1/3-Scale German Albatros D.Va – Pedro Sanchez on keeping WW I aviation alive

1/3-Scale German Albatros D.Va – Pedro Sanchez on keeping WW I aviation alive

During the tumultuous era of World War I, the German Albatros D.Va soared into the aviation scene. With its powerful Mercedes D.III engine, the Albatros played a pivotal role in shaping air combat during the war. Pedro Sanchez’s 1/3-scale D.V Albatros is a stunning RC reproduction that honors the daring and innovation of early aviation.

Model Airplane News: How did you get started in radio control and building scale airplanes?
Pedro Sanchez: I started this hobby about 23 years ago. One day while driving I saw models hanging from the ceiling in a hobby shop store. I walked into the store and purchased a .40-size trainer. After I crashed about two of them, someone told me to join a club. I found and joined the Georgia Model Aviators and they taught me the basics. In about two weeks, I was flying solo, and I fell in love with the hobby of flying models. My first build was a Hobby Lobby senior Telemaster kit, my second build was a Ziroli Stuka, then another and another and another. I have not stopped building since and they have gotten bigger and bigger—the bigger the better.

I have been building big models basically since the beginning. I have built and flown small ones in between, but I like them big. Now I have the privilege to share and enjoy this beautiful hobby with my 12-year-old son, Alex. I’m very proud of him; he loves the hobby just as much as I do and he flies very well.

MAN: How long have you been competing in scale events?
PS: I have competed about four times at Top Gun. It’s funny but I always place second! I have gone to big events and have won a few trophies here and there but that’s about it. Because of my job I can’t take time off for a long period of time to keep competing. I love this hobby for its pure clean fun and friendship; many times when you compete the fun is over.

My biggest win so far is that this year I got a call from Horizon Hobby to become a Team Horizon member. I said yes it really is an honor and privilege to be part of something that big in the hobby.

MAN: Why did you choose to build this Albatros? Did you build from plans or a kit?
PS: I decided to build an Albatros because I think that this airplane is an amazing flying work of art. To me it’s one of the most elegant if not the most elegant airplane from WW I. I also liked the challenge of building something different.

It is a 1/3-scale kit that comes from Germany, a Wonneberger-Flugmodellbau. I have to say that you don’t see many of these models. Most of the 1/3-scale Albatros models you see out there are from Balsa USA. As far as I know with this one are only about five of the Wonneberger-Flugmodellbau models here in the U.S. I don’t know why but it could be because they are not easy to get.

MAN: What paint scheme does your Albatros wear? Can you tell us about the full-size?
PS: I decided to go with this scheme of the full-scale D.Va based at Kermit Weeks’ Fantasy of Flight Museum in Polk City, Florida. Out of hundreds of Albatros aircraft, this scheme is the one I like the most. The Fantasy of Flight full-size Albatros is a flight-worthy replica built in 2011.

MAN: What covering did you use?
PS: It’s covered with 1/3-scale lozenge fabric by Glen Torrance that you apply with tacky glue. I also used Tamiya paint. Like the full-size, the fuselage is bare wood.

MAN: Any interesting details from the build you’d like to highlight?
PS: Scale details I don’t know what to say because other than the Tailored Pilots figure and cockpit and external little details, the Albatros doesn’t have anything special like dropping bombs or a sliding canopy etc. It’s just very realistic looking aircraft. One thing I have to mention is that I have not installed the guns yet because I didn’t like the ones that came with the kit. I’m waiting for a new gun kit to come out.

MAN: What power and radio system do you use?
PS: For power I’m using a Zenoah G-62 with a reduction gear swinging a 34-inch wood propeller. For the radio, I’m using a Spektrum iX20 transmitter with an AR10400 receiver and A6320 servos.

MAN: How does your big Albatros fly?
PS: In the air, the airplane is very stable and very solid. It seems to be aerobatic, but because of the power setup I think I’ll be flying it scale. The combination of the G-62 engine, the reduction gear, the tuned pipe, and the big propeller make a very sweet sound that I love. It’s the closest you will get to the sound of the original full-scale engine.

If I compete with the Albatros I would do the basic maneuvers. I would do a nice take off, nice landings, slow flybys, maybe a loop or a roll on a good day. Nothing crazy or complicated because of the nature and capabilities of the airplane.

MAN: Would you fly in a full-scale Albatros if given the opportunity?
PS: Lol if I would have the opportunity to fly an Albatros it would be next to impossible because there are not many out there, but the answer is a big fat YES.

MAN: Thank you for taking the time to share these details about your beautiful model, Pedro. We look forward to seeing you and your Albatros on the flightline!

The right stabilizer and elevator during construction.

The right stabilizer and elevator during construction.

Applying the Glenn Torrance lozenge fabric to both bottom wings.

Applying the Glenn Torrance lozenge fabric to both bottom wings.

Getting ready to apply sheeting on the nose of the fuselage.

Getting ready to apply sheeting on the nose of the fuselage.

Left to right: Pedro, John Mueller, and Pedro’s son Alex make final adjustments to the Albatros engine before the first flight.

Left to right: Pedro, John Mueller, and Pedro’s son Alex make final adjustments to the Albatros engine before the first flight.

Fitting the dummy engine.

Fitting the dummy engine.

Installing flying wires for first time. The model is coming together nicely!

Installing flying wires for first time. The model is coming together nicely!

Pedro’s son Alex is very excited holding the nearly complete fuselage.

Pedro’s son Alex is very excited holding the nearly complete fuselage.

John Mueller’s D.VI and the Albatros together at the field, ready for a sortie.

John Mueller’s D.VI and the Albatros together at the field, ready for a sortie.

A Tailored Pilots figure sits at the controls.

A Tailored Pilots figure sits at the controls.

Drawing and painting the markings on the top wings.

Drawing and painting the markings on the top wings.

In the air, the Albatros D.Va has a very scale presence.

In the air, the Albatros D.Va has a very scale presence.


By Debra Cleghorn

Updated: December 22, 2023 — 9:58 AM

2 Comments

  1. Very nice build. I’d love to build the same model, but 1/3 scale anything is just too darn large to haul around! Great job, Pedro.

  2. I’m just about finished with a GTM 33% D.VII and am considering a gyro. Can you tell us more about the gyro you use in this Albatros? What unit did you use, and how does it affect the model’s flight behavior?

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