by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
History “Dragon’s Teeth”
The factories building the Fokker D.VII were the parent company of Fokker at Schwerin, OAW (East German Albatros Works) at Schneidemuhl and Albatros Works at Johannistahl. For the novice let me explain. Some of the readily visible hallmarks of these series are manifested in the different cowling panels, different applications of camouflage, cross type, size and position. The inevitable modifications that take place in each company’s production series, of a specific airframe type, are described in linear terms of “early”, “mid” or “late.” Usually, it was matched with the inline Mercedes D.IIIaü 180hp or the D.IIIav 200hp engine. But it was the variant with the BMW IIIa 185 hp motor that pilots prized ultimately. With few idiosyncrasies it was not temperamental and a novice with a little nerve could do well. Contemporary construction using welded metal tubing for the fuselage and wooden wing skeletal structures were typical. The secret appeared to be in the wing design of the cantilever boxed spars that eliminated the need for multiple exposed rigging wires. It became Germany’s main production single seat fighter in 1918 and was built in large numbers. At the end of the war the allies wanted every example of the Fokker D.VII they could lay their hands on.
IntroductionA leader in WWI aviation models Eduard presented their newest offering in 2005 in their Limited Edition series. Now in 2016 their newest 1/48 Fokker D.VII Weekend kit has just been released. In the past they have had “Weekend” release kits, “Dual Combos” and one in the “Royal line”. There are only plastic parts with this kit. But you can purchase photo etch frets separately.
The reviewPage 1
Text and history include the parts map and color references. Before beginning, wash your kit plastics in mild dish soap & water, dry completely, then pre-drill and clean up all rigging and strut locator holes.
The radiators (F 7 or 11) have plain internal faces and no shutter assembly. Eduard chose completely enclosed cowling types and thusly no detail was added. The early and mid production versions were known to operate with upper cowling panels removed during the hot summer months. Check your references. If you decide to open up this area you may need to alter the rear face of the radiator (F 7 or 11) before you attach it and add simulated skeletal structure. By scribing some crisscross lines in the rear face of the radiator you create a better simulation.Step A, First the cockpit flooring (A 7) has the rudder bar (C 33) inserted through the flooring (A 7) and needs a vertical bar attached centrally. This vertical column should angle back and up behind the ammunition box (A 16.) On the control column (C 27) note the throttle lever has one handle. We now have photos where two are present. Check your references. Set the rudder bar (C 33) to the desired position to compliment the attitude you have chosen for the rudder. Next add the compass (C 14.) Also here, add bent and shaped brass wire for the throttle and the cables for the Spandau machine guns.
Step B, The seat (B 12 & 15) sets into its supports that are to be built up in a box frame (C 17, 18 & 32) and attached to the rear cockpit bulkhead / screen (A 11.) I trimmed down the inside surfaces of the seat (B 12.) (The seat was known to be covered in fabric that was held by lacing it to eyelets in the seat back’s outer rim.) I also deleted the seat cushion (B 15.) As parachutes had come into use the seat was made deeper to accommodate the chute pack as a cushion. There was not any tucked leather or buttons on the chute pack surface. In the cockpit rear screen (A 11) note there needs to be holes for the rudder control cables to pass through. Next remember the rudder control cables that will be added between the bar and the stirrups will need to go through these holes. Whatever the fuselage covering use the same covered the rear cockpit screen (A 11.)In this case of 4 or 5 color lozenge. The pilot’s shoulder harness straps (decals 18 X 2 & 19 X 2) are attached to the seat framing (C 18) behind the seat (B 12.)
Step C, Next add the fuel pressure hand pump (C 10) to the ammunition box (A 16). You my want to add a half loop of painted brass wire to simulate the air hose leading toward the front of the cockpit strapped to the framework.
Step D, The inline motor assembly is a generic representation that has pieces for the Mercedes D.IIIaü 180hp (B 5, 6, 8, 14 & C 4, 13, 34) or the BMW IIIa 185hp assembly (B 5, 6, 8, 13 - C 4, 13, 34 .) Truthfully, most non WWI modelers won’t know the difference. Check the references provided for some keynote differences in the types installed. The cylinder jackets of both engines were the color of “blued metal.” The BMW sat higher in the compartment so about 1" more of the cylinders could be seen. Its air induction pipes (B 13) were unified where the Mercedes (B 14) was divided. The immediate visual difference in the early Mercedes D.III 160hp / D.IIIa 170hp and its progeny the D.IIIaü 180hp or D.IIIav 200hp are in the rocker boxes above the cylinder jacket heads. On the early D.III and D.IIIa motors the rocker springs (B 6) are centered on the sides of the rocker box covers. On the D.IIIaü and D.IIIav motor the springs are located on the forward leading edge of the same covers. They were also that way on the BMW IIIa 185hp. The rest is below the cowling and not readily visible. Several good manufacturers note the difference and have two distinct castings. The Mercedes D.III160hp was outclassed by 1917. The Mercedes D.IIIaü 180hp was the standard engine in both of the Albatros late built D.V and all D.Va types starting in late 1917 and then the Fokker D.VII through 1918. Then in early 1918 came the Mercedes D.IIIav 200hp. The BMW IIIa 185hp was highly prized by pilots. Many, many D. III and IIIa type motors were rebuilt to the D.IIIaü specs at the airparks as the war progressed. That is why some captured examples had motors with the casting designation of “D.III 160hp” cast into their crankcases. This has caused the misconception that the standard 160hp and 170 hp were used in 1918 at a time when they had become obsolete. Often these were referred to as “160hp over-compressed engines.
First of all choose which fuselage versions you are going to build. You can replace the molded cockpit structure in the fuselage halves (D 1-4) with painted brass rod sections or after you apply the interior surface lozenge decals and they thoroughly set, dry brush the details with a light grey or grey-green to bring out the airframe skeleton. Note that the factory printed lozenge pattern fabric used on the Fokker D.VII showed through the interior of the cockpit sides in reverse in lighter shades. I have to admit that this is a slightly better effort to provide the lozenge camouflage compared to what they have offered in their past. I prefer the Microsculpt or Eagle Strike lozenge decals instead of the kit provided items. Their clear carrier film on these lozenge decals allows them to be easily reversed. Just apply a little decal Micro Sol & Set.
There is no main fuel, reserve fuel & oil tank assembly. Then we see the method of attachment of the engine and the typical Eduard bearing shelf to the raised edges within the engine compartment. Note Eduard has provided for a vertical installation of the Firewall (A 8.) This is incorrect. This should have an incline at the top toward the engine compartment with a cutout for the engine decompression bell. To do it right you will have to erase the forward most, lower locating ridges. Then line the rear face of the firewall up on the outside of the forward most, upper locating ridges. On the fuselages without upper cowlings it is easily noticeable. Out of the box the pilot's right side upper engine cowling has a scalloped cutout for the cylinders and exhaust.
Concerning the instrument panel (A 14 & decal #16), I will “usually” paint Fokker company instrument panels black and give OAW or Albatros types a varnished wood look. Finally they discuss the engine compartment assembly. As mentioned earlier cowling side panels are a known hallmark in determining the parentage of your D.VII. But in mid-summer these items upper cowlings would be removed during flight operations to assist in the cooling. This would be typical of a machine in mid to late (June - Nov.)1918. The mid production late Fokker OAW types came to the front in very late summer early fall (autumn) 1918. Now assemble the fuselage halves (F 1- 4) with its internal component assemblies.
Here we assemble the lower wing parts (A 2 & 3, B 1.) One could actually insert spars held in place with double sided tape or glued in place. This type of wing assembly is great for the modeler who wants to simulate damage. By thinning down the inner surfaces, internal structure is easy to replicate. Also, before putting the lower wing together sand the vertical edge of the lower wing at the roots of all three lower wing components (A 2 & 3, B 1.) The unmodified fit between the lower wings an fuselage is tight and cause anhedral just like the Roden kit. This fix will eliminate the fit problem. Open up the lower wing roots. Do Not cut down the whole fuselage by taking away from the center union area. The radiators (F 7 or 11) have plain internal faces and no shutter assembly. Eduard chose completely enclosed cowling types and thusly no detail was added. The early and mid production versions were known to operate with upper cowling panels removed during the hot summer months. Check your references. If you decide to open up this area you may need to alter the rear face of the radiator (F 7 or 11) before you attach it. By scribing some crisscross lines in the rear face of the radiator you create a better simulation. Next add the radiator fillet tube (D 5). After painting or decal applications, assemble the horizontal stabilizer (A 10.) Eduard has given the modeler an easy way to deal with the undersurface fuselage fabric seam (C 21.)
For the exhaust (F 8), the late Mr. Pete Grosz told me that there were at least six manufacturers putting out these exhausts. I would now add the control horns (C 11 X 4) and let dry. As this begins to dry set the attitude of the elevators (A 17) on the stabilizer (A 10) that you wish to reflect.
Here add the fuel gauge housing (C 16) has a decal (#30) for the face. The kit provided Spandau machine guns (A 5 X 2) are entirely plastic. The empty belt chutes (C 2 & 7) attach next. The completed Spandau machine guns should be painted in semi gloss black. All Germanissue Spandau machine guns came from the factory with the outer surfaces covered in baked on black enamel. You may need to add some highlighting in gun metal coloring. Next comes the rudder (A 12) and stabilizer fin (A 15) and control horns (C 3 X 2.) On the original aircraft these items were covered in normal fabric (either plain or lozenge depending on the batch) and the white areas were then painted in place.
The top wing assembly (A 1, 4, 9 & B 2 & C 11 X 4) does not have the mold casting problem found in most of the DML / Dragon kits. By this time I have painted and added decals to all completed wing surfaces and they are thoroughly dry. As mentioned earlier his type of wing assembly is great for the modeler who wants to simulate damage. By thinning down the inner surfaces, adding portions of internal structure is easy Add the control horns (C 11 X 2) next. More is discussed here about the lozenge placement. See the rear cover of the instructions for more.
To bring the fuselage and top wing assemblies together I use children’s “Lego” blocks. to form a jig to keep everything level and square. Then add the interplane (C 5 X 2) struts first, then the cabane (C 9, 15 30 & 31) struts. The anemometer (C 29, PE 9) is an air speed indicator. The plastic struts are commendably thin and clean up quite nicely. My own opinion is that metal etched or white metal load-bearing struts or supports, gives a build a much greater longevity. The kit provided photoetch under the chin-pan access door on my example is off set and should be centered. The hinge was at the forward edge on the original machines. These are easy to replicate with a couple of .005 thou plastic sheet /card scraps cut to shape.
Continues the cabane strut (C 9, 15 30 & 31) attachment details. Next the horizontal tail unit stabilizer struts (C 20 X 2) and the tail skid (C 12.) I did replace this item with a modified brass rod for strength. It looks like Eduard originally forgot to add two control horns (C 11 X 2) to this image. On the Schwerin built machines the grab handles (C 8) do splay out about 30 degrees from the fuselage.
Next is the axle wing (B 7, F 5 & 6) and wheel (F 4 X 2) assemblies. With the wing axle mid section (B 7) I routed out the plastic axle and replaced it with a brass rod of appropriate diameter. Next add the landing gear legs (C 23-26) to the wing axle (B 7). There are four propellers in the kit of two types offered by the kit. Axial (B 16) and Heine (B 17) and note that Eduard has not referenced the right application to the profile provide in the kit decals. The problem is that the Heine propellers (B 17) are far too short for inline six cylinder engines and should be closer in length to the Axial (B 16) types provided. Two of the four kit propellers with the cones on the bosses are quick release items seen on some BMW engine variants only. It is the pitch and length of a propeller that determines the engine application. The paddle profile was the company hallmark.
Is the detail for the rigging.
Profile A. The command of Jasta 19 was given to Ltn. des Res. Wilhelm Leusch on 18 October 1918. He led Jasta 19 until the end of the war, while the unit was based in Trier. Leusch personalized his aircraft from the D.6300 to 6649/18 production batch with beautifully depicted dragon. The typical paint scheme of Jasta 19 was the yellow nose, blue rear fuselage (the blue was the Jagdgeschwader II marking.) This machine was later photographed in French hands post war. One of the Dragon decals (15 X2) should probably face the opposite direction. Both should face forward. It did in their Royal kit #R0002 issue of this profile.
Profile B. Marine Feld Jasta III (MFJ III) Fokker D.VII 4499/18 flown by Vzflgmstr. Mayer who left on 6 Sept. 1918 to SeeFosta II. Note you have to shave off the forward most vent cups from the fuselage to accurately depict this machine. The Eduard crosses apply nicely but do benefit from sol & set as well. All of the small serial numbers (in black characters) for D.4499/18 ailerons, struts, fin, rudder and wheels are represented. The fuselage side panel markings are probably more accurate than those I have seen before.
Lozenge camouflage application is pretty basic and Eduard gives you their recent attempt at the four color lozenge. Now Eduard has been trying to get this right since 1991. They came close in 2006 with their first attempt at this mold. Then they took a sharp left turn. This round (2016) they got 3 of the four colors close on the upper surface covering. What it looks like is that they took the original issue and added light green to the mix and deleted the light brown. There was never any light green in the 4 color lozenge. It was in fact a dirty tan. Eduard, please look at Microsculpt or Eagle Strike’s examples they are the closest that anyone has done in 1/48, ever. The only variance we have seen in the 4 color is that the dark green may have been replaced at one point by a “dark blue”. Remember that the dyes available at this time were largely artificially manufactured. The chemical components could be dry measured and controlled for fastness. We generally accept that the four color lozenge was the product of the Fokker Co. Being the business man he was and having interests in East Albatros Works (OAW) the four color type was seen on most of their early machines. As the war progress 4 & 5 color was seen on all licensed built Fokker D.VII according to how much was on hand during airframe assembly.
For the Fokker - OAW kit the light blue rib tapes are appropriate. In general from the factory OAW used light blue and lozenge rib tapes. Eduard has correctly used the same color rib tapes on top and bottom of the wings. The purple colored tapes that they provide are based on the restored airframe Fok. D.VII (Alb.) at the Musee de l’ Air in France. Note also that there are cases where whole wing components were mixed at the unit level as replacements. That is the lower wings were one component and the top wing was another. Finally, “werke” numbers, factory serials and rudder cross were applied.
Albatros D.Va German Fighter of World War I by R. Mikesh, Smithsonian Inst. Press, Pp. 48-53, 1980.(great engine details.)
Combat Colours #14 The Fokker D.VII by P. Cooksley, Airfix Magazine. Date unknown.
Details & Colours Windsock Intl. Vol.3 #3 Summer 1987.
Fliegertruppen #2 by A.Ferko, Privately Published, Salem Ohio, 1987. (photocopies may be obtained by contacting the University of Texas at Dallas through the special aviation collection.)
Flight Report Cross & Cockade Great Britain, Vol. 2 # 4.
Fokker D.VII pt. I DML - Grooming a Thoroughbred' Model Aircraft Monthly Jan. 2003.
Fokker D.VII pt. II Jager, A Horse of a Different Colour’ Model Aircraft Monthly Nov. 2003.
Fokker D.VII by Egon Kreuger, Profile Pub. Ltd. 1962.
Fokker D.VII by P. Grosz, Albatros Pub. Ltd, Datafile #9. 1989, 1993, & 1994.
Fokker D. VII Aces of WWI, pt. I by Franks & Van Wyngarden. Osprey pub. 2003.
Fokker D. VII Aces of WWI, pt. II by Franks & Van Wyngarden. Osprey pub. 2004.
Fokker D.VII Anthology 1 by R.Rimell, Albatros Pub. Ltd. 1997.
Fokker D.VII Anthology 2 by R.Rimell, Albatros Pub. Ltd. 2000.
Fokker D.VII Anthology 3 by R.Rimell, Albatros Pub. Ltd. 2002.
Fokker D.VII Kit Survey by R.Rimell, Albatros Ltd. Windsock Vol 13, #4 1997.
Fokker D.VII Covering Practices by Dan-San Abbott, WWI Aero #102, Pp.22-33. 1984.
Fokker D.VII Detail Marking and Finish of Fokker-built D.VII Aircraft by Dan San Abbott, WWI Aero #107, 1985.
Fokker Fighters of WWI by A. Imrie, Osprey, Vintage Warbirds #6 Pp.41-64 1986.Fokker’s Last Deadly Scourge by M. O’Leary, Air Combat, Pp. 18-26. 1975.
Forgotten Fokker by P Cooksley, Cross & Cockade GB Vol.4, #2,Pp.84-86. 1973.
German Army Air Service in WWI by R.Rimell, Osprey, Vintage Warbirds #2, Photos 42-44, 1985.
Germany’s Last Knight of the Air by C. Degelow, William Kimber Pub. London, 1979.
Jagdgeschwader Nr. I by Greg VanWyngarden, Osprey,Aviation Elite Units 18. 2004.
Jagdgeschwader Nr. II by Greg VanWyngarden, Osprey,Aviation Elite Units 19. 2005.
Jagdgeschwader Nr. III by Greg VanWyngarden, Osprey,Aviation Airvraft of the Aces #128. 2016.
That Fokker’s an Albatros! By Wally Tripp, WWI Aero, #102 , Pp.14-21. 1984.
Udet’s Fokker D.VII Fighters by Dan-San Abbott, Windsock Vol.4, Spring 1989.
Wings of War by R. Stark, Arms & Armour Press. 1973.
Production serials of the Fokker D.VII airframes built by OAW:
Fok.D.VII(OAW) D.2000 to 2199/18.
Fok.D.VII(OAW) D.4000 to 4199/18.
Fok.D.VII(OAW) D.4450 to 4649/18.Fok.D.VII(OAW) D.6300 to 6649/18.
Fok.D.VII(OAW) D.8300 to 8649/18. (Delivered after the war).
Conclusion For the dedicated modeler builder or collector these kits are just right. The weekend kit gives the average modeler a chance to build a real eye catcher for display. The costs are very reasonable and I can recommend it to anyone interested in this arena of aviation.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE