- Published on Friday, 25 March 2011 16:53 Robin Jenkins
1/32 German 5 Colour Upper and Lower Lozenge and Rib Tape Decals
Items number 30001 (5 colour upper), 30002 (5 colour lower) and 30005 (rib tapes)
Available from Wingnut Wings for $12.50 for Lozenge, and $7.50 for rib tapes.
It may seem odd to non-WW1 aviation modellers that, towards the end of the war on the Western Front, whilst British aircraft were basically khaki (PC10) and American and French aircraft were camouflaged, German aircraft had both sides of their wings covered in a multicoloured fabric printed as a set of repeating patterns and colours. This fabric, with its 4 or 5 repeating colours, was used as a development of 2 previous fabric preparation methods by the German aircraft industry, namely the pre-application of camouflage patterns and dying of fabric; these methods had themselves arisen because of the need to reduce weight and conserve raw materials. The origin of the actual geometric shape of the individual colour blocks (the "lozenge", which gave its name to the patterned fabric) is not known, but it is an exact copy of the cell patterns found on Dragonfly wings. As for most of the aircraft used by the Germans in WW1, the fabric was overlayed with rib tapes where it crossed wing ribs; this overlaying also extended to the wing leading edges with some manufacturers. These tapes were of either pre-dyed single colour fabric or cut from the lozenge fabric bolts within the manufacturing plant.
Since the launch of the Wingnut Wings (WNW) 1/32 series of exceptionally high quality WW1 aircraft models, I have been privileged to either buy or receive for review several of their range, but through choice or luck, I have not seen any of their kits that contain decals for this lozenge pattern (the LVG G.VI, the Roland D.VIb and the Pfalz D.IIIa) and so cannot comment on whether these are the same as in those kits or are improvements. With the recent release of several WNW decal sheets for their Albatros D.V and D.Va kits that require lozenge decals for their wings, it was obvious that WNW lozenge decals would follow (indeed, I have commented previously on this site that the lozenge decals should have been launched first, or at least at the same time as the Albatros sheets). Now, WNW have launched the upper and lower versions of the 5 colour lozenge fabric as decal sheets, along with a sheet of different coloured rib tapes.
Cartograf from Italy are again the printers of the decals, which again are in perfect register, and each sheet will now be examined:
30001 - 5 Colour Upper Lozenge (above)
There has always been much controversy about the actual colours used in lozenge fabrics; I have become convinced that there is no definitive answer to this issue, since I believe different manufacturers of the fabric may have used different combinations of colours. The basic 5 colour upper lozenge contained shades of blue, brown, purple, mid green and a lighter green; it is how these shades are portrayed, how bright they are and how they match to each other that causes the controversy. Many companies have made lozenge decals; I have always thought the best of these were by the (now ceased trading) US manufacturer Americal/Gryphon - their colours were good, but their weakness was in the surface of the decals, where very faint ridges could often be felt between the coloured lozenges. The most recent effort, in 1/32nd scale, is that which has appeared in the Roden kits such as the Siemens Schuckert D.III; this effort unfortunately missed the mark, with the shape of the lozenges, the vividness and hue of the colours and the overall finish of the decals all being questionable.
The new WNW decals come as 7 strips, probably enough to cover 1 German fighter in 1/32 scale. The colours look good to me, they are close to the Americal/Gryphon colours, but are a little brighter. The surface of the decals is smooth.The brightness of the decals is mentioned in the accompanying double-sided instruction sheet (one side of which is common to all 3 sets reviewed here); the colours are matched to existing fabric samples, some of which due to circumstances are unfaded. This means that no scale effect has been taken into effect. WNW clearly state that weathered or faded lozenge fabric can be portrayed by ".....misting a thinned pale sand coloured paint over the top of the decals after application to your model." I would be tempted to try misting a pale grey or pale brown instead of or as well as the sand and see which effect gives the best results.
The other side of each instruction sheet holds the same text but different photographs showing the actual lozenge or rib tapes in question.
30002 - 5 Colour Lower Lozenge (above)
To my eyes, the under surface colours are always more difficult to portray. The five basic shades were amber, blue, pale green, pink and pale mauve. This sheet is not as bright as the upper surface sheet - indeed, it may even be a little too pale, and that is much more difficult to correct; it cannot be done so easily via misted paint. However, the actual shades are very good and are better than the Americal/Gryphon efforts..
30005 - Rib tapes for Lozenge Decals (above)
3 of the 4 rib tapes used are portrayed here; blue, pink and uncoloured linen (the fourth option is to cut narrow strips from the actual lozenge decals). The blue is by far the best colour representation, with the pink not far behind; I found the natural linen strips much too dark and golden in hue and these are the most disappointing aspect of the 3 sheets.
So, if faced with a WNW Albatros D.V that needs lozenge fabric, what should you buy? Basically, you need one of each of the 3 sheets (as long as it is definitely 5 colour lozenge you require) on offer here (below).
Once the model is completed, I doubt there will be much actual lozenge decal remaining, but there will be plenty of rib tapes (enough for at least 2 more models). I can therefore see sales of the lozenge decal sheets outselling the rib tapes by 2 or 3 to 1.
A very good modelling friend of mine is who is a first class WW1 modeller said something to me recently that I think applies perfectly to these decals: with the passage of time, we will never know the full answers to questions regarding aircraft colours - so when we look at a model or a decal we will never know if it is 100% right - but we will instinctively know when something is wrong. These decals, apart from the poor natural linen rib tapes, do not look wrong, and the brightness of the upper colours can easily be toned down as described above.
It is pretty obvious from the numbering that decal sheets 30003 and 30004, whenever they are released, will be upper and lower versions of the 4 colour lozenge fabric also used by the Germans. Whether the naval lozenge found in the Hansa Brandenburg W.29 kit will be made available separately is something I am not sure of, because of the current non-availability of other naval aircraft models in 1/32 scale.
So what do we think?
Certainly worth waiting for, and have set the bar quite high for 1/32 lozenge decals. I think they will be quickly adopted by all serious WW1 modellers.
Our thanks to Wingnut Wings for the review samples. To purchase directly, click THIS link.