FOKKER DVII REVIEW: RODEN 1/48TH EARLY

Much has been written about this kit, but here is my impression after building it as an average person and not a WW1 expert. I made some mistakes that I hope you can avoid.

This is the early Fokker built version and I chose Hauptman Rudolph Bertholdís blue and red example, mainly having read about this pilot and how he flew this aircraft, despite being crippled in one arm by allied bullets. He comes across as human, rather than as a Prussian automata, like some pilots do and I wanted to build a small tribute to this knight of the air, despite the terrible deaths he caused many of my fellow countrymen.

The interior is great as it stands and Roden do not provide any etched details and by comparison it seems to lack value compared to the market leaders, Eduard and to its own similarly price Sopwith Strutter, which does have a neat little brass fret. To jolly the interior up a bit I added some etched detail from the general German interior set made by Toms Modelworks, available in the UK from Aeroclub. This set (also available in 1/72nd (mind boggling!), 1/32nd and 1/28th) is amazing and contains more than enough detail for one model, with much left over for another. The brass is soft and easy to work and a real credit to Tom.

From it I used the seat straps, some instrument bezels, throttle and control details. Later I sued parts of their German gun set for the MGís, which in this scale must have etched jackets to look the part. In addition to this I modified the kitís bulkhead, from behind the seat by removing the curved top as photos show this to be open with a tube former supporting the front of the plywood decking behind the pilot. I simply cut off the top of the kit part and replaced it with a bit of curved thick fuse wire. Itís simple and helps the appearance. I also added some thin steel wire across the visible side panels on the inside to represent the bracing wires used on the real aircraft. I also added some more of the wire from the control column and pedals back under the seat and through the holes marked by Roden in the bulkhead to represent the various control wires reaching back to the rear of the aircraft.

The interior colours are open to debate. General agreement is for the metal framing to be in a light grey, Humbrol 87 recommended by Roden or Humbrol 141, recommended by Eduard are but two examples. I used H141 for the cockpit frames, control column and the engine bay frame-work (of which more later). The inside of the fabric covering is more problematic as some sources would have it natural fabric colour, while others would have the outer streaky green camouflage showing through. I opted for the former, but more recently I saw a photo of the restored Bristol Fighter with partial fabric covering at the RAF Museum. This shows the markings showing through on the inside of the fuselage, but the actual colour is still a pale linen colour, not PC10. So perhaps the truth is somewhere between the two. Articles on SAM Magazine on the Jaeger Fokker and one in FSM on the Dragon Fokker have the lozenge covering showing through on the inside. So the subject is complex and not easy to solve without a photo of the inside of the real machine, which in this case do not exist. The kit seat was painted Citadel Chainmail on the outside (for the aluminium back) and Lifecolor leather on the inside, with a plywood base, which I think is a really good shade for this sort of subject. Some may have been simple covered in plain fabric. The instrument panel was painted with Humbrol enamels (110) and Burnt Sienna oil paint to represent a wood panel. The instruments were Reheat, punched out with the essential Historex Punch and Die set. Toms bezels were then used, with a drop of Glaspaint and I think it really looks the business.

The engine!

This was the models bugbear as the instructions were poor and it just did not fit. So it needed a lot of cutting and mucking about to get it square and looking OK, but no more than that. Luckily I picked a tip from one of the web reviews and assembled one side and the bottom of the cowling to the rest of the fuselage and mounted the engine into this. This helped, but not enough. The panels themselves have struts moulded on and Roden also provide these struts as separate 3D bit, but do not tell you to cut away the moulded parts on the cowlings if appropriate. But the web review mentioned this, so I kept them on the assembled side and shaved them off the panels that would be detached. The interior was painted Citadel metallic Chainmail and the struts/frames/bearers H141 as for the other metal structure. The engine is great and I only added some thin steel wires to the visible side to represent the wiring harness. You can go to town on this, but by the time it came to this I was loosing the will to live and just wanted it finished!

I put some wine bag mesh on the back of the radiator and added a connecting pipe from fuse wire. The whole engine was painted in various shades of aluminium/steel using Citadel Chainmail, Mithral Silver and Boltgun Metal with some Citadel Chaos black. A black watercolour wash was added at the end and various brass pipes picked out in Humbrol Brass.

The rest of the fuselage was assembled OK and the tail strut area was opened out as its solid in the kit, which is incorrect. After a lot of sanding, I added the lower wing and got it set square after yet more mucking about, sanding and paring away as it is a rather poor fit. Once it was all ship shape, I added some Part etched stitching along the underside of the fuselage as this is not represented in the kit and it does add to the effect.

The under-carriage was OK and the nicely separate wheel centres make painting very easy, especially compared to older kits and even Eduards paint masks. I like this to the extent that for a Sopwith Pup conversion using an Eduard Sopwith Triplane, with Roden Strutter wings I will sue the Roden wheels simply to make the painting easier! The kits struts are rather delicate and I did have some breakages. I added these to the fuselage and added the rigging before I added the upper wing, so I had a nice supported fuselage to make painting easier. Tyres were painted a mid to dark grey (Revell 74), not black as we are always being told for WW1 German tyres. This part of Bertholdís aircraft was red for the fairing wing and the struts and wheel centres. Humbrol 60 seemed about right and Roden say to use it.

The rest of the painting was complex, as the aircraft seems to have a red nose (H60 again), a blue rear fuselage and tail from the cockpit and in-between the streaky green over fabric of the base line Fokker finish since mid 1917. For this I used H102 Oak for the bleached fabric look and streaked H80 green over it as Roden suggest and this is an OK match based on information in various articles over the years. I also did it as a change from the Misterkit Fokker Olive I used on the last Fokker (An Eduard Dr1). For the blue Roden recommend Humbrol Insignia Blue, but this has been deleted and I did not have any. But I did have some Modelmaster in this shade and sued that. It looked rather good and matched quite well the interpretations in the Albatros books Fokker DVII Anthology 1 I was using as my prime reference. The rudder and part of the tail fin was white for the black cross, so this was accomplished with simple Halfords Appliance Gloss White spray paint. The aircrafts fuselage crosses are painted over with the blue, but show through. I was unsure as to how this would work and worried that the decals would show through as a raised ridge. But in the end I tried it Roden's way, reasoning that I could always sand them off if it did not look right. I applied one base coat of blue, applied the decals with Johnsonís Klear and let it all dry. The next day went over it with the Modelmaster blue and this paint is quite translucent anyway and with a bit of work it did the trick.

The wings are a mix of underside lozenge decal and blue for the top. I did wonder if the lozenge on the top of the wings would have shown through and considered decaling, then painting, but decided not to be that wasteful of expensive aftermarket decals! My problem with the lozenge decals was that Rodenís decals have a nasty tendency to split and I was worried about their accuracy. I had plenty of four colour in 1/48th by Eaglestrike who seem to be quite good along with Pegasus and Americal-Gryphon according to the experts on the web and in magazines, but no five colour as Albatros state was used for these early Fokker built examples, with four colour being used later alongside five colour. Fortunately Eduard came to the rescue, as I had their Pflaz DIIIa that has some five-colour lozenge. I was going to build Bertholdsís aircraft to go with the Fokker, so I did not need it for the Pflaz. So I adapted it to the Fokker with a bit of cutting and compromise. In the end the decals were superb and 10/10 for Eduard as they seem accurate (in so far as we can tell in 2004) and took a lot of rough handling while I got them to cover the different shaped Fokker wing. Tapes came from this as well using the plain tapes, spotted with paint to match the strips of lozenge fabric Fokker used for rib tapes at this time. I placed them over the top of the wings as well to represent the rib tapes that do seem to stand out on the blue upper surfaces after a recoat of the Modelmaster Insignia Blue. The effect is quite pleasing.

I used the rest of the Roden decals and some did break up, but not enough to cause a problem. In all cases I just used Klear to help them bed down and to hide the carrier film.

The guns were added using a combination of the kit breaches, wire for the barrels and Toms etched sleeves and some details. After this the top wing was added and here I made a bit of a cock up: Roden tend to have fit problems as related above, so I drilled out the strut holes for a firmer and stronger fit. In doing so I altered the wing gap enough so that the while the interplane struts fitted OK, when I cam to add the centre section struts they would not fit. My mistake! So I ended up reducing them in length and allowing them to fit outboard of the original locations. It did not help as the struts are very fragile and broke (this also happened with the under carriage struts. My aim was to get it square at this point, rather than totally accurate. So I had to do some repairs to the under-wing surface, but in the end it was not too bad, but the wing gap is a bit small and the guns somewhat cramped. The superglue I was using was not too good and for the next project I am going to use Araldite 5 Minute Epoxy rather than superglue.

Rigging was from Aeroclub nylon thread super-glued into drilled holes. Though next time I may use Araldite for the first fixing for strength.

In the end I got it finished. I do not think I will buy another, but the DVII has such a range of schemes I will make some more in this scale once Eduardís kits are released, as they will fall together and come complete with etched parts and better decals. However if it were not for the Eduard kits, I WOULD have got another Roden kit and it will not put me off making the 1/72nd scale kits that I have in stock. Despite being a bit hard to make itís not a bad kit, but Eduardís quality and value for money have set the standard all other firms must aim for in 1/48th WW1 subjects.

References:

Title

Author

Publisher/Date

Page numbers or web reference, special features

Comments

Battle Axe Fokker D.VII

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Scale Aviation Modeller

P 1172-1179. Very useful in depth build of this huge model.

Useful for any D.VII build.

Combat Colours. No 14. Fokker D.VII

Peter G Cooksley, Chris Ellis

Airfix Magazine March 1982, P326-329.

Multipage article and build of the Revell 1/72nd kit.

Tone profiles, still useful.

Dragon D.VII kit build

Sanjeev Hivve

Internet Modeller web site

http://www.internetmodeler.com

14 pages of A4, incredibly detailed and very useful for any D.VII model

Dragon D.VII kit build

Tony Shnurr

Fine Scale Modeller April 2004

-

Very useful, well laid out, lots of pics.

Fokker D.VII

 

Profile Publications

-

Old, but useful

Fokker D.VII

 

Kagero, 2004

Comes with decals in 1/72nd and 1/48th

Not got, but should be good based on the Nieuport book I have.

Fokker D.VII

A Imrie & I Stair

Scale Models April 1983

P181-184

Old, but still useful, good selection of detail photos.

Fokker D.VII Aces Pt.1

Norman Franks, Greg Vonwyngarden

Osprey Aces No 53, 2003.

Pt 2 has since been published in 2004, but I do not have it yet. This volume covers Berholdís aircraft and the profile agrees with Albatros and Roden.

Essential series.

Fokker D.VII Anthology 1

Various

Albatros Publications, 1997

Also see Anthologyís 2 and 3, which I donít have. This volume covers Jastaís 1 to 21 and has excellent detail on Bertholdís D.VII. My model was painted in accordance with this work.

The best reference on the D.VII.

Fokker D.VII detail photos

Various

WW1 modellers web site.

http://www.wwi-models.org/Photos/Ger/Fok_DVII/index.html

Wonderful sets of photos of various survivors and replicas

Fokker D.VII In Action. No 166

Edgar, Brannon, Greer and Sewell

Squadron Signal Publications, 1996

-

The usual wonderful In Action treatment. The best affordable one volume reference on the D.VII.

Kaisers Aces

 

Kagero, 2003

Comes with decals in 1/72nd and 1/48th including Hantelmannís famous "skull" D.VII. The story on Berthold inspired my choice of scheme. Artwork for his aircraft (no decals) shows no factory finish fuselage fabric and lozenge fabric unpainted on the underside of the tail plane. The red is also more wine or rose red, than the H60 I used.

Excellent, but watch for error E.g. Goring in a DR1 is identified as Udet.

Roden Early D.VII review

John Chapman

Scale Aviation Modelling June 2004

-

Very useful

Roden Early Fokker D.VII review

Ken Schmitt

Internet Modeller web site

http://www.internetmodeler.com

This gave me the most help with this model

Roden late Fokker D.VII review

Ken Zelnik

Internet Modeller web site

http://www.internetmodeler.com

Very useful

Scale Model Colour

Edited by R Rimell.

MAP late 1970ís

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WW colours with Methuen and Humbrol matches

 

M Hayward

July 2004