Wingnut Wings 1/32 Albatros D.Va
KIT #: 32015
PRICE: $59.00 and that includes shipping
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Otis Goodin
NOTES: Simply the best Albatros in any scale


As most of you know by now Wingnut Wings has released a number of high quality WWI kits in 1/32 scale. The Albatros DV and DVa were in their second batch of kit releases, coming a few months after their initial four kits. This review is of the DVa kit (Tom Cleaver did an earlier review of the DV kit).

There is really nothing to add to the history of the Albatros that is not already on this website and many others. Suffice it to say that Albatrosses were produced in prolific numbers and flown at one time by almost every German fighter pilot in WWI. For interesting color and camo schemes they are hard to beat making them popular subjects among modelers of WWI aircraft.


 The kit is the usual Wingnut Wings quality meaning no flash, accurate with lots of detail and parts that fit like they are supposed to. The Albatros DVa kit supplies decals and markings for five options including the “Stropp” aircraft as it supposedly appeared in WWI prior to parts of it being lost and ultimately reassembled as the version hanging in the NASM in Washington, DC; a Seefrontstaffel version characterized by the mottled green applied over the fuselage; an attractive black and white marked version flown by Joachim Hippel; a blue and green colored aircraft flown by Werner Neithammer and bearing his personal marking of a hammer on the fuselage; and, finally, the version I chose to model flown by a pilot known only as “von Hunoldstein.” With the black and white stripes running the length of the fuselage broken up by the red and yellow chevron in a box, I found this the most attractive and interesting of the bunch.

None of the aircraft sport lozenge camouflage, but the green and purple doped surfaces are as attractive in their own right. There is also a small photo etch plate containing seat belts and Spandau cooling jackets. Instructions are first rate and consist of a 27 page booklet complete with pictures in color and black and white to assist in detailing. All of this is contained in a box decorated with box art by Steve Anderson.


Construction begins inside the fuselage and you are instructed to assemble the framework that holds the pilot’s seat, attaching the seat and support brackets. If you are going to install the seat belts now would be the time to do it. Other parts are attached inside the fuselage including the control column, the wooden panel on the right side that holds various air and fuel controls, the fuel pump pressurizer, and the prominent bar that goes in front of the pilot and holds the tachometer and supports the machine guns. This is the most visible feature in the fuselage so take care to assemble it correctly so that it connects to the other half of the fuselage when it is installed. Following this, the ammo cans are installed to another bulkhead on the other side of which is installed the fuel tank. The control column is also attached to this bulkhead.

The next item to be constructed is the 180PS Daimler-Benz engine. If you are an engine junkie (I am not) you could spend many hours super detailing by adding wiring, spark plugs, extra pipes and so forth. The instructions provide three pages of detailed color photos for reference. But if you don’t want to do all that, you can simply follow the assembly and painting instructions provided and you will end up with a very nice looking engine that will look great installed in the engine bay. While you’re at it be sure to add the rest of the bulkheads in the engine compartment as this is what the engine bearers sit on. There is also a great looking oil tank that is very visible if the cowling covers are left off. Finally be sure to attach the radiator pipe to the engine which will be connected underneath the top wing later on.

Before attaching the left side of the fuselage add a couple of control items including the magneto switch and magneto. Once this is done you should be able to successfully mate the fuselage halves making sure the tachometer bar is appropriately attached. Not much filler or sanding is required as the parts fit like a finely engineered machine. I recommend that you apply tape to the areas that may be affected by any sanding or filling to reduce loss of detail. You will notice on the bottom of the fuselage that there are tiny holes evenly spaced its entire length. These holes provided drainage for the fuselage in the event of rain or other “liquids” entering the fuselage. Once the fuselage was assembled I added the tailplane, rudder and rear flap. In all probability you will paint these items prior to attaching them. You may wish to strengthen the attachment of the rudder and stabilizer flap by drilling small holes in the pieces and installing thin wire to which the rudder and flaps are glued. The instructions also call for the Spandau machine guns to be added at this point. The photo etch cooling jackets add a lot to the look, but it takes some practice to get these installed right. Wingnut provides instruction on their website and it’s definitely worth a look.

I added the windshield (you have three choices depending on your version), making sure to cover it with tape (removed later) so it won’t get sprayed or otherwise spotted. Wingnut recommends that you leave the engine cowlings off and I agree. The exposed engine really adds a lot of detail and it would be a shame to hide it.  

Next it’s time to add the bottom wing, the cabane and V struts. The DVa version used the V struts with the bracing bar to help keep the bottom wing from tearing off in a dive. I’m not sure this problem was ever totally resolved but I guess it’s like adding seat belts in a car. You’re better off with ‘em than without ‘em. I thought I would be smart and attach the V struts to the top wing first leaving me with only two as opposed to four connections when the top wing was connected to the bottom wing. I know in theory this should work, but when I connected the V struts to the bottom wing the cabane struts on one side got squeezed between the top wing and the fuselage causing them to bend. To relieve the pressure I cut the struts, removed a small piece and reconnected the struts with super glue. It turned out fine and you can’t even see it, but maybe I should just follow the instructions next time. Prior to installing the top wing I added the radiator shutters to the underside. This is a real nitpick but I was a little disappointed that Wingnut didn’t provide the handle to open and shut the radiator louvers. Eduard included it on their 1/48 scale version so I expected Wingnut to have it in 1/32 scale, especially since they pointed it out in a photo included with the instructions. Of course I could have scratch built one. 

With the top wing attached be sure to connect the radiator pipes to the radiator. I added the ailerons after attaching the top wing. Here is the main difference between a DV and a DVa. The DV had its aileron control lines in the top wing that fit in large vertical housings. The DVa reverted back to the control lines in the lower wing that were used on the Albatros DIII and did not have the housings.  

Following this the landing gear struts, axle wing, wheels and wheel covers were attached. Take care here as the struts are somewhat flimsy and could break easily. I’m not sure what could be done about it as the struts are in scale and thickness with the originals. It’s just that plastic struts of the correct dimensions are obviously not as strong as metal ones. Three propellers are provided, a Niendorf, Axial and Wolff depending on the version chosen, and it is installed now. Finally the spinner, anemometer and engine exhaust are added.


The fuselage of the Albatros was mostly wood so much of the painting involved making gray plastic look like wood. I accomplish this pretty simply first spraying a base coat of Model Master Tan (acrylic). Once dry I then add the wood grain using Griffins Alkyd Burnt Umber. Griffins is a quick drying oil paint made with oil modified alkyd resin which causes it to dry in about 24 hours. It dries faster than traditional oils which can take several days but slower than acrylics which can dry in a few hours. To me it’s the perfect medium for making wood grain and also for weathering. I use a fairly thin mixture (it thins with paint thinner) and apply it to the base coat with a brush I use for weathering. Because Albatrosses were made of several panels of birch plywood I alternate the direction of the grain on each panel. For DVs the plywood was typically finished in a clear coat of varnish (no stain) so I applied a light coat of the Griffins Burnt Umber (you could also use Yellow Ochre) to represent the wood grain panels. On a few of the interior areas I applied it a little heavier for differentiation. 

The interior metal parts were generally painted in Model Master RLM Gray. The instrument dials were painted Silver and then coated with Future prior to applying the instrument decals. Once dry I then put a drop or two of Testors Clear Parts Cement on the instruments to represent glass covers. The seat was painted with Polly Scale RLM 66 and weathered with Burnt Umber to represent leather. The seat belts were painted with Gunze Sail Color and the buckles were finished in RLM Gray. The fuel and air pressure gauge panel was finished as wood, then decals were applied to represent the controls. The magneto parts were painted RLM 66 and highlighted with a little MM Aluminum.

The engine compartment was finished as wood, although many were painted RLM Gray. The engine was finished with Aluminum, the cylinders in Gun Metal, and Polly Scale Copper was used to finish the brass parts. Polly Scale Copper is more brass than copper and I also used it on the oil tank. I weathered the engine and compartment with Burnt Umber and pastels. The exhaust was painted in MM Jet Exhaust, then drybrushed with Gunze Burnt Iron, MM Rust and a little Dark Gray. The radiator pipes were painted Aluminum. I broke the main pipe leading from the engine to the radiator so I re-glued it and repainted part of it to look like a connector. The radiator was painted silver and weathered. The radiator shutters were painted RLM Gray.

The Spandaus were painted MM Gun Metal, highlighted with a little Metallic Gray.

All the struts were painted RLM Gray as were the wheel covers. The wheels themselves were painted Light Gray and weathered by drybrushing with darker shades. I painted the bungee cord shock absorbers Gunze Sail Color and weathered with Burnt Umber. The prop spinner was painted RLM Gray, then I used a little masking fluid to cover some of it. I then painted the spinner Black and removed some of the paint/masking fluid to reveal a few spots of RLM Gray underneath to represent paint chipping. The wings and tailplane were all painted RLM 65 on the bottom, with the top side finished in Dunkelgrun 71 and Tamiya Purple. The rudder was painted Gunze Sail Color. The propeller was painted a base coat of MM Tan, the laminations masked off and painted Gunze Red Brown, and when dry the whole prop was given a wash of Griffins Burnt Umber. Once dry it was sealed with Future, the Niendorf decal applied, and then given another final coat of Future. The tailskid was also painted Tan and given a Burnt Umber wash for wood graining.

Before applying the exterior decals the model was given a thorough spraying of Future to provide a slick surface for the decals. All the decals went on with no problem. The trickiest part was applying the white and black fuselage stripe but it wasn’t too bad. Once the decals were dry I sprayed them with Future again, then sprayed the model with a light coat of MM Satin.


No WWI model would be complete without rigging which I proceeded to do after most everything was finished. Wingnut makes it as easy as possible providing a good rigging diagram as well as pre-drilling many of the rigging locations. I used invisible monofilament to rig the Albatros. I applied a drop of super glue to each location on the underside of the upper wing and attached the end of a rigging line to it until it set up. To speed the process I dip the end of the line in super glue accelerator before installing it in the hole. I do this for all the locations under the top wing then I thread the rest of the lines through holes I have drilled in the bottom wings. I apply a little super glue in the hole and attach a pair of tweezers or hemostats to the line and let the line “hang” until the glue sets up.  Once dry I trim off the excess and patch the exit points. This usually involves a little more super glue, some sanding and a little touch up paint. If there are decals on the bottom wing I usually wait until all the patching is done before applying them. The decals also help to hide the touch up.


The Albatros DVa is my favorite aircraft of any era, and this kit was a joy to build. I have waited many years to see an Albatros DVa in 1/32 scale and Wingnut Wings far exceeded my expectations. If you love WWI models you have probably already experienced Wingnut Wings. If you have never built a WWI model before, I recommend that you give their kits a try. The Pfalz DIII might be a little easier than the Albatros, but the kits are designed to be user friendly so dive in! Highly recommended.


Wingnut Wings Albatros kit instructions

Albatros Aces of World War I, Norman Franks, Osprey Publishing, 2000.

Albatros DVa, Famous Aircraft of the National Air and Space Museum No.4, Robert Mikesh, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1980.

Otis Goodin

December 2012

Review kit courtesy of my kit collection.

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