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  1. Viribus Unitis, OEFFAG Albatros D.III 1:48 Eduard (11124) The Albatros D.1 was the first of the series of single seat fighters that were developed up to the D.Va, featuring a semi monocoque wooden fuselage and equal span, equal chord upper & lower wings. By lowering the top wing and moving it slightly forward to improve visibility, the aircraft was re-designated the D.II. Impressed by the performance of the French Nieuport fighters with their sesquiplane layout (lower wing smaller than upper wing), new wings were developed by Albatros, with the aircraft now becoming the D.III. Later on, a new more rounded fuselage was designed and fitted with the new wings, becoming the Albatros D.V and D.Va. However, there was a major flaw with the lower wings on the D.III and D.V/DVa’s in that they only has a single spar. This made them weak and prone to shedding the lower wings during stressful manoeuvres. Despite this the Oesterreichische Flugzeugfabrik AG (Oeffag) selected the D.III to build under licence, as the Austro-Hungarian air force was in desperate need of modern equipment. OEFFAG made a number of changes, utilising the excellent Austro-Daimler 180hp engine, Schwarzlose machine guns, and most importantly, strengthened double spar lower wings. Three main versions were produced. Series 53. 64 produced, closely resembled the original Albatros design. Series 153. Improved 200 hp Austro-Daimler engine fitted. From Aircraft 112 to 281 a shorter more rounded nose was fitted, which increased the top speed and gave the aircraft its more familiar look. Series 253. Improved 225 hp Austro-Daimler engine fitted. The most noticeable change was that most were built with the guns on top of the fuselage rather than enclosed inside it. The Kit. Curious as to what ‘Viribus Unitis’ is I looked it up via google and found that it means ‘With United Forces’, and was the personal motto of Emperor Franz Joseph. Thus it is quite an appropriate title for a ‘Dual Combo’ kit containing two Austro-Hungarian aircraft models. The box artwork features two well known aces, Godwin Brumowski in his all red 153, and Friedrich Navratil following behind in a 253. As a ‘Dual Combo’ release, the large box contains two of all sprues, a sheet of masks, and four etched frets. The instructions are in colour with a sprue map, assembly sequence, rigging diagram, and nine different colour schemes, covering series 53, 153, and 253 machines. Sprue A and B. All the small and fine detail parts are provided on these two sprues. Neatly moulded in Eduards’ standard grey plastic they feature sharp detail, and delicate scale like appearance. A number of parts are not required and these are clearly marked on the sprue map. Attachment points are minimal, which always makes removal and clean up an easy job. Sprue C. The fuselage is beautifully moulded with delicate panel lines and perfectly formed brackets, panels, and louvres etc. The top decking in front of the cockpit is provided as a separate part, with alternatives for the enclosed guns (Part C3) and the external guns(Part D2) often fitted to the series 253s. However only part C3 is relevant for all the options here. Winter engine covers, tailplanes, ailerons, and elevator complete the parts provided here. Note that C5, C7 and C9 are the later wire scalloped ailerons and elevator for the series 253, whilst D3, D5, and D6 provide the same ‘smooth edged’ parts for the series 53 & 153 machines. Nice attention to detail here from Eduard! Sprue D. As mentioned, the alternative ailerons and elevators for the series 53 & 153 machines are found here, along with the rudder, unused external gun decking, and the wings. Trailing edges are very fine indeed, and the rib detail is well defined. The lower wings have a ‘tongue’ which fits into a matching ‘groove’ on the fuselage sides. These are both quite small. So be sure to clean off any primer/paint from the mating surfaces when fixing these parts together, if you choose to paint the fuselage and lower wings separately. Sprue X. A very nice little Austro-Daimler 6 cylinder in-line engine is provided, with separate rocker cover and cylinder head detail. Twin magnetos are also supplied, so if you have really good eyesight you could consider wiring them up to the plugs with fine fuse wire. Pre printed data plates fit on the crank case, making this one of the most detailed engines in any of Eduard’s 1:48 Great War range. Etch. A total of four etched frets are provided, two are the same pre printed set and cover the seatbelts and instruments. A third fret is 53/153 specific, whilst the fourth is for the series 253. There is not much difference between frets 3 & 4, the fuselage front plate for the 53/153 being the only difference I can see. It is not needed anyway, as none of the kit options are for a spinnerless 153. So you can in fact build any two of the options in this kit, without being limited to making a 253 and one other. Other items on the frets are the cockpit seat, engine details, undercarriage mounting strap, inspection hatches, wheel valve covers, control cranks with lines on, etc. All of the items are very useful, and will certainly enhance the finished model. Mask. One small sheet of Kabuki tape is provided, with pre cut wheel masks. These go on the hub, enabling you to brush paint the tyres and get a sharp dividing line. There are eight on the sheet to mask up both sides of all four wheels, with two per aircraft. Options. A total of nine options are offered, five for series 153s and a further four for series 253s. A and B are early 153’s with a propeller spinner, whilst all the rest have the spinnerless rounded ‘pug’ nose typical of the OEF 153/253. A. 153.11, flown by Oberleutnant Frank Linke-Crawford, Flik 41J, Aiello del Friuli, Italy, November 1917. B. 153.80, flown by Offizierstellvertreter Julius Arigi, Flik 55J, Pergine Valsugana, Italy, December 1917. C. 153.125, flown by Hauptman Lázsló Háry, Flik 42J, Pianzano, Italy, Spring 1918. D. 153.167, pilot unknown, Flik 2D, San Pietro in Campo, Italy, May 1918. E. 153.206, flown by Hauptmann Godwin Brumowski, CO of Flik 41J, Portobuffole, Italy, June 1918. F. 253.09, flown by Hauptmann Friedrich Navratil, CO of Flik 3J, Romagnano, Italy, July/August 1918. G. 253.12, flown by Oberleutenant in der Reserve Ludwig Hautzmayer, CO of Flik 61J, Ghirano, Italy, Summer 1918. H. 253.24, flown by Hauptmann Benno Fiala von Fernbrugg, CO of Flik 51J, Ghirano, September 1918. I. 253.117, flown by Oberleutnant in der Reserve Stefan Stec, Flik 3J, Romagnano, Italy, Summer 1918. Decals. the markings are slit across two sheets, one with all the black and white items such as the wing crosses & serial numbres, and a the other with all the coloured items for the personal markings. They are all beautifully printed, with sharp edges, good colours, and minimal carrier film. A mass of stencilling detail is also provided, which has its own page in the intruction booklet, to show where each individual item goes. Instrument dials and even propeller manufactures logos complete the sheets. One small gripe I have is the resealable bags used. When I extracted the decals from the bag and trying to keep the protective paper in place, the folded flap snapped back and the sticky strip attached itself to the decal sheet. Gently pulling it away resulted in slight damage to the large '5X' on the black and white sheet. Conclusion. This kit has been around for a few years now, but is still one of the very best 1:48 Great War models. I eagerly built a few when it first came out (see below), and found it to be an excellent model. The fit was faultless, and I do not remember there being any problems or pitfalls with it. I really like the look of the 153/253 with the rounded nose, it somehow makes the aircraft look more aggressive, and there some great colour schemes to go on it. These are not as obscure as might seem at first look, as RFC/RAF squadrons were posted Italy and took part in combat against these machines. Aces such as William Barker scoring the majority of his 50 victories on this front. Having two kits in the one box makes it slightly easier to choose which ones to do, and Eduard have done a good job in offering fairly simple schemes such as E and F, up to more complex ones like A and I, so something for everyone. This is a really lovely ‘Dual Combo’, with two superbly engineered kits covering some very interesting markings, plenty of etched details, masks, and super quality decals. Highly Recommended. Review sample courtesy of Footnote. Digging around in the completed models stash, I have this one, It is not from this release, but is the same plastic. It is from 'Albatros D. III OEFFAG 253,Kit No 8242' which I built a few years ago. A lovely little models and a very enjoyable build.
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