1/48 Gavia Pfalz E.I

Gallery Article by Mike Muth on Sept 3 2018



Before the Guns of August opened fire, airplane manufacturers from future warring countries often obtained licenses to build airplanes designed elsewhere. The Pfalz E series were an outgrowth of a license to build monoplanes designed by the French firm of Morane-Saulnier. Once aerial fighting began, the Pfalz E series monoplanes were considered the poor step-sister of the Fokker Eindeckers. While armed with the same Spandau machine gun(s) and synchronization system, they were slower and less structurally sound than the Fokkers. Similar in appearance, they were often confused by Allied pilots with the Fokkers. The Pfalz were not liked by the pilots who were assigned to them. Because of their inferiority to the Fokkers many of the Pfalz were relegated to the Eastern Front. From September, 1915, through May, 1916, 261 Pfalz E series monoplanes were produced. 

The Pfalz E.I was powered by a 7 cylinder 80 hp Oberursel rotary engine. It used a wing warping system instead of ailerons to turn. The structure of the fuselage was a wooden frame covered in fabric. E.1215/15, the one I chose to model was flown by FEA 19 on the Eastern Front.

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Not a lot of choices for modeling the Pfalz monoplanes. The only kits in 1/48 scale that I am aware of are the Gavia kit (later re-issued by Eduard), and one by Special Hobby. I had purchased the Gavia kit when it first came out and finally got around to building it. Early WW I cockpits were pretty spartan so don't spend a lot of time worrying about the empty looking cockpit, even though it is rather prominent. This is a limited run type kit, and although there are tiny locating pins, be prepared for some sanding and test fitting in order to get everything together. The tail skid and landing gear assembly are somewhat complicated.

All of the Pfalz E series monoplanes were painted in a translucent white paint, with the borders, front half of the fuselage, and rib tapes in black; a very striking appearance, accentuated by Pfalz's desire to add black Iron Crosses all over the plane. I used Model Master Insignia White and Black. All of the trim was provided as decals. These worked pretty well, except for the wing, rudder and tail plane outlines. While the decals went on ok, I ended up using a black Sharpie marking pen to go over areas where some white was showing. The Pfalz logo located on the front of the engine cowling is raised and I ran a silver marking pen lightly over it to get the desired effect.  The rigging attachment reinforcements located on the wing are also supplied as decals and worked just fine.

Some care needs to be taken in planning how to rig the Pfalz; lots of rigging, especially around the landing gear. The system used pulleys attached to the top post and on the landing gear, but I have never been able to get the pe to work. Instead, I used a small oval shaped piece of pe. While not 100% accurate, it works for me. I would strongly suggest the Datafile on the Pfalz monoplanes as well as the excellent information and photos found in "Pfalz Aircraft of WW I" by Jack Harris. Most of the information found in this article was obtained from his book.

By June, 1916, the Pfalz was close to non-existent at the front with only 8 on record. Death notices were published in German newspapers with a black outline. Considering the lack of success with the black outlined Pfalz monoplanes the comparison between the two was obvious to the fatalistic fliers. Pfalz next went on to build Roland biplanes before its next original fighter design went into production, the Pfalz D.III and D.IIIa.

Mike Muth

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Death Notice


Photos and text by Mike Muth