The highly distinctive Hannover Cl.II was an excellent low level two-seat escort fighter and ground attack aircraft. Hannoversch Waggonfabrik AG (Hawa) manufactured railway carriages before branching out and building aircraft under license for Aviatik, Rumpler and Halberstadt. Hawa delivered their first license built aircraft in early 1916 but by the end of that year they had begun to design their own aircraft to Idflieg’s new lightweight C class (C = armed two-seat) specifications. The result was the Hannover Cl.II (the ‘l’ stands for leicht - lightweight) prototype which first flew in July 1917 with production aircraft reaching front line units the following month. Powered by a 180hp Argus As.III engine, the new ‘battle plane’ was well received; it was strong, fast, light weight and in certain circumstances could outmaneuver allied fighters. The high position of the crew gave them an excellent field of vision unobstructed by the top wing, and the innovative biplane tailplane increased the observer’s field of fire rearwards. Depending on mission requirements the Hannover Cl.II could carry various models of camera and wireless equipment as well as small bombs.
The unusually deep Hannover Cl.II wooden frame fuselage was skinned with 1.6mm plywood (thinner than the fuselage wall thickness of this model) and then given a layer of doped on fabric for additional strength. But the most distinctive feature of the Cl.II was the biplane horizontal tailplanes. The wing panels were of conventional construction being made of wood and covered in fabric while the elevators, ailerons and top horizontal tailplane were constructed from welded steel tubing covered in fabric. The top wing center section and the bottom horizontal tailpane were constructed from wood like the wings but were skinned with 1.6mm plywood. The wing and undercarriage struts were steel tubes with wooden fairings wrapped in fabric.
A lightened and strengthened version powered by the coveted 180hp Daimler-Mercedes D.IIIa engine, the Hannover Cl.III, was put into production in January 1917. A mere 80 aircraft had been manufactured before production was switched back to the Argus As.III engine later that month because the Daimler-Mercedes D.IIIa power plant was urgently required. These lightened aircraft powered by the Argus As.III became the Hannover Cl.IIIa. Although the Hannover Cl.III and Cl.IIIa featured a shorter wingspan and narrower fuselage, along with several small external differences, they looked for all intents and purposes exactly the same as the Cl.II, making identification very difficult for the uninitiated. Although the Cl.II was gradually replaced by the improved Cl.III & Cl.IIIa from the middle of 1918 they continued to serve at the front until the armistice. Additionally 200 Cl.II were manufactured by Roland during 1918 which primarily served with training units. A few Hannover Cl.II and Cl.IIIa continued to serve post war in the Polish and Latvian air services. Any history here is of necessity very brief so for a better understanding of this important aircraft we encourage you to seek out the references mentioned below.
WW1 colour schemes are contentious at the best of times and we have done our best to provide what we consider to be accurate painting information for this model. The various camouflage schemes and personal markings applied to German aircraft of the Great War have attracted more than their fair share of debate over the years and, while we have been as meticulous as we could be, I’m sure some will not find our choices to their liking. Hannover Cl.II interior fuselage colours are thought to be dark varnished wood with metal brackets and fittings finished in grey-green. The fabric areas of the wings and tailplane were covered with 4 and 5 colour lozenge with rib tapes cut from the same material or plain linen. The top wing center section, wing struts, ply covered bottom horizontal tailplane and rear of the fuselage were painted to approximate the fabric lozenge shapes and colours using both matt and gloss paints. It appears that larger freehand lozenge patches were hand painted or sprayed over the rest of the fuselage which were in turn frequently oversprayed with camouflage colours to tone them down considerably. Period reports and factory documents refer to Hannover fuselage colours of ‘black’, ‘blue’ and ‘generally dark green’. The use of a transparent dark ‘Prussian blue’ glaze sprayed over the lozenge patches on the fuselage would achieve any, and perhaps all, of these results depending on the intensity of the underlying colours and the opacity of the glaze. Additionally many colourful unit and personal markings were applied, all of which remain amongst the liveliest of topics for modellers to debate.