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In-Box Review
132
Fokker D.VII (Alb)
Fokker D.VII (Alb)
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

There was understandably considerable excitement when, as part of their Christmas line-up, Wingnut Wings caught the WW1 modelling community somewhat flat-footed with the announcement that their long-awaited Fokker D.VII was ready for release. Not only that, but the initial offer comprises no less than three separate boxings to cater for Albatros, Fokker and OAW-built machines, along with four aftermarket decal sheets to accompany them which markings for some truly spectacular alternative colour schemes.

Kit #32027 represents the Albatros-built version and arrives in a typically stylish top opening box, with the sprues and accessories all individually bagged for protection. Something you'll notice straight off is just how heavy the package is, and this is explained by the inclusion of both a hefty 34-page instruction booklet and an impressive collection of large decal sheets.

The kit comprises:

211 x grey styrene parts (28 of which are not used in this version)
2 x clear styrene parts
8 x photo-ectched brass parts
Decals for 5 x colour schemes

The moulding is excellent throughout the sample kit, with beautifully subtle detailing and no flash evident. A thorough inspection revealed a couple of shallow sink marks on the underside of the fuselage and on the firewall, but these will only take a few moments to deal with. Ejector pin marks were a source of minor irritation in some of the earlier kits in the series, but the designers have done a great job this time, keeping them entirely clear of the cockpit area and the insides of the engine cowls.

The exterior of the model bears an overall "satin" finish, with neatly engraved panel lines, along with raised fasteners and servicing covers. Particularly impressive are the louvres in the cowl panel; usually little more than raised lumps in kits, Wingnut Wings have managed to depict most of them as delicate open slots.. Similarly impressive is the all-important depiction of the fabric covering, with subtle rib tapes and stitching on the wings and horizontal tail (the control surfaces are correctly left plain), and a very faintly "ballooned" effect on the undersides of the wings to depict the weight of the material on a machine at rest.

It's worth repeating the note of caution I made when reviewing the recent Fokker E.III and DH.2: many of the smaller parts are quite delicate, being moulded as close true-to-scale as possible, and some of the sprue-attachments are substantial to acheive the crisp level of detail. Therefore I'd recommend using a miniature razor-saw to remove the parts with breaking or distorting them.

Test Fit
The fuselage feature a couple of extra locating pins compared with some earlier Wingnut Wings kits I've examined and the halves clip together very precisely. The joint on the top decking is adequately supported (although you could still add a strip of plastic card along the inside if you're worried), while the lower fuselage seam is hidden neatly under a separate moulded strip of lacing. The horizontal tail sits firmly in place thanks to a prominent locator.

The wings are beauitiful mouldings. Although the parts seem quite thin and flexible until assembled (to save weight on the slender struts), they are perfectly straight when complete and very solid. The lower wing comprises a full span lower half and separate top panels, with spars running across the base of the cockpit. The trailing edges are nice and thin, and that of the lower wing features a subtle washout towards each tip. Stacking pads are moulded in place on the leading edges, but you may find it easier to remove these to sand the seams and apply lozenge decals before replacing them from scratch.

A few details
Construction begins with the cockpit, which features over 30 parts, the precise number depending on which of the featured aircraft you choose to build. There are options for two styles of machine-gun mounts and the altimeter can be positioned either side of the cockpit or omitted entirely. The interior structure is very delicately moulded and needs a few moulding "pips" trimming off before use. Once joined with the floor and the firewall and rear "bulkhead", the whole assembly becomes a bit sturdier, but still needs to be handled with kid gloves to avoid an accident. The pilot's seat features a nicely moulded optional cushion (it wasn't used if the pilot wore a parachute), and comes complete with an etched harness.

Decals are provided for the instrument faces, custom printed for Wingnut Wings by Cartograf. As usual, the quality of these is superb, with the smallest details pin-sharp under a magnifier. The inside of each fuselage half is lined with a faded panel of lozenge decal to represent the pattern showing through the rear of the fabric on the original.

The instructions include a very useful set of colour reference photos of The Memorial Flight Association's replica aircraft which will help detail the cockpit convincingly, although they do caution against relying on them too greatly as some aspects might not match an original machine precisely.

Wingnut Wings have used their existing Daimler-Mercedes 180hp D.III / 200hp D.IIIaŁ mouldings, as seen in the Pfalz D.XII kit. The 25 parts look set to build into a very nicely detailed engine, but looking at the comprehensive reference photos again included in the instruction booklet, there's clearly more plumbing and wiring that you can add, such as the ignition cables and pipes leading to the air pump.

A choice of radiators is offered, and the lower cowl is marked to allow different additional cooling holes to be drilled out. Two options are given for the top decking ahead of the cockpit, and four styles of engine side panels are provided. Both the early low-mounted and later high-set exhausts are included, and a really nice touch is the delicate weld-seams on these. Finely moulded Heine, Axial and Neindorf propellers are specified for use in the colour schemes provided - although the instructions do state that they were often replaced with different types in service, so there's scope for some latitude if you so chose.

The pair of LMG 08/15 "Spandaus" can be attached to alternative "mid" or "low" mounts and is provided in two forms; solid-moulded for simplicity, or with a an etched cooling jacket to roll to shape. Sights are also included for the etched version, but of course there's no reason why you couldn't attach them to the solid guns. Ahead of the guns, moulded flash guards attach to an etched frame that fits over the engine.

The undercarriage features a very substantial axle which, with a rather clever bit of engineering, also serves as the mounting plate for the struts. The wheels are nicely detailed with maker's marks on the tyres and air valves visible behind the separate covers.

The designers have made attaching the upper wing just about as simple as possible. The main "N" struts slot nice and positively into position but, just as on the original aircraft, it's really the cabane struts that do the load-carrying, with pretty substantial lugs supporting the wing. The front clusters of triple struts are moulded ready to use, so there should be no trouble lining things up.

Of course, one of the attractions of the Fokker D.VII for newcomers to biplane building is the virtual absence of any rigging to worry about. A pair of cables run from the fin to the horizontal tail, another pair brace the undercarriage, and there are control cables to add for the ailerons, elevator and rudders. That's it. The instructions include a rigging diagram showing the aircraft from two angles, so there's little chance to go wrong - although the cables could arguably be highlighted a bit more prominently for anyone who doesn't know where to look.

Instructions and Decals
Aside from my previous comment about the rigging diagram, the instructions really are something of a work of art, with beautifully drawn, colour-shaded illustrations of every stage, with most details named and notes describing points to watch out for. The assembly sequence is very logical and well thought-out - very much designed for the modeller rather than the convenience of the illustrator. As well as the diagrams, the A-4 booklet contains numerous fully captioned reference photos, with a mix of vintage shots and modern walk-around style colour close-ups.

Colours are suggested for every detail part throughout the assembly, with Tamiya, Humbrol and Misterkit model paint matches given.

Decals are provided for five very attractive colour schemes that offer an interesting variety of challenges:

Fokker D.VII (Alb) 611/18, Uffz. Harbers, Jasta 73, mid 1918 (1 victory)
Fokker D.VII (Alb) 817/18 "Nickchen IV", Fritz Blumenthal, Jasta 53, August 1918
Fokker D.VII (Alb) (Not 5324/18), Richard Kraut, Jasta 63, October-November 1918 (1 victory)
Fokker D.VII (Alb) "Bowke!", Hermann Pritsch, Jasta 17, mid 1918 (1 victory)
Fokker D.VII (Alb), Carl Degelow, Jasta 40, July-August 1918 (30 victories)

If the kit itself hasn't already impressed you enough, the decals included should floor you! 6 BIG sheets! With printing by Cartograf, you can rest assured that the quality is exceptional. Registration is spot on and excess carrier film is next to non-existent - these are as close to "painted on" as you're likely to see as decals. A clever touch is the way overlapping markings are grouped as single decals. This is something I've seen on other Carograf sheets and seems to be one of their specialities - of course, it only works, thanks to their faultless registration process.

Four of the sheets are devoted to lozenge decals, with both 4- and 5-colour patterns provided. They are provided in "cookie cutter" sections to make for simpler application, and a very helpful touch is the inclusion of additional patches of each colour for spot repairs. The precise colours of lozenge fabric are an endless source of debate (if indeed there ever were "precise" colours used uniformly...), so I'll leave any comment on what Wingnut Wings have chosen to those better informed on the subject than me. However, both the instructions and the Windsock references which I consulted mention the frequent tinted over-varnishing of "standard" lozenge fabric to mute it - and this, added to general fading and wear and tear, makes the perfectly legitimate variations seem almost endless.

conclusion
Put simply - Wingnut Wings' Fokker D.VII is superb! I think it could well turn out to be their most popular kit to date, combining the appeal of a legendary subject with great detail, but straightforward construction that won't frighten off anyone wary of more complicated biplanes. Add some of the most spectacular colour schemes you can think of, and you can hardly go wrong! Unreservedly recommended to anyone with a little modelling experience.

Now, Wingnuts - talking of legendary subjects... how about a change of heart and doing the Camel at long last?...

reference
Fokker D.VII - Windsock Datafile 9, by P. M. Grosz, Albatros Productions, 1989

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
SUMMARY
Highs: Excellent moulding and detail. Logical and beautifully engineered construction. Superb quality decals for 5 very attractive colour schemes.
Lows: None that I've noticed.
Verdict: Wingnut Wings undoubtedly have a winner on their hands. Their Fokker D.VII is another superb kit that will delight both die-hard WW1 enthusiasts and those new to the genre alike.
Percentage Rating
98%
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: 32027
  Suggested Retail: $79.00
  PUBLISHED: Dec 08, 2012
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 88.13%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 93.88%

Our Thanks to Wingnut Wings!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)
FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2019 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



Comments

Hi again After scanning the close-up, I'm fairly sure the "blood/flames" around the mouth are actually just the effect of pale stains on the negative or print - notice how a prominent one on the left of the mouth obscures the division between the dark and light areas: But you can also see the rough brush strokes where the colour of the side cowl has been painted - and it actually looks like the darker colour might have extended onto the side panel at some point... All the best Rowan
DEC 19, 2012 - 09:58 AM
Jasta 17 used black & white for Jasta identifiers. The top upper deck cowling was dark green per (Alb.) use of metal surfaces. Chin pan was black. The sides of fuselage were painted in 2 different variations of chrome yellow (orange yellow). One was for metal surfaces the other for fabric. The rear Hakenkreuz and broad cheveron were more a lemon yellow Bright yellow & white mix. Paints were often mixed with white to extend their area coverage. Facial features were red or black.
DEC 19, 2012 - 11:52 AM
Cheers Stephen Your mention of black ties in with an answer about Jasta 17 by the late Dan-San Abbott on the Aerodrome that I stumbled across when web-hunting for info: "With the receipt of the Fok.D.VII(Alb) in late June 1918, the radiator shells was painted white. The forward fuselage to the front of the cockpit, struts, wheel covers and tailplane were painted black. Individual markings were painted on the after fuselage in black and /or white." The idea of all-black forward fuselage tallies with that touch of very dark paint visible on the side panel, presumably after being over-painted with the pilot's personal colour. I'll have another play with Photoshop, and it's all going to look radically different to the original Wingnuts interpretation. All the best Rowan
DEC 19, 2012 - 09:43 PM
Hi again So, combining all that lot, it may have at some point looked something like this: before being repainted along these lines: All the best Rowan
DEC 19, 2012 - 10:20 PM
Note also that the lower colour (black IMHO) overlaps the lower edge of the side cowling.
DEC 19, 2012 - 10:52 PM
I like this interpretation. and would only vary the right side cowling and the adjacent fabric "yellow". Please note that the pilot's right side would be considerably more "stained" than the pilot's left. So the right side yellow the left side black. Thanks for letting me comment.
DEC 19, 2012 - 10:58 PM
Cheers Stephen Looking at the close-up again, there's also maybe a suggestion of paint worn off the louvre, exposing a darker colour (black) underneath. All the best Rowan
DEC 20, 2012 - 10:15 AM
WNW does infact provide 5 colour lozenge(sheet #9132011g) for the fuselage in this kit - Fokker D.VII (Alb.) kit #32027. If you do any kit with the 5 colour profile on the fuselage #32027 is the only one currently that has this. Though they maybe included in a future issue as well. So if you have that kit and the decals #30006 and kit #32011 D. 402/18 can easily be done plus #32027 can still be built with the 4 colour sets in it.
JAN 13, 2013 - 07:12 AM
Some years ago Pete Grosz and Brian Flanagan compiled a list of all known German aircraft supplied to the Turkish units. The serial numbers are listed as Albatros built Fokker D.VII with Mercedes D.IIIaŁ 180hp. seial number 5203/18 : werke number 5749 s/n 5291/18 : w/n 5980 s/n 5297/18 : w/n 5996 s/n 5303/18 : w/n 5902 s/n 5331/18 : w/n 5950 s/n 5333/18 : w/n 5981 s/n 5336/18 : w/n 5935 (5303/18 and 5336/18 are listed with Ottoman Fl.Abt.9 in October 1918.) These all began service in 4 or 5 colour lozenge on all fabric sufaces and were from a production order to Albatros for 400 Fok.D.VII aircraft, serial numbers D.5200/18 to 5599/18.
APR 12, 2013 - 05:13 PM
   

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