by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
Originally published on:
The manufacturers building the Fokker D.VII were the parent company of Fokker at Schwerin, also under license by 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 matched with the inline Mercedes D.IIIa 170-175hp or the D.IIIaü 180-200hp . 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 was to become 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.
Arguably a front leader today in WWI aviation models Eduard presented their newest offering in 2005 in their Limited Edition series. In 2006 their 1/48 Fokker D.VII mold has been released in the “Dual Combo” and the Fokker D.VII “Royal line” with three kits was also a pleasant surprise. But it costs about 40.0 - 50.00 US dollars more for three complete kits compared to the “Combo Dual” kit. Included also in the Royal are markings for twelve profiles, a faux Blue Max and a resin refueling cart kit. I will refer to The Combo kit #8134 as the main subject in this review. The plastic parts as PP and photoetch as PE.
Pages 1-3. Text and history. Eduard has modified the historical comments and corrected several misspellings from the very first and second issues of their kit #8131 to good advantage. Taking note from my earlier comments about his misidentification Reinhold Platz is now rightly identified in the Fokker history. The main alteration is the addition of the three fuselage sprues and the identification “E, F, and D”. Express masks dealing with the 4 colour profiles are limited to colour demarcations of the striping and wheel covers. Also there are the legend, parts map and colour 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.
engine and cockpit
Page 4 . The inline motor assembly is a generic representation that has pieces for the Mercedes D.IIIaü 180hp (PP B 5, 6, 8, 14 - C 4, 13, 34) or the BMW IIIa 185 hp assembly (PP 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 (PP B 13) were unified where the Mercedes (PP 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.III 160hp 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 the Fokker D.VII through 1918. Then in late 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 i.d. designation of D.III 160hp cast into their crankcases. This has caused the misconception that the standard 160hp and 170hp were used in 1918 at a time when they had become obsolete. Often these were referred to as “160hp over-compressed engines”.
Next the cockpit flooring (PP A 7). The rudder bar (PP C 33) inserted through the flooring (PP A 7) and needs a vertical bar attached centrally. Like the DML Fokker Dr.I set up, this vertical column should angle back and up behind the ammunition box (PP A 16). On the control column (PP C 27) note the throttle lever has one handle We also have photos where two are present. Check your references. Set the rudder bar (PP C 33) to the desired position to compliment the attitude you have chosen for the rudder. Scratchbuild an aileron control “V” for cables and attach the “V” at the front end of the lower control bar molded to the cockpit flooring (PP A 7). Also add the compass (PP C 14 & PE 10). Also here, add bent and shaped brass wire for the throttle and the cables for the Spandau machine guns. Later you will have to add all the control rigging material to the elevator control column (PP C 27) and the rudder bar column (PP C 33) when the cockpit rear bulkhead / screen (PP A 11) is added. Some of these cables should to go through holes that you need to cut in the rear bulkhead / screen (PP A 11). Check your references for the various cables and wiring that are attached to these units.
The seat (PP 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 (PP A 11). I trimmed down the inside surfaces of the seat (PP B 12). The seat was known to be covered in fabric that was held by attaching 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 bulkhead / screen (PP 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 covering on the bulkhead / screen (PP A 11). In this case of 4 or 5 colour lozenge. The pilot’s shoulder harness straps (PE 1) are attached to the seat framing (PP C 18) behind the seat (PP B 12). Next check the location for the fuel pressure hand pump (PP C 10). You might 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.
Page 5. First of all choose which fuselage versions you are going to build. You can replace the molded cockpit structure in the fuselage halves (PP E 1 or 3, 4 or 13) 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. For the exterior the kit supplied four and five colour lozenge colours are way too light. But in an attempt to help the modeler work with what comes out of the box I will offer a fix. Several lite washes of translucent dark blue and / or black over all will help greatly. I have to admit that the 4 colour lozenge is one of their better efforts to provide the lozenge camouflage compared to what they have offered in their past. The 5 colour lozenge decal needs to be replaced. I prefer the Eagle Strike lozenge decals instead of the kit provided items. Their clear carrier film on the Eagle Strike 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 (PP 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 early fuselage without louvres it is easily noticeable. Out of the box the pilot's right side upper engine cowling has a larger cutout for the cylinders and exhaust opens up that area for scrutiny. On the Late style version out of the box the cowling opening for the engine cylinders are overlapped by the exhaust manifold and it is not too noticeable.
Concerning the instrument panel (PP A 14 or PE 14 & 15), I will “usually” paint Fokker company instrument panels black and give OAW or Albatros types a varnished wood look. Eduard has pre-painted theirs a drab brown colour. They have also given the modeler a great set of photoetch instrument panel parts and fuel gauges for two complete kits. I also added a hand crank spare part as a handle to magneto and flip levers (PE 25 X 4) to fuel and air controls. I also add the tachometer (PE 11) dial to the machine gun rear brace (PP C 28). Finally they discuss the engine compartment assemblies. 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. This would be typical of a machine in mid to late June - November 1918. The late Fokker types came to the front on very late summer early fall (autumn) 1918. Now assemble the fuselage halves (PP E 1 or 3, 4 or 13) with its internal component assemblies.
lower wings assembly
Page 6. Here we assemble the lower wing parts (PP 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 (PP A 2 & 3, B 1). The unmodified fit between the lower wing and fuselage is tight and cause anhedral just like the Roden kit. This fix will eliminate the fit problem. Do not narrow the whole fuselage by taking away from the center union area.
The fuel gauge (PP C 16) can have a decal (#30) or a metal gauge face (PE 12). Note that the large ammunition round counter gauges (PE 5 X 2) are to be located on both sides of the machine gun rear brace (PP C 28) not just one. (On page 7 you will have the option to install smaller round counters (PE 6 X 2 ) directly to the gun breeches). The radiators (PP E 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 (PP 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. Also one radiator fill pipe (PP E2) is given for six aircraft. After painting or decal applications, assemble the horizontal stabilizer (PP A 10). Eduard has given the modeler an easy way to deal with the undersurface fuselage fabric seam (PP C 21). This is a first for WWI aviation modelers. The altimeter gauge (PE 5) is optional as some pilots used wrist watch sized types.
For the exhausts (PP E 9 - 11), Mr. Pete Grosz tells me that there were at least six manufacturers putting out these exhausts. The instructions take this time to discuss the application of its lozenge. For me it seems that this should have taken place a page back before assembling the major components. See the rear cover of the instructions for more. Next comes the rudder (PP A 12) and stabilizer fin (PP A 15) and control horns (PP 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. Next, werke numbers, factory serials and rudder cross were applied. I would now add the control horns (PP C 11 X 4) and let dry. As this begins to dry set the attitude of the elevators (PP A 17) that you wish to reflect. The four plates are hinged panels (PE 4 X 4) to access the lower wing spar attachment for the fuselage. Note these should have the triangular plates (PE 26) on the fuselage, located immediately above the hinged access plates (PE 4 X4).
Guns & upper wing assembly
Page 7. The kit provided Spandau machine guns (PP A 5 X 2) are entirely plastic. But Eduard gives you etched metal parts for the fretted jackets and other details (PE 6, 20, 21, 23 X 2). The empty belt chutes (PP C 2 & 7) attach next. The completed Spandau machine guns should be painted in semi-gloss black. All German issue Spandau and Parabellum machine guns came from the factory with the outer surfaces covered in baked on black enamel. Dry-brushing these in gun metal colours maybe appropriate. You have the option to install smaller round counters (PE 6 X 2) directly to the gun breeches. On the previous page larger versions were discussed.
The Eduard top wing assembly (PP A 1, 4, 9 & B 2) 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 this type of wing assembly is great for the modeler who wants to simulate damage. By thinning down the inner surfaces, portions of internal structure it is easy to replicate. For those of you with AMS - a strip of 20 thou strip could be added between the cabane attachment points out to the leading edge mating surfaces of the top wing. It helps the Eduard wing match the wing thickness shown in Anthology 3. Otherwise the wing will be too thin seen from the front. Even with this easy modification. Add the control horns (PP C 11 X 2) next. More is discussed here about the lozenge placement. See the rear cover of the instructions for more.
upper wing attachment
Page 8. To bring the fuselage and top wing assemblies together I use children’s “Lego” blocks. Form a jig to keep everything level and square. Then add the interplane (PP C 5 X 2) struts first, then the cabane (PP C 9, 15 30 & 31) struts. The anemometer (PP 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 do give 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.
Page 9. Continues the cabane strut (PP C 9, 15 30 & 31) attachment details. Next the horizontal tail unit stabilizer struts (PP C 20 X 2) and the tail skid (PP C 12). I did replace this item with a modified brass rod for strength.
Page 10. Is the axle wing (PP B 7, F 5 & 6 ) and wheel (PP F 4 X 2) assemblies. With the wing axle mid- section (PP B 7) I routed out the plastic axle and replaced it with a brass rod of appropriate diameter. Next add the landing gear legs (PP C 23-26) to the wing axle (PP B 7, F 5 & 6).
Page 11. There are four propellers of two types offered by the kit. Axial (PP B 16) and Heine (PP 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 (PP B 17) are far too short for inline six cylinder engines and should be closer in length to the Axial (PP 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.
The half-moon shaped strut attachments(PE 26 X 8) that Eduard include as photoetch are for the underside of the top wing assembly are a nice touch to add as well. Rigging paths are shown in thin red lines. There should be four aileron actuation cables (two on each side for the fuselage) running up into the area behind the rear cabane struts (PP C 9 & 15.) Check your references.
Pages 12 -13. Jasta 43 unit markings were the characteristic white tails, with the remaining area of the fuselages being adorned with the pilot’s individual markings. Friedrich Jakobs applied the white stripes with moon motif on his black fuselage. Jakobs joined Jasta 43 on July 6, 1918 from Jastaschule I. He shot down a DH 9 on 22 July, but on 24 July he was wounded in action shot in the foot during an air combat. After a stay in the hospital Ltn. Jakobs supposedly returned to Jasta 43 and served until the end of the war. Nothing more is known on his career.
Pages 14-15. After brief service with FA7, Ltn. Josef Raesch joined Jasta 43 in 6 June, 1918 from Jastaschule I at Valenciennes. His first victim, an SE 5a, was shot down in flames on June 27. He was to face a similar fate a month later. Burned in the face, he survived with the use of his parachute. After he was released from hospital in late September, he continued to add four more victories to his score. Two of these were from 29 Squadron RAF. It is interesting to note, that Raesh´s parachute was repaired and used again, saving the life of another pilot, Robert Schmitt.
It is generally known that Jasta 43 received its initial Fokker D.VII aircraft in a transfer from Jasta 18. Ltn. Raesch inherited this machine (D.525/18 - 874/18/18 ) from the unit’s temporary commander Ltn.d.R. Otto Creutzmann on about 5 June 1918. The three pronged pitchfork is easily recognizable as a manure fork used on cattle and dairy farms. Both Creutzmann and Raesch had grown up on farms so it is easy to see why it was retained. Ltn. Raesch crashed this early machine on 25 July 1918.
Pages 16-17. Ltn. Ludwig “Lutz” Beckmann was, after short stints with Jastas 6 and 48, he was assigned to Jasta 56 on March 11, 1918. He got his first victory by March 13, flaming an RE 8. His score grew step by step, and he achieved his last victory on September 5th, by then with the rank of Staffelführer. Among his victims were also Camels of two 210th Squadron RAF flown by H.T. Mellings (15 kills) and H.A. Patey (11 kills). He was back in the Luftwaffe with the start of WWII, when he commanded transport units IV/TGI and KGr zbV500.
This kit represents and early Fokker D.VII (Alb.D.525/18 - 874/18/18 ) flown by eight victory ace Ltn. Ludwig (“Lutz”) Beckmann while he was commander of Jasta 56. In the Kofl 4 (Commander of the air service in the 4 Armee) document the known markings for Jasta 56 were quoted as a blue-gray fuselage with a yellow nose and tail unit. In a letter dated 4 Sept. 1960, former Ltn. Ludwig Beckmann recalled the markings of his old unit and stated that his aircraft was unique as the unit commander the nose and tail were red. Also it had red cabane struts, wheel covers and fuselage band that had a “white snake -line through it. On 16 August 1918 he was name unit commander. In ancient Norman and Gallic languages the word for “worm” formed the basis of the term “Dragon” and was signified by a similar “squiggle” in cave paintings and later medieval heraldry. Rib tapes were salmon pink originally instead of light blue.
Pages 18-19. This probably the first machine assigned to Jasta 40 commander Ltn. des Res. Carl Degelow. He picked it up in late June 1918. This early Albatros machine was probably from their initial (Alb.D.525/18 - 874/18/18 ) production batch. By August he had a new or second / reserve machine that appears to be an OAW variant. production batch. Jasta 40 pilots achieved 54 victories during WWI. Most of them were claimed by Ltn. des R. Carl Degelow, the Jasta commander. He reached 30 victories. He worked in the chemical industry in the USA before WWI. With the start of the war, he had returned to military service in Germany, as an infantryman and served on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. Later he joined the German air service. He reached his first victory as the pilot of an Albatros C.V, in May, 1917. After a short and troubled service with Jasta 36, he was transferred to Jasta 7, achieving his next three victories. In July 1918, he was nominated for command of the Royal Saxon Jasta 40. He received the Knights Cross of the house of Hollernzören on Aug. 9, 1918. Carl Degelow received the highest Prussian medal, the Pour le Merité, on November 9, 1918, the last soldier to receive this award. Rib tapes should be salmon pink instead of light blue.
lozenge and rib tape decals
Page 20. This page lays out the lozenge camouflage application In-general, from the factory Albatros used salmon pink and or lozenge rib tapes. The purple coloured tapes that they provide are based on the restored airframe Fok. D.VII (Alb.) at the Musee de l’ Air in France. Eduard has rightly shown the same colour rib tapes on top and bottom of the wings. But you only get enough for the rib tapes. The leading or trailing edges are not provided for. Note also that there are cases on original airframes 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. Check good references for profile you intend on doing.
For the dedicated modeler builder or collector these kits are just the right meat. It has lots of extras and choices the plastic or photoetch, four colour schemes, highly detailed pieces. Minor faux paux aside it is a solid kit to have & build.
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.
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 Fok. D.VII
Fok.VII 227-229/18 prototypes, V.11 and two V.18 brought up to Fok.D.VII production standards.
Fok.D.VII 230 to 526/18.
Fok.D.VII(Alb) 527 to 926/18. (Alb.) Albatros built.
Fok.D.VII(OAW) 2000 to 2199/18. Ost Albatros Werke Built.
Fok.D.VII(OAW) 4000 to 4199/18.
Fok.D.VII 4250 to 4449/18. Some D.VIIF with BMW IIIa engines.
Fok.D.VII(OAW)4450 to 4649/18.
Fok.D.VII 5050 to 5149/18. Some D.VIIF machines.
Fok.D.VII(Alb) 5200 to 5599/18.
Fok.D.VII(OAW) 6300 to 6649/18.
Fok.D.VII(Alb) 6650 to 6899/18.
Fok.D.VII 7604 to 7805/18. some Fok.D.VIIF machines.
Fok.D.VII(OAW) 8300 to 8649/18. Delivered after the war.
Fok.D.VII(Alb) 10050 to 10100/18.
Fok.D.VII10347 to 10300/18. 37 made, delivered after 11/11/18.
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