by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
The Gotha G.V
Built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG, the Gotha G.V was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I. It corrected a design flaw of the G.IV--mounting the fuel tanks in the engine nacelles, which contributed to three-quarters of G.IVs destroyed in landing accidents! Gothaer moved the fuel tanks to the center of the fuselage. Housing Mercedes D.IVa engines rated at 190 kW (260 hp), the smaller engine nacelles were mounted on struts above the lower wing, e.g., "floating," between the wings. Thirty-six were built and began operations in August 1917.
The fuselage was fully skinned in plywood. It was noted at the time that the plywood skinning enabled the fuselage to float for some time in the event of a water landing. The Gotha belly blind spot was defended by an innovative "gun tunnel." The underside of the rear fuselage was arched, allowing placement of a rearward facing machine gun to protect from attack from below. There was a bulge from the left side of the cockpit for the pilot.
The bomber was defended by two or three 7.92 mm Parabellum MG14 machine guns, and attacked with up to 1,100 lbs of bombs.
Aurora issued their Gotha G.V in the late 1950's. At the time it may have been the largest model airplane kit produced. The Gotha was impressive, with a (relatively) slim and aesthetic fuselage, and elegant semi-swept wings. With the "floating" engine nacelles, large size, plenty of struts and bracing, three crewmen, guns and bombs, the model was a sensation.
The first release was kit No.126 in about 1958. In 1971 a hobbyist commissioned 1,000 of the models with slightly different box markings. In 1972 Aurora reworked the model, removed the raised plastic decal locators, and reissued the kit as No. 1126 under their Canadian subsidiary K&B. This review is Aurora kit No. 785, the 1976 issue. The dramatic box art was replaced with a photograph of the built model on a white background, and fabric texture was added to the model surface.
This mighty Gotha contains 112 parts molded in olive and black. Earlier editions had two or three groundcrew, and the K&B square box editions had a vacuform display base.
The molding is fraught with flaws: sinkholes, ejector marks--notably on the mainplane struts--seam lines, and flash abound. One crew member looks as though he took a 150 mm round through the tummy! Notice the dimpling near the wingtip of the wing in the bottom of the photo. Many parts are over scale, such as the latices propeller guards. However, some pieces are fairly to-scale, like the pilot's control column and the landing gear struts. Harry Woodman said in Scale Models 1976 that, ". . if you want a scale version, you should keep the wheels, figures and engine nacelles and throw everything else away and scratch build the rest. . ."
This model is considered toy-like by today's standards. The model's fortes and foibles have long been debated, so I will touch upon the more obvious and interesting issues.
Much of the detail is soft and simplified. Almost all of the control surface horns are molded on, and out of scale. The ailerons did not mate flush with the wings, so there should be a gap with noticeable hinges between them.
No solid bulkheads should compartmentalize the fuselage. The top of the front fuselage along the right half, from the nose gunner/bombardier station back to the rear gunner station should be open. There is no interior detail inside the fuselage. Nor were molded the four windows that should be at the bombardier station.
Outboard from the fuselage, the first 8 feet of lower wing (reaching just outboard the engines and main gear) was plywood with no dihedral. A gap should exist between the wooden and fabric wing segments. The belly gun tunnel is boxy--it was rounded. Tail skid was metal tubing instead of the fin style of the kit. Most wing struts are too bulky. As are the scarf rings. The Parabellum MG14 machine guns are basic. It is a shame the crew suffers from poor molding, as they have decent detail.
The fuselage is textured to simulate fabric. I do not know if the G.V had fabric over the plywood, as some Luftstreitkräfte aircraft did.
painting, decals, instructions
The instructions are simple and nicely illustrated. It includes a diagram for painting the lozenge camouflage. A rigging diagram is also included.
Initially, G.V's were used for day bombing and had the five color day lozenge print fabric on upper and lower surfaces. Most G.V's flew night bombing, typically painted with large five color dark irregular polygons. This pattern was different from the pattern used in the printed fabric. Individual markings were common. The color schemes in the instructions show "off-white" / light blue, and forest green / light blue.
The decals are over 30 years old, yet not yellowed. The national insignia are the early style, instead of the straight style. No unit information is provided though G.V's flew with Bogohl 3 (formerly Kagohl 3). Decals for two aircraft are provided, "K Z" aircraft 547, and Go G.V 504/18.
German Bombers of WWI in action - Aircraft No. 173 by Peter Cooksley, 2000. ISBN 1-89747-416-3
WWIin Plastic by Brad K. Hansen 1979.
Another trip down classic memory lane. With a wingspan of over 19 inches (480 mm), and a fuselage of 10 inches (258 mm), this model debuted with a "wow" factor. Even today it is sought for building and collecting. They are rare and disappearing. It certainly requires quite a bit of work to correct deficiencies. Move slowly and deliberately to align the struts for the upper and lower wings. There are many examples of well-built Aurora G.V's on line, so you can make a good model from it.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Thanks to www.Oldmodelkits.com for permission to use the box art for this review!
Click here for additional images for this review.