Author Topic: Special Hobby 1/48 Pfalz D.XII "Early Version"  (Read 1435 times)

Online Brad Cancian

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Special Hobby 1/48 Pfalz D.XII "Early Version"
« on: March 12, 2022, 04:41:39 PM »
Special Hobby 1/48 Pfalz D.XII “Early Version”
Reviewed by Brad Cancian

Item: 100-SH48026
scale: 1/48
Price: 34.00 Euros direct from Special Hobby

Review kit kindly provided by Special Hobby at

The Pfalz D.XII

In early 1918, the Idflieg (Inspektion der Fliegertruppen) asked German aircraft manufacturers to produce a counter to the sturdy SPAD fighter aircraft widely being used on the Western Front. Pfalz Flugzeugwerke, under designer Rudolph Gehringer, produced the Pfalz D.XII in response. The new aircraft was powered by the 180 hp Mercedes D.IIIaü engine and continued the use of LFG-Roland's patented “Wickelrumpf” plywood-skinned monocoque fuselage construction. Unlike the earlier Pfalz D.IIIa aircraft, the D.XII used a two-bay wing cellule, seeking to duplicate the sturdy construction of the French machine. The flush wing radiator of the earlier D.IIIa was replaced with a car-type radiator mounted in front of the engine, giving the aircraft a more ‘squared off’ look when compared to its predecessor.

The prototype D.XII first flew in March 1918, and performed reasonably well. Subsequently, Idflieg issued a production order for 50 aircraft. Pfalz entered several D.XII prototypes in the second fighter competition at Adlershof in May/June 1918. Only Ernst Udet and Hans Weiss favoured the D.XII over the Fokker D.VII, but Udet's opinion carried such weight that Pfalz received substantial production orders for the D.XII. The aircraft passed its Typenprüfung (official type test) on 19 June 1918.

The D.XII began reaching the Jagdstaffeln, primarily Bavarian units, in July 1918. Most units operated the D.XII in conjunction with other fighter types, but units in quieter sectors of the front were completely equipped with the D.XII.  While the D.XII was a marked improvement over the obsolescent Albatros D.Va and Pfalz D.IIIa, it initially found little favour with German pilots, who strongly preferred the Fokker D.VII. The D.XII had an abrupt stall, heavy controls (particularly in roll), and a pronounced tendency to spin. Landings were difficult because the D.XII tended to float above the ground and the landing gear was weak. Ground crews disliked the extensive wire bracing of the two-bay wings, which required more maintenance than the Fokker D.VII's semi-cantilever wings. None the less, German pilots and ground crew learned to ‘get on’ with the D.XII, and in the right hands the aircraft could be a formidable ‘boom and zoom’ fighter, much like the SPAD that it sought to emulate.

Between 750 and 800 D.XII scouts built. The first 200 production examples could be distinguished by their rectangular fin and rudder. Subsequent aircraft featured a larger, rounded rudder profile.
A substantial number, perhaps as many as 175, were surrendered to the Allies. Of these, a few were shipped to the United States and Canada for evaluation. One original example resides here in Australia, at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

The Bits and Bobs

Special Hobby’s D.XII was first released way back in 2005, and at the time was another welcome addition to the firm’s growing catalogue. The kit continued Special Hobby’s incremental improvements from a limited run firm to a significant player in the hobby industry. Special Hobby released two kits – an early and a late D.XII. The parts for both aircraft were included in both kits, with only the decals, instructions and box being different.

Firstly, as is often the case with Special Hobby, we are blessed with some evocative box art of a D.XII on the prowl:

The kit consists of 36 plastic parts across two sprues, eight cast resin detail parts, two small acetate windshields, a small sheet of etch, a lovely instruction book, and high-quality decals.

Sprue A contains the fuselage halves, undercarriage struts, engine parts, wheels, lower nose cowling, propeller, and both the early and late types of vertical tail parts.

Being limited run in nature, the parts have some flash and heavy attachment points, but these are offset by the quite fine detail across the parts. The hatches, rivets, and interior details on the fuselage halves are crisply done. The wheels likewise have some crisp detailing that will stand out beautifully under a wash. A nice impression of the Mercedes engine can be achieved straight out of the box, as most of the engine is tucked away in the cowling. The detail inclined may look for a resin replacement. fabric-over-rib impression of the fuselage exterior. There are some large mould release pins on the interior of the fuselage that might be just tucked away out of site, but the fastidious may want to get rid of these. There is also a smattering of mould release pins on the other smaller components. Accordingly, care when removing parts from sprues, and careful clean up of parts, will be required. The Spandaus are fine representations, but will benefit from an etched jacket. Unfortunately, one isn’t provided on the etched fret. Care will also need to be taken in removing the undercarriage struts, as these are quite thin and to scale.

Sprue B contains the wings, elevators, horizontal stabiliser, ailerons, and struts.

The flying surfaces are executed effectively as taught surfaces with wing rib tapes. This is an excellent interpretation that will work for the vast majority of modellers. Again, detail is crisp and smooth. Trailing edges of the wings are reasonably sharp, given the limited run nature of the mouldings. Struts are also nicely done; care will again be needed to remove these from the sprues, and through part clean up. Attachment holes for the struts could also benefit from a little deepening. 

As is Special Hobby’s practice with many of these kits, fine details are presented in resin. We get a lovely seat with cushion detail, some very nice cockpit detail parts, and a very well executed radiator. This part is front and centre of the aircraft and will look very nice once painted up and given a wash. The resin parts have a little bit of flash but this should be easy to deal with.

The etched fret will complement the plastic nicely. Plenty of fine details are provided, including seat belts, control horns, gun sights and blast shields, and a clever folding part to capture the acetate windscreen. Sadly, and perhaps confusingly, no Spandau jackets are provided, as noted above.


Special Hobby’s Instructions are of their older style, in a simple black and white format.  They come with a comprehensive parts breakdown and clear instructions. A rigging diagram is also provided.

Colour schemes for three machines are provided in this boxing. They focus on the ‘silbergrau’- fuselaged machines common of the early production runs.

Marking options are:

•   Pfalz D.XII 1394/18, Jasta 77, 1918. This is the machine illustrated on the box top, and bears a blue cowl, blue tail, and swastika personal marking.
•   Pfalz D.XX 1346/18, Jasta 77, 1918. This machine is marked similarly to the above, but without a personal marking.
•   An un-serialled D.XII of the early production run. This machine is in factory colours.


The decals are printed by Aviprint; accordingly, they are very nicely printed with solid colour and excellent register. The decal film looks nice and thin. These should go down nicely. Swastikas are presented in two parts each. Full stencils are also provided.

We also get a sheet of upper and lower lozenge, pre-sized to fit as well as a sheet of rib tapes. This is a nice touch. Alas, the colours are a bit ‘off’. They are quite reminiscent of the colours used in the early days by Eduard. Thankfully, there are plenty of aftermarket items around.

Accuracy and Buildability

Unsurprisingly, the kit scales quite well to the drawings within the Windsock Datafile 41.

One must bear in mind that this kit was produced in the days of Special Hobby when it was still a limited run producer. If you approach this kit with that mindset, you’ll not come to grief. Cockpit detail looks generally accurate, but again the detail inclined will want to add some more wiring and other small details. Likewise with the engine - it is a little light on detail, but it will be well hidden so this isn’t too much of a concern. Omission of an etched Spandau jackets is odd, but there are plenty of replacements around, so this shouldn’t be too much of a concern. The kit looks like it will be relatively easy to build, but some care will be needed. The parts will require careful removal and clean-up from the sprues. The lower wings are single piece affairs, which will certainly aid in alignment. Likewise, the aircraft’s “N” struts throughout should help with both alignment and rigging. My only recommendation would be to deepen the attachment holes for a solid connection. All in all, this should be a simple build.


Though never as popular or as widely used as its Fokker competitor, the Pfalz none the less was an important type at the front during the latter half of 1918. Special Hobby’s kit remains the premier kit of this important type in this scale. The kit presents an eminently buildable model that will stand out from the Fokker’s and Albatrii in the cabinet or competition table. Whilst some care will be required here and there, this is no different to any other kit of this vintage. The modeller will be rewarded with an excellent and well detailed representation of the type straight out of the box. Special Hobby are to be commended for producing such a great package, and I’d recommend adding one or two to your collection, or modelling bench. Highly recommended.

Our very sincere thanks to Special Hobby for the review sample!

Offline KiwiZac

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Re: Special Hobby 1/48 Pfalz D.XII "Early Version"
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2022, 07:27:16 AM »
Great review Brad, and the kit looks like a lot of fun! I admit I'd never thought much of the later Pfalz types until Mikael Carlson's D.VIII reproduction opened my eyes - I'd always been a dyed-in-the-wool D.III man thanks to a certain film. Thanks for sharing this review - I may have to pick up this kit one day, perhaps to build as the AWM example.