Encore 1/72 Kusciuszko Albatros 'Cooper'

KIT #: 72103
PRICE: $24.99 SRP
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken

Rebox of Roden kit with additional p.e. and resing parts


Merian Caldwell Cooper was born to John C. Cooper, an American of English descent, and the former Mary Caldwell, in Jacksonville, Florida. He was educated at The Lawrenceville School and entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1912, but resigned in 1915 (his senior year) in a dispute over his belief in air power which the Navy did not share. In 1916, he joined the Georgia National Guard to help chase Pancho Villa in Mexico.

Cooper served as a DH-4 bomber pilot with the United States Army Air Service during World War I. He was shot down and captured by the Germans, serving out the remainder of the war in a POW camp. Captain Cooper remained in the Air Service after the war, despite serious burns to his arms incurred in the crash of his DH-4. In January 1919, while on special duty with the American Red Cross in France, he located the grave of Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr., America's second-highest-scoring ace of World War I, near the village of Murvaux.

From late 1919 until the 1921 Treaty of Riga, Cooper was a member of a volunteer American flight squadron, the Kościuszko Squadron, which supported the Polish Army in the Polish-Soviet War. On July 26, 1920, his plane was shot down, and he spent nearly 9 months in a Soviet prisoner of war camp. He escaped just before the war was over and made it to Latvia. For valor he was decorated by Polish commander-in-chief Józef Piłsudski with the highest Polish military decoration, the Virtuti Militarij.

After this, he was a founding member of Pan Am Airways, serving on the board of directors. During WWII he worked with Robert L Scott determining logistics for the Doolittle Raid. He was also Chennault's chief of staff and worked out the air route from India to China, known by many as the Hump. He was also chief of staff for the 5th Air Force and flew missions during this time.

He is probably best known for his between the wars movie projects, being involved in a number of successful movies, including King Kong in 1933j, a movie he co-wrote, co-directed, and co-produced. He also played a part in the film as the pilot who eventually killed Kong.  


This is an upgraded and reboxed Roden kit, so Encore started out with a very nice kit. Added to it are resin bits from True Details and a photo etch fret for additional detailing. There is also a small acetate sheet that has the windscreen.

So starting with the kit itself, the quality of the moldings is really very good. There are no problems with ejector pin marks; careful inspection finding them only on the inside of large parts like the fuselage halves. There were no sink marks, but some kits have some flash on a few of the parts. Other parts had some rough edges, but nothing major and is rather typical of Roden's earlier kits, of which this is one. The sprues of all of the Roden Albatros D.III kits are identical and have the bits and pieces needed to build any of the various series aircraft.  The instructions will tell you which parts are needed to build which aircraft. It will require some cutting as this aircraft has different ailerons as what is molded on the upper wing piece.

The resin bits (not shown) are for the wheels, axles, gun breeches, forward bulkhead and the separate engine exhaust pipes. There is also a mold for the photo etch wire inserts. Photo etch is provided for mostly small bits, some of which are to enhance the cockpit or gun breeches. Big bits are for the wire wheels, cockpit floor, rear bulkhead, upper wing coolant radiator (both the top and bottom of the upper wing) as well as the seat harness. Smaller bits are for things like cooling gills on the fuselage and similar items. For some of the fuselage bits, you'll need to remove the less detailed parts that are molded in place.

Instructions are excellent. They are in full color and provide Vallejo paint references, something a bit different from the usual. All of the construction steps are superbly drawn and have photographs as well;  some of the steps being only photographs. I found the photos to be a bit on the dark side and while all the parts are labeled, it would have been better if some of the images were lighter and easier to see.  Markings are for one aircraft, that of Merian Cooper. The sheet contains the sworl lozenge for the upper wing and the horizontal tailplane. You are given extra sworl decal in case you need it. I like that the areas for the insignia are already marked in white. This pretty much removes any issues with the background being visible when the insignia are applied. The decals themselves are printed by Cartograf.


Nice to see this one being done. Encore has been pretty good at picking a good kit and making that much better with additional photo etch and resin parts. This one adds to their slowly growing catalogue of very nice offerings and should appeal to the 'sticks and strings' crowd.  



November 2013

Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. Get yours today at this link.

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