1/48 Eduard Fokker Triplane

Gallery Article by Mike Muth on Nov 19 2018

 

      

The Fokker triplane is probably the iconic symbol of World War I aviation in the minds of most people. In 1/48 scale, the best choice for building Fokker's triplane is the Eduard Kit. I picked up a "dual combo" version of the kit a few years ago and finally decided to build one. I had put it off for awhile because I could no longer find my favorite paint used to convey the streaky factory applied camouflage, Model Master's Sable Brown Metallic. Determined not to do a red one, I chose Lt. Rudolf Klimke's yellow tailed Dr. I. The underneath of the Fokker was described as a shade of turquoise. For this I used Boyd's Pacific Blue enamel from a spray can. The yellow was Model Master's Gelb. For the streaky effect I decided to try Aviattic's (https://www.aviattic.co.uk/148-fokker-streaked-camouflage-decals.html) decals. The sheet contains enough to complete 2 models. This was my first attempt at using them and while I made some mistakes (the wing tip edges needed to settle down better with solvent), I liked them enough to order a set in 1/32 for the Hobby Craft kit I have been wanting to build.

The Aviattic decals fit as close to perfect as you could hope for. They need very little trimming to fit the Eduard kit. The decals are very thin and are intended to be applied over a finished/painted surface. The undercoat should be very light in color. I used Model Master's Modern Desert Tan from a spray can as the undercoat. I am not sure I would use this color again. Aviattic recommends Tamiya XF-55, Deck Tan. Next time I will either use that or Radome Tan. The decals settle down nicely. If you notice around the left side anchor, I accidentally overlapped the streaky decals and it looks like a heavy dark line running from the top on the fuselage to the bottom. This isn't accurate and the right side is better. I screwed up around the far edges of the wingtips by not slicing the decals a little and then using a setting solution. Next time I will be more patient. 

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The dual combo comes with 2 complete kits including 2 sheets of PE (one for the interior and one for the engine, machine guns etc.), and decal options for 6 triplanes: Ltn. Frommherz Jasta Boelcke, Ltn. Steinhauser Jasta 11, Ltn. Weiss Jasta 11, Ltn. Kempf Jasta Boelcke, Ltn. Klimke Jasta 27, and Hptm. von Tutschek Jasta 12. Klimke used a black anchor on the tailplane and a yellow anchor on the fuselage sides for good luck. He wasn't in the navy; his mother had suggested it as a good luck symbol. He is credited with 16 or 17 victories before being injured on August 21, 1918. He was unable to return to combat before the war ended. The triplane's heyday at the front didn't last long. While it was very maneuverable, the rotary engine couldn't produce enough power to match the speed of newer Allied machines. When von Richthofen was killed flying the triplane, the new, superior Fokker D-VII had just started to roll off the production lines.

There aren't many kits of the triplane available in 1/48. There is the old Aurora kit, re-boxed by SMER, that is slightly out of scale and very crude. Dragon put out a kit that was advanced for its time and can be built into a nice model. Revell also has a triplane but I think it is a re-box of one of the other 2. All have easily been supplanted by the Eduard kit. This kit has a complete cockpit, scale machine guns and a nice Oberursel rotary engine. The triplane designed by Anthony Fokker incorporated the cantilever wing design he had been experimenting with on earlier airplanes. For those of you who hate rigging, there is virtually none on the triplane due to the strength of the wing design. The kit goes together without too much fuss. The interplane struts are one piece and make aligning the 3 wings straightforward. The bottom wing attaches directly to the bottom of the fuselage and the middle wing attaches to the top of the fuselage. The only tricky/fiddly part is the landing gear. There are 4 struts that need to be properly aligned on the lower axle to fit into the fuselage. Take your time and remember that the front struts are different from the rear struts. 

This is a nice kit to build. The use of Aviattic's decals enhances the final product better than my efforts at painting the streaking on the old SMER kit. There are lots of after-market decal choices out there and Eduard has different boxings of this kit with a good variety of decal choices. So, buckle up and get ready to shoot Snoopy out of the skies.

Mike Muth

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Photos and text by Mike Muth