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Roden 1/48 scale Junkers D.1 aircraft

Kit: No. 434
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Roden, available from Squadron Mail Order, 972-242-8663,
Price: $32.99
Comments: Injection-molded, 72 parts (5 engine parts not used), printed
acetate windshield, decals
Pros: Interesting, historically significant subject; good parts fit and finish; crisp, clean moldings
Cons: Erroneous decals that are prone to silvering
Issue Published: March 2008
In an era of wood, cloth, and wire, the Junkers D.1 was the first operational combat aircraft made entirely of metal. Although the greater weight made the World War I aircraft sluggish, the D.1 presaged modern aircraft design.

The first D.1s were plagued by vibration and poor performance. Shortening the fuselage made it more maneuverable - and this D.1 is the subject of Roden's 1/48 scale kit. Box art shows a repainted, abandoned plane found in Belgium. Those decals are included but, since it was a one-off color scheme, I chose the more commonly used markings of aircraft 5185/18, Western Front, autumn 1918.

There are 71 gray, injection-molded, flash-free parts on three trees, along with a windshield printed on clear acetate.

The eight-page instructions, printed in Ukrainian and German as well as English, offer a brief history, specifications, written and symbol-style directions, plus written instructions for decals. There's a parts map as well as 17-step, exploded-assembly drawings, and keys for Model Master colors. Three-view drawings illustrate camouflage and markings.

The nicely detailed engine features intake and exhaust manifolds plus a rotating propeller shaft, a distributor, and a valve rocker assembly. Modelers afflicted with AMS (advanced modeler's syndrome) can easily add ignition wires, etc.

Perhaps the most difficult assembly occurs in Step 3, where the seat back (Part 20A) must be bent around and attached to the seat bottom (Part 6A). I placed the seat bottom on cellophane and, after bending the seat back around a hobby-knife handle, super glued the back to the bottom. The glue ran all over but did not stick to the cellophane, which I pulled free after the glue was set.

In Step 5, pay special attention to aligning the engine mounts (parts 3C), cockpit floor (1A), gun-mount base (7A), and the two forward bulkheads (parts 4C and 4A). These parts need to line up with grooves inside the fuselage (parts 1C and 19C) in Step 10; I glued them too early and had problems installing the gun and ammo canisters in Step 8.

All control surfaces are poseable, and the upper and lower wing panels fit perfectly. However, the corrugations on the wing don't line up with those on the ailerons. I used a bit of glazing compound filler along the seams of the aft fuselage deck (Part 16C) and the fuselage sides.

After assembling the plane and mounting the main landing gear parts, I added stretched-sprue wire bracing and painted with Testors Model Master enamels. Box art and my reference indicate the green in the instructions may be too dark. Period descriptions suggest "pale green" or "forest green." I used Model Master forest green.

Repeated applications of Micro Sol and Solvaset failed to make the decals conform to the model's surfaces. I pressed the decals into the corrugations with both soft cloth and paintbrush bristles, but they still managed to lift. The national insignia decals match the box-cover aircraft but are too small for No. 5185/18. On my plane, I'll replace them by masking and painting new markings.

The model is close to scale and looks right according to Windsock Datafile 33: Junkers D.1, by Peter M. Grosz. Edges look scale thin, and the printed windshield is as good as it gets.

As assembly and painting took only 12 hours, I hope Roden will offer a Junkers CL.1 two-seater as a companion for the D.1. I'll be among the first in line to get it.


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