Halberstadt CL II
Kit No.: 136
Series: "Famous Fighters"
Aurora Halberstadt CL.II
Aurora’s Halberstadt CL II [sic] was the seventeenth model of Aurora's 20 "Famous Fighters" 1/48 World War One aircraft. It was released in 1960 with Fokker D-VIII, kit 135. (Curiously, although the Sopwith Tripe was released three years later, it was originally numbered 100.)
In 1972 Aurora reworked some of the molds by adding fabric texture and removing raised insignia and data markings for subsidiary K&B as K&B 'Collectors Series.' Usually when model makers add "Collector"
to a model it equals a junky kit at triple the price. Not K&B! These were packed in large square boxes with detailed art, and the square box held the beloved vacuformed diorama base!
In 1959 Aurora released two more 1/48 World War I ‘Famous Fighter’ aircraft kits. The first was number 135-69, the Fokker D-VIII ‘Flying Razor.’ The second kit, and the subject of this review, was the Halberstadt CLII, #136-98. As with all Aurora kits of this period, the logo is oval with the sunburst in the center background and the words ‘Famous Fighters’ written in the oval boarder. Jo Kotula, who took over for Jim Cox in about 1957, did the box artwork. The parts were molded in black and gray plastic.
The kit proved successful, as were the vast majority of the WWI series. When Aurora was associated with Parent’s Magazine, the box top had their seal of approval. The model inside remained identical. The artwork remains dated 1959, but this issue may have extended into 1960.
The third issue still had the same part number but had the new Aurora logo. This issue is likely from 1960/61 up to 1963 or ’64. The ‘Famous Fighters’ was removed from the boarder but the sunburst remains. There were no changes inside except for the updated logo on the instructions. It is not unusual to find this kit with old logo instructions. Aurora never wasted much and would use up the old instructions before putting the new ones into circulation.
The fourth issue, #136-130 looked identical inside and out except for the new price extension on the kit number. Retailers had been pressuring kit manufacturers to eliminate the price extension or raise prices; Aurora (USA) decided to first increase prices then eventually eliminated the extensions completely. This issue probably dates from 1963/64.
In 1972 Aurora reissued this kit again under subsidiary K&B in the “Collector’s Series.” The original painting is by the renowned artist John Amendola, who did most of Aurora’s art in the late 1960s and 1970s. For this kit, the molds remained the same except the ground base was dropped, the two ground figures were retained, a vacuform “Battle Terrain Display Base” was added, as were new decals for the aircraft on the box top. The parts are molded in bright red and black, with the terrain base in tan; please note that other base colors have bases have been reported. The sides of the box states that there are “detailed painting and rigging instructions” but they simply reference the box top artwork and John Amendola’s historical notes on the instructions.
In 1972 this kit was also released in Canada under the Aurora label only. The kit number is 1136-260. The only difference internally is the Aurora Products Canada Ltd. instructions in both English and French.
This kit was marketed in other countries as well. One such issue is from the Netherlands. The true release date is not known, but may be from the mid to late 1960s. The kit number is 136. The kit was marketed through Europe and has instructions in German, Dutch, French, Italian and Swedish. Oddly, it has the old style logo from the 1950s.* (For images of the many styles of box art for this model, please see View This Item under the summary area, below.
Aurora researchers state that when Aurora bailed out of the model business and sold the molds to Monogram in 1977, the Halberstadt was one of the kits damaged beyond salvage in the infamous train wreck.
The only other injection molded 1/48 Halberstadt CL.II kits I know of are the acclaimed Blue Max – now Freightdog Models – model and one by Mirage. Regardless, a quick spin around the net shows that this model can be built into a beauty!
In the hanger
This review is of an original 1960 model in a ‘long box’ dramatically decorated by the great artist Jo Kotula. While Aurora changed their logo, box design or decoration many times, I haven’t found a box with art different from this one until the K&B issue. To the chagrin of retailers Aurora, like many model makers then and now, printed their suggested retail price 98₵ on the box.
Inside are instructions, decals, and 42 parts injection molded in two colors, black and gray. One piece is an identification button imprinted with “HALBERSTADT CL-II GERMANY.” Molding is good with some flash, mold seam lines, a few sink holes and, typical of the era, some visible ejector marks. Too many are on the top of the bottom wings and wing struts. The worst sinks I found are on the bottom of the nose where the male/female fuselage attachments are molded. Struts and piping and trailing edges are too thick. Figure detail is soft, as though one passed them over a flame to round off the edges. The pilot has a nasty sink hole while the others have ejector circles. The pilot is seated, the observer is leaning from his station reaching for something, that something being orders in the hand of a reaching orderly. Aurora included a base with molded chocks to pose the model and figures upon.
Test fitting reveals fair fit. Filler will be necessary along the fuselage and empennage. Where the cabanes and interstruts mate into the airframe will also require care.
As was the fashion of the era, sadly all insignia and data are molded onto the airframe. Removing it is a horrible exercise at best even on flat surfaces! Happily, by this time Aurora mold makers showed more finesse and the raised detail is not a chunky.
Aurora was one of – if not the
- first to make models to a standard size. This quarter-scale model scales closely. With a top wing span of 36 feet 5 inches their CL.II is too wide by 17 inches. I measured the fuselage from spinner to elevator trailing edge at 23 feet 9 inches, almost perfect.
A 160 hp Mercedes D.III 6-cylinder water cooled inline engine assembled with seven parts including the radiator pipe. Its detail is a suggestion, lacking valve rockers, valve rocker shafts and pins – all very prominent.
The 7.92mm Spandau LMG 08/15 and Parabellum MG14 machine guns would be unrecognizable if you didn’t know what they were supposed to be. A scarf ring is provided for the Parabellum.
The cockpit is token: floor, seat, a slightly detailed instrument panel. The pilot blocks seeing any of it.
Surface detail includes raised lines representing access hatches, control horns, and control wire ports. A flush radiator and fuel tank adorns the top wing. There are several small parts for crash cages and other details.
Molded data on the fuselage includes weight and dimensional data as well as the aircraft type and serial data: Halb. CL.II 6438/18.
Aurora also molded rough ground with chocks into the display base.
Instructions, decals, paint guide
Aurora did a good job with the instructions, the large sheet segmented into seven assembly sequences for the 42 parts. It has a photo of the finished kit on the back. Aurora advertised their own brand of paints, glues, available kits, and other promotions on the sheet. All parts are identified. Painting guidance for eight colors is shown on the photo of the finished model.
Decals include eight Balkenkreuz
, green and white striped Schlachtstaffelen
tail marking, aircraft number “5”, fuselage stripes, and the fuselage serial Halb. CL.II 6438/18
like the identical raised markings on the fuselage. No dimensional data decals are provided.
Another great trip to memory-drome! Even today this kit is sought for building and collecting. Some collectors enjoy building the kit as they did in the 1960s - straight from the box. Those who wish to build it to current standards will find it ripe for detailing and in need of serious surface sanding. One can buy several accurate modern kits for the price of one of these. No doubt you can make a respectable model with it, as evidenced by the many examples online. However, I would only buy and build one for nostalgia.
Our Thanks to Old Model Kits! This item was provided by OMK for the purpose of having it reviewed on Aeroscale.
Our thanks also to Aeroscale's own Stephen T. Lawson [JACKFLASH] for the four built photos!
History of the Halberstadt CL II (Using Aurora punctuation and spelling)
In the late autumn of 1917, the Halberstadt CL II made an appearance on the Western Front. This two-seat fighter reconnaissance plane was powered by a 180 H. P. Mercedes motor. The main spars and ribs of the wings were spruce, internally and externally wire-braced with a plywood leading edge. The fuselage was a wooden structure with center section struts of steel tubing. Both the fuselage and wings were fabric covered. A wooden frame-work made up the tail unit, fabric and plywood covered. The undercarriage consisted of rigid wooden 'vees' with rubber cord shock absorbers.
A fair sized plane, the Halberstadt CL II had an upper wing-span slightly over 35 feet while the length was just under 35 feet. The normal loaded weight was 2,532 Lbs. with an additional weapon load of some 550 Lbs. Performance was good with a speed of nearly 100 m. p. h. at 10,000 feet. Rate of climb progressed with 5,000 feet in just over 9 minutes; 10,000 feet in 24 minutes; 14,000 feet in 52 minutes. 13,500 feet was the service ceiling.
The armament included an external rack on the side of the fuselage for hand grenades when ground strafing. The observer had a single movable Parabellum machine-gun on a ring-mounting and the pilot used a synchronized Spandau machine-gun mounted in the fairing above the fuselage. The Halberstadt CL II saw service with squadrons in the 2nd, 4th, 17th, and 18th armies.
The British Infantry near Perrone in September of 1917 had physical contact against these two-seat fighters when the planes attacked with contact bombs and hand grenades. A specialty of the Halberstadt CL II was 'contour fighting' or close ground attack following the con-tour of the trenches of the enemy.
Although not exceptional in high altitude performance, the Halberstadt had extremely good manoeuvrability when under 1,000 feet. This gave the ability to dodge ground fire, and with the thin steel plate fitted along the bottom of the fuselage for protection against ack-ack fire, the Halberstadt was formidable in ground-strafing.
This German fighter closely resembled a single-seat scout. The pilot and observer shared a communal cockpit giving instant recognition in observation and gunnery. The pilot had a wide range of visibility whereas the observer was furnished with a clear firing field. An unusual feature in a two seat plane was the one-piece elevator of the Halberstadt which give excellent longitudinal balance. Approaching from the air, the Haiberstadt could move quickly and surely, creating havoc in the enemy lines.
* Alan Bussie. Aurora Halberstadt CL.II Kit Review and History
. Oldmodelkits.com. November 22, 2013.