Pfalz D.XII

Produced near the end of World War I, the Pfalz D.XII first flew in March 1918.  This distinctive airplane combined the monocoque wooden fuselage construction previously seen on other Pfalz designs as well as Albatros and Roland airplanes with the excellent 160 hp Mercedes engine.  Based on a favorable evaluation by ace Ernst Udet, the D.XII was placed in production and about 800 airframes were manufactured.  In service the design was not popular compared to the Fokker D.VII, which entered service at about the same time.

Numerous D.XIIs were evaluated by the Allies after World War I, and four original aircraft have managed to survive to the present day.  A few replicas also have been constructed.

D.XII, National Air & Space Museum

This D.XII was sold as surplus by the U.S. military in the 1920s.  It spent time in southern California appearing in World War I air combat movies such as “Hell’s Angels” and “Dawn Patrol.”  The National Air & Space Museum acquired it in 1951 and loaned it from the 1960s to the 1980s to the Experimental Aircraft Association, which restored it to representative World War I markings as shown in the first photo.  In 1989, when it opened its exhibit on World War I aircraft in popular culture, entitled “Legend, Memory, and the Great War in the Air,” the NASM decided to restore it in its spurious movie colors from “Dawn Patrol.”  No actual wartime Pfalz wore anything like these colors, but the plane serves as an artifact of what was once a popular genre in cinema. 

D.XII, Museum of Flight

Together with the NASM’s airplane, this machine also was sold surplus to California and appeared in World War I aviation movies.  Not surprisingly it ended up in the hands of the great movie stunt pilot Frank Tallman, and upon his death, it was acquired by an Arizona collector at auction.  That collection in turn passed to the Museum of Flight which displays the plane today.

D.XII, Musee de l’Air et l’Espace

This machine is preserved as part of the excellent First World War aero collection of the Musee de l’Air et l’Espace.

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