Wingnut Wings 1/32 Albatros D.V

KIT #: 032009
PRICE: $59.00 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES:  Pheon Decals 32012 “Albatros D.V and D.Va, Vol. 2" and 32020 “Albatros 5-Color Lozenge Decals” used


              While the Albatros D.V bids fair to win just about any contest for "Best‑Looking Fighter of World War I," in fact this is the only way the last fighter product of the Albatros Werke Gmbh could take a first place.  Technically, it was the least‑successful of the line.

     Albatros came into the fighter game in 1916 with its D.I and D.II biplanes, which were head‑and‑shoulders above their competition and set the standard for a modern fighter that has stood for 95 years:  fast, agile, heavily‑armed and able to outperform the competition.  Unfortunately for the Albatros fighters, one of their more successful opponents was the Nieuport 17, a lightly‑loaded, highly‑maneuverable sesquiplane.  Not all the laws of aerodynamics were fully known at the time, and the German authorities came to believe there was something inherent in the Nieuport design that made it successful, that something being the sesquiplane design.  German manufacturers were ordered to develop sesquiplanes, Albatros among them.

      The result was the Albatros D.III, which changed the strong biplane design for a sesquiplane, with the single spar in the lower wing.  The Albatros design was different from the Nieuport ‑ heavy where the Nieuport was light, and the sesquiplane was really not strong enough to perform under these kinds of loads. The Albatros D.III was a very good performer and became the standard German fighter by the Spring of 1917.  However, it was not as maneuverable as its Nieuport and Sopwith competition.

      The Albatros D.V was introduced that summer of 1917.  The design was very weight‑conscious, and far lighter than the previous D.III.  Unfortunately, it was structurally too light.  The lower wing soon revealed its lack of strength when they began separating from the rest of the airframe in combat!  This was the result of an unknown aerodynamic force ‑ flutter ‑ that overwhelmed the light attachment points of the lower wing under combat g‑forces.  Pilots began handling the airplane gingerly, and a fighter that has to be flown gingerly is not a winner.  Albatros undertook to beef up the airframe, but all this did was add unnecessary weight without providing the requisite strength, given that the real underlying problem was undiscovered at the time. The Albatros D.V and the beefed-up D.Va, though they served in large numbers and were still a significant part of the German fighter force as late as the summer of 1918, always fought with one hand behind its back.  The killer of 1916 and 1917 became the prey of 1918.

      Despite all this, the Albatros D.V is one of the most aesthetically‑pleasing designs to ever fly, and the colors its pilots flew it in make it a natural for modelers today.


            This Albatros D.V was one of the first five kits released by Wingnut Wings in late 2009.  It is the first kit of this airplane in this scale that I am aware of, and is the best Albatros model in any scale.

             Though the kit is labeled a D.V, it includes the braced interplane struts that are the one major visual difference between the two sub-types, so a modeler can build either version from this kit or from the D.Va kit that was released simultaneously.  The kit is specifically a D.V as regards the decals, which provide markings for five good-looking airplanes, including an overall silver Albatros flown by Ernst Udet, as well as Otto Kissenberth’s “Edelweiss” Albatros with overall black fuselage.  The boxart airplane is Fritz Rumey’s black-and-white “candy-striper” from Jasta 5.

             The kit provides a fully-detailed and very complete interior, including a full cockpit and engine compartment, two different types of wing radiator, two different types of propeller, and a choice of solid-plastic Spandau machine guns or plastic weapons that use a photo-etch cooling jacket.

             I elected to use Pheon Decals recent “Albatros D.V and D.Va, vol.2" decal sheet for the individual markings, and the brand-new “Albatros D.V 5-color Lozenge” sheet, which is nothing short of revolutionary for World War I modeling.  These decals were researched with the help of Harry Green and Richard Andrews, two noted experts in the field, and I think they just may be the most accurate lozenge decals out there in terms of proper colors.


            As with any Wingnut Wings kit, the modeler is well-advised to use the truly excellent instruction book and follow it religiously.  The result will always be an excellent model.

             I started by pre-painting as much as I could, following the color call-outs in the instructions.  I had decided to try a new way of representing the natural varnished wood fuselage, and this began in the cockpit painting.

            I applied an overall coat of Tamiya “Buff,” which was then followed by Tamiya “Desert Yellow” and “Flat Yellow” sprayed to represent different panels of the fuselage.  This was followed by a very thin coat of Tamiya “Buff” over all that allowed the darker colors to show through.  I then applied a coat of Tamiya “Clear Yellow.”  The result looks like the way the Albatros was built with different panels of plywood.

             The interior structure was painted “Ash,” a honey-yellow-brown I mixed up.

             All other parts were painted per the kit instructions.

             Not knowing what power plant had been used by the Albatros I intended to do, I decided to build the 180 h.p. Mercedes IIIa engine, since I had used the D.III engine on my other Albatros models.

             Assembly presents no difficulty once everything is painted, and the positive-click design insures everything goes in the right place.

             Following the assembly of the fuselage, I proceeded to paint the outer fuselage.  I followed the same procedure as I had on the interior, other than I used a final coat of thinned “Flat Yellow” overall before applying the “Clear Yellow” varnish.  The metal parts were all painted with Xtracrylix “RLM 02"


             Let’s just say from the outset that Pheon Decals is busy  filling the hole left by the departure of Americal Gryphon when it comes to World War I decals.  They’re offered in all three major scales, and I haven’t run across one yet that isn’t wonderful.

             With the fuselage done, I applied a coat of Xtracrylix Clear Gloss on the wings, horizontal stabilizers and control surfaces.  I then applied the Pheon Albatros D.V 5-Color Lozenge (32020).  What makes this set of decals revolutionary is that the lozenge is printed in parts that fit directly to the various surfaces, without having to be cut to fit with scissors from a strip of lozenge.  Each decal also includes the rib tapes, and the sheet provides either the blue rib tape or the pink rib tape options.  I cannot recommend these high enough. 

            Rather than spend an hour on the upper surfaces, cutting, trimming, applying, letting them dry, then doing the lower surfaces similarly, then applying rib tapes individually, for a total time spent of perhaps 4-5 hours with the constant possibility of a decal piece setting up wrong and ruining the whole operation, these decals took a total of 20 minutes to apply to all surfaces, with no possibility of a mistake.  Do follow the instructions provided, to make sure the decals set up properly.  This is the best thing to happen to World War I modeling since Eduard started releasing 1/48 kits 20 years ago.

             Pheon will next release a second sheet of this wonderful stuff, specifically for the Pfalz D.III and D.IIIa in a few months.  There will undoubtedly be a sheet done for the coming Wingnut Fokker D.VII.  

             Once the lozenge had set up, I used the kit decals for the national insignia and the stenciling.  The Pheon “Albatros D.V. Vol. 2" sheet provided the “Lulu” marking and serial number for the Albatros D.V flown by Vizefeldwebel Ludwig Webber of Jasta 3.  Webber is little-known pilot, but I chose these markings because the airplane was “factory stock” with lozenge on all the flying surfaces, which thus allowed me to  fully demonstrate the Pheon lozenge decals. 

             When everything was done, I washed the parts to get rid of decal solvent, then gave the sub assemblies an overall coat of Xtracrylix Satin varnish.


           I attached the engine cowlings, then attached the horizontal stabilizers and the lower wings.  I then assembled and attached the landing gear.  I attached the control surfaces to the upper wing, horizontal stabilizer and vertical fin in “dynamic” positions (that mirrored the position of the cockpit controls).  I attached the cabane struts and interplane struts, then attached the upper wing.  I attached the radiator lines then the prop and assembly was complete.

I rigged the model with .008 wire.    


             As others have demonstrated with their Albatros projects, the kit is another big winner from Wingnut Wings.  Definitely the best Albatros D.V in any scale, and the easiest to assemble.  The Pheon lozenge makes this model look better than any other German airplane with lozenge I have ever done, and I cannot recommend its use highly enough.

             The model is a good one for a modeler entering World War I modeling, being both easy to assemble and rig.  If you follow the instructions it is a guaranteed winner.  In addition to the two sheets of markings from Pheon, Wingnut has released at least four “aftermarket” sheets of very interesting markings for the kit.  I’m pretty sure I will be getting another one.  It looks perfect sitting next to the Roden Albatros D.I, D.II and D.III kits.

             Highly recommended.

Tom Cleaver

August 2011

 Review kit courtesy of Wingnut Wings.  Pheon decals courtesy of Pheon Decals. Order yours at the links.

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