The Halberstadt CL.IV two-seater was designed during winter of 1917-1918 by lng. Karl Theis (chief designer at Halberstädter Flugzeugwerke GmbH) to replace the earlier Halberstadt CL.II. Theis had personally collected observations from front-line CL.II pilots, and took these into consideration during the redesign of the aircraft. He changed the shape of the fuselage, shortening and strengthening it, while making it more spacious and streamlined (later production versions re-introduced a longer fuselage to improve stability). He has also redesigned the ﬁn and the tailplane, making the aeroplane more manoeuvrable. The wings were left unchanged, but the centre section was simpliﬁed and its weight reduced. The new aircraft had an increased cruising speed for the same power as its predecessor, and could carry more ordnance without affecting the ﬂying characteristics.
Halberstadt CL.IVs reached the front line in early summer of 1918. By the end of the war about 18 attack squadrons from all 38 (Schlachtstaffel) completely or partly re-equipped with the type. Out of the 1,300 aircraft on order, about 840 aircraft had been built by the end of the war: seven series production batches at the parent Halberstadt factory and two batches under licence by LFG Roland (about 250 aircraft).
Source: Adapted from the kit instructions.
Mirage’s CL.IV "Short Fuselage" arrives in an attractive top-opening box. The sprues and accessories are bagged for protection and the overall presentation is very good. The immediate impression one of complexity but, and we’ll see, the spares box will receive a lot of fresh parts. The reason is because of the number of shared sprues with previous releases in the series. The kit comprises:
206 x grey styrene parts (71 not needed)
81 x etched brass parts, plus printed film
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
It’s hard to believe it’s seven years since I looked at Mirage’s original CL.II
! A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and that kit has appeared in several guises, before being joined by the CL.IV, firstly in a long-fuselage form as reviewed by Stephen Lawson HERE
Some of the sprues in this latest release have been in continual use since the beginning, so it’s to their credit that they are still looking crisp and sharp, with very little flash in evidence. There are a few ejector-pin marks inside the fuselage; a couple look pretty certain to be hidden by the fuel tank beneath the pilot’s seat, but I’ll want to double check those in the gunner’s area won’t be visible before going too far with the build. The only sink marks I found are on the engine cylinders; a bit awkward to fill without damaging surround detail, but worth doing because they will be visible if you look closely. I’ve found one moulding blemish on the wings that will polish away easily enough.
The fuselage exterior features crisply moulded details, and I really like the way the fabric covering on the wings is handled. For me it gives a great sense of the underlying structure, without resorting to the “saggy sackcloth” effect that’s marred all too many kits.
A Few Details
Construction begins with the nicely detailed engine. This is identical to the original CL.II kit, but the optional generator isn’t needed, so it’s 17 parts when all done this time.
The instructions then turn to the cockpit and, once again, this a real gem with a mix of over 30 plastic and metal parts building into a nicely busy “office”. The kit includes etched harnesses and a sling seat for the gunner.
You have the choice of a single or twin forward-firing machine guns. These are well moulded, with sharply defined cooling jackets - but the kit also provides etched jackets for an even better effect. Similarly, the gunner’s Parabellum has optional etched parts.
The undercarriage is quite delicate and features individual cross-braces either side of the axle. It should give an excellent scale appearance once constructed, but could be prone to knocks during assembly, so it’s good to see that, although it is constructed early, it’s actually fitted almost last.
Attaching the wings will need a care. The lower left and right panels have very short locating stubs that really won’t provide much support, so I think it will be wise to replace them with brass pins. Surprisingly, the 3-piece upper wing has no locators at all. A pure butt-joint may well work in this scale, but I’ll add brass pins again to err on the safe side.
Instructions & Decals
The assembly guide in the original CL.II was printed in full colour and included reference shots, and I really liked it. I suppose the only downside was that it was quite small so, while I had no trouble with it, some people have found it a bit of strain to read. Perhaps Mirage have taken this to heart, because the new instructions are much larger. Sadly, though, they’re now monochrome and most of the useful reference shots have gone. The diagrams are clear and the construction sequence is logical. Assembly is broken down into 50 stages, which sounds pretty daunting, but many comprise only one or two parts.
Vallejo paint numbers are keyed to most details, but something of an oversight is that there’s no list of the corresponding colours, so you’ll have to sort them out for yourself. You can download a paint chart from: http://www.acrylicosvallejo.com/
Mirage provide decals for three attractive colour schemes:
1. Halberstadt CL.IV flown by Lt. d.Res. Ferdinand Schulz, Herrsgruppe Rupprecht - 17th Army / Schlachtgruppe A, Schlachtstaffel 10
2. Halberstadt CL.IV, C.4637/18, White 2 “Brünhilde”, flown by Gef. Karl Prim, Herrsgruppe Rupprecht - 17th Army / Schlachtgruppe S, Schlachtstaffel 27b
3. Halberstadt CL.IV, C.4637/18, White 2 “Toni / Sabine”, Herrsgruppe Gallwitz - 5th Army / Schlachtgruppe 2, Schlachtstaffel 26b
The decals in the review sample are very nicely printed on 4 sheets. The first sheet contains national markings and individual insignia and the items are thin and glossy in perfect register. Decals are provided for the face on the nose of scheme #1, but the instructions recommend hand painting it to cope with the tight contours.
The second sheet is filled with the distinctive mottle for the fuselage. It’s a neat idea and, applied carefully, could work well. I must admit, though, I’ll probably use it as a guide to stipple on the colours by hand.
Finally, there are two sheets of 5-colour upper and lower lozenge patterns for the wings, horizontal tail and wheels. Mirage designed the decals specifically for their CL.II and CL.IV and have also marketed them separately. Stephen reviewed them very favourably HERE
, although he judged the width of each panel a trifle narrow.
Viewed under a magnifier, the lozenges are printed as minute dots, which gives a subtle “woven” texture to the naked eye. As for the colours? Well, Stephen rated them very highly - which is good enough recommendation for me - and I’ll certainly give them a try. But, of course, you can always replace the kit decals with aftermarket sheets from Aviattic and others if you wish.
Lozenge rib tapes are included in two widths, and these will need slicing apart before use because the carrier film extends across each block of them. A quick test shows the lozenge pattern is translucent, so it will be influenced by the underlying colour. A gloss undercoat of very pale grey is probably the easiest way of ensuring the final result is close to how the decals appear on the sheet. Of course, the translucency also means the rib tapes will tend to let the lozenges underneath show through, which can look a bit unrealistic, so you might want to apply strips of solid light grey first.
Mirage’s CL.IV is a very nicely produced kit. It’s reasonably complex, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a first biplane, but experienced WWI modellers should really enjoy it and the resulting model should be very impressive.
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