By: Diego Fernetti
The Albatros single seater fighters, the D.I, D.II and D.III have several variations that improved its design. However, they shared the same fuselage outlines and dimensions.However, there's many variations amongst the various brands of injection molded kits. Here are a few comments on each kit:
The ESCI Albatros D.III
This kit has some inaccuracies, as the Revell issue. In fact, it is based on the Revell and the Eldon releases. It's molded in a tan soft plastic that I rather like than the brittle Revell material and the extremely soft gray plastic of the Pegasus brand. It's easy to cut and sand, but consistent enough to be handled without fear of distorting the pieces. My samples always had a little amount of flash, but nothing serious. On some examples (I've had several) some of the large parts are slightly warped. However, the parts are different from the Revell kit: Inside the fuselage halves it's the infamous Esci "tub" so difficult to remove. The cockpit opening is somehow squarish, it's shape nearer to the Austrian Albatrosen. The louvers are larger, the scribed cowl lines are deeper, and no inspection panels are scribed. Fortunately in this case, the fuselage walls are thick enough to sand them "slab sided" without making a hole in them as it would happen in the thinner Revell moldings. The fuselage shape aft the cockpit opening is a bit undernourished. Ray Rimell advised to make a cut along the horizontal axis from the tail and insert a 0.20" plastic wedge and glue the rear together, in a shaper edge than molded originally. The tail and vertical stabilizer/rudder (which have crudely molded details) must be cut from the fuselage half and replaced for styrene replacements. If carefully trimmed, the fuselage belly section of the lower wing part fits quite well. However, the locating pins are evident if you want to detail the cockpit. The wings aren't very accurate in shape and the rib locations are inaccurate and too exaggerated. The centrally molded radiator is clumsy, all hinges are oversized, the wingtips too raked and the scallops too pronounced. You may get new, scratch built wings without less effort than correcting the provided parts. The wheels are OK, a bit undersized and with spokes (!) molded in the hubs. However, careful sanding and several coats of white glue around the tires can make them accurate. The engine is just some cylinder tops and a flat exhaust; better replace it for an aftermarket part, as the machine guns. The struts are too thick, Undercarriage axle inaccurate and the spinner is frequently mis-molded and is too large. The paint scheme that belongs to an aircraft of Jasta 5 is quite peculiar and worth to try. The decals are thick and basic (no weight stencils included) but the cross shapes are OK and adhere well. However this model shows its age, the Esci DIII is a good kit and has lots of potential for super detailing. It's the best plastic to work on, it's cheap and its basically accurate fuselage invites you to transform it into different versions (D.I, D.II, D.II OAW and W.4).
Kit Review courtesy of Diego Fernetti of Diego Fernetti's WWI Reference Page.