Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Phönix D.II of Alexander Kasza

Feldwebel Alexander (Sándor) Kasza was born in 1896 in the Hungarian town of Tacskosuthfalva, today’s Stara Moravica in Vojvodina, which is part of northern Serbia. He was called up to join the 86th Infantry Regiment in 1915, but in September of that year he transferred to the air force, and he completed his pilot training in Germany, and more specifically Brandenburg and Hamburg. Kasza was considered a very good pilot, and he served for quite some time as an instructor at Wiener Neustadt. However, in August 1917 he was posted to the Italian Front at Haidenschaftban with Fliegerkompanie (Flik) 55J. He scored his first victory on November 15, when he shot down an Italian Savoia-Pomilio. Another two followed before 1917 came to an end, and in 1918 Kasza became the wing-man of Austro-Hungarian ace Joseph Kiss until Kiss was shot down by Lieutenant Gerald Birks of No. 66 Squadron on May 24, 1918. Kasza subsequently adorned his Phönix with three hearts to honor his fallen comrade. It should however be noted that Kasza flew an Albatros D.III scout for most of his career, and the Albatros was exchanged for a Phönix, probably in late May of 1918. He was eventually posted to Flik 11F before the Armistice. Kasza survived the war with six victories, but he was killed with his family during the Soviet bombardment of Budapest in 1945. 
15 Nov 1917
Flik 55J
Albatros D.III (153.19)
N of Bassano
17 Nov 1917
Flik 55J
Albatros D.III (153.19)
Nieuport Scout
N of Valstagna
23 Nov 1917
Flik 55J
Albatros D.III (153.40)
Nieuport Scout
12 Jan 1918
Flik 55J
Albatros D.III
Casa Rigoni
22 May 1918
Flik 55J
Albatros D.III
Sopwith Camel
S Cima Maora
09 Jun 1918
Flik 55J
Phönix D.II (422.14)
Bristol F.2b
E of Acqua Viva
Feldwebel Alexander Kasza

Kasza's Phönix D.II in 1918.

The kit is the Mac 1/72 Phönix D.II that can be seen below. Mac has issued several Phönix scouts, and it is scalewise a quite accurate model of the Phönix. The kit comes with a small photoetch fret that contains an underscale seatbelt harness, a nice instrument panel as well as gun sights, radiator piping and support struts for the tailplane. The engine is a tad less detailed than, say, the Roden engines, but it is adequate. The model has a low parts count, and it is fairly easy to build. The painting was moderately challenging, and is it were, the best way to create the brown mottling was by using a q-tip. There were some issues regarding the mottling, and various representations indicate that the mottling might have been dark green, a brown-green mix or just brown, but I selected brown for Kasza's Phönix. The decals were extremely thin, so great care had to be taken while applying the decals, and yet I caused some minor damage that had to be painted over.

The Phönix D.II was a slightly improved version of the D.I. It had a slightly increased wing span, and it had a completely redesigned tailplane, Phönix D.IIs began reaching front line units in May of 1918, but Flik 55J was probably the only one to be wholly equipped with the D.II. The Phönix was arguably the best scout of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and pilots who flew the Phönix ckaimed that it could match any Allied warplane on the Italian Front. It was fast, and it could out-climb the Sopwith Camel. However, some pilots found the Phönix perhaps a little too stable. About 327 Phönix scouts were built during the war, while Sweden built an additional ten as the J1.

Martin O'Connor. Air Aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire

George Haddow. The Phoenix Scouts

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