login   |    register

In-Box Review
Fokker E III Eindecker
Battle Axe Fokker E.III
  • move

by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]

Originally published on:

The world’s first real fighter plane was the French Morane-Saulnier L of Rolland Garros, who discovered a crude, but effective way to fire a machine gun at other aircraft: metal deflectors were bolted onto the wooden propeller, thereby preventing Garros from shooting down his own plane. The system worked reasonably well because the French copper-jacketed ammunition deformed when it hit the deflectors. When the Germans tried the same technique after capturing Garros and his plane, their steel-jacketed rounds shattered the deflectors—and worse, their propellers.

While deflectors get the air combat ball started, the real dancing didn’t begin until Anthony Fokker, a Dutch-born aircraft designer working for Germany, invented a synchronizer gear that interrupted the machine gun’s fire when the prop passed through the line of fire. Synchronizers had been patented as early as 1913 by both LVG and Saulnier, but Fokker’s was the first one that actually worked. Now single-seat fighter began a technological surge that took aircraft design all the way to the Red Baron’s tri-plane.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Fokker supremacy started with a string of single wing (Eindecker fighters based, in part, on the Morane-Saulnier single wing “parasol” design. But also on Fokker’s pre-war “Spider” (Spinne usually shortened to Spin). Fokker’s interrupter gear so changed the game that Es ravaged the French and British air forces from July 1915 until early in 1916 (a time period referred to as the “Fokker Scourge”). Some of the world’s first fighter aces, including Max Immelmann and Oswald Boelcke, flew Eindeckers, literally making up air combat from scratch (Immelmann even had a turning maneuver named for him).

The French company Battle Axe some time ago released a limited-edition combination kit in 1/32nd of the E.III, the best of the E series with its improved wing design over the earlier I and II variants. I say “combination” because it’s mostly styrene, but with some resin and PE to improve the final results.

the kit
Don’t get too excited by the box, which is ample in size, and has a superb pairing of two possible paint schemes, but contains a lot less than you might expect:

a single sprue of styrene parts
a fret of PE brass for detailing
a ziploc baggie with a resin engine and Spandau machine gun
a set of decals for two historical aircraft
two skimpy pages of instructions

The illustrations on the box top are first-rate, and show two different machines, including one for ace Ernst Udet.

the review
The resin casting is very good for the rotary engine and the machine gun, but the styrene molding reminds me of Revell of Germany kits from the 70s: thick, clunky and occasionally inaccurate. Detailing is better than I expected, with the metal framing and guide wires molded onto the interior (Fokker used metal tubing instead of wood other aircraft designers of the time preferred). These planes were very little further along the evolutionary chain than early Wright Brothers “flying bicycles,” a challenge for kit designers working in styrene. I have seen the kit built, and it ends up looking good, though I don’t know how much of that is from scratch-building.

There are some accuracy issues, including one rib too few on the wings (eleven instead of twelve), and a slightly incorrect machine gun, though the E series had a variety of armaments, including three Parabellum guns mounted side-by-side on the final variant, the E. IV.

The kit is a hybrid, with a very good resin Oberursel rotary engine, some excellent PE, but styrene molding that looks like it was done in an earlier era. I have demurred on giving this kit a numerical rating; I think that would be beside the point. Battle Axe has produced a model in a popular scale that is otherwise unavailable (very early WW I aircraft don’t seem to attract a lot of manufacturers, including Roden). If you can pick it up at a reasonable price, it shouldn't take too much work to bring it into the modern era of modeling (I was fortunate enough to secure mine for $30, and was offered a second by another modeler for $45). Wingnut Wings is apparently planning on bringing out the E.I and E. III in styrene in the future, but in the interim, this is a very promising placeholder — if you can get it at the right price.

Squadron’s Fokker Eindecker in Action, #158 by D. Edgar Brannon, was a great help in preparing this review.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: An historic plane is available to enthusiasts in 1/32nd. Resin engine and MG.
Lows: Extremely crude styrene molding.
Verdict: Remarkable to have this aircraft at all in 1/32nd.
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: 32BA02
  Suggested Retail: $45-$90
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jan 05, 2010

About Bill Cross (bill_c)

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright ©2021 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Thanks, Stephen. I think there's a good build hidden in this kit, and I have the Tom's German cockpit PE on order, along with Eduard's turnbuckles and guide horns PE set. I'm actually looking forward to slaying this dragon, though I'm concerned about the best way to correct the wing braces (the kit has 11/wing when there should be 12). Any suggestions? I hope WNW will go forward with their Fokker Eindeckers, as the early warbirds interest me more than the ones deployed in the end when the outcome of the war was more or less no longer in doubt. There is something very riveting in thinking about men getting into these "flying bicycles" and actually fighting an air war.
JAN 05, 2010 - 08:04 AM
Thank you for the review on the Fokker E.III. I have wanted one of these aircraft in 1:32 scale for a long time and I am so pleased to see this one is available. I have searched high and low but can not find a supplier for this kit, do you have any suggestions where I might be able to purchase one. This plane will look great with my other 1:32 WW1 aircraft, especially the DH.2 and the Morane Saulnier type N. Like Bill, I am more interested in the early WW1 aircraft, they hold a certain appeal to me. Thank you for any help you may give me in acquiring this kit. Des.
JAN 05, 2010 - 11:35 AM
Des, I posted a query on the Large Scale Planes forum and got two members who were willing to sell me theirs. I paid $30 for this one, but the other one wanted $55, which is, all in all, a not an reasonable price. Any dealer that carries this is asking close to $100 (Roll Models, for example). If you are interested, PM me with your email and I will see if I can put you together with him.
JAN 05, 2010 - 11:50 AM
Hi Bill: It would seem the only way to correct the number of wing braces would be to sand the existing ones down, creat new ones with sprue, and fill in between. I am sure there are other ways, but beats me. Otherwise, build it with the incorrect number of wing braces. You didn't designe the kit, you just build it. Good luck
JAN 06, 2010 - 02:47 AM
Hi Bill You could always sand the wings down and re-skin them Harry Woodman-style, tracing the wing structure from plans and drawing it heavily on the reverse side of 5 or 10 thou plastic card and attached with double-sided tape. The result is excellent - very true to scale. It's not at all hard to do either on a wing like this - Scale Models magazine ran a scratch-build project for near-beginners in the '70s that used it which I had no problem following as a schoolkid. All the best Rowan
JAN 06, 2010 - 03:33 AM
Wingnut Wings have a Fokker E.III coming up, tentatively scheduled for release in 2011. The computer image of the kit parts suggests it will be light years ahead of the Battle Axe kit. If you really can't wait, go for the Battle Axe one, otherwise . . .
JAN 22, 2010 - 09:10 PM
The key here is the date. WNW has been promising four new aircraft for some time, and have not yet released them. That's not a criticism of the company, it's a slow economy and I'm sure they want to get things right. But there is no need to wait if you can get this kit at a reasonable price.
JAN 23, 2010 - 10:22 AM
You could be waiting longer the 2011 for WNW to come out with this kit , so I do agree with Bill . If you are looking forward to building one then Battle Axe is the only game in town . Ture there are many issues with the kit , but with some skill it does build up to a very nice looking model . For 30 bucks , not a bad deal at all . Nice review Bill
JAN 24, 2010 - 12:47 AM
Thanks, Terri. You guys have taught me a lot here about airplanes and airplane kits. The other thing to keep in mind here, I think, is that Battle Axe issued a limited-run kit. While WNW says theirs are also limited runs, I get the impression their offerings are intended for a much larger audience. Many of the LR makers are small operations who seem like they don't have a lot of $$$$ behind them. While this kit could be better, its biggest failing is in the number of wing supports, and some styrene and putty will fix that.
JAN 24, 2010 - 06:48 AM

What's Your Opinion?

Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move