AEG J.II 342/18 of FA(A) 242w, WESTERN FRONT 1918

by George Grasse


3 October 2009

FUSELAGE AND COCKPIT DETAILS: Unfortunately, I inadvertently deleted early stage photos showing the fuselage interior with the engine, floorboard, equipment, twin floor-mounted Spandau machine guns, and cockpit details.  The kit was moderately furnished with the necessaries but I added instrument panel detail, seat belts, observer's cockpit details, and wiring.  The floorboard was a separate piece that fits through the bottom of the one-piece fuselage casting.  The cockpit fuselage sides had to be detailed and pre-fitted with the floorboard to make sure that components did not interfere when the floorboard was pushed into place.  When all the cockpit components were added, I super glued the floorboard into the fuselage, let it set, applied putty, and sanded.  I added the flare cartridge rack to the right side of the observer's cockpit.  Note the twin downward-firing Spandau machine guns.

TAIL UNIT: This was a straight forward assembly and required more time to be sure the vertical and horizontal appendages were square and plumb.  It didn't take much time to cut and fit the brass tail unit support struts.  In fact, they are barely glued on as they will have to come off when it's time to apply the printed camouflage pattern.  The tail skid is flattened brass rod support by a vertical piece of brass rod.

LANDING GEAR:  Each "V" strut was made from two pieces of flattened brass tubing soldered together.  A plastic filler with a hole for the axle was fashioned from stock plastic card and super glued in place.  Then the kit's unique AEG shock absorber component was added to the axle and the wheels drilled and fitted but not glued.

4 October 2009
REAR ELEVATED VIEW: Another view of work to date.  You can see a few cockpit details and the landing gear axle components.  The engine supplied in the kit is really just the upper half that sits in the resin engine compartment cavity.
10 October 2009
TAIL UNIT PRINTED CAMOUFLAGE FABRIC:  I used Techmod TD4039 1:48 scale 4-color printed camouflage fabric decals.  Each packet contains one sheet of upper and one sheet of under surface fabric.  Shown above is the upper or dark version. 

AIRCRAFT FABRIC ORIENTATION:  I used the photograph of J.II 306/18 that appears on page 347 of Peter M. Grosz' article on Rare Birds: AEG J.Ia & J.II, Over the Front, Winter 2002 issue.   The printed camouflage is the 4-color version and the orientation is:

 fuselage and fin: 






PRINTED FABRIC DECAL PREPARATION: To get a close fit, I reproduced a section of the tail unit from the Martin Digmayer 1:48 scale drawings in the Rare Bird article, cut out one each of the horizontal stabilizer and elevator and used those as patterns to cut the decal sheet taking into account the individual covering pattern for the stabilizers and the elevators.  In other words, each of these tail plane components was covered individually so the cut off the roll would almost guarantee that the edges would not line up hex-to-hex.  These cut-out patterns were used for upper and under surface decals. I ended up with two elevator and two horizontal stabilizer decals pieces for the upper surface and the same for the under surface for a total of eight pieces. 

PRINTED FABRIC DECAL APPLICATION: The Techmod decals are quite delicate and they tended to curl and crack during the water soaking process. I also tore them when sliding them off the backing sheet.    Small pieces were damaged and lost but I found color matches in my Andrea (Old Series) and Vallejo acrylic paints.  The upper surfaces "patches" were paints right out of the bottle.  The under surface "patches" were lightened with off-white and mixed on the palette and applied:

Dark Blue Gray:   Vallejo VC0900 French Mirage Blue
Orange Tan:   Vallejo VC981 Orange Brown
Dark Green :   Andrea ANAC38 Napoleonic Green
Light Green:   Andrea ANAC24 Light Green
19 November 2009
FINISHING THE TAIL UNIT:  After the tail unit printed camouflage fabric decals were applied, oversprayed with satin polyurethane, and allowed to dry, I replaced the tail unit strut braces, primed them, and painted them light gray-green.  The tailskid was "fitted" with a drop of 5-minute epoxy to represent the steel shoe on the end and it was painted dark steel metallic gray.

FUSELAGE PRINTED CAMOUFLAGE FABRIC:  Since I had already glued the tail unit components onto the fuselage, it made the printed camouflage fabric application difficult.  I made patterns for the fuselage top, sides, bottom, and fin all cut from a photo copy of 1:48 scale drawings by Martin Digmayer in Rare Birds: AEG J.Ia & J.II.  I had to include the slots for the in-place tail unit.  The resulting pieces were pretty good for the most part.  I was extremely careful during the water soaking, sliding, and application process so as to minimize tearing.  I used an X-Acto knife with brand new #11 blade to cut out the steps on the left side and trim away decals that didn't quite fit.  When thoroughly dry, I touched up with my paints and oversprayed with a protective coat of satin polyurethane.

LANDING GEAR PRINTED CAMOUFLAGE FABRIC:  Both sides of the wheels are covered in the darker 4-color shade and I simply drew circle on a thin piece of pliable lead sheet and test fitted it until just right.  I used it as a pattern to cut out four decals.  These were applied carefully and allowed to dry.  The landing gear axle was reinforced with two smaller diameter spreader bars and the whole unit was painted light gray-green.  The unique coiled spring shock absorber system was painted this color as well but the springs were painted in "dark steel".  Two sets of landing gear wire braces were added, one pair between the front struts and the other between the rear struts.  These were rigged with .005 dark metallic gray monofilament thread.

FUSELAGE PAINTING:  The actual color used may never be known but it appear to be a light shade.  My interpretation in light gray-green which approximates what later became known as RLM-02 of WW2 fame.  I used my mix of dark brown/black liner to fill in the panel lines, panel screws, louvre slots, and to make a few smudges and stains especially around the fuel filler cap.  The pilot's cockpit coaming was painted in Andrea (old) ANAC16 Medium Brown and stained in Andrea (old) ANAC42 Brown Leather.  When all down, the aircraft as shown above at this stage was oversprayed with satin polyurethane.

BALKENKREUZ DECALS:  As shown, these decals came from the kit's decal sheet.  After they were applied, another light coat of satin polyurethane was applied. 

December - March 2010
While still waiting for the discovery of a specific aircraft to finish, I worked on the printed camouflage fabric covering for the wings.  I used Techmod's 4-color upper and lower decal sheets which are quite fragile and need great care in handling especially when soaked in water when the decal tends to fold.  Too much folding or an attempt to unfold the decal before it is thoroughly soaked results in cracks.  Allow the decal to unfold naturally.

The printed camouflage fabric decal was applied span-wise starting at the leading edge of the wing.  A second, narrower span-wise run can be seen just above an imaginary line drawn along the ailerons from tip to tip.  The ailerons were finished separately, also span-wise.  The dreaded and frustrating task of border and rib taping is discussed in the next photo.

December - March 2010
I could not discern in any photos the use of any light blue, pink, or CDL taping on the ribs or borders of the wings.  It appears that tape was cut from the printed camouflage fabric that was used to cover the flying surfaces.  And this makes sense because these were slow, low-flying aircraft involved in infantry contact patrols.  Although armored and somewhat immune to ground fire, they were "sitting ducks" if caught from above.  Hence, the colored tapes would compromise their camouflage. 

At this stage, I completed the camouflage rib taping of the right upper wing.  I decided not to use the fragile Techmod decals for border taping.  Instead, these will be painted on.  This view shows the dark black/brown border I painted on the edges of the flying surfaces.  Inside of this border, I will hand-paint each of the camouflage colors to match the Techmod decal sheet.  The upper surface colors that best match are: Andrea ANAC24 Light Green, Andrea ANAC38 Napoleonic Green, Vallejo VC0900 French Mirage Blue, and Vallejo VC0981 Orange Brown.  These colors are nearly identical to the upper surface 4-color pattern.  I painted one color at a time leaving space between to be filled in by each of the other colors in their turn.

8 July 2010
RESEARCH UPDATE: While researching for data on the deployment of Feldflieger-Abteilungen from Mobilization on 2 August 1914 to 31 December 1914, I ran across on article in Over the Front, Volume 21, Number 2, "From Russia with Victory - The History of Royal Wurttemberg Flieger-Abteilung (A) 242" by Peter Kilduff.  My eye caught the serial of an AEG J.II used by this unit in the Lorraine sector of the Western Front after its move from the Eastern Front in December 1917.  I have been searching for an AEG J.II related to a specific unit, serial number, and crew for about one year and stopped work on the model until details were found.  Earlier this year, I wrote a letter to the Muse de la Fort de Pompelle asking them to provide details on the fragment of AEG J.II 341/18 in their museum.  I never heard back from them.  So, I was delighted to find the following paragraph in the FA(A) 242w article by Peter Kilduff.

"Thus, day and night close (Ifl) missions (Infanterieflugzeug or infantry contact patrols, my notes) became especially important to AOK 19 (German 19.Armee to which FA(A) 242w was attached, my notes), which needed continuous timely reports of the fast-changing frontline situation.  The flow of information was affected by the loss of even one airplane, as happened at Frescaty (Flugplatz of FA(A) 242w, my notes) on 20 September (1918), when Uffz. Bttcher crashed on landing upon returning from an evening flight.  The airplane - AEG J.II 342/18 - was completely destroyed.  Bttcher and his observer, Ltn. Schwally, were injured and transported to a field hospital for treatment."

DECALS: Now, I have the subject of my model: AEG J.II 342/18 flown by Uffz Bttcher (P) and Ltn Schwally (O) of FA(A) 242w.  Equipped with a brand new H-P inkjet laser printer, I was able to create the decals which included the serial number, AEG logos at the bottom of the rudder, weight table, and datum line.  Compared to my old inkjet printer where the decals had to be oversprayed a couple of times to seal the ink, inkjet laser decals can go right on the model.  Also, the detail was greatly improved.

STRUTS: The upper wing center section struts as shown are made of flattened brass tube.  In the their present state, they are being fitted for correct gap.  In fact, the rear pair have to be trimmed.  More on that later.

13 July 2010
Close-up showing fuselage struts now primed, the weight table, and landing gear details.
13 July 2010
Elevated rear photo showing the primed brass struts made from "Strutz" material.  Note the scratch-built flare cartridge rack just outside the observer's cockpit.  The black border on the tail unit is the base color for what will be hand-painted border tape matching the printed camouflage fabric.  This has already been done for the lower wings which have also had printed camouflage fabric strips applied to the wing ribs.
21 October 2010
Overall left front view showing progress to date.  Both wings were prepared by having all rib tapes applied over the printed camouflage fabric decals.  I cut printed camouflage fabric strips from the same Techmod decal sheets.  None of the photos I reviewed showed evidence that the rib and border tapes were other than camouflage strips (not CDL, salmon pink, or light blue). 

 Other steps completed are 1) pre-drilling the rigging holes; 2) gluing rigging monofilament thread to the underside of the upper wing; 3) adding windscreens to the cockpits; 4) gluing radiator to the underside of the upper wing; 5) checking fit of the fuselage struts to the top wing; 6) gluing top wing to fuselage struts. 

The rigging holes for the upper wing were drilled so as not to break through to the upper side (oops, one did).  The rigging holes for the lower wing were drilled through so I could pull each monofilament thread through the hole, glue it, and attach a clip so it dries taut with the aid of gravity.  The fuselage struts are made from Strutz brass material and primed.  One set of struts will be added on the fuselage just below the observer's cockpit and will attach to the top rear of the rear struts.

14 November 2010
This view shows clearly one of the distinguishing features of the AEG J.II.  Because the original AEG J.I proved to be rather difficult to maneuver over the battlefield, a second set of ailerons were added to the lower wing reinforced with a steel tube strut.  Also, the upper wing aileron was extended known as "overhung horn balances".   Note that all of the rigging has been completed using .005 monofilament thread. 
15 November 2010
This left rear view shows scratch-building work on the gunner's flex-mounted Parabellum machine gun.  This particular machine gun was the last in the Parabellum series and was modified to reduce weight by having the otherwise cumbersome air-cooled jacket reduced greatly in diameter.
21 October 2010

Here, is a view of the exhaust stack glued to the engine exhaust ports.  Just beyond the stack to the right is the fuel line coming from the upper wing fuel tank down the port forward cabane strut.  Note the twin Spandau machine guns protruding from the bottom of the fuselage.

21 October 2010
This view shows the radiator pipes from the front of the engine to the wing-mounted radiator and from the bottom of the radiator making a loop and then down to the rear of the engine.  Note the path of the upper wing fuel tank line to the fuselage via the port forward cabane strut.  The lower wing has had border tape painted onto the leading edge.  The top wing does not have that yet.
18 November 2010
------------------------------------------ FINIS --------------------------------------------
The construction of this 1:48 scale model is based on a number of photographs appearing in various publications.  The primary source is Rare Birds: AEG J.Ia & J.II by Peter M. Gross appearing in Over the Front, Volume 17, Issue 4, which included 1:48 scale drawings by Martin Digmayer, and three color profiles by R. N. Pearson.  Another interesting publication is a reprint from 'Flight', Evaluation of the AEG J.I, issued by the Technical Department (Aircraft Production), Ministry of Munitions, August 1918 issue, that appeared in the old Cross & Cockade (US) Volume 10, Number 1.  The specific aircraft was captured on 16 May 1918 and assigned the "G" number G/1/7.  Descriptions of the construction and appearance of the it (J.I J.209/17 of FA 32) were quite helpful as were the kit's drawings, photos, and notes.
The specific aircraft I originally selected to model was AEG J.II 341/18 based on a piece of fuselage fabric residing in the Muse de la Fort Pompelle, 5 km east-southeast of Reims in France.  Stephen Miller, a fellow League of WW1 Aviation Historians member, took the photo some years ago.  I wrote to the museum asking for the providence of the fabric hoping to determine the date, crew, unit, and any additional markings.  To this date, I have not heard back from them so I abandoned J.II 342/18 and halted work on the model in July 2010.  Here's the photo:

I started work on the Special Hobby 1:48 Albatros C.III for my August 2010 issue and, while researching the activity and military circumstances on the Eastern Front in 1917, I happened to review Peter Kilduff's article on the history of FA(A) 242w in Over the Front (see bibliography below).  In the text was a paragraph that included the unit's operation of armored contact patrol aircraft, specifically AEG J.II 342/18.  At that moment I knew I had specific date for my AEG J.II.  This aircraft will now be featured in my November 2010 Historical Miniatures Journal.


Additional after-market kits used in the creation of this model:
    Techmod TD4039 4-Color Printed Camouflage Decal Sheets
    Strutz flattened brass
    K & S brass tube and rod
    Micro-Mark decal paper



Anonomys.  The Use of Armored Observation Aircraft: Flight Evaluation of the A.E.G, J.I, Issued by the Technical Department (Aircraft production) Ministry of Munitions

Cuneo, John R.  The Air Weapon 1914-1916.  Volume II of Winged Mars. Harrisburg: Military Service Publishing Company, 1947.

Gray, Peter and Owen Thetford.  German Aircraft of the First World War.  London: Putnam & Company, 1962.

Grosz, P. M. AEG J.Ia & J.II, Rare Birds, Over the Front, Volume 17, Issue 04, Journal of the League of World War I Aviation Historians, Winter 2002, color profiles by R. N. Pearson, 1:48 scale drawings by Martin Digmayer. 

Kilduff, Peter.  From Russia with Victory - The History of Royal Wurttemberg Flieger-Abteilung (A) 242, Over the Front, Volume 21, Number 2, Summer 2006.

Von Hoeppner, Ernest, General.  Germany's War in the War - The Development and Operations of German Military Aviation in the World War.  Nashville: The Battery Press, 1994.






Copyright by George Grasse