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KIT REVIEW


Eduard Viribus Unitis Dual Combo Limited Edition Kit Set
1:48 Scale



The evolution of the air war in WWI was as much about the pilots and development of tactics as it was about the rapidly changing technological standards of the fledgling flying machines themselves.  The story of the German D.III Albatros illustrates this point well, as the aircraft was introduced to combat in 1916 but became quickly obsolete (perhaps thankfully) as it also suffered from a catastrophic design flaw.  In Austro-Hungarian service, re-design of the lower wing led to a far more successful version of the D.III that flew on until Armistice Day.  In this dual combo limited edition set, Eduard has packaged two of their 1:48 scale kits representing the Oeffag-manufactured Albatros D.III D. along with detail parts, masking sets, and a ton of decal options.  Let’s sit down with this set and take a look at what we’ve got.     

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Aiming to stay one step ahead of Allied fighter development, the Germans began work on the Albatros D.III biplane fighter in the spring of 1916.  Applying a number engineering of conventions used on the successful D.I and D.II, the design team also included some new features such as a sesquiplane wing arrangement (with an extended upper and shortened lower wingspan).  V-shaped interplane struts replaced the previous parallel struts and British airmen nicknamed the D.III as the "V-strutter."

Following successful test flights in the late summer of 1916, Albatros received an order for 400 D.IIIs - which was the largest German aircraft production contract to date.  The D.III entered combat in December 1916 and was immediately praised by German aircrews for its excellent maneuverability and excellent rate of climb.  The D.III was a multiple ace-maker in the hands of Manfred von Richotfen, Karl Emil Schäfer, Ernst Udet, and Kurt Wolff.  In early 1917, the D.III inflicted tremendous losses on allied fighters especially during “Bloody April” and the Battle of Aras, France.  Yet, the D.III had a fatal flaw:  dives and high-g maneuvering prompted failures of the lower wing.  The lower wing’s main spar was too far aft and this generated torsional forces in the wing and catastrophic structural failure.  Despite changes in D.III production and refitting in the field, wing failures persisted in the D.III and the follow-on D.V.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire built D.IIIs under license beginning in the autumn of 1916 by Oesterreichische Flugzeugfabrik AG (Oeffag).  These airplanes were designated as the Oeffag Albatros D.III.  The Oeffag aircraft were built in three main variants (Series 53.2, 153, 253) using the 185, 200, or 225 hp Austro-Daimler engines, respectively.  These powerplants were markedly better than Mercedes D.IIIa engine used in the German-built D.IIIs.  With the Series 153 airframes, Oeffag developed and introduced a new rounded nose that eliminated the spinner which was prone to separation in flight.  All Oeffag variants were armed with two 8 mm Schwarzlose machine guns.  Problems with accessibility and the synchronization gear led to the guns being relocated to the upper fuselage decking late in the Series 253 production run.  Oeffag engineers also tackled the wing failure problem.  They and modified the lower wing with thicker ribs and spars.  For all intents and purposes, wing failures ceased in Oeffag D.IIIs.  By the end of the war, Oeffag still had D.IIIs on their production line, and approximately 550 had been built.

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Eduard’s 1:48 Viribus Unitas Dual Combo Limited Edition Kit Set contains parts and decals for two full sets of their D.III kit.  Between them, the box contains 176 injection molded parts on 10 dark blue-grey sprues, 88 photoetched metal parts (some pre-painted) on four frets, and a small pre-cut masking set for the wheel hubs.  Markings are provided for eight aircraft:

StrengthsViribus Unitis, or “Of United Forces,” was the motto of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the name of one of their battleships, and the personal slogan of Franz-Joseph himself.  The kit’s name is in homage, of course, to the “Old Monarchy.”  Eduard’s 1:48 scale Albatross D.III kit hails from an original new tool kit first released in 1998.  Even by today’s high standards, this kit still holds its own.  It is accurate, well-detailed, and fits quite well.  Their D.III has garnered a very solid following among scale modelers for good reason.

This kit is not a generic German D.III, but has parts specifically for the Series 153 and 253 D.IIIs produced by the Oeffag factory.  For one, you get parts for either the 200 or 225 hp Austro-Daimler powerplants.  Their differences are rather subtle, and these are really nicely detailed powerplants, especially for 1:48 scale.  There are also provisions to build the correct cockpit configurations for the 153 or 253 version, as they differed slightly but noticeably.  There’s also the rounded or flattened nose options and option for a spinner.  Different parts for the guns and cockpit decking, and an alternative engine cover pursuant to the version that you are building, are also provided.  The rudder, elevator, and ailerons are separate parts and can be positioned as desired.

The plastic is very nice as one can see, but the photoetched metal parts really elevate the game here.  Not only are these parts beautifully made, but they provide great details. These include individual pre-painted photoetched metal instrument faces (alternate decals are also provided should photoetched metal parts not be your forte), cockpit placards, shoulder harnesses and lap belts, the pilot’s seat and seat pad, aileron hinges, and various other airframe details that are best represented as photoetched parts.  There’s also a complete rigging guide, and on the D.III, the rigging is not complex at all.      

The markings options are awesome, and there’s not a boring choice among them.  You will have a hard time figuring out which scheme to do, but the Red Barron-inspired scheme on the plane flown by the multiple ace Godwin Brumowski is very tempting.  Some of the complex mottled camouflage schemes also look very appealing and no doubt would be as challenging to execute as they would be fun.  The decals appear to have been printed in-house by Eduard, and they all look great.  I can see no technical errors in printing.   

Weaknesses:  While I am not an Albatross D.III subject matter expert, I cannot offer any errors or other issues to offer any real meaningful critiques.

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Eduard’s 1:48 scale Viribus Unitas Dual Combo Limited Edition Kit Set is excellent.  It contains two amazing kits, great decals, excellent detail parts, time-saving masking sets, and excellent decals and markings options.  It’s hard to beat, and fans of WWI aviation and beyond will find a great deal of appeal here.   

Sincere thanks are owed to everyone at Eduard for the review sample.  You can visit them on the web at http://www.eduard.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EduardCompany

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
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