The Fokker Dr. l seems to lend itself to 1:32 scale. Roden thought so with its superb kit and Alistair McLean agrees.
It only takes a few descriptive words to place the Fokker Dr. l in the minds of most people – Red Baron, von Richthofen, triplane. Even people with little or no interest in aircraft will react to the word ‘triplane’ or the name ‘Red Baron’ and many can recount, if only in vague terms, the story of von Richthofen and his red triplane. It is amazing to consider that this one aircraft and its ace pilot sum up almost the entire extent of some people’s knowledge of World War I, and certainly of its air war.
The Dr. l is a well documented and researched aircraft and I am not going to describe it here. The type has been reasonably well kitted, with a flurry of new small-scale kits appearing lately, but it was late in 2004 that news spread of a new 1:32 scale Dr. l to be produced by Roden. It was then that I decided that I would have to build one. The kit eventually arrived in June 2005 and the project began. It is well presented in a beige-coloured plastic, consisting of 90-plus parts, and includes a comprehensive decal sheet. 1 checked all the major dimensions and found the kit to be accurate. My only word of warning concerns the end caps for the wing, which are incorrectly numbered, but it is not difficult to figure out their correct placement.
The build started in the cockpit area. Roden’s kit is missing a very visible structure in the cockpit, the plywood stringers and panels that form triangular shapes as shown in Photo 1. Theses were easily added using plastic card strips. Also to be noted in Photo 1 are the card strips that I added to support the main fuselage joints. The plastic is quite thin and this assists in achieving a good join. At this stage filler was applied to the propeller, which needed some gentle reshaping. The kit is also short of a hole in its upper cowling. There should be two holes, one on either side, for filling the fuel and oil tanks, respectively. A little thinning and shaping of some parts was also required in order to obtain a better fit.
The insides of the cockpit were painted, weathered and highlighted in the appropriate colours. I later added some rigging to the metal frame structure and the control wires to the stick and pedals. Seat straps were made from tape and some spare 1:32 buckles.
1 assembled the centre wing with the fuselage, since this becomes integral with the cockpit and the cowl area. A little filler was needed to tidy things up.
More filler was required on the underside, the area behind the firewall being particularly bad; mine had sink marks. The slot for the lower wing was now prepared and checked so that a good tight fit would result when the wing was added.
Annoyingly, Roden has not moulded the prominent panel line on the front face of the engine cowling. The cowling has a separate flat face piece that was fixed to the curved, pressed cowl. This needed to be added, especially since it is very noticeable in photographs and I would need it as a painting guide for my chosen scheme. With some circle templates to hand and my trusted compass point in my pencil, it was easily scribed, to make a huge improvement (Photo 2).
The engine that Roden supplies is just about perfect. It has fantastic detail and really looks the part when painted. The front and rear of the nine cylinders are supplied as separate parts to which each cylinder head is attached. This helps to create well detailed parts and assists in hiding unwanted joint lines. Ihe exhaust spider and push rod spiders fit neatly onto the rear of the engine. Although they aren’t visible in the photographs, I added plug leads at a later stage, to complete the engine assembly (Photos 3 and 4).
Ltn. Friedrich Kempf flew the aircraft that I chose to model, although it should be noted that he had more than one aircraft marked in a similar manner. 1 also believe that markings were added to and/or removed during the life of any particular aircraft, making it difficult to correctly depict any scheme. I decided to go with the markings as supplied in the kit since they matched up well with the photographs in my reference books.
Achieving the streaked finish on the aircraft’s fabric skin was the part of the build that I dreaded the most, since I knew that it would have to be brushed on. Firstly 1 painted the underside of the model in Xtracolor X243 German World War I Blue. This was then masked so that the top colour could be added. I decided that I needed a base coat to put the uppersur-face green onto, and chose to mix a canvas-type beige colour a little lighter than the plastic. This base coat emerged as Tamiya XF-57 Buff with a hint of white, which was sprayed on. Once this had dried 1 used a No. 2 paintbrush to paint the streaks onto the ‘fabric’. This was done in stages and with very little paint on the brush, but not quite as dry brushing. I chose the colour for this streaking on the basis that it looked about right and was in my stock – Gunze Sangyo F. S.34079 Green with F. S.34087 Olive Drab added. I find that this paint works well with a brush and reacts well to isopropanol for thinning. Once the streaking was dry, I applied a very thin coat of the uppersur-face green with my airbrush. This blends the colours together and, as can be seen, turned the buff into a pale green shade. The cowling, forward upper decking and the inter-wheel ‘wing’ were painted in solid green. The wheel covers have very
Fokker Dr. l Aircraft in Profile, Scale Aircraft Modelling Vol. 26,
No. 10, December 2004
Scale Models Warplane Special, 1982
Fokker Dr. l, Windsock Datafile, Ray Rimell, Albatros Productions
Fokker Dr. l in Action, Squadron/Signal
Kaiser’s Aces, Marek J. Murawski, Kagero
Noticeable shades to them and these were airbrushed using the buff, oversprayed with the green. The black and white areas were sprayed using Tamiya acrylics. Before the decals were added, the entire model was sprayed with Xtracrylix gloss varnish and the decals were then placed with absolutely no problems. After the decals had dried for a day, a further two coats of gloss were applied. I find glossing after decaling helps to prevent any possible silvering of the decals.
The propeller and all the wood-finish items were painted by hand. 1 find the best starting point for this is a flesh tone. This is brushed on and can be applied quite thickly, since this helps to give the impression of grain. Alternatively, the same effect can be achieved by scraping rough sand paper over the paint surface after it has dried. I then painted the solid brown shapes onto the propeller, checking my references to see how the grain ran in these areas. Then, between the light and the dark colours, I added small dark brown scuffs by dry bushing, helping to break the monotonal blocks of colour. Finally I airbrushed a brown/golden orange-coloured clear coat over the ‘wood’, to give depth and some blending of the colours. In the cockpit area, brown and black washes were added too.
Photo 5 shows all the subassemblies ready for assembly after painting. Points to note are the guns, which are as supplied in the kit. It also includes a pair of guns without cooling jackets, which can be added using photo-etched parts at the modeller’s discretion. Since photo-etched parts are not provided, I used the solid parts. Etched parts are now available from Toms Model Works (see SAM 27/11, January 2006, page 766) and I think they would make a vast improvement. 1 also added the Jasta Boelcke modification to the undercarriage, using plastic rod.
Photo 6 shows the propeller, cowling and engine assembled and fully painted, while Photo 7 shows the underside assembly. 1 built and painted the model as a series of subassemblies before bringing it all together. This meant that 1 had to touch up the fuselage/lower wing join after it had been assembled; a little masking and a quick spray sorted it all out. Note the straps on the underside of the undercarriage inter-wheel ‘wing’. Apparently these should not be present, but I have looked at all the photographs 1 can find and none show detail of the Dr. l’s underside to confirm this, so I left them on.
With all the assembly, painting and decalling complete, the model was given a light spray of matt Xtracrylix. Weathering was added using oil paints and once these had dried another light pass with matt Xtracrylix was made to seal them. Fortunately the Dr. l had very little rigging, but what it had was added using stretched sprue. Once in place, this was coloured with a black wash.
This kit from Roden makes into a great model, although it does have some downfalls. Some parts of the kit are tricky to assemble, but it looks great once finished and is hopefully the first of more fine kits representing World War I aircraft in 1:32 scale.
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