Underappreciated in real life, I set out to see if the Pfalz D.XII would be a type that could escape from the same shadow of its real life counterpart faced. A high performance fighter by the end of World War I standards, does the the Pfalz D.XII have the ability to compete with the very impressive Fokker D.VII and D.VIIF? Can it take the fight to the best Allied fighters of the period? Or will it suffer the same fate as its real world counterpart? Read on!
A bit of history
A detailed engineering report on the SPAD VII was circulated amongst German aircraft engineers in 1917 and Pfalz took up the challenge of fitting their D.IIIa type with the same type of wing that had so impressed the assembled engineers. The result was a prototype that combined the new type of wing together with several other changes and the introduction of the more powerful 180hp BMW IIIa engine (although many were also fitted with the slightly less impressive Mercedes IIIa engine).
Superior to the Albatross D.V and their own Pfalz D.III designs, Pfalz’s D.XII was doomed to be second place to Fokker’s excellent D.VII. Some pilots rejected the new machine and looked favourably towards the Fokker design instead while others found much to like with the new aircraft.
Entering service in June of 1918, the Pfalz D.XII had a short time in service before the war was over but nonetheless managed to equip several units before hostilities ended.
Flying the D.XII
As it was with the real world example, the Flying Circus Vol 2 Pfalz D.XII is definitely overshadowed by the excellent Fokker D.VIIF. In reality it sits somewhere between the D.VII and D.VIIF in performance which is actually not a bad place to be.
Compared to earlier aircraft, the Pfalz is a very quick climber and has a high top speed especially when in a shallow dive. I was able to, when flying smartly, engage targets quickly with little warning. However, the Pfalz lacks the ease of handling of the Fokker with a sometimes difficult to control stall that can turn quickly into a spin. Quick rudder work is a necessity and if the spin is allowed to develop it can become irrecoverable! It also doesn’t turn as well as some of the aircraft that it’s up against meaning that it absolutely must avoid turn battles.
Takeoff tends to be a bit long while landing I found to be about as challenging as most other contemporary aircraft.
Pfalz in combat
Unsurprisingly, thanks to its similar wing design, the Pfalz D.XII benefits from the same kind of combat approach as SPAD pilots are used to flying. Slashing high speed attacks from altitude advantage with brief firing windows followed by a zoom back to altitude is the preferred method with this fighter. Trying to turn fight will have you nearly always facing down more capable fighters that can quickly turn the tables.
Flying Pfalz D.XII in combat feels like flying a slightly quirkier Fokker D.VII. The two have similar performance values, the same altitude throttle you find in the D.VIIF, and excellent all around visibility. It also, to its benefit, has the same legendary Spandau 7.92mm two gun armament that most German fighters had.
The type seems reasonably resistant to battle damage but not quite as good as the Fokker which can absorb round after round in some instances. The Pfalz is not quite there.
Although there’s a very long list of available modifications, they mostly relate to cockpit equipment. Two gunsights (collimator day and night), an anemometer and high altimeter, compass, clock, inclinometer, bullet counters and a thermometer are all optional equipment. And you can take the 1000 round or the 500 round LMG 08/15 as armament options – I recommend the 1000 rounds!
Visuals and other details
It’s another extremely well done aircraft by Ugra Media and 1CGS with beautiful high quality textures inside and out. There are some very colorful included liveries including a couple of reasonably blank ones that make full use of the still new tactical codes systems.
The Pfalz also benefits from the new dynamic vehicle damage system which makes the damage you do receive more accurate to the exact location of damage.
I like cheering for the underdog and the Pfalz is a weird hybrid of high performing underdog that somehow manages to be both a high performing fighter while also feeling a little quirky and therefore unpopular compared to other types. It seems to connect well with its historical real world counterpart as a result.
The handling qualities of the Pfalz are going to make it a less popular type and the harsh spin-stall mentioned earlier in this piece just add to the challenge. But I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that it’s a bad fighter either. It remains an effective fighter and one capable of combating most Allied types but when it does so, it will thanks to a more skilled pilot and one that’s already familiar with the D.XII’s vices.
7 Comments Add yours
Nice summary. You can see why it would be effective in the hands of an experienced pilot but maybe not quite in the top class.
However, it is very much a ‘1917-18’ generation of fighter while the French and British are flying essentially 1916-17 designs. Which is historically accurate and should give the Jastas something of an advantage in Summer 1918 scenarios.
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Yes, absolutely, a good fighter but not quite the best.
I’m excited to see what the Sopwith Snipe will be able to do for us.
Snipe should be competitive with the DVII and DVII, with a better rate of climb and similar speed. It also has an amazing view.
The Siemens will be a beast, but in general RFC fighters carries about 150% fuel over that of German equivalents (normally 3 hrs endurance vs. 2). It you put a Snipe on 50% fuel it might reduce the gap and be close enough in a fight that the raw performance does not matter as much.
Basically Siemens > Snipe > D.VII / D.VIII > Pfalz D.XII but they are pretty close in many ways.
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That sounds like a fun late war matchup to me!
Late to the party but thanks for this review ShamrockOneFive. I marveled at the Australian War Memorial example I saw as a child, so many years ago. That vision has stuck with me ever since so even if it is a more challenging aircraft and an underdog to the Fokker D.VIIF I much prefer it. As I write this the Sopwith Snipe is still to be released. I look forward to that. My other favourite FC aircraft are the Camel, Pfalz D.IIIa, Bristol Fighter and DH-4.