Fokker D.VII: Prevue

 

Fokker D. VIIF  by Eduard
1/48 scale
Kit No. 8482
Cost:  $32.00

Decals: One version - German Imperial Air Force machine flown by Oberleutnant Hermann Goering of JG1, Marville, September 1918
Comments: Detailed cockpit, complete engine, separately molded ailerons, nice fabric-over-frame effect on fuselage

History
The Fokker D.VII was a German World War I fighter aircraft designed by Reinhold Platz of the Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. Germany produced about 3,300 D.VII aircraft in the summer and autumn of 1918.  In service, the D.VII quickly proved itself to be a formidable aircraft, so much so that the Armistice ending the war specifically required Germany to surrender all D.VIIs to the Allies at the conclusion of hostilities.

 

Fokker's chief designer Reinhold Platz had developed the successful experimental Junkers J.1 monoplane in collaboration with Hugo Junkers.  The Junkers J.1 had a cantilever wing which was thicker than conventional wings of the time with a rounded leading edge.  This provided more lift and more docile stalling characteristics than the conventional thinner wings in common use at the time.  Platz built on this success with the introduction of the V 11, the prototype of what became the Fokker D. VII.  Early in 1918 Manfred von Richtofen flew the V 11 in the fighter competition sponsored by Idflieg, the bureau within the German War Office that oversaw military aviation.  Von Richtofen commented that the new plane was tricky, unpleasant and directionally unstable in a dive.  As a result, Platz modified the V 11 with a longer rear fuselage and a fixed, rear vertical fin directly in front of the rudder.  Upon his second flight, Richtofen praised it as the best aircraft in the competition.  Although others agreed, Richtofen's status as a national hero in Germany at the time made his opinion decisive.  400 aircraft were immediately ordered, with the new fighter being designated Fokker D.VII.  Fokker alone could not meet the demand, some aircraft were license-built by  Albatros Flugzeugwerke, OAW (Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke, and Albatros subsidiary), and AEG. 

 

Production quality varied, depending on the manufacturer.  Some parts were not interchangeable between aircraft produced at different factories, even between Albatros and OAW.  Also the manufacturers tended to differ in nose paint styles.  OAW aircraft were delivered with distinctive mauve and green splotches on the cowling.  All D.VIIs were produced with the lozenge camouflage covering except for early Fokker-produced D.VIIs, which had a streaked green fuselage.  Factory camouflage finishes were often overpainted with colorful paint schemes or insignia for the Jasta, or the individual pilot.

The D.VII entered service with Jasta 10 in early May 1918. It quickly proved to have many advantages over the Albatros and Pfalz scouts. Unlike the Albatros scouts, the D.VII could dive without any fear of structural failure. The D.VII was also noted for its ability to climb at high angles of attack, its remarkably docile stall, and its reluctance to spin.  It could literally "hang on its prop" without stalling for brief periods of time, spraying enemy aircraft from below with machine gun fire. These handling characteristics contrasted with contemporary scouts such as the Camel and SPAD, which stalled sharply and spun vigorously.

 

But the D.VII was not without its flaws.  Several aircraft suffered rib failures and fabric shedding on the upper wing.  Heat from the engine sometimes ignited phosphorus ammunition until cooling vents were installed in the engine cowling, and fuel tanks sometimes broke at the seams.  Aircraft built by the Fokker factory at Schwerin were noted for their lower standard of workmanship and materials, whereas the quality of the Albatros-built aircraft was quite high.  Overall, the D.VII proved to be a remarkably successful design, leading to the familiar adage that it could turn a mediocre pilot into a good one, and a good one into an ace.
 
Ironically, Manfred von Richthofen, killed in action in April 1918, died only days before the D.VII began to reach the Jagdstaffeln, and he never flew it in combat.  Other pilots, including Erich Löwenhardt and Hermann Göring, quickly scored victories and generally praised the D. VII.  The new fighter was  available in limited numbers initially, but by July, 407 had been delivered.  Larger numbers became available by August, by which time D.VIIs achieved 565 ictories. The D.VII eventually equipped 46 Jagdstaffeln. When the war ended in November, 775 D.VII aircraft remained in service.  Surviving aircraft saw continued widespread service with many countries in the years after World War I, including Belgium, Holland, Hungary, Switzerland and Poland.

 


The Kit
Eduard's Hermann Goering D.VII comes in a resealable clear plastic bag and is molded in beige.  The kit consists of 87 parts, although there are 10 additional parts to be disregarded, according to the instructions -- these include a second fuselage and three extra propellers. two additional wheels, a second exhaust manifolld and a second radiator face, apparently for a different version of the D. VII.  In addition to the fabric-over-frame effect on the fuselage, the upper and lower wings and tail are all ribbed.  While there are no real engraved panel lines, this is due to the construction of the D. VII, faithfully recreated by Eduard, rather than any lack of detail on the manufacturer's part. 

The detailed Mercedes-Benz engine consists of 10 parts, and the cockpit consists of 14 parts --detailed enough that you may feel surprised that there is no photo-etch, but this kit is the Weekend Edition.  In any event, there is a seat with a separate cushion and three-part supporting frame, control yoke, rudder pedals, and instrument panel with raised details.  There is no rigging diagram as by this point in the war, Fokker designs had progressed to the point that rigging wires were no longer needed for structural integrity.  Finally, the instructions include a full color illustration of Hermann Goering's machine in a paint scheme of overall white.

 


Conclusion
An excellent kit of Germany's exemplary late World War I fighter.  Highly recommended, with or without photo-etch. 

References

www.wikipedia.org
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