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King Kong's Polish Albatros! (1/72nd scale)


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Film Producer and Combat Pilot Merian C. Cooper once famously said, "I AM King Kong!" - and He Was Right!

 

"Another of history's ironies - A German aircraft design, built by Austrians, in Polish service, flown by an American, against the Communist Russians."

 

The Austro-Hungarian engineers at Oeffag took the Albatros D.III design and fixed the problematic lower wing, changed the engine to a more powerful 225hp Austro-Daimler and added some some aerodynamic improvements to the nose and propeller spinner. The result was the S.253 version of the Albatros D.III which was probably the ultimate version of this aircraft. At the end of the war, a number of Albatros D.III S.253s were supplied to the fledgling Polish Air Force to help counter Bolshevik Russian designs on their territory.

 

Merian C. Cooper was the famed producer of the Film King Kong in 1933, and before that was famed as a "Jungle Photographer". (films "Grass" and "Chang".).  The character of "Carl Denham" in King Kong was a thinly disguised Cooper.  In the final scene of Kong, as the Vought aircraft shot Kong off the Empire State Building - the pilot that gives the Coupe de Grace is Cooper Himself, with his co-produced Ernest Schoedsack as the Observer!

 

To say Merian C. Cooper was a Fascinating Man is the Understatement of the Year!   Flying during WW1, afterwards he joined the Kosciuzko Squadron in Poland composed of mostly American fliers defending the new Nation.    Cooper, who had completed 3 years at the Naval Academy, was from a military family that had ties to the War of Independence's Thaddeus Kosciuzko.    Shot down by the Soviets, he was captured - and later killed a guard and escaped!   Not content to direct Landmark American Films and perfect the CinemaScope Process (in the 1950s), in WW2 he returned to Active Duty as a Colonel, working with Claire Chennault in the China-Burma-India Theater.   His Biography, "Living Dangerously" is Highly Recommended!   

 

I was delighted to find that there was a Encore Models/Squadron Edition of the Roden Albatros in Cooper's Colors....building this model was a tribute to this Great American.     The kit is a bit fiddly, has some flash and imperfections that must be worked with, but I am pleased with the result.  This Edition features Resin parts and metal wire wheels...the first time I have ever worked with them, but it greatly adds to the model.    I enjoy photographing my models as much as building them!

 

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I second Wulfman, what a neat Albatros and I enjoyed reading your writeup about the history of the plane and pilot as well. That "chocolate swirl" camo pattern has to be one of the more zany ones to come out of that pioneering era in aviation. Love the spoked wheels too. Excellent!

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I'll be certain to read the bio now!  Great job on this little bird, and amazing that it's only 1/72!  The Polish soldier is wearing Horizon Blue, so he's probably one of Jozef Haller's troops.  Also recommend For Your Freedom and Ours (the first part of which deals with the foundations of this squadron), and White Eagle, Red Star, which does a good job of describing the machinations of all sides (including struggling Ukraine) during the Polish-Bolshevik War.  

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Cooper had two. The first, Albatros (Oef) D.III no. 253.222 with 225 hp Austro-Daimler engine no. 23443, was delivered to the Central Airforce Depot in Warsaw 31st July, 1919. It was given the unit’s badge and designated number 5 after being delivered to Lwów.  It crashed on 22nd November, 1919 flown by Lt Graves during an airshow to commemorate the the 2nd anniversary of Lwów’s liberation from the Ukrainians.

 

Albatros (Oef) D.III no. 253.218 with 225 hp Austro-Daimler engine no. 23514, and two 8mm Schwarzlose M7/12 machine guns, no 45048 & 45027. Delivered to the squadron, 21st August 1919. This was painted identical to the first Albatros with the addition of the red nose to indicate the Pulaski wing which was to commanded by Cooper. Cooper used this Albatros in April and May 1920 during the Kiev Expedition, including combat flights over the city of Kiev. By the end of May Cooper had logged 33 hours an 20 minutes with this aircraft. When the 7th Squadron retreated from Berdyczew, Cooper set fire to the Albatros because of an engine failure that prevented it being flown out.

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