1/32 Wingnut Wings Halberstadt Cl. II

Gallery Article by Mike Muth on Feb 4 2021

 

      

Halberstadt Cl. II using Aviattic Stipple decals 

The Idflieg (Inspektion der Fliegertruppen - "Inspectorate of Flying Troops") was the bureau of the German Empire that oversaw German military aviation prior to and during World War I. Idflieg identified the airplanes flown by designating whether they were fighters (E for single wing or D for biplanes preceding model number: E.III, D-II etc.), 2-seater unarmed reconnaissance (B), and armed 2 seater (C). In late 1916 Idflieg decided there was a need for a lighter version of their armed 2-seater airplanes, and designated them as Cl. The design was intended to provide a 2-seater airplane that could provide fighter protection for recon and bombing airplanes. Both Halberstadt and Hannover eventually fielded airplanes in this category that were extremely successful for their initial purpose as well as reconnaissance, light bombing and infantry support.

By July of 1917, the Halberstadt Cl.II began to appear on the Western Front. They were grouped into units called Schustas to provide protection flights. Some individual Cl.IIs were assigned to other 2-seater recon or bombing groups to act as fighter escorts. The airplane was easy to fly, provided good visibility and was agile enough to hold its own against Allied fighters. By April, 1918 Idflieg reported that the Schustas preferred the Halberstadt Cl.II to all other types.

The Cl.II was powered by the 160, 180, or 200 hp Daimler-Mercedes D.III. Some were also powered by the 180 hp Argus As.IIIa. All were armed with a flexible Parabellum machine gun for the observer and some had an additional fixed Spandau synchronized to fire forward. A little over 800 Cl.II airplanes were produced by Halberstadt during the war. Many were used post-war in Germany and in Poland.

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Another wonderful kit from Wingnut Wings. The kit goes together without any major difficulties. You just need to keep in mind to remove any paint from surfaces that are to be glued. The tolerances are extremely tight. There isn't much rigging to do on this one, so it is not a bad place to try your first biplane. As usual, the kit provides decals for 5 different marking options. The option will determine which engine to use as well as armament choices.

I chose to do option C, one of the spectacularly marked airplanes from Royal Bavarian Schusta 26b. There were 6 airplanes assigned to the Schusta, with each receiving an appropriate number between 1 and 6 that was painted in white on a red fuselage circle. The front of the airplane was decorated in red, ending in a flame-like marking that extended past the rear cockpit. Some of the planes had the red outlined in white, some didn't. Some included names of wives or girlfriends placed inside the flames. 

The flame decal that is supplied only covers the rear portion of the red-colored nose. So, you have to paint most of the front of the airplane and then match it to the decal flames. I was a little worried about matching the color of the red paint I had with the decal, but the WNW call out choice of Tamiya X7 was a perfect match.

The instructions guide you through the build, with call outs for when your choice of markings differs from the instructions. Some of what to include in the interior is left to the modeler's discretion (i.e. camera, wireless, amplifier). I went with the wireless and amplifier to keep the rear cockpit busy. 

 

For painting the interior Model Master paints were used. For the interior green I like the discontinued SAC bomber green enamel. For the wood sections I apply a base coat of MM's Modern Desert Sand from a rattle can. I then streak some thinned Tamiya Desert Yellow using a hobby sponge paint brush. The dark wood is a base of MM Wood enamel with a top coat of thinned MM burnt sienna acrylic.

The exterior of the airplane requires some thought, since a lot of decals and colors are involved. In addition to the standard German lozenge fabric on the wings, tailplane, fin and rudder, a stipple pattern unique to the Cl.II is applied to that portion of the fuselage not covered by the red flame and the central panel on the top wing. The belly of the wooden fuselage is painted either a "cloudy yellow" or a stipple of colors according to the instructions. For the lozenge, I used the kit supplied 5 color "light" lozenge, usually but not always applied to the under instead of upper surfaces. The decals are such that you must underlay a gloss coat and not just try to apply them to the bare plastic. I usually undercoat with a color similar to one of the lozenge colors. This time I used MM French Blue from a spray can. The WNW lozenge is a little difficult to conform around the wing edges and sometimes flakes off; the blue undercoating hides this. For the underneath of the  wings and tailplane the color call out is for gloss bleached linen. The proper color for the linen is subject to much debate. I decided to use my old reliable MM Modern Desert Sand from the spray can. For the fuselage belly I went with the cloudy yellow option. For this I just mixed MM RLM 04 with gloss white until it looked ok.

WNW has a tutorial on the web site on how to do the stipple. Not for the faint of heart like me. Aviattic has a variety of decal sheets for all the possible variations. I went with the "5 colour lower palette on clear varnished plywood" option. Not sure if this is right or not, but it looks pretty cool. The tricky part for me came in trying to figure out how to paint the red nose, apply the red flame decal and the stipple decals without having to mask over any of the decals. Maybe for some this is a no brainer, but for me it took a lot of thinking. Anyway, here is the order I decided on. 1). Paint the fuselage gloss white. This acts as a good base for the Red nose as well as the stipple decals. 2). Paint the red nose to a line roughly at the front 1/3 of the cockpit. Some of this red will be covered up by the kit decal. 3). Copy the kit decals for the flame onto normal copy-paper and then cut them out to use as a guide. Use the guide to play around until you get the proper positioning of the decal. The key here is to be sure that the stipple lozenge (at this stage the white paint) appears in between the flames, not the red paint from the nose. 4). Apply the cookie cutter stipple decals after making sure the stipple lines up with the guide. This will involve some trimming since the decals are designed to go all the way to the front of the fuselage. I only wanted it to go to roughly the 1/3 demarcation line of the cockpit. 5). When you apply the stipple decals, use a mild setting solution or just plain old water. The Aviattic decals are very sticky, and have a kind of rubbery texture until they finally cure. Great for coverage over irregular surfaces, but tricky to apply since they stick quickly and will fold over on themselves at the blink of an eye. One thing about the Aviattic decals is you can't let them overlap each other...a darkness will appear. So, carefully butt-join the decals after giving each one plenty of time to dry beforehand. 6). After the stipple decals had time to set, I applied the red flame decal to each side. There is a slight overlap at the front of the stipple but nothing that shows very much.

I really like the final look of this Cl.II. The stipple decals look terrific if a tad psychedelic. The colors, however wild looking are accurate. Reports on captured Cl.IIs indicate the colors of green (light and dark), blue, red and yellow being applied in a patchwork design. This contrasts nicely with the wing lozenge. The rigging was straightforward and rather simple for a bi-plane. The decals from Aviattic are wonderful and I would recommend them to anyone building  WW I airplanes.

Mike Muth

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Photos and text by Mike Muth