The element of surprise has always been a tactical advantage in warfare. It proved no different in the evolution of aerial combat. During WWI initial efforts to conceal aircraft from the enemy involved painting camouflage patterns by hand on the airframes. But this was time consuming, and the dope paints used added additional weight.
To help streamline aircraft production, the Idflieg (the bureau of the German War Office that oversaw Military Aviation) developed Flugstoff — aircraft linen with a dye printed camouflage pattern. This reduced the man-hours and materials otherwise used painting the camouflage patterns. And, because the dyes used to print the fabric weighed less than paint, Flugstoff had the added benefit of reducing weight — thereby contributing to improved aircraft performance.
While no official Idflieg report has surfaced detailing the origin of the colors selected, it seems likely that these camouflage patterns were based on the color theories of the “Impressionist Art Movement”. The concept was that when two different spots of color are placed next to one another, and viewed at a distance, the eye visually mixes them to produce a third color. This optical “blending” could be influenced by environmental lighting and thereby change the resulting third color. So practically speaking, the camouflage looked different under different lighting and blended with the surroundings. It was simple yet effective. It also made the aircraft difficult to view. A pilot had to decide whether an enemy aircraft was coming at him or going away. This indecision made it possible for the German pilot to see his enemy and plot his tactics as well.
There were several different varieties of Flugzeugstoff patterns printed for use with day and night operations. The most common were the five-color (Fünffarbiger Flugzeugstoff) and the four-color (Vierfarbiger Flugzeugstoff) patterns. Both of these were printed in different color schemes for both the upper and lower surfaces. Additionally, there were different patterns and colors developed for use with Naval operations.
The four color fabric was 1320mm plus or minus 10mm wide and the five color fabric was 1350mm plus or minus 10mm wide. This is without trimming or folding for the butt joint seams factory edge to factory edge.
a word on the decal type,
These decals simulate the camouflage fabric applied to German aircraft during the First World War. While usually referred to as "lozenge" by modelers today, this term is in fact a misnomer. The repeated shapes in these patterns are not lozenges (having four to five sides), but rather polygons (having six sides). The German term for the material was "Flugzeugstoff" or literally aircraft covering stock. However, for marketing purposes many manufacturers have decided to use the more familiar term "lozenge" simply for ease of recognition by the general public.
Mirage German Lozenge decals,
Their first 1:48 releases depict five color intermediate dark versions. Each package comes with one sheet each of both upper & lower surface layouts. Mirage has said that the decal strips represent bolts of printed polygon fabric as it would appear, ready for application to airframes, with the edges folded and sewn. Now for the five color pattern factory edge to factory edge width, I find these appear to be closer to 4' 4" than the generally accepted 4' 6". But this is a small issue over all as it is a difference of about 1/16” in 1:48. Also there are several older studies on this subject that have different over all conclusions. The recent restorations and studies fostered by them lead us to the standard of 4’6” bolt width. Mirage lozenge is specifically produced for their Halberstadt CL.II (and upcoming CL.IV).
These decal sheets do need a clear coat to be applied. Unlike their Austro-Hung. Sworl Camouflage the German lozenge decals are not as fragile. I was pleasantly surprised. But when you use a single or double clear coat application it will only strengthen the decal. I found it is needed. If not these tend to fold over too easily without it.
This is the fourth set of lozenge decals I have reviewed here and with each set I can see manufacturers working closer to the original fabrics with their own interpretations. Each attempt bearing out that the the subject is no longer just a vague illusion in someone's mind. We have great research masters such as Dan San Abbott, Pete Grosz, A.E Ferko, Ian Huntley and Manfred Theimeyer to thank. And just so you know Mirage is not finished with their WWI subjects either.
Application to the wings & flying surfaces,
These are typical for ink based water slide decals. Several methods were used to apply the original printed fabric to the airframe. All methods involved the assembly of various pieces of fabric to form an envelope covering large enough to fit the intended area. The pieces were always butt joined and sewn along the selvage edges. These joints were overlap stitched like typical blue denim. This is called a “French stitch”. These envelope type / sleeve coverings were then attached to the airframe by stitching and nailing them to the ribs wrapped in fabric batting and edges.
The most common application method by far was Chordwise, with the fabric running parallel to the wing ribs or “chord” of the wing.
An alternate application method was Spanwise. Here the fabric was applied perpendicular to the ribs, parallel to the leading edge. This was the simplest method since a single run of fabric could cover most of the wing with only a single seam needed to add any additional material. It was seen mostly on narrow winged aircraft Like the Siemens Schuckert types. It was also used in some repair work.
Another method was Diagonal, with the fabric being applied on the wings at a 45 degree angle to the line of flight. Again this meant multiple panels to cover the wing. Due to the increased area of the fabric joints this was the strongest method. Mirage lozenge is specifically produced for their Halberstadt CL.II (and upcoming CL.IV).
Ailerons and elevators were usually covered Spanwise. This simplified application by minimizing the number of seams needed.
Application to the fuselage,
For the Halberstadt CL.II or CL.IV types there was no factory application of lozenge fabric to the fuselages of production airframes. So there are enough lozenge decal for 1 completed Halberstadt CL type plus a bit extra incase you want to use it all instead on another type in 1/48.
These were strips of fabric or a smaller batten strip of linen generally applied over each full rib and around the edges of the wings to reinforce stitching. They were approximately one inch wide. These could be created from camouflage fabric, or strips linen coloured batten. These were not applied to elevators or ailerons.
The texture is a separate sheet that overlays the finished lozenge decal. Large areas of solid color, or repeating patterns on models can look a little too pristine or uniform. This can make a scale replica look toy-like. There are many ways to alter the appearance of these areas including pre-shading, glazing, dry brushing and powders. Here is another choice to add to your arsenal. Fabric texture decals. The idea is to make a fabric area look like fabric! The imitation of printed lozenge fabric on WWI models has always been an effect that has tested modeler's skills. The challenge is depicting the colors accurately without making them look too garish on such a small scale. These decals have been developed to add a subtle irregular cloth texture and tone down the lozenge patterns by about 5% without causing a significant shift in colors.
How to use,
1. These decals represent printed bolts of camouflage fabric with edges trimmed and sewn for application to airframes.
2. Study the reference material on your chosen subject. If possible, determine the patterns used for both fuselage and wings (they may differ) and the application method (see Fabric Orientation).
3. A copy of a scale drawing of the aircraft will be helpful to plan the decal layout.
4. It is essential that these decals be applied to a gloss finish. This provides the best surface for the decals to adhere. I recommend almond or sail as a base color to help conceal any possible gaps.
5. Take your time applying the decals. Allow each piece to reasonably set before working on the next. Do one surface at a time.
6. Begin with the lower surfaces. Carefully measure the intended area (dividers are useful for transferring measurements), being sure to add a little extra at the ends—this will be trimmed later. Cut the piece of decal you need from the sheet. These decal sheets do need a clear coat to be applied. Unlike their Austro-Hung. Sworl Camouflage the German lozenge decals are not as fragile. I was pleasantly surprised. But when you use a single or double clear coat application it will only strengthen the decal. But I find it is needed. If not these tend to fold over too easily without it.
7. Using tweezers dip it in the ery warm water for no more than five seconds. Submersing the decal for a longer period of time can dilute the adhesive. Place it on a nonporous surface and wait for it to loosen from the paper backing.
8. Apply a small amount of Microset solution to the surface where the decal is to go. When loosened, gently slide the decal from the backing into place. You can use a moist finger or a Q-tip.
9. Exact position can be achieved by moving the decal with a Q-tip. Carefully blot up the excess moisture with a soft cloth. Then, gently press the decal to the surface, starting at one corner and working over the entire surface of the decal. Try not to shift its position. Apply a thin film of Microset over the decal and blot up any excess. Difficult areas (compound curves, extremely detailed areas) may require the sparing use of MicroSol.
10. When set repeat the process for the next panel. When the lower surfaces are done and thoroughly dry, clean up the edges with an Xacto knife, trimming excess material. Repeat this process for the upper surfaces.
11. When all the decal panels have been added to both upper and lower surfaces, the rib tapes can be applied. These cover all full rib (not riblet) locations of the wings. They were not applied to elevators or ailerons. Camouflage tapes can be created by cutting strips (length wise) from the decal material.
12. To apply the texture the piece should be over sized and minimal sliding will be a requirement. These are little more than some strands of colour on a clear carrier film. The decal edges will disappear very quickly.
When contacting manufacturers and publishers PLEASE mention you saw this review at AEROSCALE
Highs: Good register compared to modern tracings. Colours seem to match methuen reference for the 5 colour intermediate dark version. They apply well and react well to Sol & Set.Lows: In my opinion the strips / bolts are about 1/16 inch too narrow. Verdict: Mirage has tried to give us all you need to finish one of his fine kits. With a bit of caution you will have good results.
Our Thanks to Mirage Hobby! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash) FROM: COLORADO, UNITED STATES
I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...