A large piece of fabric with Balkan Cross (Balkenkreuz) to the centre, measuring 180cm x 127cm from the underside of lower wings of a WW1 German aircraft. From size, location of wing ribs, strut location holes and where the fabric curves towards the tip, it’s a near perfect match for a Rumpler CIV. This was a very common two seater in service from early 1917 right up to the end of the War.
Of particular note and interest is the fact that the late war pattern Balkan Cross with the thinner white border has been painted over the earlier Cross Pattee, which is still faintly visible. More unusual still is it may even have been repainted over the first pattern of Balkan Cross which had a wider white border. If this is the case, we have;
Sky blue underside of lower wing painted with:
a) Cross Pattee, pre April 1918 (certainly this type)
b) Balkan Cross, initial pattern with thick white border, April/May 1918 (possibly)
c) Balkan Cross, final type May 1918 plus (certainly this type)
Also of note is the background colour. Where the area of paint have come away the original brighter sky blue colour can be seen. At some point in the aircrafts life this colour was either over painted with a slightly less bright blue of given a wash of a slightly darker paint to dull it down a little.
Plans of the lower wing of a Rumpler CIV with the fabric cross superimposed over it show just how close a match there is. The plans themselves are scaled up from 1/48 (copies included), so there is a little leeway of perhaps a cm or two here and there. However key points are the width of the fabric is 127cm, the chord on a Rumpler is 133cm, so a perfect fit allowing for a couple of cm to be lost either side of the fabric when it was cut from the frame.
The location of ribs on the plans compared to the marks on the fabric where the ribs were. Finally the wing bracing struts that connects the upper and lower wings were bolted to the wings. Where these are on the plans are exactly where the location holes in the fabric itself are
Condition is very good. There is some flaking to paint, especially to areas of the white paint. This is often seen on fabric crosses as the white paint that was used doesn’t seem to adhere as well. However on this particular piece of fabric, the flaking has actually served make the outline of the Cross Pattee more visible. Also of note a various small period parch where the fabric has been pierced by a bullet or shrapnel. A couple of other holes are where bracing wires or such were attached.
A really superb and unusual piece of fabric showing the transition between at least two but possibly three cross types used between early and mid/late 1918. Scarcer still in that lower wing crosses do not seem to have been collected in the same way as upper wing or fuselage crosses; probably due to the later generally being of darker more attractive paint schemes.
This cross is featured on pages 168,169,170 and 171 of Feldzug 18 by Michael Baldwin. Fabric is displayed in a double sided clear Perspex frame for protection and display/wall hanging. Note This is very large and heavy piece, frame is not much larger than the dimensions of the fabric itself but weighs approximately 30KG
Included with the cross is a copy of Albatros Productions Windsock Datafile 35 ‘Rumpler CIV’