War Above the Trenches: Phönix D.1
The Austro-Hungarian Navy (Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine) was the naval force of the Dual Empire. Its name was commonly abbreviated as K.u.K. Kriegsmarine, and by the outbreak of war in 1914 it already had its own aviation corps: the K.u.K. Seefliegerkorps (Imperial and Royal Naval Air Corps), which used both German aircraft and Austro-Hungarian variants, including various Fokker types, the Hansa-Brandenburg B.I and D.I, the Aviatik D.I, the Albatros D.III, the Phönix D.I and the Lohner L.
The Phönix D.I was the second design developed by the Phönix Flugzeug-Werke based on the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I which it had produced under licence. The Phönix D.I was a single-seat biplane fighter with improvements over the original Hansa-Brandenburg design.
A characteristic of the D.I was the so-called “Sparmann wing cellule” with its unique inward-leaning wing struts. It was the design of Diplom-Ingenieur Edmund Sparmann who, after pre-war work and later service on the Russian front, was assigned to Albatros in 1916, where he became involved in designing aircraft structures.
A prototype was first flown in 1917 and proved to be fast but difficult to handle, yet because of the urgent need for fighters the D.I entered production. In later months, a D.II was introduced with balanced elevators and balanced ailerons on the upper wings. A further development was the D.III which had balanced ailerons on both wings and a more powerful 230 hp (172 kW) Hiero in-line engine. The last of 158 aircraft of all three types was delivered on 4 November 1918.
This is the 1/48 Special Hobby limited-run kit of the Phönix D.I. The kit includes a small PE fret, a few nicely moulded resin additions and markings for three aircraft. The machine modelled here is A.114, K.u.K. Kriegsmarine (Seefliegerkorps), based at Altura (Pula airfield) in Spring/Summer 1918.
The other two sets of markings are also for machines based at the same airfield at this time, all distinguished by their colourful red-and-white-striped wing/empennage livery. The fuselage camouflage is typical of the type, that is, a light or creamy brown mottled-over with a medium brown. The fuselage underside was natural plywood.
A useful reference source for this project was Windsock Datafile 31,”Phönix D.I-II” by Peter M Grosz.
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.