued the bottom wing section to the fuselage, then added the horizontal tailplane, the vertical fin and a few fuselage scoops. I painted and put aside the rudder and rear flaps. Take care when adding the flaps as each one is separate, although they should both occupy the same angle whether you display them in an up, down or neutral position.        (At this stage I chose to paint the fuselage which I will cover in the next section).

          Following this I installed the engine, machine guns and the flash guards. The flash guards were a little tricky, but they sure add a lot to the engine/gun assembly. I decided to wait on the exhaust, and also decided not to install the side cowlings to show more of the engine.

          Next it was time to install the cabane struts in preparation for installing the top wing. Following that I began to add the EZ Line for rigging to the underside of the top wing. Itís tedious but not technically difficult (although I was cross eyed by the time I finished). I drill the holes in the underside of the top wing just a little deeper than they are from the factory. I then add the lines one at a time, placing a small drop of super glue in the hole then using a pair of cross grip tweezers to carefully place the EZ Line in place. Once all the lines were in place I installed the top wing onto the cabane struts and let it set up overnight. The next day I began adding the interplane struts. It does matter which struts go where so be sure to follow the instructions and keep them identified while painting and decaling before assembly. The interior struts are slightly shorter than the exterior ones. I installed the struts, interior ones first, taking care not to get all the loose unattached rigging tangled up with the struts.

          Once all the struts were in place and dry I then finished installing the rigging for the wings. I had previously drilled holes all the way through the bottom wing in the designated locations with a pin vise and a number 78 drill bit. You could use a number 80 bit but itís a little harder to get the squiggly EZ Line through the holes. Once I pull the line through the hole I use my cross grip tweezers to grab the line and hold it in place while I put a drop or two of super glue in the hole on the bottom side of the lower wing. After letting it set up for about a minute I just move on to each line until they are all done. I then trim off the excess line and add a little more super glue to each spot to complete the job. Wingnut Wings has included some individual lozenges on the decal sheets that you can use to further cover the exit holes for the rigging. Wingnut has information on their web site for a different method of attaching the rigging without drilling all the way through the wing. I havenít tried it yet, but Iím sure it works well and you donít have to worry about patching the holes in the bottom of the wing.

          Once the top wing was installed and rigged it was time to finish things up. The landing gear is a well designed piece that looks authentic, although itís not very strong, especially when supporting the finished airplane. Use care here, and I recommend assembling as much of it as possible, including the wheels, before attaching it to the fuselage. The rear flaps were added to the horizontal stabilizer; the exhaust, radiator and tail skid installed, and finally the propeller was attached. Final rigging of the undercarriage and the tail section complete the job.

COLORS & MARKINGS

           Pfalz  typically painted the interior of their aircraft rather than leaving them as varnished wood, so I applied Model Master RLM Grau to represent the gray-green color specified by the instructions. The Pfalz at the Seattle Museum has a blue-gray interior but this is not believed to be original. Instrument dials were painted Model Master Gun Metal prior to applying the many dial faces supplied on the decal sheet. Once dry a drop of clear parts glue was applied to represent the glass covers. The joystick was painted Gun Metal with the handles finished to look like wood. I use Model Master Tan stained with Griffinís Alkyd Burnt Umber to achieve the wood look. The seat belts were painted Gunze Sail Color then weathered a bit with the Griffinís Burnt Umber. The engine bay was also painted RLM Grau, as were the wings prior to application of the lozenge decals.

          The engine crankcase was painted MM Aluminum and the upright cylinders were painted Gun Metal. The rocker boxes were painted MM Jet Exhaust, and a few small parts were picked out in brass. The exhaust was painted an initial coat of Jet Exhaust, then drybrushed with MM Rust as well as some dark gray to represent smoke discoloration. Decals were applied to the engine and to the exhaust per the instructions prior to any weathering. The whole engine area was then weathered with a wash of Burnt Umber and Black.

          The assembled fuselage was painted in the four color pattern typical of these aircraft although instead of purple this aircraft used dark brown. The colors applied were Gunze Cocoa Brown, RLM Grau, MM Dunkelgrun, MM Pale Green, Dunkelgrun again, followed by another shot of Cocoa Brown at the rear. The horizontal tailplanes were also painted brown. The front half of the fuselage underside and the bottom of the tailplanes were painted Gunze Radome Tan to represent the creamy dope applied here. The fuselage was then given a coat of Future after which the decals were applied. The undercarriage was painted in MM Neutral Gray, while the tires were painted in MM Schwarzgrau RLM 66 then weathered in a lighter gray and some Tamiya Buff. The front lower cowling was also painted Buff to represent the ďlight chocolateĒ color indicated in the notes from the Australian War Museum.

          As mentioned earlier, having the rib tapes already included as part of the lozenge decals made application of the lozenge much easier and faster. The first step is to paint the surfaces to be covered in lozenge. As a rule I use RLM Grau but I think any neutral color would work fine. Next I sprayed the surfaces with a good coat of Future to give a glossy finish for the decals to adhere to. The lower lozenge was applied first making sure to line up the rib tapes with the ribs. The upper surfaces were then applied. In addition to the rib tapes for the ribs, the upper surface lozenge also includes tapes for the edges so be sure to allow some overlap for these. Although Wingnut tells you not to, I used a good amount of MicroSol to get the edges to lay down. It didnít cause any problem with the decals, although the recommended method is to use a hair dryer to get the decals to conform to the surface. Iíve never had any success with that method so Iíll continue using my MicroSol as long as it works. After the wings and flaps were covered I installed the lozenge for the vertical fin and the wheel covers.

          Before installing the top wing the Spandau machine guns and the flash guards were painted with Gun Metal and highlighted with a little aluminum and rust. The wing struts were all painted with Model Master Lichtgrau, then Futured and decaled as needed. The windshield frame was painted Aluminum and it was applied with clear parts cement.

          The whole model was given a coat of Clear Satin finish to tone down the glossiness of the Future. Before installation the propeller was painted MM Tan, the laminations masked off and painted a darker shade, then the whole thing given a treatment of Griffinís Burnt Umber to complete the wood finish. The prop was then given a coat of Future, the decals added, and another coat of Future applied.

CONCLUSIONS

I thoroughly enjoyed building the Pfalz DXII and Iím pretty pleased with the result. I believe this is one of the easier Wingnut Wings kits to build and I heartily recommend it to wingnuts of all persuasions. If youíve never built WWI before this is a good place to start, and, if you have, thereís plenty of challenge to keep you motivated.  Viel Gluck!

REFERENCES

Windsock Datafile No. 41, Pfalz D.XII, P.M. Grosz; Windsock Worldwide, Vol.27, No.5; Wingnut Wings Pfalz DXII kit instructions

Otis Goodin

October 2014

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