AEG J.II 342/18 of FA(A) 242w








The 1:48 scale WW1 airplane covered in this issue is the Jager Miniatures resin kit of the AEG J.II Infanterieflugzeug two-seater built in small numbers and issued to some Feldflieger and Feldflieger (Artillerie) Abteilungen in the army cooperation role as an infantry contact patrol aircraft (more on that later).  This is a resin kit of superior quality as usual from Jager Miniatures which, unfortunately, has been out of business for a number of years.  The kit includes white metal parts (all struts, propeller, tail skid, exhaust, gun ring, and spare ammo drums); there are also a few brass Strutz rods and plastic rod.  Decals are somewhat problematical in that the serial number of the aircraft provided is based on a photograph in which the last digit is hidden and so it is missing on the decal sheet (J.20?/18).  The usual eight position Balkenkreuz are provided.  There are no printed camouflage decals so you have to furnish your own but study reference photographs carefully.  The fuselage is cast as one single piece in fine detail with the cockpit area appropriately finished and closed in at the bottom with a floorboard piece after details have been added and painted.  The engine is cast in its upper half only to which are added the intake manifold, exhaust stack, and radiator pipes.  One after-market item included in the kit is a Copper State Models' Parabellum machine gun.

Not supplied in my kit or otherwise replaced are a number of items which I will detail in the step-by-step Construction section below.  I used the following after-market accessories:

    Copper State CS0105 Prop Bosses
    Copper State CS0122 German Gauge Set
    Strutz brass rods for landing gear, wing, and cabane struts
    Techmod 1:48 scale 4-color printed camouflage fabric decals (upper and under surfaces)
    Clear decal paper to make weight table and serial numbers   


This model was originally intended to be AEG J.II 341/18 based on a photograph taken by Stephen Miller, a member of the League of WW1 Aviation Historians, that appeared in Over the Front, Volume 23, Issue 4, Winter 2008, page 376.  I sent an email to Stephen asking for details he might have when he visited the Fort de la Pompelle Museum near Reims, France, where he took the photo.  He recalled that the only information available was a small placard on the wall under the photo simply identifying it as a piece of fabric from a German AEG J.II.  I wrote to the museum asking for details but never received a response after waiting for more than four months.  Here's the photo.  Note the style of lettering and the presumably "upper" printed camouflage fabric.  Keep in mind that the colors, if the fabric is authentic,  are dated back to 1918.  

So, my research continued and I found a disturbing lack of photographic evidence and historical deployment data for the AEG J.II in general.  A modest number of photographs appeared in the "Rare Birds" article "AEG J.Ia & J.II", by Peter Grosz, Over the Front, Volume 17, Issue 4, Winter 2002.  None provided all of the data I needed for a specific aircraft although general attributes of the AEG J.II series were helpful especially the direction of printed camouflage fabric on the flying surfaces.  However, I decided to set this project aside until more information was available. 1

One day, while reviewing articles in Over the Front, Volume 21, Number 2, I re-read Peter Kilduff's article "From Russia with Victory: History of FA(A) 242w", which included a number of historical anecdotes that contained aircraft serial numbers.  Near the end of the article, when FA(A) 242w had been transferred to the Western Front near Metz, one paragraph on page 182 described AEG J.II 342/18 that had been totally wrecked on 20 September 1918 at Flugplatz Frescaty after a bad landing on returning from a late afternoon mission.  The serial number immediately recalled my adventure with the fabric remnant of a sister machine, AEG J.II 341/18.  Kilduff's paragraph went on to record that Uffz Böttcher (P) and Ltn Schwally (O) were both injured.  Now I had all of my own minimum requirements: aircraft serial number, unit, crew, date, location, and circumstances to resume the project.


The Verdun offensive (February-June 1916) and the Somme offensive (July -November 1916), restored mobile warfare if in the opening phases only.  Such were the gains made by attacking forces (Germany at Verdun, the Allies at the Somme) that fixed trench warfare was temporarily suspended.  Pre-registered artillery fire, machine gun fields of fire, support trenches, and reserve troops became so muddled during this fluidity that local commanders could not determine where exactly their own or the enemy's troops were precisely located.  This situation caused serious problems when planning a further push or a counterattack.  Attached air units were tasked with the mission of penetrating the fog of war and clearing up the situation.  Normally, on the German side, Flieger-Abteilungen and/or Flieger-Abteilungen (Artillerie), abbreviated FA and FA(A) respectively, were the aviation units responsible for army cooperation.  Each of these units had a strength of six two-seat aircraft none of which was designed for low-flying reconnaissance especially of the kind of flight that exposed the aircraft and crew to all manner of small caliber weapons fire.  These aircraft were unarmored and therefore especially vulnerable at low-level flying in tight patterns trying to identify where previously unknown position were located and exactly who occupied them. 

There were several objectives for this type of mission: 1) in a fluid combat situation where the frontline has been penetrated, exactly where is the frontline at this moment? 2) identify the enemy's zone of attack to include the observation of enemy troops by visually noting their uniforms; 3) attack targets of opportunity by strafing and with hand grenades ; 4) report potential artillery targets of opportunity using a wireless transmitter (W/T).  In John Cuneo's study of the German air arm The Air Weapon 1914-1916, by September 1916. . . "there were two attacking groups. . . each had a field aviation section to serve as contact patrol with the mission of following the battle on the ground.  This was a new practice in the Somme area, although it had already been tried at Verdun." 3

Von Hoeppner, in his work Germany's War in the Air, offers how the infantry contact patrol developed.  "The other armies were advised of the excellent results which the 7th Army (German 7.Armee) had attained in infantry contact work. Infantry flying (Infanterieflug) had started during the Battle of the Somme (July 1916) in order to establish liaison with the front line.  The scope of this activity was now greatly enlarged so that it included surveillance of the entire battle-field.  For instance, interdiction fire placed at the right time on hostile trenches filled with troops would be a decisive influence in changing the character of a defensive fight, and, therefore, the information given by the aviator became most important." 4
Further on in von Hoeppner's work, "Infantry aviation had become the most valuable means of liaison between the commander and his infantry".  Up to the Somme offensive, the German's had tried to use ground panels as a guide for friendly reconnaissance aircraft.  However. . . . "only seldom could the infantry be depended on to display panels and, therefore, the infantry aviator had to be able to tell friend from foe by their uniforms while flying at a very low altitude over trenches and shell-holes. . . . the reports of the infantry fliers, with few exceptions, were deemed more reliable than all other means of information. . . . We learned from captured orders that the enemy stressed the destruction of our infantry aviators by machine gun fire and our planes always came back full of holes, often with crews wounded." 5
Because this type of mission became suddenly so important, it placed a burden on existing FA and FA(A) units supporting frontline divisions.  In fact, it was soon recognized that both infantry and artillery missions were interlinked.  Von Hoeppner again, "Both activities were so closely allied in observation, reconnaissance, spotting for barrage and interdiction fire and the general surveillance of the whole battlefield that any distinction must lead to double work.  Both (infantry and artillery missions) needed a complete knowledge of our own positions and those of the enemy and liaison with troops and command posts. . . . Then too the activities of the infantry and artillery fliers (within the same aviation unit) had grown so that the planes and crews . . . were insufficient for the demand of a long-drawn-out engagement."  6

In late 1917, the "Verstärkt" program was initiated for specific FA and FA(A) units that provided direct frontline support to specific infanterie-division actually occupying defensive works on the Western Front.  Their aircraft establishment was increased from six to nine aircraft expressly for the purpose of flying Infanterieflug missions and as escorts for their own reconnaissance and artillery spotting units.  Up until this time, a large number of Schutzstaffeln each of six two-seater aircraft were spread up and down the front providing escort for the FA and FA(A) units.  Instead, the Schustas were relieved of the escort mission and reassigned the mission as battlefield ground attack units operating at the strategic level.  This change resulted in the "Verstärkt" program allowing frontline FA and FA(A) units to perform their own escort and infantry contact patrol work.  This change in deployment meant that each of these "Verstärkt" units would now be issued one or two armored J types depending on availability and priority. 7


German historical references and diaries refer to this type of mission as Infanterieflug or "infantry flight" or, as the British called it, "infantry contact patrol".  In earlier days before the deployment of armored aircraft designed specifically for this purpose, almost any aircraft on hand in the inventory of an aviation unit could be used.  Germany's Inspektion der Fliegertruppe (Idflieg) accumulated all after action reports, conducted field surveys, and discussed how aircraft and crew protection could be maximized to allow the Infanterieflug to be performed relatively safely.  A specification for a new type of aircraft, the J type, was issued in November 1916 and called for manufacturers to submit plans to build a two-seat armored army cooperation aircraft just for the role of infantry contact patrol.  The Allies did not produce such an aircraft.  Also discussed was the use of existing airframes that could have armor plating added and could be "up-engined" to carry the load.  Larger engines could be diverted to this program but the use of existing airframes was critical because the J type could be modified and deployed well before an accelerated design process could produce a truly engineered Infanterieflugzeug.

In response to the Idflieg specifications Allgemeine Electrizitäts G.m.b.H, Hennigsdorf bei Berlin, or AEG, and Albatros Werke G.m.b.H., Johannisthal bei Berlin submitted plans to include the use of existing airframes that could be armored and made available relatively quickly, say, in mid-1917.  The Junkers Flugzeug-Werke A.G., Dessau, began design work on a new all-metal armored airframe that would debut at the earliest in late 1917.

The AEG plan would divert AEG C.IV airframes, modify the front end to accept a Benz Bz.IV 200 hp engine, and accommodate the fitting of plate steel to the front fuselage back to the observer's cockpit on the sides and bottom.  This was done so that three larges pieces of 5.1mm thick steel plate were added to each fuselage side and the bottom plus one more plate behind the observer's cockpit.  They were simply fastened to the C.IVs welded steel framework using clips and set screws.  Forward armament (the pilot's fixed Spandau machine gun) was eliminated.  Instead, the observer's cockpit was modified to take the installation of an offset pair of Spandau machine guns bolted to a frame on the cockpit floor and angled to fire downwards at a 45 degree angle.  In test flights, the aircraft was cumbersome and had a low ceiling of operation, some pilots complaining that it could not get above 1500'.  Obviously, a low ceiling was preferred in keeping with the aircraft's purpose.  The test flight also revealed restricted lateral control and this resulted in the addition of ailerons to each of the lower wings operated in tandem with the upper ailerons via a strong steel tube connecting the two. 8

This aircraft became the AEG J.I and began reaching FA and FA(A) units in Spring 1917.  The AEG J.I program was quickly into production at the probable expense of existing and planned AEG C.IV airframes.  It is likely in my opinion, that the AEG J.I program had a lot to do with termination of the AEG C.IV since more modern and less expensive two-seaters such as the DFW C.V and LVG C.V were dominating aircraft types in FA and FA(A) units.  As soon as battlefield maneuverability problems were recognized and assessed, the AEG J.I was now produced as the AEG J.II.  It was never the intent of the Luftstreitkräfte (German Air Force) to equip entire units with armored J-Type aircraft.  They were seen as a special type allocated in ones and twos to those frontline FA and FA(A) units which were directly supporting frontline infantry divisions.  Although the steel armor sheets were available but as a scarce item and allocating them was not an easy matter.  Steel was in high demand, as can be expected,  for other equipment including transportation, weapons, and construction. 

Combat reports filtering back through Idflieg and the manufacturer revealed flight control problems but a fix was designed which became the AEG J.II, the subject of this article.  To improve lateral control, the upper wing ailerons were extended resulting in a "horn" protruding from the tip of the wing when viewed from above.  These were known as "horn balanced ailerons".  This slight extension assisted the pilot's lateral movement of the control column making it easier with less force to get the aircraft to bank.  The fin and rudder were enlarged slightly to improve in-flight stability making it easier for the pilot to "skid" the aircraft from side to side.  The tubular aileron link between the upper and lower ailerons was moved forward slightly to improve on the coordinated control of the ailerons.  Nothing else was changed and during the course of AEG J.I production, airframes were converted over to the AEG J.II configuration with little interruption of deliveries which began in mid-1918.

The unofficial Frontbestand (front line inventory) compiled by Peter M. Grosz for all J types is given below in Table 1.  The ultimate J type was the Junkers J.I, an all-metal armored two-seater purposely built for the Infanterieflugzeug role.  As with all Frontbestand data, complete information for October and on is not reliable.  The numbers represent what the FA and FA(A) combat units reported as on hand plus what was on hand at the Armee Flugparks (mostly spares). 9

Table 1: Frontbestand for J Types 1917-1918

 Two-Seater Frontline Aircraft











Total AEG J Types









Total Albatros J Types









Total Junkers J Types









Total J Types









Total all C Types









% of J Types to C Types


<1 <1








The AEG J.II was an improved version of the AEG J.I which was an AEG C.IV to which 5mm armor plating was literally bolted on to protect the crew and engine from enemy fire from below, the sides, and the rear.   In the AEG J.II, this protection was the same.  To carry this heavier load, in both types, the aircraft was up-engined from the Mercedes D.III rated at 160 hp to the Benz Bz.IV rated at 200 hp.  A few minor revisions were made in the J.II version: 1) except for the lower wing ailerons, horn-balanced control surfaces were added to the upper wing ailerons and the rudder; 2) the vertical fin was enlarged to gain directional stability; and 3) the aileron link rod was now located at the forward edge of the ailerons for more positive control response.  These improvements were intended to give more maneuverability to an otherwise slow, low-ceiling aircraft increasingly subjected to severe anti-aircraft fire. 

Both the AEG J.I and J.II were basic armor-enhanced versions of the AEG C.IV and had a tubular welded steel fuselage framework with wooden framework wings all covered in fabric except, of course, the armor plated areas.  Additional details on construction can be found in Gray & Thetford German Aircraft of the First World War and Ministry of Munitions 'Flight' Evaluation of the A.E.G. J.I reproduced in Cross & Cockade (US) Volume 10, Number 1, 1969 (see also bibliography).10


The total number of J-Type armored Infanterieflugzeuge ordered into production by Idflieg during World War I amount to about 1,071.  The actual number built is probably a little less.  Table 2 below is my summary from all of the sources that I have for order dates, order quantities, and serial numbers.  These aircraft were only deployed to the Western Front and the strength if the Luftstreitkräfte during the period from late 1917 through 1918 was fairly constant   There were about 28 FA, 91 FA(A), and 38 Schusta/Schlasta for a total of 157 aviation units available on the Western Front operating from 6 to 9 aircraft that would qualify to have at least one J-Type in their inventory.  11 

Assuming one Infanterieflugzeug per unit in service at any one time, the numbers required for all units were not reached until the second half of 1918.  Four factors probably prevented an  earlier achievement: 1) with the exception of the Schusta/Schlasta formations (each of six aircraft), the FA and FA(A) units designated to increase their establishment had some difficulty over time reaching the requisite number of pilots and gunners though aircraft were becoming more readily available; 2) a number of units stationed on the Eastern Front did not move East until the turn of the new year, 1918; 3) the J-Types were in low supply initially as the Frontbestand in Table 1 above shows; and 4) the early J-Types of 1917 were quite prone to battlefield attrition either by combat or accident.

Table 2: Summary of J-Type Infanterieflugzeuge Aircraft Orders


Order Month

Order Qty


Serial Numbers


Albatros J.I

May 1917 28  

J.400 - 427/17

Schlachtflieger 12
Jul 1917 50  

J.700 - 749/17

Sep 1917 25  

J.750 - 774/17

Albatros J.I Subtotal 103  
Albatros J.II Feb 1918 50  

J.125 - 174/18

Over the Front 23/3 13
Feb 1918



J.205 - 229/18




J.670 - 719/186

Albatros J.II Subtotal







Gray & Thetford 14








      est. 209  
AEG J.II Jul 1917



(J.525 - 549/17)

OTF 1704 p.349 15
Mar 1918



J.175 - 374/18


est. 100


(J.375 - 474/18)

AEG J.II Subtotal

est. 400  
Junkers J.I Nov 1916



serials not known

WDF039 pp. 3-5 16
Feb 1917



J.100 - 149/17

Oct 1917



J.800 - 899/17

Jun 1918



J.576 - 616/18

Jul 1918



J.717 - 726/18

Oct 1918



J.727 - 806/18

Junkers J.I Subtotal 283

J.800 - 899/17

             Total J-Types Ordered

est. 1120    



Events would soon make the St. Mihiel Salient the focus of attention for General Pershing's American army (see map below).  Just to the northwest lies Verdun which in early 1916 became the focus of all of Germany's Western Front strength in a brutal six-month campaign intended to "bleed France white".  The campaign ended in the summer when Russia launched the brilliant Brusilov Offensive in June 1916 and the British launched their Somme Offensive in July 1916.  With the arrival of American troops beginning in early summer 1917 and Pershing's insistence that Americans fight as a single army, it was a matter of time before German forces would be overwhelmed.  The German General Staff (Oberst-Heeresleitung or OHL), calculated that American combat strength would eventually tip the balance in favor of the Allies but not before the Summer of 1918.  With the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, all combat between Germany/Austria-Hungary and Russian ended.  An opportunity to strike the decisive blow could now be made somewhere on the Western Front.

By May 1918 from Flanders to the Champagne region (off map below), the all-out German offensive with the overall name of Kaiserschlacht had nearly split the Allies in two and came quite close to taking Paris.  The commitment of American troops including the U. S. Marine Brigade at Belleau Wood, essentially halted further German advances and opened the door for counter-attacks that would stabilize the Allied line.  In the eastern sectors of the Western Front, as shown below in the map of the Alsace-Lorraine area, the Germans had removed their best divisions for Kaiserschlacht beginning in January 1918.  At this time, most German units on the Russian/Ukraine Front were free to move to other fronts as a result of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.  Except for a few divisions to be committed to Kaiserschlacht, most of the other East Front German divisions were not yet acclimated to the style of trench warfare on the Western Front and many of these divisions were reorganized as the 19.Armee and assigned to the sector east of the St. Mihiel Salient between Armee-Abteilungen "C' and "A".


SIDEBAR: Armee-Abteilung

The German Army of World War I had a remarkably flexible structure in the field.  The normal hierarchy was two infantry divisions (infanterie-divisionen) to a corps (Armeekorps or Reserve-Armeekorps), two or more corps to an army (Armee).  In 1915, the then chief of the general staff, Falkenhayn, decided that the war had a better chance of being won on the Eastern Front than the Western Front.  Steps were taken to transfer troops from west to east.  In their place, trench systems were greatly enhanced especially against the British.  On the otherwise quiet Alsace-Lorraine sector, there was never a chance to drive France out of the war because the axis of advance was too long to get to France's strategic heart, Paris.  The Armee-Abteilung came into existence as an interim organization greater than an Armeekorps but smaller than a field Armee.  These commands were given letters hence, from north to south, "C", "B", and "A".  The new 19.Armee was inserted between "C" and "A".


This is Map 62 taken from The West Point Atlas of American Wars, Volume II, 1900-1953.


The German 19.Armee was largely composed of units that were once part of the Südarmee (German Army of the South) on the southern Eastern Front.  It was a relatively intact, experience organization and included Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) 242w.


The history of FA(A) 242w is well traced by Peter Kilduff's article in Over the Front entitled "From Russia with Victory", volume 21, issue 2 (2006).  Here follows is my brief summary.  The unit was organized at Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung 10 (FEA 10) near Stuttgart on 16 August 1916 and mobilized for deployment on 10 September 1916.  It was assigned directly to the Eastern Front in the Armee-Oberkommando (AOK) Südarmee or Army of the South facing the Russians in the  eastern Galician sector.  It was flanked on either side by two Austro-Hungarian armies Südarmee was made up of German, Austro-Hungarian, and Turkish infantry divisions organized in four corps.  The aviation components of the army included three German and three Austro-Hungarian army cooperation Abteilungen (detachments) each with six two-seater aircraft that could perform artillery spotting, photography,  reconnaissance, and the occasional ground support activities of light bombing and strafing.

The lower-case letter "w" attached to the end of "242" referred to its affiliation with the German state of Württemberg.  During the course of World War I, Germany was a unified country but it was actually composed of four major "states": Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, and Württemberg.  Each state retained its "independence" in many respects and the military was one of them.  Each state had its own military hierarchy including the maintenance of combat units including aviation.  It was a recognized custom that Prussia would provide the leadership and direction of military affairs during World War I.  Nonetheless, all units not Prussian were authorized to add the appropriate sub-script to their unit designation: b = Bavaria, s = Saxony, and w = Württemberg.  Prussian units by virtue of not having a sub-script were recognized as Prussian.  The "w" for FA(A) 242 was approved on 15 March 1917.

The original equipment of  FA(A) 242w was the Albatros C.I and C.III.  As a general rule, German aviation units on the Eastern Front were equipped with nearly obsolescent aircraft that were still the match of the Russians.  This practice extended the service life of many aircraft that would otherwise be used for training.  For long-range photo reconnaissance, the assigned aircraft was escorted by one or more, usually two, other two-seaters.  These missions were on-going and proved to anticipate almost every Russian move, bringing back photographic plates and visual reports of rail, road, and water traffic, and the accumulation of troops, munitions, and supplies.    There were no fighter units assigned to the Eastern Front but in some cases, select aviation units were given one or two single-seat aircraft which were used as short-range escorts and interceptors.  Again, these were nearly obsolescent fighter types which were as good as or better than their Russian counterparts. 

Improved two-seaters began replacing the lost or worn out Albatros C-Types all during the course of 1917.  These included DFW, LVG, and Rumpler two-seaters with much improved performance.  There were casualties to be sure but nothing like Western Front.  Except for the "Kerenski Offensive" in July 1917 which petered out by mid-month, all of the activities of FA and FA(A) units on the Eastern Front were the usual army cooperation missions.  After July 1917, it became apparent that the ground war was grinding down.  There were rumors of an armistice and, finally, in December 1917, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed and combat ceased.  Except for engagement on the Macedonian and Palestinian fronts, Germany's armed forces on the Eastern Front were available for redeployment and this included FA(A) 242w.

The movement of  Südarmee to the Western Front included the adoption of a new title, that of 19.Armee, and some minor adjustments to replace the Austro-Hungarian and Turkish formations with German ones.  FA(A) 242w was assigned to the Metz-Frescaty Flugplatz (aerodrome) from which it could support the St. Mihiel Salient.  It has receive two unique Western Front aircraft: one was an AEG J.I armored Infanterieflugzeug, one of the first of its type to reach active service in late 1917, and the other was a Hannover CL.II, type of light, nimble two-seater designed for escort and infantry contact patrol duty.  As the new year wore on, Kaiserschlacht was launched on 21 March 1918.  Although quite distant from the offensive action, FA(A) 242w stepped up its activities to discover if any Allied moves were planned as a counter to the battles in Flanders and to create the allusion that a German attack could come from 19.Armee and thus served to, perhaps, keep Allied units pinned so they could not reinforce Flanders.

This activity increased casualties and aircraft losses.  French and American aircraft were now aggressively probing the areas on either flank of the St. Mihiel Salient with two-seater and fighter aircraft patrols.  Throughout the spring and summer of 1918, including May, the highest casualty month for FA(A) 242w, air combat became an expected adjunct to any mission.  Increased AAA fire and Allied fighter activity hampered missions on a regular basis.  In August, AEG J.I 245/17 crashed in a landing attempt after an Infanterieflug, presumably as a result of ground fire.  A replacement aircraft came in the form of AEG J.II 342/18, the subject of this model construction.  The crew of Unteroffizier (Uffz) Böttcher (pilot) and Ltn d R Schwally (observer) crashed at the Flugplatz after returning from an infantry contact patrol.   I jumped on representing this aircraft because I had the rare (for this type of aircraft) combination of unit, crew, aircraft, serial number, date, and circumstances.  I could not find a photograph or a written reference to this aircraft.  I'm always interested in reproducing an exact model.  Having examined all of the photos of this type I could find, about 20 or so, virtually all were unmarked except for the Balkenkreuzen, serial number, and weight table.   Then again, aircraft involved in close work needed all of the camouflage possible, having no need for gaudy markings.

As an aside, I have read a few personal accounts of crew members who flew in these armored "things".  Except for the Junkers J.I, the others (AEG and Albatros) were real "clunkers".  To be sure, they were effective in providing crew and engine protection compared to the unarmored C- and CL-Types that conducted low-level, infantry contact patrols.  However, they were extremely limited in maneuverability, required extremely long take off runs, were more often damaged on takeoff/landing experiences, and could not get much above 500 feet when fully loaded!


I have relied on a number of references for details especially 1) Windsock Datafile 13 Albatros C.III (WDF013 for short, the revised 1999 edition) by Peter M. Grosz; and 2) a photo essay by Terry "Taz" Phillips in Over the Front Volume 22, Issue 1, entitled "From the Albums / Ltn. Fritz Leitzow, Part II" (see photos above).  As with all aircraft I build, I maintain a "build" page for each one in my "World War I Aircraft in 1:48 Scale" section.

AEG J.II 342/18 Photo Construction Review

German World War I Aircraft in 1:48 Scale Index

All World War I Aircraft in 1:48 Scale Index



Over the course of World War I, German aircraft are unique in their finishes because they changed so much and adopted so many different schemes.  Finally, by the last year of the war, printed camouflage fabric, introduced in April 1917, was now the standard for all fabric covered areas of the aircraft.  The popular word "lozenge" has been in vogue for a great number of years but it is technically incorrect.  I prefer the longer phrase "printed camouflage fabric" which consists of four- or five-color hexagonal shapes printed directly onto linen fabric.  In addition, there were upper surface shades and under surface shades.  Take into account a number of different manufacturers of the material and you end up with a bewildering array of different shades of a given color.  To this is added the aircraft manufacturer's preference for covering the aircraft's surfaces.  Printed camouflage fabric came in varying bolt widths all roughly 1300mm, plus or minus.  On the surface of a wing, for example, the manufacturer might roll out the fabric across the span of the wing from the leading edge.  A second roll would be applied to cover the distance to the trailing edge.  Or, the manufacturer might opt to apply the fabric in a chord-wise direction.  This would look like panels across the wingspan.  Yet a third method might apply the fabric at an angle, usually 45 degrees, to the wingspan.  In some cases, the manufacturer might mix a four-color scheme, say, on the top wing but apply a 5-color scheme on the bottom wing. 17

 So, for the modeler, photographs of a specific aircraft is absolutely necessary.  For this model, AEG J.II 342/18,  I had no such luck except for the fortuitous discovery of the Fort de la Pompelle photo taken by Stephen Miller, a fellow League member.  I am reasonably sure that that aircraft, AEG J.II 341/18 shared a spot on the production line next to the aircraft I modeled.  To verify the application of the printed camouflage fabric, I studied all of the AEG J.II photos I could find in order to determine if the manufacturer used a single method for attaching the fabric.  Many photos were poor in quality or masked the direction of the fabric because of lighting or angle.  Using the "Rare Birds - AEG J.Ia & J.II" article by Peter M. Grosz, I spotted two photos and with the aid of a magnifying glass I was able to discern the use of 4-color fabric oriented as follows: 18

 fuselage and fin: 




horizontal tailplane: 


rib and border tapes: 

  printed camouflage fabric strips

I used Techmod's 4-color upper and under surface decal sheets and, as explained in the Construction section (click here for more photos), I had a horrible experience largely because the decals were extremely flimsy and would tear at the slightest provocation.  It was difficult enough to apply coverage to the main surfaces but it was a nightmare to apply the rib and border tapes.  In fact, I could not get the decals to flow around the contours of the borders or edges of the flying surfaces.  I simply painted these areas in a dark brown/black color and then painted a facsimile of the 4-color upper pattern using a brush.  The colors I used that best matched the Techmod decals were Andrea ANAC24 Light Green, Andrea ANAC38 Napoleonic Green, Vallejo VC0900 French Mirage Blue, and Vallejo VC0981 Orange Brown.  Photo #12 from the Construction page (click here for more photos).  Note the bottom wing trailing edge especially at the wing tip is painted but the upper wing trailing edge has not been painted when this photo was taken.  Note how well the camouflage rib and border tapes blend in with the fabric covering.

SIDEBAR: Rib and Border Taping
All fabric flying surfaces of aircraft of the day had an additional strip of linen doped over the ribs where the fabric was looped and tied.  This prevented the wind flowing over the aerofoil from "lifting" fabric off the flying surface.  When printed camouflage fabric was used, the same method of taping was used.  In general, the practice was to apply a "light blue" dyed linen strip to the upper surfaces but a "salmon pink" to the under surfaces.  This practice was not uniform by any stretch of the imagination.  I put parenthesis around the colors because there were, in all probability, many shades of each.  I can understand the use of these relatively bright colors on fighters but I am bewildered by the practice of applying it to two-seaters because the contrast of the tape against the otherwise camouflaged background is quite apparent and seems to defeat the purpose of camouflage.  In all the photos I studied for the AEG J.II, I did not find evidence that colored tape was used.  Instead, to enhance the camouflage covering, taping strips were cut from the same bolts of 4-color linen.

I was tempted to add a number to the aircraft as sometimes appeared in some units, usually on the fin in white or black.  I could not find any photos of other FA(A) 242w aircraft from this period to substantiate its use.  I used the kit's Balkenkreuzen (BK) on the usual eight positions (top wing, bottom wing, fuselage, and rudder).  The use of this type of cross was initiated by Idflieg directive in March 1918 to enhance recognition of German aircraft vis-à-vis Allied aircraft.  I made decals for the weight table (barely visible just under the pilot's cockpit) and the serial number.  On the underside of the fuselage, I added a small self-made decal identifying my work, "AEG J.II  G. Grasse No. 6370".   See the decals in Table 3 which also provides paint information. 

Table 3: Paint Color Swatches Used on my AEG J.II 342/18

Vallejo German Light Grey-Green Mix

This view of the model in an early construction phase, shows the weight table just under the front or pilot's cockpit, the serial number in suppressed black just after the fuselage BK, and the white rudder required on all German aircraft as another means of identification.

Andrea ANXC18 Slate Grey (for the tires)

Model Master ME1730 Wood (interior cockpit wood components)

Andrea ANXC50 Leather Brown (cockpit coaming)

Andrea ANXC49 Dark Leather Brown (cockpit coaming wash)

Model Master MA4622 White Primer (for the kit's metal parts)






1 Grosz, Peter M. "AEG J.Ia & J.II", Over the Front, Volume 27, Issue 4, Winter 2002, pages 344-351 (see also bibliography).  Finding photos of any of the armored infantry contact patrol aircraft is difficult.  These aircraft were issued in "ones and two" to frontline FA and FA(A) units from late 1917 and through 1918.  This article was especially helpful in figuring out the direction of the printed camouflage fabric.

2 Kilduff, Peter.  From Russia with Victory - The History of Royal Wurttemberg Flieger-Abteilung (A) 242, Over the Front, Volume 21, Number 2, Summer 2006, pages 162-187.  This was a fortuitous find.  The article is loaded with details about FA(A) 242 and includes an extensive roster of personnel from 1916 to 1918.  The reference to AEG J.II 342/18 is on page 182, bottom of the first column.  Both men are listed in Casualties of the German Air Service 1914-1920, page 342.

3 Cuneo, John R.  The Air Weapon 1914-1916.  Volume II of the Winged Mars series. Harrisburg: Military Service Publishing Company, 1947, page 259.  This book was the second volume in a planned three-volume work that explored German aviation from its earliest beginnings with balloons to the end of World War I.  Volume III, 1917-1918 was never published.  However, Volume II provides much insight into World War I aviation development and separates fact from fiction.   Not hard to find but quite expensive.

4 Von Hoeppner, Ernest, General.  Germany's War in the War - The Development and Operations of German Military Aviation in the World War.  Nashville: The Battery Press, 1994, page 108. 

5 Von Hoeppner, pages 110-111.

6 Von Hoeppner, pages 116-117.

7 Kastner, Reinhard. "Die bayer. Fliegerabteilung (A)286 im Jahre 1918.  Das Propellerblatt, Nummer 1, Sommer 2001, page 58.  This article was the basis for the 1:48 scale LVG C.VI that I built for HM Journal Issue #8, May 2010.  The subject of a change in German FA and FA(A) unit inventory (Sollbestand) is not found in German World War I aviation titles published in English.  The original program in the Spring of 1917 was to anticipate American participation in war.  It was felt that the weight of American arms would certainly be a major factor in the Allies' favor but not before the Summer of 1918.  As early as mid-1917, plans were formulated to increase the size of the Luftstreitkräfte.  The resolution of the war on the Eastern Front was not known at this time.  A large number of FA(A) units were to be created to meet the anticipated American involvement.   When the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed in December 1917 taking Russia out of the war, the redeployment of the Eastern Front German Army including attached aviation units reduced the need to create planned "Amerika Program" FA(A) units.  In addition, it was felt that the escort staffels, each of six two-seater CL-Type aircraft, would be better deployed as strategic ground attack formations.  The need to escort army cooperation units fell on the FA and FA(A) units themselves.  To meet this new requirement without having to create new units, all FA and FA(A) units supporting frontline infantry divisions were identified in the "Verstärkt" program that increased their establishment from six to nine aircraft.

8 Gray, Peter and Owen Thetford.  German Aircraft of the First World War.  London: Putnam & Company, 1962, pages 9-12.

9 Grosz, Peter M. Archiv: Frontbestand, WWI Aero - The Journal of the Early Aeroplane, issue 108 (Feb 1986), page 69.  

10 Anonymous.  The Use of Armored Observation Aircraft: Flight Evaluation of the A.E.G, J.I, Issued by the Technical Department (Aircraft production) Ministry of Munitions.  Reproduced in Cross & Cockade (US) Volume 10, Number 1, 1969, pages 55-62.

11 My numbers might be of interest to a few historians so I will quickly review them.  There were 48 Flieger-Abteilungen (FA) units of which ten served as Lb or  Armee level high-level, deep penetration recon units (3, 5, 12, 18, 23, 39, 40, 44, 45b, 46b), five were in Macedonia (20, 22, 30, 34, 38), and five were from the Eastern Front and converted to Schusta/Schlasta escort staffels (4, 11, 15, 21, 24) which leaves 28 FA units on the Western Front.  There were 99 FA(A) units of which five served as Lb units (260, 261, 270, 276, 289b), two were in Macedonia (230, 246), and one (220) was converted to a Schusta/Schlasta staffel leaving 91 FA(A) units on the Western Front.  To this is added the 38 Schusta/Schlasta units on the Western Front giving a total of approximately 157 FA and FA(A) units on the Western Front.

12 Duiven, Rick and Dan-San Abbott.  Schlacht-Flieger! Germany and the Origins of Air/Ground Support 1916-1918, page 153.  This is the only reference to the serial numbers and orders for the Albatros J.I that I could find in print.

13 Herris, Jack.  "Rare Birds - Albatros J.II", page 258.

14 Gray & Thetford, German Aircraft of the First World War, page 11.  The authors give a total of 609 AEG J-Type aircraft built based on the findings of the Inter Allied Commission.  I have taken the relatively known AEG J.II figure of an estimated 400 aircraft leaving 209 for the AEG J.I.

15 Grosz, Peter M. "AEG J.Ia & J.II", page 349.  However, the first order's serial numbers are incomplete.  The author has verified what is shown which accounts for only 25 aircraft of this order for 100.  Note that third production order's quantity is estimated at 100 and the serial numbers are derived by means other than historical evidence.

16 Grosz, Peter M. Junkers J.I Windsock Datafile 39, pages 3-5.

17 Abbott, Dan-San.  "German Air Force Camouflage Systems", page 10This is a thought provoking article because it summarizes German World War I camouflage evolution and details printed camouflage fabric down to textile polygonal patterns and sizes.  He also traces the historical study of printed camouflage fabric starting with original Idflieg memorandums and directives and then to 1960 where serious modern study of the subject began. 

18 Grosz, P. M. AEG J.Ia & J.II, Rare Birds, page 347.  The caption identifies the AEG J.II as serial 308/18 but it sure looks like 306/18.  Note that rib and border taping is not apparent meaning that the manufacturer used camouflage strips.


Abbott, Dan-San.  "German Air Force Camouflage Systems", WWI Aero - The Journal of the Early Aeroplane, Issue 129, August 1990.

Anonymous.  The Use of Armored Observation Aircraft: Flight Evaluation of the A.E.G, J.I, Issued by the Technical Department (Aircraft production) Ministry of Munitions.  Reproduced in Cross & Cockade (US) Volume 10, Number 1, 1969

Cuneo, John R.  The Air Weapon 1914-1916.  Volume II of Winged Mars. Harrisburg: Military Service Publishing Company, 1947.

Duiven, Rick and Dan-San Abbott.  Schlacht-Flieger! Germany and the Origins of Air/Ground Support 1916-1918.  Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 2006.

Franks, Norman; Frank Bailey, and Rick Duiven  Casualties of the German Air Service 1914-1920.  London: Grub Street, 1999.

Gray, Peter and Owen Thetford.  German Aircraft of the First World War.  London: Putnam & Company, 1962.

Grosz, P. M. AEG J.Ia & J.II, Rare Birds, Over the Front, Volume 17, Issue 04, Journal of the League of World War I Aviation Historians, Winter 2002, color profiles by R. N. Pearson, 1:48 scale drawings by Martin Digmayer.

Grosz, Peter M. Archiv: Frontbestand.  The Journal of the Early Aeroplane "WWI Aero", issues 107 (Dec 1985) and 108 (Feb 1986).

Grosz, Peter M. Junkers J.I Windsock Datafile 39.  Berkhamsted, UK: Albatros Productions, 1993.

Herris, Jack.  "Rare Birds - Albatros J.II".  Over the Front, Volume 23, Issue 3, Autumn 2008.

Kastner, Reinhard. "Die bayer. Fliegerabteilung (A)286 im Jahre 1918.  Das Propellerblatt, Nummer 1, Sommer 2001.

Kilduff, Peter.  From Russia with Victory - The History of Royal Wurttemberg Flieger-Abteilung (A) 242, Over the Front, Volume 21, Number 2, Summer 2006.

Von Hoeppner, Ernest, General of Cavalry.  Germany's War in the War - The Development and Operations of German Military Aviation in the World War.  Nashville: The Battery Press, 1994.

Model Cellar 1:48 German Ace Lothar von Richthofen of Jasta 11






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