HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE
SWISS AIR FORCE 1918-1929 in 1:48 SCALE

SSW D.III D.8356/18 in SWISS SERVICE 1919

by George Grasse

FLASHBACK 1:48 SCALE INJECTION KIT FB8918 SSW D.III OF THE SWISS AIR FORCE

UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS #1 & #2
22 July 2010

CONSTRUCTION STARTED: This side view shows the fuselage and tail unit progress to date.  The top view shows some of the cockpit detail.  In both views can be seen several kit PE parts.   

 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #3
7 August 2010
LANDING GEAR: The kit landing gear struts of plastic were discarded and I made a pair of landing bear "V" struts from "Strutz" brass material.  The axle is a brass rod wrapped with lead foil to represent the axle aerofoil section.  Both ends of the axle are wrapped in .010 solder to represent the "bungee" cord shock absorbers.  Note also the installation of the rotary engine and engine cowl.  The printed camouflage fabric decals will be explained below.

 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #4
7 August 2010
LANDING GEAR SIDE VIEW: The landing gear has the appearance of the original kit parts and provides substantial support while the model is in static display.   
 
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS #5a & 5b
7 August 2010
PRINTED 5-COLOR CAMOUFLAGE FABRIC DECALS: In all of the research I have conducted for this model, it is confirmed that the top wing fabric was applied at a 45 degree angle for the upper and under surfaces except for the ailerons which had fabric applied span-wise.  The lower wing had the fabric applied span-wise both upper and under surfaces including the ailerons.  The elevator surfaces were covered in a span-wise direction.  These two views show the basic decal application.  Rib and border tapes have not yet been applied. 
 

 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #6
12 August 2010
LEFT SIDE VIEW: Fuselage is painted Vallejo Flat Black; rudder is painted Humbrol Insignia Red; Landing gear struts, wheel covers, and underside of the forward fuselage is painted Andrea Medium Gray.  Note installation of Spandau machine guns and headrest.  The model has been oversprayed with satin polyurethane.   
 
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS #7a & 7b
21 August 2010
FUSELAGE FINISHING TOUCHES: The laminated plywood fuselage covering is beginning to wear through the black paint of this aircraft.  It is most notable closer to the engine where engine lubricant and exhaust spray from the rotary engine.  I used a red-brown colored pencil on the surface of the fuselage and rubbed it with my finger to spread around and eliminate any obvious streaking.  It is much more noticeable when viewed directly and not via a photograph.   Decals are described below.   

 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS #8a & 8b
21 August 2010
DECALS:  These view show the application of decals so far.  The kit decals were 1) too dark in my view and 2) cracked in two or more places per rib when I tried to use them.  I found substitutes in my spare decals "book" and chose a lighter set of colors as shown in the photos above.  Rib and border taping for the flying surfaces was started.  All of the light blue rib tapes have been applied to the under surfaces including the top wing (not shown).  The upper surfaces have only gotten as far as the tail.  These are the so-called "salmon pink" shade.  Note that the border tape that runs around the periphery of the flying surfaces has not yet been applied.   This will be finished in a matching "salmon pink" paint and overlap the upper AND the lower borders.  The rudder was originally painted all red as shown in photo #6 above.  This was done so as not to have a paint border between red and black because I did not know just how the white Swiss cross would be positioned.  Once the crosses were in place, I could judge the imaginary " red square" on which the small white Swiss cross is placed.  I painted the lower part of the rudder to "square off" the red field.  I used the kit's "skull and crossbones" decals carefully deciding from many photos and drawings exactly where they were to be placed.  This took a little more time than I originally thought but I think the placement is correct.  All of the rib and border taping has to be completed before final assembly and rigging.  Note the aluminum engine cover on the fuselage underside. 
 
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS #9a & 9b
22 August 2010
ALL DECALS APPLIED:  Upper and under surface camouflage is shown to advantage in these two photos.  The rib tapes are decals but the border tape is hand-painted.  The Swiss crosses are applied differently on the wing surfaces; the upper surface of the top wing shows how the crosses are cropped but the underside of the bottom wing shows that the crosses are applied to fill the red field.  This is confirmed in photographs.  Although not clearly visible, the wing struts have been hand-painted to match the upper surface printed camouflage scheme.  The inboard fuselage struts (when mounted) will be painted medium gray (same as the landing gear struts).
 
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS #10a & 10b
25 August 2010
FINISHED LEFT AND RIGHT SIDE VIEWS:  The wing struts have been hand-painted to simulate the upper-surface printed camouflage fabric.  This was done in actual practice.  All other struts were painted in Andrea ANAC21 Medium Grey.  Colors used to match the printed camouflage were: DARK GREEN = Andrea ANAC38 Napoleonic Green (8 parts) plus Andrea ANAC24 Light Green (1 part); LIGHT GREEN: Andrea ANAC24 Light Green (8 parts) plus Andrea ANAC38 Napoleonic Green (1 part); LIGHT BROWN: Andrea ANAC41 Wood; and PURPLE: Andrea ANAC23 Violet.  
 
 
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS #11a & 11b
25 August 2010
FINISHED LEFT REAR AND RIGHT REAR VIEWS:  Detail on top of the cockpit decking included pilot's windscreen, tie-downs for the cross bracing (rigged using monofilament thread), two Spandau machine guns, aileron crank tubes from cockpit to upper wing, padding at the end of each Spandau, and I added a tachometer just forward of the windscreen.
 
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS #12a & 12b
25 August 2010
FINISHED LEFT FRONT AND RIGHT FRONT VIEWS:  Each propeller blade was prepared separately.  A base coat of Vallejo VC0913 Yellow Ochre was applied overall to each prop.  Then, laminations stripes were painted on using Andrea ANAC48 Dark Leather,  When thoroughly dry, a set of six colored pencils were used to rub in and simulate variations in wood grain color.  The natural oil in the colored pencil and from my hand gave the finished look a nice realistic sheen.
 
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTO #13
25 August 2010
TOP ELEVATED REAR VIEW: The salmon pin rib and border tapes are shown to good effect in this view.  Fuselage has subtle brown streaks (not visible here) indicating original wood showing through the black paint scheme.  Several times during the final stages of production just after decals were applied, I oversprayed the entire model with satin polyurethane to protect the decals and guard against finger prints.
 
 
UNDER CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS #14a, 14b, & 14c
25 August 2010
FINISHED "IN FLIGHT" VIEWS:  Nice photos showing this colorful aircraft to full advantage especially when comparing the upper to the under surface 4-color camouflage scheme. 
 
 
-----------------------------------------  C'est finis  --------------------------------------------
 
 
This 1:48 scale model is based on a two photographs and color profiles sent in by a collector for whom this model is being built.  Substantial research information, detailed photo closeups, and technical data was provided in Windsock Datafile 29 SSW D.III/D.IV by Peter M. Grosz.  Construction data comes from Gray & Thetford German Aircraft of the First World War.  Sometime after its initial service with the Swiss Air Force, SSW D.III 8356/17 was refinished and renumbered to become SSW D.III Nr. 606 of the Swiss Air Force.  I built that version just before this one; you can review it here:  SSW D.III Nr. 606

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Bibliography:

Gray, Peter and Owen Thetford, German Aircraft of the First World War, scale drawings by George Haddow, published by Putnam & Company Limited, London, 1962.

Grosz, P. M. Seimens-Schuckert D.III-D.IV Windsock Datafile 29, Colours and Markings section by Ray Rimmel, scale drawings by Dick Bennett, color profiles by Ray Rimmel, Albatros Publications Ltd, Berkhamsted, UK, 1991.

Fliegertruppe: Aircraft of the Swiss Air Force 1914-1936. London UK: Blue Rider Publishing, 2002.

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