by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
There were 3 types of finishes applied to the Oeffag built Albatros D. wings in 1918.
1. Plain bleached and unbleached linen.
2. "Brumowski Distribution" - upper surface only.
3. Preprinted Sworl Camouflage - upper surface only. It is believed that this pattern was used originally on "oriental" large area rugs.
Here we will discuss the factory printed "sworl camouflage pattern" used was produced by J. Backhausen & Söhne (sons) and was printed manually on huge tables measuring 40 meters (80 meters if the factory had the space) by silkscreen method in three colors, from lightest color to darkest. The Methuen colors quoted in part 10 of the article series "Markings and Camouflage of the Austro-Hungarian Aircraft in WWI" by Dr. Martin D. O'Connor that appeared in Cross & Cockade, Int. are. Greyish Yellow 4B6, Light Brown 7D7, and Deep Green 27E8. A fourth color is thought to be seen, and is caused by the intentional overlap of the green and dark red colours areas in the manual screening process. It is a measure used to deal with the registration problem caused by movement/mis-alignment and the method to slightly overprint the adjoining edges of the pattern. this is called "trapping" in modern printing parlance. This info came from Max Wirth who was on the board of directors for the Swiss Air Force Museum, as well as being the head of a Swiss textile dynasty whom O'Connor interviewed and consulted with many times.
Mr. Wirth also said that the pattern was too complex for the printing machinery of the day and that is why the hand screen printing method was used instead of the roller machine printing of the time. Also, he said because of the time expenditure of the labor that it took 3-4 days to produce 200 meters of cloth. That meant that the fabric never would have been available in any great quantity. Applied to an aircraft it was said to resemble an orchard of trees from above. It is more likely that the various colours might adapt to the human eye depending on atmospheric conditions.
The term "sworl" could be applied to the "handpainted" attempts but the lack of uniformity or consistant pattern would in my humble opinion not qualify. Thats why they called it the "Brumowski Distribution". Someone obviously tried to hand paint the sworls and they might have been attempting to recreate the "printed fabric pattern" free style. It would be like the Germans using splotches of paint to imitate the hexegons of the preprinted Lozenge 4-5 color.
Beginning in May 1918 it was applied to at least 4 of the late production 153 series and in small batch groupings of all 253 series. Because of the method of production the real fabric was only available in small batches. I believe Dr. O'Connor's studies list the 253 series airframes that are confirmed by photo images.
Announced in Oct. 2010 by Jadar's website. Mirage's 1:48 "spring leaf" 4 colour Austrian Sworl Camouflage. This represents preprinted fabric from the factory and applied to the wings and horizontal tail unit of Oeffag Albatros D. machines. There are 4 strips @ in a bag. I calculate there is enough in each bag to cover the upper surfaces and rudder of 1 @ 1:48 kit. I purchased two bags and the header cards were applied in reverse to each other. Decals are typical water slide types.
How to apply
They are typical in their make up of modern ink printed decals. Their worst problem can be compound curves or surfaces. But the method that you use to lay them down makes all the difference.
First, do yourself a favor and spray the strip your working from with a clear gloss. Once this begins to dry it bonds the surface and when dry to the touch will keep fracturing on the edges to a minimum. Also if you use clear lacquer plan on using this strip with in 12 hours of the application.
Second, remember always use a "new" blade to cut the sections of the strip. Do not use scissors on this type of decal.
Third, always use hot water to submerge the cut decal section in. Work one piece / section at a time.
Fourth, Lay down liberally a decal setting fluid (Microscale blue script on the bottle).
Fifth, Move the decal section in place and after a few minutes roll the brush you applied the setting fluid with - over the decal and smear any excess fluid out over the adjacent areas.
Sixth, add liberal amounts of decal solvent or Sol (Microscale red script on the bottle). I usually hit the decal at least twice or even three times. When the decal wrinkles its working - Don't Touch the Decal At this Point.
When you get good at this you will be able to lay down upto three decal sections at one time with very pleasing results.
Air Aces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1914-1918 - Dr Martin O' Connor - Flying Machine Press, 1986. *ISBN0-9637110-1-6.
Austro-Hungarian Aces of WWI by Christopher Chant, Osprey Pub. Aircraft of the Ace #46.
Austro-Hungarian Army Aircraft of WWI - Peter M. Grosz, George Haddow & Pieter Schiemer - Flying Machine Press, 1993. *ISBN 0-9637110-0-8
C&C international - Vol 19, spring and summer issues, "Markings and camouflage of Austro-Hungarian aircraft in WWI (Oeffag Albatros fighters)by Dr Martin O' Connor.
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