Windsock Datafile 156, Early AVRO 504 Biplanes

Published: January 11th, 2013     
Author: Colin A. Owers
Reviewed by: Roger Rasor - IPMS# 34117
ISBN #: 978-1-906798-28-4
Other Publication Information: Softcover, 32 pages (plus covers), historical text, period photographs, technical drawings, scale plans, color profiles
Price: $22.00
Product / Stock #: Datafile 156
Product provided by: Windsock Datafiles

Windsock Datafiles from Albatros Productions are very familiar to most of those who have been building WW I aircraft models for some time. And, a number of those who have been awakened to that era by the recent introduction of 1/32 scale kits from Wingnut Wings, Roden, Special Hobby, and others have discovering the value of collecting these publications. Number 156 in the series has just been published and it is the second Datafile about the AVRO 504. However, it is a companion to the earlier title because, unlike Datafile 28, this volume focuses attention on the types that preceded the 504K.

In Datafile 156, author Colin Owers presents a somewhat rambling but very well-researched history of this iconic AVRO biplane. The text details efforts to use the aircraft in multiple roles from the beginning of WW I through the early 1920's, and how it became the primary trainer for British military pilots in both the army and the navy. The detailed narrative covers the story of the A, B, C, E and J versions from 1913 throughout the war, and sums up the history with mention of service in other Commonwealth countries and the U.S. following WW I. The text concludes with a chapter describing camouflage and markings.

The narrative is illustrated with no less than 100 period photographs, original three view drawings and rigging diagrams (with cable length specifications), complete 1/72 and 1/48 plans with scrap views (by Martin Digmayer), nine full color profiles (by Ronny Barr), a comprehensive bibliography of 14 sources for further research, multiple footnotes, and two pages of appendices.

The cover painting by Paul Monteagle depicts Flt. Lt. Stanley Vincent Sippe in aircraft #873 en route to attempt the first bombing of the Zeppelin airship sheds at Friedrichshafen. The historic raid is described in the text, along with the many other attempts throughout the war to find roles for the 504 other than training pilots (such as air defense against Zeppelin raids, photo reconnaissance, carrier landings, catapult launches, and endurance flights of nearly eight hours). The author does present compelling reasons for considering this aircraft to be one of the most significant British aircraft in the early years of military aviation.

Those model builders who are amassing a stash of WW I aircraft kits should find Datafile 156 of interest. As with previous Datafiles, this volume provides enough technical information, detailed drawings, and photographs to aid any model builder who is interested in replicating the subject of this title. When relying on the information delivered between the covers of Datafile 156, a more accurate and highly detailed model of any early version of the 504 could be built in 1/72 scale from the Airfix or Amodel kits, or in 1/48 scale from the Blue Max kit or in 1/50 scale from the SMER kit. And, it is not out of the question that Wingnut Wings or Roden may eventually get around to offering a kit of this significant aircraft in 1/32 scale.

Obviously, this publication is highly recommended. My thanks to Albatros Productions and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this excellent publication.

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