Pfalz  D.IIIa


Pfalz D.IIIa model kit in 1/32 scale 
Luchtvaart Afdeeling (pre-decessor Dutch AF) 

The Pfalz D.III was a German biplane from the beginning of 1918. It saw extensive service in the Great War. The type flew first in 1917 and turned out to be a pretty good design. The Pfalz D.IIIA got some modifications as compared to the original D.III. First, the lower wing got rounded wing tips. The horizontal stabilizer was a bit enlarged with a rounded leading edge. During maintenance it turned out that the machineguns were a bit difficult to get to, so they were repositioned and set more in the open. 

A German D.IIIa flying above Belgium was dis-oriented and landed on Dutch soil near the village of Schoondijke June 1918. It was interned and got the Dutch orange markings and registered PF-225. Look at the IPMS NL for more information:   NEDMIL

World War I Aircraft
Modelling report
of interned aircraft for the Dutch "Luchtvaart Afdeeling" 

The RODEN kit on 1/32 scale of the Pfalz D.III (no.613) is a good kit. The parts and details are fine and although no etched metal parts are provided, it can be made into a nice model. The markings are only for colourfull schemes, but no lozenge decals are provided. A slight conversion is needed to make a D.IIIa. 

NOTE: WingNut Wings has issued a 1/32 model of the Pfalz D.IIIa, but the RODEN kit after some conversion is fine as well.


OK, where do we start the build?

Using the kit instructions, assembly is no problem, but as expected most work is in the rigging of this biplane. 
Engine and fuselage internal details are fine.

The Mercedes D.III motor is well detailed, I only added some wires and some different metal colours. 

At the fuselage halves rear ends, I drilled some holes to set the control cables later on. The fuselage halves took some care to get them well joined. 

The frames got a wood colour and with dry brushing the wood grain was suggested. Interior with frames and floors are provided in the kit. 

The lower wing wingtips were filed rounded as appropriate for the D.IIIa 

For the rigging I used the technique of rigging thin fishing line through drilled holes. So the various holes were drilled in the various surfaces like the wings. 

Glueing a fishing wire of enough length with super glue, it was rigged through the appropriate holes, starting from inside out. The wire was kept under "tension" with a cloth peg and glued and set. Do one wire at a time. 

Fortunately the wing struts are of correct length and can be set in quickly place. I later on discovered that it would have been better if I had painted the wings first and applied the LOZENGE decals, BEFORE the doing any wire rigging. 

The stabilizer as needed for the D.IIIa was enlarged with some card, this was blended in with putty. The leading edge was filed round.

After all rigging, the holes were filled at the "end"sides (so on top- and lower- wing surfaces) with putty. This was sanded flat when dry. 

Next was to apply a grey base coat. 

Now it was time for colouring the interned Dutch D.IIIa. 

The orange LVA markings were airbrushed after masking the circles with masking tape. 

Establishing the rest of the colours was not easy. At the time "photo" glass plates were used and interpreting the colours from these B&W pictures is really confusing. It is better to use marking information from the time and pieces from museums of the lozenge and construction. 

Usually German Pfalz planes got an alumimium dope sheme with struts wood grain gloshed and individual planes colourfull markings. The Lozenge camouflage pattern was also introduced with various colours. John of the Dutch IPMS told me he had discovered glass plates with lozenge pattern seen on the single Dutch D.IIIa interned. 

Richard of the Dutch  eerste wereldoorlog forum mailed me that Sergey Vlasenko did some research for his paper cardboard model, also based on discussions in the Aerodrome forum. 

I settled for the following Dutch D.IIIa colours: 

Lozenge pattern with 5 colours on wings  (lower surface light colour, upper surface darker). I used lozenge decals from TECHMOD  32030.

Fuselage: mostly dark red-brown, I used Revell Aquacolor nr.85 ;
Horizontal stabilizer: white with red leading edge
Rudder: white
Vertical tail in front of rudder: black
Lower fuselage area near landing bar:  aluminium dope
Struts of wing: aluminium dope
Wheel covers: white
Mid section lower wing at fuselage: aluminium dope
Oil cooler on wing top: metal
Propeller hub: red-brown
Engine: various metal colours
Tyres: tyre black/dark grey


I had rigged the wings already, so now it was pretty difficult to drape the lozenge decals onto the wings. Better to do this earlier before wing assembly onto the fuselage with the struts. 

The ribtapes (using white decals from a WingNut Wings decalset) were not forgotten. 

The cockpit only got a small instrument, the seat got some belts with etched metal buckles.
At the gear struts, some rigging was also added. 

The propeller first got a coat of wood brown, a couple of gloss varnish coats of Future and than with a sponge some darker brown wood grain was applied. The engine exhaust pipe end was drilled open. 

The LvA registration "PF-225" could not be found on pictures, so I left it as I had no evidence if and where it was set on the airframe.

As the lozenge decals do not perfectly match and leave some gaps, these were filled in with the paint brush with appropriate colours mixed to match the lozenge pattern colour. A real challenge to match the colours.... 

The result....

A couple of control cables made from fishing wire and set in the open drilled holes can also be seen at the fuselage end.

The red edge on the stabilizer can be seen here as well.


A nice model of the Pfalz D.IIIa in 1/32 scale as interned and subsequently used by the Dutch Luchtvaart Afdeeling (LVA), 1918-1920 


- Pfalz D.IIIa, WindSock datafile no. 30

- IPMS Nederland, Internet site NedMil on Dutch interned plane (for members only)

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Created this page 
June 22, 2011