Roden 1/72 Albatros W.4 (Late)




$8.98  ($7.96 at Squadron)


three aircraft


Scott Van Aken




Allow me to quote from the Roden website for this one.

"In the middle of 1916 the Military Command of Germany placed order with several companies for building special fighter with floats. The aircraft of this type was needed to protect naval bases along the Flanders Coast.
The Albatros Flugzeugwerke, which at that moment started production of Albatros D.I fighter, very quickly re-developed D.I.'s design to the naval requirements. Fuselage construction remained the same, however the wings area, as well as the gap between the wings, increased. The configuration of the tail plane unit also changed and undercarriage was revised for floats installation.

The first prototype (w/n 747) was delivered for test flights in August 1916, but soon it was returned to the factory because the floats were too short. One month later, W.4 was tested again. Pilots reported that the plane was difficult to control, but its maximum speed and climb speed were sufficient.

The first three planes (production numbers: 747, 785, 786) were equipped with early-type floats; the next 10 planes (w/n 902,911) that were produced in 1917 had floats of improved type. Such floats were installed to all planes that were built later.

The exploitation of aircrafts in the naval environment encountered certain troubles: salt water could easily spoil fabric-covered wings, wooden floats and propellers; besides that, side radiators tended to boil-off more water than it was necessary. All these shortcomings were to be eliminated in the process of mass-production.

Starting with the plane no.1484, which conducted its first flight in July 1917, all W.4s were equipped with four ailerons and wing-mounted radiator; struts between fuselage and floats were slightly shortened. Maneuverability of the late version was better, but in spite of all these advantages, W.4 did not continue its military service. At the end of 1917, the successful exploitation of two-seaters like Friedrichshafen FF33 and Hansa Brandenburg W.12 proved that two-seater fighters were the most suitable for naval service.

In total, 118 Albatros W.4 were built; Austria-Hungary purchased eight of them, and the last lot of 20 aircrafts had never been dispatched to the combat units. In August 1918 only nine W.4s were used for the military service (four on the North Sea and five in Turkey), all others were either at training stations or under repair.


The vast majority of this kit is exactly the same as what was reviewed in the early W4. The only real difference in sprues is that this one has the later floats in place of the earlier ones that are given in the previous kit. That sprue is shown to the left. The level of flash seems a bit lower on this kit as well, but that could just be wishful thinking as the wings sprue has been used for a number of Albatros D.I / D.II versions as well as the earlier W.4.

As with all Roden kits, the instructions are superb, offering a parts location, a good painting guide using Humbrol paint references and there is a well done rigging diagram included as well, something that is paramount when doing these early aircraft. Markings are provided for two aircraft, both with lozenge upper surfaces and matte sea grey sides. The undersurfaces of the wings and tail planes are in matte linen. The only difference between them is the serial number. In fact, 1511 is not shown on the painting/decal placement guide. The guide in the instructions and the full color one on the back of the box are identical. The decals themselves are very nicely printed and appear to be quite thin.  It is great that Roden provides the lozenge as I do believe it will be difficult to find and I just can't imagine having to paint all of those hexagons!


I'm sure that WWI aircraft fans will be very pleased with this kit. There have been kits of this plane done before by Merlin, Aeroclub and Pegasus. However, those were all short run kits and this one is as close to mainstream as you will find. I think all who build this one will be quite happy with it.

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