by: Tim Hatton [ ]
Originally published on:
Fokker is one of the prominent names that come to mind when thinking of aircraft during WWI. They developed and built some of the most well-known types that even none aviation historians would have heard off. Anthony Fokkers D.VII is considered the best of the types produced from this stable. The D.VII came at a time when the Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte was under the most pressure. The Albatross D.III and Fokker Dr.I were outclassed by the Sopwith Camel, S.E.5 and the SPAD XIII. To address the situation the IdFlieg [Inspektion der Fliergertruppen] invited manufactures to the first fighter competition at Adlershof in January 1918. Anthony Fokker ordered his experimental factory led by Reinhold Pfalz to come up with a design. Originally the D.VII was to be powered by a rotary engine. But as the production of Albatross D.V was ending, the Mercedes in-line six cylinder D.IIIa 160hp engine was fitted instead. Platz incorporated all his experience with the previous designs to create the prototype V.11.
The V.11 made use of welded tubular frame and utilised the rear section of the Dr.I. The wing layout is a sesquiplane with a cantilever wing. The wing was so strong there was no need for bracing wires. First test flights were not promising, the V.11 was found to be very difficult to control. Fokker decided to lengthen the fuselage by 40cms and enlarge the vertical fin. The modifications turned out to be a success and the V.11 won the competition at Adlershof. The V,11 was re-designated the D.VII. The IdFlieg anticipated large numbers of the D.VII to be built. So Fokker tasked the Albatross Flugzeugwerke to help with production. In all three factories produced the D.VII: Fokker in Schwerin, Albatross in Johannissthal and the subsidiary factory OAW [Ostdeutsche Albatross Werke] in Schneidemül. Albatross was required to pay Fokker a licence fee of 5% of the price of each aircraft.
As the D.VII was built at three different factories, with different work practices and no set manufacturing documentation, this understandably lend to differences in the appearance of aircraft. Differences included the number, size and location of inspection hatches and cooling vents in the engine panels. For example early Fokker built had the magneto and water pump access panels on the upper rear of the side panel. Albatross and OAW retained the panels almost throughout production, while the Fokker factory abandoned the hatch almost as soon as production started. OAW changed the construction of the aerofoil section between the wheels. It was made in two halves to facilitate easier maintenance of the suspension.
The D.VII entered service in April 1918, Jagdgeschwader JG 1 was the first squadron to receive them. The new Fokker quickly became immensely popular and the ability of the aircraft to hang on the propeller with high angle of attack enabling the pilot to rake enemy aircraft from below. The only weakness to the Spad XIII or S.E.5 was its performance at altitude. This was addressed somewhat by the installation of an Mercedes D.III 180hp engine early on. The installation of the BMW IIIa 185 hp engine enhanced the performance of the D.VII even more. The BMW engine was capable of producing 240 hp for short periods at low altitude.
After the Armistice the D.VII was the only aircraft to be mentioned in the ‘treaty of Versailles’. The treaty specified that all D.VII’s had to be surrendered. But the wily Anthony Fokker managed to spirit away six trains of spare parts and raw materials, 400 engines and 120 airframes in crates to the Netherlands. These were built and flown by the Dutch and many other air forces. Amazingly it re-entered the German air force after 1930. It estimated around 2000 D.VII’s were built during the war. A further 1,300 were built post war. Late in 1918, the Austro-Hungarian company Magyar Általános Gépgyár [MÁG] commenced licensed production of the D.VII with Austro-Daimler engines. Production continued after the end of the war, with as many as fifty aircraft being built.
Eduards new tool Fokker D.VII [OAW] is derived from the ten year old quarter scale D.VII. This time Eduard has used the latest plastic injection technology at their disposal to produce this release. This release is the first in a line of future releases and Eduard has chosen five marking options featuring five colour lozenge schemes. Lifting the box lid the decals for the lozenge scheme is the first thing that draws the eye.
”…these have been based on the advice of those in the know about these. I guess there may be others that are also ‘in the know’ who may have opposite views, but you can only do so much.”
Vladimir Sulc. Eduard CEO
The second thing that catches the eye is the high quality of the detail on the surface of the plastic.
The third is the inclusion of the two styles of fuselage. I did wonder momentarily whether this was a two in one kit. The kit contains:
●4 x Grey plastic sprues
●1 x small fret of pre-coloured photo etched parts
●2 x small sheets of paint masks
●2 x sheets of decals
●1 x 16 page A5 format instruction manual.
The cockpit is built up from a mix of plastic and photo etched parts as well as decals. A thoughtful touch from Eduard is the inclusion of two small decals with the lozenge pattern printed on them for the inside walls of the cockpit. For authenticity you might wish to tone the colour down somewhat as the colour was applied on one side of the canvas, so the canvas surface on inside of the cockpit would have much more muted colours. There is also a decal with the lozenge pattern for the frame onto which the seat is attached. There are around eleven plastic parts and nine pre coloured photo etched [PCPE] parts that make up the cockpit area. There are also decals for some of the instruments if you don’t want to use the PCPE parts. There are few bits of furniture that need to be removed from the instrument panel to fit the PCPE/decal parts. The PCPE instrument panel looks like varnished plywood with the instrument already mounted on it. There is no decal substitute for the instrument panel. The primer pump requires you to find a 0.5mm dia length of plastic rod. The handle is supplied as a photo etched part. There is a primer moulded onto the right hand wall of the cockpit, but this will be covered by the decal. Eduard advice you to remove the moulded part if you are creating your own primer pump. The seat has some cushioning detail including leather tension buttons and there are PCPE set harness included. Some of the parts are very small: rudder pedal and bar, control handles, so you will need to separate them from the sprue very carefully. There are plenty of colour references for the inside of the cockpit and you will have to recreate the look of plywood on the floor.
Eduard has provided two different sets of guns. The pair of MG 08/15 or ‘nullachtfünfzehn’ included need a bit of surgery so that you can fit the photo etched [PE] perforated cooling sleeve. This will require you to lightly roll the PE sheet into a tube to fit around the gun barrel. It takes a bit of care to do it, but improves the look of the gun no end. The cartridge ejection chutes are separate parts. The other pair of guns are the Schwarzlose MG machine guns and they seem to be exclusively fitted to the MÁG built D.VII so not used with this release.
The Mercedes engine is built up from four plastic parts and a single PE part. The completed engine is place on a shelf and this is then fitted to the firewall. Detail is good, but all you will see is the rocker arms on top of the engine. The single bank of exhausts is fitted once the fuselage halves are joined.
There are eight propellers included with this release and all are one piece. With this release there is a choice of two depending on which marking option you go for. There is a PE hub plate for the spinner.
The fuselage is split left and right. There is no hint of frames or the usual sagging stretched canvas to be seen. Eduard has correctly represented the doped canvas as being tight as a drum. There are six different styles of nose and the radiators are exquisitely detailed. The tail skid is moulded with the right hand fuselage. There is a length of plastic with stitching moulded on it which neatly fits over the joint on the lower fuselage. The tail and rudder is a separate one piece item featuring raised tape lines. The rudder has PE actuator including the cable. It’s good to see the amount of work that has gone into the smaller details. One example is the holes where the control cables emerge from the fuselage. They are not just holes; the holes have neat looking surrounds presumably representing the reinforcement so the cables would not rub the fabric.
Both the upper and lower wings are one piece. There is absolutely no hint of ejector marks. There is some slight evidence of flash on the trailing edge of the lower wing. The tape lines are raised and these will aid the placing of the decal tape later in the build. There are fifty rib tape decals to apply over both wings. No mean task, but essential if you want to make your model D.VII look more authentic. There is the merest hint of scalloping on the upper wing surfaces, but it looks very acceptable. There is also some hint of machining from the moulds on parts of the surface under both wings. If these were being painted they might need some attention, but the lozenge decals should cover them. The ailerons on the upper wing have PE actuators including the cable.
There are locating holes for the one piece ‘N’ style inter plane struts in the lower wing. There are holes in the upper wing for the inter plane struts as well as the cabane struts that also attach to the fuselage. The forward group of three cabane struts are moulded as one piece. There is a separate anemometer style airspeed indicator to attach to the port inter plane strut.
The horizontal tail and elevator are one piece and features raised tape lines. You might want to cut off the elevator and reset it dropped. The elevator has PE actuators including the cable.
The section of aerofoil between the wheels is one piece. There are four different types included, but you are only using one of them. There are six wheel types, but again only one type is used with this release [B18]. There is quite a difference evident with the detail on the hubs. Wheels are each one piece and there is paint masks included. There are paint masks not only for the tyres but also for the various markings on the canvas covered hubs. Some aircraft have a coloured circle on the hub and one has a white quadrant.
The Fokker D.VII had very little bracing. Eduard has indicated in blue where to attach the bracing; none is included with this release. Two cables run from the fin to the horizontal tail and another pair cross brace the undercarriage. There is a single brace wire on each side of the fuselage from the fuselage to the rear most cabane strut on the upper wing.
The pre-coloured photo etched fret is packed fill of intricate detail all with the superb quality of finish we expect from Eduard, Obviously some experience will be helpful, but in this case the only items that need bending are the harness straps and the cooling jacket of the machine guns.
The Kabuki paint masks are for the wheels only.
There are five very colourful marking options including:
[A] flown by Ltn. Wilhelm Leusch, CO of Jasta 19, Trier, Germany, October 1918
[B] No. 6441/18, flown by Ltn. Max Näther, Jasta 62, Preutin-Higny, France, October/ November 1918
[C] flown by Ltn. Franz Büchner, CO of Jasta 13, Trier, Germany, October 1918
[D] flown by Ltn. August Raben, CO of Jasta 18, Möntingen (Montoy – Flanville now),
[E] flown by Ltn. Alfred Greven, Jasta 12, Carignan, France, October 1918
There are some fabulous marking schemes to choose from. You will probably find yourself purchasing another kit or two, when you discover part way through painting you had wished you had chosen another option.
There are two sheets, the larger one featuring the lozenge patterns and the rib tapes. Both are printed by Eduard themselves. One nice touch is the marks in the lozenge pattern where the holes for the struts are located. Obviously once the wings are covered in the decals it will be difficult to locate the holes. I really can’t say how accurate the colours are, but we know Eduard will have tried their hardest to get this right. The number of rib tapes is a little intimidating, but it looks as if one rib tape does both upper and lower surfaces of the wings. There are twenty eight ribs on the upper wing, Eduard supply thirty three rib tapes. The lower wing has twenty two ribs, Eduard supply twenty four rib tapes. There is also tape for the leading and trailing edges and wing tips. Obviously you will need a fair amount of your favourite decal setting solution handy as there will multiple decals placed over each other: lozenge, rib tape and crosses.
The smaller decal sheet has the crosses, Jasta markings and some stencilling and prop badges. The quality of the print looks first class. There is barely any excess carrier film even on the complex shaped Jasta markings. You might notice there are three dragons for the Jasta 19 [Option A] D.VII. There are two dragon emblems for the right side of the fuselage, one dragon with the head to the left and the other to the right. Presumably there was no photographic reference for the right side so Eduard has given you licence to choose which one is the more suitable.
The A5 booklet has sixteen pages. It quite a handy size and does not take up to much workbench space, The parts map on page two highlights the number of redundant parts for this release. The painting guide is in colour and there are upper and lower plan views as well as both side views. There are a couple of pages specifically for the lozenge pattern decals and the rib tapes. Gunze and Mission Models paint numbers are used for colour reference.
The Fokker D.VII is not an easy model to create due to the variations in the airframe. Eduard has done their level best to accomplish this. The number of variations in parts: props, wheels, etc is testament to this. So there will be a lot of parts destined for the spares drawer. There is not a great deal of bracing cables to add so this would be a great WWI subject to cut your teeth on, but some experience using the PE parts would be useful. The marking options are a real draw and will certainly add some colour to your model flight line. The price is worth noting: in British sterling the kit costs around £10.25, which I think is amazing value for money. There is good discount if you join Eduards Bunny Fighter Club [BFC] and also Eduard have frequent sales on their webshop. So I'm looking forward to further releases of the Fokker D.VII from Eduard.
If this release wets your appetite for future releases of the Fokker D.VII then the words of Vladimir Sulc. Eduards CEO will be of interest:
”Subsequent versions of the Fokker to follow will be the Fokker D.VII (MAG) in October, which was a version that was used in the twenties by firstly Hungary and later the Romani- an Air Force, and also one made its way to the Czechoslovak Air Force. The Royal Class boxing will come out in December, and it will contain all the main versions of the type, will include a massive decal sheet(s) and also will include both four and five colour lozenge options. Next year, we will be releasing the Fokker D.VII (Fokker) and the Fokker D.VII (Albatros). I expect it to not end there, and I think there will be other sub variants coming out through 2021”