Roden 1/32 Albatros D.I
KIT: Roden 1/32 Albatros D.I
KIT #: 614
PRICE: $64.99 MSRP
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


     The Albatros series of fighters set the standard for a biplane fighter for the following 20 years after their introduction, until the ascendance of the all-metal monoplane.

The design set the standard for fighters ever after by emphasizing speed and heavy armament, utilizing an inline liquid-cooled Mercedes D.III engine of 165 h.p., and introducing two Spandau machine guns with an ample ammunition capacity.

      The D.I first appeared in the Spring of 1916, and entered combat on the Western Front in limited numbers that summer.  Two major criticisms were leveled at the design as a result of this combat experience: the “elephant ear” radiators on the sides of the fuselage limited the pilot’s view ahead and down, which was dangerous both in combat and when landing, and the wing was high enough that it limited the pilot’s view of the upper hemisphere, which was dangerous in combat.  Albatros answered with the D.II, which first lowered the upper wing to a position just above the pilot’s eye level, allowing good forward view for weapon aiming and excellent upper view in combat.  The D.II later changed the radiators from the fuselage to the upper wing.

     The Albatros D.I was a revelation to the Allies, who were primarily equipped with the Nieuport 11 and deHavilland D.H.2, which were only starting to be replaced by the Nieuport 17, a design that only bested the Albatros in close-in maneuverability, being both outgunned and slower than the German fighter, which could thus initiate and break off combat at will.

      The Albatros D.I continued use in second-line areas of the front from the fall of 1916 until the end of April 1917, by which time almost all German Jastas were equipped with the Albatros D.III.

     Unfortunately for Albatros, the German Air Force high command decided there was something intrinsically good in the sesquiplane layout utilized by the Nieuport 17, with the result that the sturdy biplane design of the first two versions was replaced by a sesquiplane design that was inherently exactly the wrong design for a fighter like the Albatros, which was heavy where the Nieuport was light, resulting in a fighter that with the introduction of the sesquiplane D.III and the following D.V forced its pilots to fight with one hand behind their back as they had to baby their fighters during air combat to avoid the possibility of catastrophic structural failure, where previously they had been able to throw the D.I and D.II about the sky with abandon. 


     Roden brought out their 1/32 Albatros D.III a couple of years ago.  This kit differs from that earlier kit by the substitution of the biplane wings and bracing struts that were used by the D.I.  The fabric effect on these wings is excellent, providing a very realistic look.  The fuselage - with is the same as the D.III - is fully detailed with a cockpit and engine compartment, while the Spandau machine guns and Mercedes engine are beautifully molded and detailed.

      Decals are provided for four aircraft, including two that were in overall green/brown/light blue camouflage, for those who doubt their ability to create a natural wood finish for the fuselage.

      The rigging is simple enough on Albatros fighters that it should provide no difficulty for someone trying their first biplane model. 


      This excellent kit will look perfect in your collection of 1/32 World War I fighters.  I am more than ever convinced that 1/32 is the perfect scale for World War I models.  Highly recommended.

 Thanks to Roden for the review kit.

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