This sky-steed of the Great War is the first aeroplane I can recall seeing; what sowed the seeds of aviation in my youth. Pfalz cast their radiator in brass, and that sets this war-workhorse off as a show pony. Bavariaís Pfalz Flugzeugwerke produced approximately 750 copies of this ship as a replacement of the sleek, shapely Albatross and Pfalz fighters and as backup to the Fokker D.VII. The Pfalz entering service in June 1918, mainly with Bavarian Jastas and second-echelon units, though it did accompany Fokkers to the front. Powered by the Mercedes 180 Ps D.IIIaŁ which powered many of the Fokkers, the Pfalz was slightly slower but has been attributed slightly better rate-of-climb. The airfoils were designed after studying the wings of France's SPAD XIII. Considered not as maneuverable as the Fokker, the more robust wooden fuselage of the Pfalz was sturdier, absorbed more damage, and could dive with most of the Allied fighters. The poor Pfalz is controversial in that it has been denigrated by many WWI pilots; but it was a late arrival and compared to what many consider the best fighter of WWI, the Fokker D.VII.
My first Toko kit; I had read favorable comments before and since about this company. I was impressed with two light gray sprues of 34 parts, detail is very fine and pretty, plenty of WWI fuselage bumps and vents and louvers present, and exciting decals. Slightly disappointing is a bit of flash to clean up. No diagram for rigging, either.
The instructions are easy to follow. A running commentary for painting is provided, with European paint brands referenced. However, the kit is not the best to assemble. There are no peg and hole mounts for the pieces (not really a problem), the fuselage halves were slightly uneven in length and girth. Prepare for filling and sanding, and planing! The lower wing needs care to mate to the fuselage. The tailplane slides into a slot of the fuselage, which due to the fuselage's lack of symmetry, causes the tail to be grossly angled. The fair cockpit floor is too wide. The Mercedes 180 Ps D.IIIaŁ is simply a 1/72 beauty, the molding is fine, the cockpit provides a beautifully scaled and detailed microscopic rudder bars and stick, ho-hum instrument panel and accurate Pfalz seat. The guns are very nice for the scale.
The worst part is joining the upper and lower wings. Toko decided to mold mounting holes for the struts. This is great for the bottom wing, but with the struts nicely perpendicular to the dihedral, the struts do not come anywhere near the mounting holes in the bottom of the upper wing! Additionally, the cabane struts' mounting pegs are so fine, and the mounting holes in the fuselage are so shallow and misplaced, that you probably ought to superglue them to the fuselage in the angle you want, and hope for the best with the top wing. Scratch building experience is almost required.
The top wing has ugly aileron control horns jutting forth from it. Do as I did not...carve them off. The wings have a fine fabric texture molded into them, the control surfaces should not be difficult to cut away for repositioning.
My initial joining of the wings was attempted with jigs and stays. Despite that, the aircraft appeared to have been ground looped. I cut them apart at the glue beads, and tried again. Since the holes and struts don't line up, I set the upper wing upside-down, lined up the rest of the airplane upon it, and glued with drops of super glue.
Incidentally, this whole operation is more difficult due to the lozenge decals that must be put on prior to assembling the wings. If you can successfully assemble this biplane and THEN apply the lozenges, you need to start a clinic for WWI German air modelers!
Having warned of this, the landing gear struts went on surprisingly easy, although fitting the axle into them was challenging. The wheels have fine stitching upon them for the spokes' covering cloth.
Painting & Decals
Two color schemes are provided, one for a silver-gray and yellow Lieutenant G.Klein's machine, the other for a pretty multi-colored camouflaged bird. I chose the latter, and applied my own personal striping on the top wing.
Decals: Thin and brittle, good color registry. Supplied are the propeller maker's marks, and even fine stenciling for the struts. However, ignore them or trim them, the clear film is about three times the width of the strut. Solvent didn't help much but most decals are applied to smooth areas. The kit-supplied lozenge camouflage decals are thoughtful and colorful, but undersized! You will need both sets for one wing. Have aftermarket sheets available.
No rigging info is provided, and I decided not to risk my frail strut-to-wing bonds attaching flying wires.
Try this model if you have the patience to:
- clean up finely molded parts and fiddle them into proper position
- carve and reshape parts that are too big for inside a fuselage
- apply many decals (if you build the lozenge-covered one)
- research rigging.
This did eventually build up into a pretty model that I am happy to display.
Ukrainian model company Toko's 1/72 Pfalz D. XII is a neat little kit, but needs TLC. Reviewers at other sites did not have as much trouble as I did on some aspects, and more trouble than I did on other items.
About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR) FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES
I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art.
My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling!
My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...