WingnutWings 1/32 Pfalz D. XII
KIT #: 32019
PRICE: $65.0 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


             The Pfalz D.XII was a thoroughly competent fighter produced by a design team that had created the highly‑regarded D.III series, which had the misfortune to arrive on the Western Front at the same time as the magnificent Fokker D.VII, compared to which any other contemporary aircraft design was bound to suffer in the view of pilots who wanted to fly only the best.

       In creating the D.XII, Chief Designer Rudolph Geringer strove to solve the one major criticism of the D.III series, the weakness of the sesquiplane layout, which prevented its pilots throwing it around in combat with the complete abandon necessary to achieve true greatness.  Both the Pfalz D.III and the Albatros D.III and D.V had been influenced by the Nieuport sesquiplanes; the design worked for lightly‑loaded airplanes like the Nieuports, but not for more heavily‑loaded airplanes with inline engines like the Pfalz and Albatros fighters, though the Pfalz design was stronger since it had a two-spar lower wing.  The D.XII was influenced by the S.P.A.D. VII and XIII fighters which were fast, heavily‑loaded, and able to out‑dive all German fighters they opposed until the advent of the Fokker D.VII.

       The First Fighter Competition in January 1918 was a watershed event for German fighter development.  German pilots demanded that German designers concentrate on speed over maneuverability, as their Allied opponents were doing. The Fokker D.VII won the competition and went on to achieve large production orders.  The D.XII was still under construction and unable to take part in this event.  When the prototype did fly in March 1918, its performance was judged sufficiently good to merit a production order for 50 in April, ahead of the Second Fighter Competition that was eventually held that May. Unfortunately for Pfalz, the BMW.IIIa engine just coming into production ‑ which significantly improved the performance of the D.XII ‑ was in short supply and Idflieg assigned all available engines to Fokker D.VIIf production, forcing Pfalz to power the D.XII with the inferior Mercedes D.III engine.

       The D.XII began to arrive among the active squadrons during July 1918.  Many Jastas operated both the Fokker D.VII and Pfalz D.XII together.  Leutnant Rudolf Stark, commander of Jasta 35, said, “During the larger operations, we flew the Fokker D.VII and the Pfalz D.XII mostly together.  Both types were similar but the Fokker was more maneuverable.  Therefore the Pfalz pilots had orders from me, during attacks by the enemy, to fly below the Fokkers.”  Units in quieter sectors of the front were completely equipped with the D.XII.

       The airplane was not easy to fly and pilots had difficulty with it.  Pilot reports indicated that the airplane climbed well and could dive faster than the D.VII, but it tended to lose height rapidly in a tight turn and could not compete with the D.VII in terms of maneuverability.  One said, “The Pfalz was a sluggish work horse which fought bridle and had to be controlled with a strong halter.”  Others reported it had flying qualities much like the SPAD, having an abrupt stall and a tendency to spin with little provocation.  Due to the design differences of the wing, it could not “hang on its nose” like the D.VII.

      The D.XII did relieve the shortage of fighters on the Western Front and was a more than adequate replacement for the 470 Pfalz. DIIIa and Albatros D.Va fighters still in front line service on August 1, 1918.  Had it appeared in large numbers in March at the outset of Case Michael, the German offensive to end the war, powered by the superlative BMW.IIIa engine, its reputation would be far different.

       Several D.XIIs were taken to the United States after the war, and following tests by the U.S. Army Air Service, they were sold as surplus.  Three ended up being used by Howard Hughes for the flying sequences of his aviation epic, “Hells Angels,” and while two were used in the aerial sequences of “The Dawn Patrol” that was shot contemporaneously with both “Hells Angels and Wings.”  This aerial footage was used in both the 1932 and 1936 versions of “The Dawn Patrol.”  At least one still exists in what was the Champlin Fighter Collection, which is now part of the Seattle Museum of Flight. A Pfalz D.XII is also on display at the Australian War Memorial.


            It's hard to believe that this Pfalz D.XII is the eighteenth kit released by Wingnut Wings, but it is.  It was a “surprise” release this past spring after the F.E.2b kits and the Rumpler kits.

             As with all Wingnut Wings products, the kit is well-designed for detail and ease of assembly, with the now-standard fully-equipped and detailed cockpit and engine area, with a beautiful Daimler-Mercedes D.IIIa engine.  The wings are both one-piece with separate ailerons, while the tail surfaces all have separate controls.  Molding detail accurately recreates what a fabric-covered surface looks like.

             Five sets of markings are provided, including all the “usual suspects” from other D.XII kits that have been released over the years.  None are “planes the aces flew” because there is no record that any aces flew the D.XII.

             If particular note are the lozenge wing decals.  They are printed with the lozenge fabric rib tapes, so that one does not have to do the tiresome business of cutting individual rolls of lozenge, apply them, then individually apply the rib tapes.  These decals go on easily, with no possibility of getting things messed up with the various stages of application as previously. 

             Sir Peter Jackson, the owner of Wingnut Wings, told his kit designers that these kits were to be the kind that could be built by average modelers who had previously shied away from World War I models, and this kit is definitely an example of that philosophy.


            As with all Wingnut Wings kits, open the comprehensive instruction booklet and follow it.  I have found it very helpful to pre-paint all the parts before proceeding with assembly, which I did here.

             I painted the radiator with Tamiya “Gunmetal” and then gave it a wash of thinned Tamiya “Semi-gloss Black” to pop out the detail. I did the same thing with the machine guns.

             I used an Eduard photoetch German WW1 seatbelt set, not because it is better than what the kit provides but rather because it was pre-painted and I was lazy.

             The interior was painted with Tamiya “RLM Grey” which is as likely accurate as any other color for the “Pfalz grey” that was used.  It might also have been “Silbergrau” but I suspect not, and so does Wingnut Wings.


             I mixed Tamiya “Flat Aluminum” with “Sky Grey” and “Flat White” to get the “Silbergrau” color.

            I mixed Tamiya “Purple” with white to get the “lilac” color for the nose.  I used Tamiya “Mitsubishi Green (IJN Dark Green #2) for the dark green and Tamiya “Japanese Cockpit Color” for the light green, following Wingnut's suggestions.  The tires were painted Tamiya “Dark Grey.”

             I then applied two coats of Xtracrylix Clear Gloss varnish.

            I did the lozenge decals for the wings first, doing first the lower surfaces and then the upper surfaces.  Be certain to do it in this order, because the upper color rolls over the leading edge of the wings, over the lower color.  These decals, which have the rib tapes printed and are designed to fit in large sections, make doing lozenge so easy that anyone can do it successfully; if certainly gets rid of some drudgery associated with German airplanes that use this camouflage.  The national insignia and individual markings were applied after the lozenge decals had completely set up.

            I assembled the model and then rigged it with .008 wire.  Using wire and attaching it with cyanoacrylate glue makes an otherwise-fragile model much more sturdy.


            The Pfalz D.XII may not have had a major war record, but it is a good-looking airplane and certainly has become a “classic” over the years.  As with all the other Wingnuts kits, this model goes together easily and rapidly, and the result looks good.  The rigging of this model is simple enough that a modeler just getting into the genre would find it a good “first kit.”  The finished model looks very nice sitting next to the Wingnut Pfalz D.III and Albatros D.V.  Highly recommended.

Tom Cleaver

October 2012

Review kit courtesy of my wallet.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page