The arrival of any new Wingnut Wings kit is always a big event – so you can imagine the excitement when eagle-eyed Early Aviation enthusiasts spotted the announcement of, not one, but two new releases on the company website in October. I think it's fair to say we were all caught somewhat off guard when, almost a year to the day after they brought out their original Eindecker kits, Wingnut Wings released simultaneously the Fokker E.I (reviewed HERE
), and the subject of this review - the E.IV.
The E.IV is in many ways a classic example of a successful aircraft hitting the buffers as it reaches the limits of its design potential. While a dramatic increase in armament and engine power undoubtedly looked promising on paper, the results were disappointing and the aircraft's wing-warping control method struggled to cope with the extra weight and gyroscopic forces. The E.IV was built in relatively small numbers and had a short front-line service life as new Allied types brought an end to the infamous “Fokker Scourge”.
While the E.IV may be counted as something of a failure in real life, from a modelling standpoint it is very attractive, being arguably the most distinctive of all the Eindeckers. Compared with earlier versions, the rear fuselage was lengthened with an extra frame, and the nose was extended to house a 14-cylinder 160hp Oberursel U.III rotary engine (basically, two U.I engines combined into a twin-row engine). The undercarriage and cockpit were moved forward, and the upper decking was modified to partially enclose the cockpit with a streamlined fairing that also had a filler cap for the rear fuel tank behind the pilot's seat.
While earlier versions carried a single lMG 08 “Spandau” machine gun synchronised to fire through the propeller arc, the new E.IV was originally envisaged as mounting no less than three
! Tests with two prototypes (122/15 and 123/15) proved this was impractical, probably due to the difficulty in synchronising so many guns, and the armament was soon reduced to a pair of guns. There has been a long-running debate over the angle at which the guns were mounted, seemingly based on an account by Oswald Boelcke describing them as set at 15 degrees. However, surviving photos do not seem to support this figure, the angle looking much shallower – more like 5 degrees – and indeed, they were apparently mounted level to the line of flight on the final production machines.
In kit form
Wingnut Wing's new E.IV arrives in a compact and stylish box featuring a dramatic painting of the triple-gun toting first prototype, 122/15, peeling away from a stricken B.E.2 – dramatic, but somewhat fanciful, as the instructions point out that this configuration was not used in combat.
The sprues and accessories are all bagged separately for protection, and the kit comprises:
144 x grey styrene parts (plus 34 not needed)
2 x clear styrene parts (plus 3 not required)
20 x etched brass parts (plus 2 unused)
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
The new kit shares some of its sprues with the other Eindecker versions – hence the number of parts that will head for the spares box – but three sprues are totally new and specific to the E.IV.
The moulding throughout is superb, with no signs of flash or sink marks. Ejector pins have been kept mostly clear of the cockpit – the only two present will be hidden by the front fuel tank and top-decking. The surface detail is beautifully done, with delicately raised panels around the nose, and a subtle taut fabric effect on the flying surfaces. Note: the there are no rib tapes – the wings have fine raised lines depicting the split cane strips of the original.
Talking of the wings, these parts are unchanged from the earlier E.II/E.III, and when I reviewed
that kit, one of my few grumbles was that the wing panels were slightly warped in the sample model. Well, this time I'm delighted to report they are much better – not 100% straight, but with a much less pronounced upturn. As before, it'll be a simple task to straighten them. Comparing the wings to Albatros Productions 1:32 drawings (Windsock Worldwide Vol. 28, No. 5), the match is almost perfect for the quoted 10.05m span.
Not surprisingly, basic construction is identical to the earlier versions. It's interesting to note the subtle change in profile when you sit the new fuselage against the old one, with a slightly deeper rear fuselage and a generally more pugnacious look. Of course, it's longer too, so although the halves align perfectly, I'll still add a strip of styrene inside the top seam to support it (there being only a single locating pin).
The wings slot in very solidly with substantial tabs, and are further supported by the cleverly designed interior framework. This handles the load of the heavy wing panels pretty well, but I'll go a step further and add a thin wedge to give a little upward pressure to counter the tendency of the wings to droop unrealistically. (Functional load-bearing rigging would be an alternative.)
A few details
29 parts form a very nicely detailed office. The general layout is largely the same as the earlier versions, but the new fuselage dimensions signal a corresponding change inside, with a new floor and side frameworks. The latter are slightly more complex than the former ones, and to achieve the level of detail evident, there are quite a few knock-out pins attached to the frames which must be removed very carefully to avoid damaging the very delicate parts. A fine razor saw would be ideal for this.
The 2-part seat has a new base with different mounts, and the position of the spartan collection of instruments and controls in the E.IV changed - presumably on account of the totally revised machine gun mounts.
The fuselage halves feature the delicately raised external nose panels pattern of production machines . To model the prototypes which had extended panelling more akin to the earlier Eindeckers, these must be carefully sanded flush in preparation for new etched brass appliqué panels. The kit then offers alternative firewalls for the prototypes and productions aircraft, as well as two completely different machine gun assemblies to cater for triple- and dual-mountings.
The short-lived triple-mount has the guns pointing upwards at around 5 degrees, while the dual-mount is set in line with the line of flight. The “Spandaus” are supplied in two forms – solid-moulded for simplicity, or “high detail” with separate etched cooling jackets in two styles. There's a choice of gunsights provided for the etched versions, but of course you could equally well attach them to the solid guns to enhance their appearance. The 1:10 scale lMG 08 drawings included in Albatros Productions' excellent Fokker Eindecker Compendium show that a new style of cocking lever was fitted for the E.IV's guns. The kit doesn't include these, so purists may want to add them – but, to be honest, their absence will be largely hidden under the cockpit coaming.
Moving up front, we come to the 14-cylinder Oberursel U.III, which is built from two sets of WNW's generic Gnome/Oberursel parts. Moulding limitations mean that the spark plugs are set pointing straight out from each cylinder instead of angled, but this may only be a concern if you choose to build the kit with cowling removed. In that case, you may wish to alter some of the engine support frames too – because the ones provided are curved to match the inside of the cowl whereas the full-sized ones appear to be straight in reference photos. Two styles of cowl are provided to cater for the prototype and production machines, and etched parts are provided as an alternative for the moulded flash guards.
The new undercarriage position carries with it revised parts for the struts, slightly longer than those in the previous kits (some of which are still included on the shared sprues – so make sure you use the correct ones). The wheels and tyres are very nicely moulded, with the maker's logo on the tyres and a valve inside the wheel rim if you wish to cut away the access flap. The tyres are moulded “unweighted”, but all the reference shots I've checked show quite distinct flats, so I'll take a file to mine. A fuel pump is included to attach to the undercarriage for some of the chosen colour schemes. This has a very delicately moulded pipe, but it is arguably a bit neat compared with what's visible in some photos (I imagine the original was prone to damage), so you may want to replace it with soft wire. (If you're really going to town, you could also add a stop-cock.)
As noted above, the wing parts are unchanged from the E.II/E.III – which means the integral compass is present. That's fine for the production E.IV machines – and it's beautifully moulded – but it must be removed if you're building the prototype 122/15, which will involve some delicate surgery to avoid damaging the surrounding detail in a very visible place on the kit. Once again, I do wish it had been designed as a separate part to add if needed.
Two types of cockpit coamings and windscreens are provided, plus a revised rigging pylon, and there's a choice of Integral or Garuda propellers.
Instructions & decals
Construction is broken down into 8 logical stages, clearly laid out with colour-shaded diagrams in the lavishly illustrated A-4 instruction booklet. Reference photos of the original aircraft are included for most areas – and what is particularly impressive is their clarity – better in many cases than I've seen the same shots reproduced elsewhere. Another point which I really like is that most parts in the kit are named – something that I find a great help and is sadly all to rare these days. Painting suggestions are keyed to most details, with Tamiya, Humbrol and F.S. matches provided.
There's a full page of rigging drawings, offering front and rear angles, plus close-ups of the undercarriage. They're pretty clear, but once again I recommend studying the Albatros Productions plans, along with reference photos.
Decals are included for 5 colour schemes:
a. Fokker E.IV 122/15 prototype, Anthony Fokker & Otto Parschau (8 victories), September 1915.
b. Fokker E.IV 127/15, Max Immelmann, FFA 62, January 1916 (15 victories).
c. Fokker E.IV 161/16, Lt Müller, Kest 6, April 1917.
d. Fokker E.IV 163/16, Kurt Student, AOK 3 Fokkerstaffel, August 1916 (6 victories).
e. Fokker E.IV 638/15, Karl Albert, Albert Oesterreicher, Alfred Prehn (1 victory), Wilhelm Viereck (2 victories) & Kurt Wintgens? (19 victories), KEK 3, mid-late 1916.
The decals arrive on a single, huge, sheet and are printed by Cartograf to their usual superb standard. The items are thin and glossy, with almost no carrier film to worry about around the larger elements. Registration is spot on and the definition is pin-sharp for items such as instrument faces and data plates. For Student's 163/16, an alternative, convincingly “weathered”, fuselage serial is even provided if you wish.
Wingnut Wing's Fokker E.IV is another superb kit from a manufacturer which has, quite simply, revolutionised the WW1 modelling market. While die-hard Eindecker enthusiasts will probably want to model every version without fail, the E.IV is sufficiently “different” from the earlier versions to appeal to modellers with even just a passing interest in the type – and that fearsome triple-array of “Spandaus” will turn heads anywhere! Unreservedly recommended.
Fokker Eindecker Compendium 1 & 2, by Josef Scott, Albatros Productions, 2012
Windsock Worldwide, Vol. 28, No. 5, September / October 2012, Albatros Productions
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE