Dave's Aerodrome Page

A fine welcome to you all! This latest page in the insanity that is the World According to Dave shows off my most recent obsession ... 1/72 scale WWI aircraft for use in Rick Schirtzinger's Aerodrome campaign.

For those of you who have never seen Aerodrome, this phenomenally gorgeous and popular game is often played at conventions and never fails to draw a crowd. Using the Aerodrome 1.1 rules by Stanley Kubiak, Aerodrome is one of the few games to truly capture the feel of WWI aerial combat ... and Rick's campaign is one of the most elaborate and rewarding miniatures campaigns I've ever seen.

It seemed only fitting that I obsessively paint planes for it

Click on thumbnails for larger images

Squadriglia Delle Matte

Mike Demana, Jenny Torbett, Steve Sattler and myself have formed a squadron in Rick's campaign themed around a loose coalition of Italian pilots. Though not all Italians by descent, we're at least Italian in spirit ... or at least our planes LOOK like we should be Italian.

The planes for the squadron are mostly all represented above, these are the planes painted either for specific pilots or for general use. They're all marked as Italian, though some have some distinct knick-knacks that give away their foreign origins.

Hanriot HD-1
Aircraft Appeared: Winter 1917
Model Completed: June 22nd, 2006

This is actually the second Hanriot kit that I've put together. The first ended up going to Mike Demana after his spectacular "Ace of Aces" win at Origins last year, and I've missed it ever since. That one had been my best airbrush job to date (bar none), done in French 5-color, but I think I've finally managed to make its equal.

The Kit is an HR Models resin kit ordered from Hannants in England. Having put together a few other resin kits, I was surprised at the extremely poor quality of this kit. The resin was horribly fragile, and all small parts were cast onto a single resin mold which was a horror to cut from (reminiscent of vacu-form kits, and equally as painful.) In the end, I had to custom-cast a new engine cowling from a Nieuport 11 kit, steal landing struts and wheels from the dead pile, and custom-make all the wing struts. The internals to the cockpit were so bad I eventually just decided to avoid them altogether. Still, I think the finished product was well worth the effort.

The Hanriot isn't the best of planes in Aerodrome, but Mike's had tremendous success with it, and it's as historically authentic a plane as I've ever put together. Very maneuverable, but not fast, it's not the most durable of planes to take to the sky. But she's mine.

Aircraft Appeared: Fall 1916
Model Completed: July 26th, 2005

Once I realized that Rick was going to be running bomber missions as mid-war instead of early war, I decided that I was going to need a squadron plane to fly. The SPAD VII was a perfect choice.

Visually, it's almost identical to the SPAD XIII, with just a few minor differences. The kit was an AirFix injection mold and wasn't all that bad compared to some other kits. There was a fair amount of flash and things didn't quite fit right, but the struts were actually in good shape and overall putting it together wasn't too tough.

Since Mike Demana ended up with my only example of the French 5-color camouflage, I decided the SPAD VII would be a good replacement. The spray job wasn't quite as good as the Hanriot, but in general it wasn't too bad. The engine cowling was an afterthought, and I'm not sure if I like it, but it might grow on me.

As far as mid-war aircraft go (single gun) the SPAD VII is really my favorite. While not as maneuverable as some of the other fighters, it's very fast, and that extra speed can make all the difference in early war competitions.

Aircraft Appeared: Spring 1915
Model Completed: June 13th, 2005

The SPAD A.2 was a radical experiment in aircraft design, intended to solve the problem of firing the aircraft's guns through the propeller. It came too late to see extensive service (arriving about the same time as the arrestor gear which synchronized gunfire and propeller rotation), and thankfully so. With the propeller situated between the pilot and the observer, woe be to the observer caught in a nose-forward crash.

The plane in Aerodrome is not all that exciting, but is a nice, unique candidate for early war missions. While horribly slow, fragile, and unwieldy, it at least has the merit of being, uh ... yellow.

The "X-Planes"

With each day, it seems, more and more model manufacturers are picking obscure or rare WWI aircraft around which to build kits. With the expansion of trade to Poland and the Czeck Republics, a whole new series of kits and manufacturers have started to appear, with a variety of new plane options.

Some of these planes represented aircraft ordered for the war, but which never saw active service before the war's end. Because Aerodrome isn't really as much a historical simulation as a fine and fun game, Rick often lets somewhat bizarre aircraft into the mix, so long as they're not dramatically anachronistic.

Martinsyde Buzzard
Aircraft Appeared: Spring 1918
Model Completed: November 6th, 2005

The Martinsyde Buzzard may have been the single best Allied fighter of the Great War, if only it had been given the chance to fly. Its original design engine, the Rolls Royce "Falcon", was earmarked for use in other fighters at the time and the lack of availability kept it from seeing a production run. By the time the F4 model had been reworked to use the 300 HP Hispano-Suiza engine, the Armistice preceded its entry into the war.

The kit is another limited-edition run from Pegasus, just released this year, and is on par with the other Pegasus kits I've built. There is a lot of flash, and the parts don't always fit together quite right, but in general once they're built they're very attractive. The white metal parts in this kit were particularly well done.

In Aerodrome, it is without doubt the most superior Allied aircraft. Its deadly combination of speed, maneuverability, and durability outclasses every other plane in the sky. Though inappropriate for historical missions, it's an ideal choice for use in late war "anything goes" dogfight scenarios.

Pomilio Gamma
Aircraft Appeared: Spring 1918
Model Completed: October 24th, 2005

In 1917, the famed Italian aircraft designer Ottorino Pomilio began work on a fighter which would later be dubbed the "Gamma." Designed to be both fast and maneuverable, it was outfitted with a 250 HP Isotta-Fraschini V6 engine. Though it never saw a production run, approximately seven were built and flown during 1918.

The "Gamma" was the only Pomilio produced fighter both designed and built in Italy. The Pomilio aircraft corporation would later be absorbed by Ansaldo after Ottorino and his brother Ernesto moved to the United States.

There are no stats for this plane in the current Aerodrome rules, and since so few were built, tracking down its flight specifications may prove to be exceptionally difficult. Regardless, it's a triumph of Italian design and definitely a worthy kit.

The "Double Pinochle"

While I'm dearly in love with the Italian aircraft of WWI, I have to admit that they're somewhat less than competitive in Aerodrome. So, since I wanted to do something a bit different from the "Red Jacks" I set out on the "Double Pinochle" project.

Sopwith Dolphin
Aircraft Appeared: Summer 1917
Model Completed: July 15th, 2005

The second (and last) of the Double Pinochle line is a customized, prototype Sopwith Dolphin for use as my own personal aircraft in Rick's campaign. The plane has a notable modification from the standard production Dolphins delivered to the front, including a roll cage above the cockpit (a common addition to planes in the field.)

The color scheme is based on an experimental camouflage pattern designed for the Sopwith Salamander TF.2 Trench Fighter. A color detail of it appears in Squadron/Signal Publications "Aircraft Number 110 - Sopwith Fighters In Action". The Salamanders were outfitted with a number of variations on the colors, a more bright and colorful interpretation can be found at The Internet Modeler, and was really my first inspiration for this particular plane. The Toko/Eastern Express Salamander kit shows the same scheme with yet a different set of colors.

The kit itself was half of a VeeDay "dual kit" (the original has the Dolphin and a Pfalz DXII). I have to say it was about as much fun to put together as the Pegasus kits, with tons of flash and nothing wanting to fit together. It is unfortunately seriously lacking in detail as well.) Even though the kit is the only injection kit available, I don't recommend it unless you're really prepared for a workout of your modeling skills.

In Aerodrome game standards, the Dolphin is an exceptional allied fighter aircraft. It has moderate maneuverability, but is very fast, with the same durability as the Sopwith Camel. Though the SE5a is a moderately better choice, the Dolphin can definitely hold its own.

Nieuport 28
Aircraft Appeared: Spring 1918
Model Completed: June 6th, 2005

What started out as a simple exploration of the Nieupoprt 28 quickly turned into a nightmare. Disaster upon disaster were visited upon this poor plane before it ended up in the state you see here. The mistakes were too numerous to count, and many of them were just unfixable.

In Aerodrome, the plane has fantastic performance characteristics, with its primary disadvantage being that it's not very durable. Historically, the plane was an excellent entry into the war for American pilots, but was quickly abandoned when the SPAD XIII became readily available ... primarily because of its tendency to lose upper wing fabric in a dive.

So, while not the most shining example of scale model building, the first of the "Double Pinochle" line, the Nieuport 28, is at least servicable.

The Zecchini "Red Jacks"

The biggest privilege of making "Ace" (5 confirmed kills) in Rick's Aerodrome campaign is the right to paint and use your own plane, with your own unique style and colors. It's a badge of distinction that was a long time in coming on my part, but one which I seized upon immediately.

The paint scheme for this series of aircraft may be a bit anachronistic, but there are reasons. The red wings and black fuselage are a holdover from the color scheme I used when playing the "Red Baron" computer game on the PC, many years ago.

The roundels and insignia colors are customary for the Corpo Aeronautica Militare, and the squadron logo is a personal variation of the "Wildcards" logo for Squadriglia Delle Matte

Ansaldo SVA5
Aircraft Appeared: Fall 1917
Model Completed: May 25th, 2005

The Ansaldo SVA5 is the only WWI production line aircraft both made and flown by Italy during the war. Though it was generally considered to be less maneuverable than the SPAD XIII, it was an extremely fast aircraft. During the war it was used primarily in a reconnaissance role, but achived some fame as a light bomber used by the Allies.

The Ansaldo's stats in Aerodrome are more than a bit disappointing. It performs significantly worse than its SPAD XIII counterpart, without having the merit of the SPAD's durability to compensate. However, given the distinctive upper wing and captivating all-metal strut configuration, I simply had to make it mine.

Aircraft Appeared: Summer 1917
Model Completed: May 13th, 2005

The SPAD XIII was a popular replacement for the SPAD VII's in the Italian arsenal. The Italian Ace-of-Aces, Francesco Baracca, took the first SPAD XIII out before it could even be painted with his trademark galloping horse logo (which would later become the symbol for Ferrari Motors.)

In Aerodrome, the SPAD XIII is a tank, able to sustain more damage than almost any other Allied aircraft. What it lacks in maneuverability it makes up for in speed and durability.

The Allied Powers Aircraft

Since the planes I'm painting for Aerodrome will likely also be used for Wings of War (another excellent WWI game using a card layout system for movement), I felt it was only fitting that I begin painting up some historically accurate planes for the collection. With a few exceptions, most of the planes in the Allied and Central Powers sections were flown by one or more famous aces during the course of the war..

Captain Roy Brown's Sopwith Camel
Aircraft Appeared: Fall 1917
Model Completed: September 1st, 2005

Probably the most often reproduced WWI Allied aircraft, this distinctive Sopwith Camel was flown by Captain Roy Brown, the Allied pilot credited with successfully downing the Red Baron.

There's no question why so many kits have markings for this aircraft. The chevrons on the top wing and the turtledeck make a nice complement to the RAF's classic olive green. This particular kit went together quite nicely, though most of my decal sheets for the roundels were off-register.

As far as performance is concerned, the Sopwith Camel is a stout contender for the timeframe it was introduced. It is remarkably fast for being one of the most maneuverable aircraft in the game, with acceptable climb, dive, and damage characteristics.

The Central Powers Aircraft

Being a member of an Allied squadron, and having always flown for the Allies, I doubt I'll ever take the opportunity to fly for the opposition. However, I've long contended that the German planes are some of the most beautiful planes ever built (both in design and markings.) I just couldn't resist the opportunity to put one together.

Siemens-Schuckert D-III
Aircraft Appeared: Summer 1918
Model Completed: August 2nd, 2005

At a recent Aerodrome gathering in Kokomo, Rick pointed out to me this Toko kit (and the fact that it was out of print) and I immediately fell in love with it. The kit was an absolute beauty to build, no surprises and very precise molding of all the parts.

Though I typically only fly the Italian colors in Rick's games, I figured it would be nice to have a good Central Powers aircraft to fly in cases where the sides were uneven, or for events that weren't part of Rick's official campaign. The Siemens-Schuckert D-III fit the bill on all fronts.

It's not the most common aircraft seen in Aerodrome, and it's an excellent high-performance machine to boot. Beyond its good looks, it has supreme climb and dive characteristics, excellent turning capability, and even moderate speed to back it up. Like the Nieuport 28, its only major flaw is its low damage capacity, but it makes up for this to a degree by being one of the very few aircraft able to go to Very High altitude.

The "Blue Eagle" colors are all my own fabrication, though not quite as anachronistic as some of my other paint schemes. Though the lozenge decals were a serious pain to apply, they really do work well, so I'll definitely use them on future Central aircraft.

Oberleutnant Hermann Goering's Albatros DV
Aircraft Appeared: Spring 1917
Model Completed: June 21st, 2005

When I was looking through the German aircraft to build, I couldn't help but fall in love with the Albatros DV. Highly unpopular (in particular with von Richtoven), it was nontheless a common sight due to Albatros's extensive production capabilities.

For the time period in which it flies it has truly sub-par performance characteristics. Compared to other planes of that year, it's slow and unwieldy with little to make up for its faults. But there's a grace and beauty to its design that can't be denied.

Goering scored a number of his 22 confirmed kills in this plane which he flew when he was stationed with Jasta 27.

Please send any comments/criticisms/corrections to webmeisterzeke@att.net

This page was last updated on July 2nd, 2010 at 06:23 PM