Friday, September 12, 2014
The Air Servive of the Austro-Hungarian Army, the Kaiserliche und Königliche Luftfahrtruppen or K.u.K. Luftfahrtruppen, started off with 13 Fliegerkompanien (Flik) with around 35 to 40 aircraft and 85 pilots, while the Austro-Hungarian Navy had another 28 aircraft and 64 seaplanes. The domestic aircraft production capacity was limited, and the indigenous aircraft manufacture saw little standardization.
The first single-seat fighter to see service with the Luftfahrtruppen was the Fokker E.I, the predecessor of the E.III, or Fokker A.III as it was known in Austrian service. It entered service late in 1915. The first couple of aircraft were delivered in the markings of the German Air Service, but with Austrian airframe numbers, 03.51 and 03.52 (former German E.I 64/15 and E.I 65/15). In all two E.I and twelve E.III Fokker monoplanes (airframes 03.41 to 03.50, 03.53 and 03.54) were delivered to the Luftfahrtruppen between November 1915 and June 1916.
The first victory, a Maurice Farman, was scored by the commander of Flik 4, Hauptmann Mathias Bernath, on November 25, 1915 in the vicinity of San Lorenzo di Mossa in Fokker A.III 03.51. The victory was shared with an Albatros B.I two-seater. Fokker A.III 03.42 did proceed to become the one most successful Fokker in Austrian service with in all six victories:
- Mathias Bernath of Flik 4 (two kills, one being an Italian Caproni Ca. 1 bomber shared with Heinrich Kostrba in the Palmonova area at 8:45 AM on February 18, 1916)
- Max Perini of Flik 19 (kills on May 1, 1916 and a Voisin on May 10, 1916)
- Ludvig Hautzmayer of Flik 19 (a Caudron on August 9, 1916)
- Adolf Heyrowsky, also of Flik 19 (a Voisin on August 15, 1916)
Both Flik 4 and Flik 19 were deployed on the Italian Front and joined together as the Fokker-Kampfstaffel in 1916. Besides engaging enemy aircraft, these units supported the Austrian Army with ground attack and reconnaissance tasks along the front. Towards the end of their serviceable lives, the remaining Fokkers were transferred to the Eastern Front and Fliks 1, 8, 9, 13, 25 and 29.
The Revell Fokker E.III kit is originally from 1981, although this is a re-boxing with a delightful little decal sheet. I chose to paint the aircraft in clear linen dope (Testor's Radome Tan), although some aircraft showed staining due to water damage, hence the brownish stains. However, some Austrian Fokkers may have been painted in a sage green or grayish-green color. The German crosses were eventually removed from the wings and replaced by wide Austrian red-white-red stripes across the outer parts, although I kept the crosses.
The kit is easy to assemble, and I added a scratch-built Schwarzlose, which at some point replaced the original MG 08/15 machine gun on some Austrian Fokkers, a windscreen, a little bit of detailing to the cockpit, rigging, a propeller disc and the glorious aviator. Why is he firing his Mauser C96 into the air? Has he run out of machine gun ammunition? Has his Schwarzlose jammed (it was less reliable than the MG 08/15)? Does he want to take a shot from under an enemy aircraft? Or is he just confused? We will never know...