This is a
piece of painted German aircraft fabric measuring 21" x 18"
from the right side of a Pfalz D.XII rudder. In the upper
left corner is the transfer or decal of the Pfalz Flugzeugwerke. The photograph below it is the
reverse side against which can be seen rust stains about 12" apart
and that is the approximate spacing between the top and middle tube
of the three horizontal metal tubes or ribs of the Pfalz D.XII rudder.
There are threads coming through the back where the fabric would
have been tied onto the tubes; on the front they are covered by
strips of horizontal fabric.
Written in pencil on the reverse are
the numbers "912," or so I thought. For many years I
described what I saw as "912" and thought that these numbers
were the last three digits of the
four-digit work number or aircraft serial number, in which case this fabric
would be from Pfalz D.XII 2912/18. Then in 2006 I acquired
another piece of rudder fabric with similar paint, an identical
cross and the same rib tape spacing - as well as penciled
marking on the reverse side which was easier to read and
appeared to be "D12" with the "D" being in old German script.
It's then I realized that both pieces, not just the second one,
were marked similarly as "D12." This was most likely done
by the factory worker responsible for making rudder
coverings identifying which aircraft type each rudder covering
was meant for, such as a D.III or D.12.
The thread count
is 50 yarns to the inch in either direction. This is readily seen
in the bottom right photograph which is an extreme close-up of the
fabric alongside a ruler as seen through a photographer’s loop and
back-lit with a photographer’s light-box. The Pfalz werks decal
is shown in the bottom left photograph and is one of at least two
known to exist. The commonly accepted
yet flawed version of the Pfalz decal is a reproduction apparently
done by someone looking at a very small and damaged 35mm decal attached
to Pfalz D.XII No. 2600/18 in Canberra before that aircraft was
restored. It depicts a river and the town where Pfalz had its factory.
In actuality, the Pfalz werks decal represents an inverted bird-of-prey
over a stream with a cliff to the left. Credit is due to Dan-San
Abbott who carefully compared the flawed Canberra reproduction to
this decal and identified how the reproducer mistook the cliff and
bird-of-prey for town buildings and a church spire. The photo in
the middle below is from a Pfalz werks advertising poster care of