Sunday, 1 June 2014

WW1 Dogfighting (2) - Albatros, Get your Albatros here!

As Monty Python may have said

I have a pretty reasonable collection of Albatrii

I'm not sure why I liked them, but it turns out I do. Here they are in chronological order - which is strangely the reverse order they were released by Nexus \ Ares

First up the DII. This is the machine which created the myth. Not overly fast or maneuverable  just fast enough to be a bit faster than the opposition, and mounting for the first time a pair of fixed MGs, the DII cut a swathe through the RFC and French Air-force. Almost all the great Aces cut their teeth on this plane, and bothe Boelke and Immelman died in them. This is my DII, in Austrian colours (something which will be a bit of a repeated theme)

Next is the DIII. This took the already nicely streamlined DII and developed it, with a better engine. The designers had also seen the Nieuport 11 with its sesquiplane layout, where the bottom wing was thinner and staggered a little back, which improved agility and visibility, so they copied that on the new DIII. This gave the struts a new V shape, and resulted in the British knick-naming them "V Strutters". The problem was they had not factored in the reduction in strength this also involved, and DIIIs inherited the N11s problems of breaking up if they dived too fast or suffered damage. Nevertheless the DIIIs were superior to just about anything the Entente could field, with the possible exception of the Sopwith Triplanes of the RNAS , and it is the DIII that created "Bloody April".

Showing off its gimbal mount - basically a ring magnet and a ball bearing which together allow the plane to be posed banking and climbing - and very neat they are too

DII and DIII showing changes to wing shapes

and strut design

The DV was the last of the Albatros D types to see service, and like a TV series that has been let run a bit farther than it should, it was a bit of a disappointment. The designers tried to streamline the DIII more, and mounted a bigger engine, but the extra weight involved made the DV only incrementally better than the DIII, and it also inherited the problem with the fragile lower wing. It proved not good enough when the Entente introduced their new generation of fast fighters like the Spad XIII and SE5A and suffered accordingly. In the game the DV was in the initial Deluxe Set and was pretty much mister average. It was faster than the Fokker Dr1 but slower than the Spad, more maneuverable than the Spad XIII but not as good as the Camel. When it was first released I tended to play Entente anyway so I stuck with the Camel, but I played it a bit since and it is OK, but nothing special.

DIII with the slimmer, faster DV

And there it should end except..........

At a fairly early point I also developed an interest in collecting the minor powers rather than the Brits, French and Germans, and one I settled on was Austro-Hungary. The mainstream view, if they are thought of at all, is they were a bit of a sad sideshow, relying on the most part on cast off German designs. There is a bit of truth in this. Old Austria was a rural \ peasant economy that on the whole could not hope to compete industrially with its opponents, even Italy. They did give it a good try however, and had a little bit of an advantage in that they had an excellent engine manufacturer in Austro-Daimler, even if they could not produce a lot of engines, what they did was usually rather good. While they produced some strange and interesting aircraft they were rarely competitors. However, OEFFAG bought the rights to produce the Albatros DIII for Austrian service. When they arrived they took a look at the technical drawings, shook their heads and got their pencils out. They strengthened the wings, made some streamlining changes and fitted progressively more powerful Austro-Daimler engines instead of the German Mercedes. This produced a plane that showed just what the DV should or could have been, fast and sturdy and was widely regarded as a first class fighter that continued to serve in several forces after the war ended. In Wings it has pretty similar stats to the DV but climbs better and can soak up a bit more damage, making it rather an effective fighter.

Nexus don't do a Oeffag DIII - actually thats only half true, they did produce a model when they were releasing the DIIIs that was labeled as an Oeffag, but it was simply a repaint of the German DIII so not really correct. Coincidentally the colour scheme chosen was for Brumowski's all red one, which was to all intents identical to Richthofen's last all red DIII but with an additional skull painted on,  so everyone bought Brumowski's plane and painted over the skull. Modern technology came to my aid here as this is my Oeffag DIII made as a 3d print by shapeways - lovely model and a pleasure to paint - more on that later

The Oeffag DIII and its more pedestrian German cousin the DIII

Finally, the family portrait

1 comment:

  1. I see this tribe of Albatross and my Entente flier nerves start to twitch uncontrollably, I have lost many a pilot to these same models.

    Nice collection :)