Kit No: QS-003
Type: Injection Moulded Plastic
Manufacturer: www.meng-model.com www.meng-model.com
Aviattic ATT24010 Fokker F.I/DR.I serial numbers, stencils, weights tables, propeller decals etc. www.aviattic.co.uk
The history of plastic modelling is packed with examples of kits depicting the triplane, from Revell’s 1/28 tooling, first issued in 1957, to the latest Meng / Wingnuts 1/32 kit that was released last year. At the beginning of this year Meng surprised the modelling community with the announcement that they would be releasing a 1/24 version of the aircraft. The kit began to trickle out from Asia in late spring, although at the time of writing is still not available from major British retailers. Why 1/24? Perhaps it hails back to the old 1/24 Airfix kits that almost every kid wanted, but few could afford.
Almost as soon as the kit was announced rumours began to surface about it being another abandoned Wingnut Wings project that was produced in collaboration with Meng. Certainly, if you look carefully at the sprues, all of Wingnut Wing's hallmarks are there to see, not only in the way that the sprues themselves have been broken down, but also the care and level of research that has obviously gone into the project.
The majority of the kit consists of seven grey plastic sprues, which as you would expect from Meng are extremely well moulded. There is also a small clear sprue and a small box containing photoetch parts, including pre-rolled cooling jackets for the Spandau machine guns. Close examination of the plastic and clear sprues provides the biggest clues to a Wingnut Wings heritage. Like most World War I aircraft, field modifications were very common resulting in a lot of variation. Designers of the sprues appear to have catered for most common variations. However, the majority of these parts are not documented in the instruction booklet and as such builders should examine sprues carefully for suitable parts before resorting to scratch building or sourcing from an aftermarket producer, as the chances are that you will find what you are looking for. Decals are adequate but could be better. There are four options included within the kit depicting popular and well-known colourful subjects. Where the decal sheets are really lacking is in the kind of details that modellers came to expect from Wingnut Wings.
Luckily Aviattic have already come to the rescue with a very useful set of decals that include serial numbers, stencils, and manufacturer data plates. In fact, everything you need to build any one of the 320 Fokker Triplanes produced during the Great War. Aviattic also very kindly supplied me with a prototype set of sheets of tailored decals designed to cover the entire model.
As this was likely to be my only 1/24 Fokker I wanted to do something special. The kit decals are okay but didn’t really inspire me. After much deliberation I finally settled on a well-known Jasta 19 machine, Dr.1 503/17, flown by Ltn Hans Körner with a distinctive personal marking of three zigzag lightning bolts and the Jasta colours of yellow and black on the tail.
Construction of the interior is similar to almost every Wingnut Wings kit that I have ever encountered in that the cockpit as built as a separate stand-alone assembly that includes the frame structure. The first task is to assemble the seat and fit it to the rear cockpit fabric panel part. Fokker seats of the period were simple and probably very uncomfortable affairs made from sheet aluminium covered on the inside with fabric or pleather (a synthetic material not dissimilar to modern synthetic leathers). I chose to simulate a fabric covering with the help of some Aviattic linen decal, which is applied to a surface that had been prepared by spraying white and applying some weathering detail. Application of the decal was not an easy task, as you are working on a concave surface. It took me three attempts to master this application. The separate cushion was easier to cover, which was done before gluing in place to the base of the seat. Once I was happy with the seat it was glued to the rear cockpit fabric panel.
Seatbelts are supplied as fabric strips to which photoetch fittings are applied. Like most fabric seatbelts that I have used in the past, the fabric has a sticky back and items are peeled from a backer before assembly. I found these seatbelts more difficult to assemble than most simply because the back of the fabric is a little too sticky, making it difficult to manoeuvre the photoetch fittings onto them. At this stage I just needed to assemble the shoulder straps, which once completed were fitted into slots in the rear panel and positioned on the seat.
A large part of the interior work is based around the ammunition cases and fuel tank, which is assembled in three parts. The air intake pipes, rudder peddle, instruments and Bowden cable are all designed to fit around the fuel tank and ammunition cases. Before fitting the rudder pedal in place, I drilled two holes ready to accept control wires. I decided not to use the kit dial decals, opting instead to use dials supplied with Aviattic’s tailored decal set. The kit supplies most instruments in two parts. I expected the part designed to depict the instrument face to fit inside the instrument casing, but this is not the case. As a result, where possible, I punched new smaller instrument faces from Plasticard. The dial decal was applied to the Plasticard and I then punched a glass face from acetate to fit over the top. This is the first Fokker Triplane kit that I have ever built that includes Bowden cables. These come in two sections, but the underside section will not be seen unless the underside inspection panel is left open.
The third major interior assembly is the floor. This comes as one part on which the compass and control column fit. The kit supplies alternative control columns for early and late versions of the Triplane. No explanation is given on the options other than to match them with the four kit options, so guesswork is required if you are building a subject not covered within the kit. I chose the late version. What is curious about both control columns is the absence of any port and starboard machine gun control switches. I can only assume that the designer of the kit originally intended the switches to be added as photoetch parts, but this was not communicated to the kit producers. I made a pair of switches from the Plasticard strip. Before fitting the control column assembly to the floor, I drilled holes ready for control wires. At this stage control wires, made from smoke-coloured mending thread, were fitted to all of the controllers. It should be noted that if you want to display the model with the underside hatch open then you will need to paint the underside of the floor assembly.
The only addition to the side frames was a single throttle control part. Once the side frames were painted, I fitted twin bracing wires made from mending thread to each frame, using aluminium tubing to simulate fittings. The interior assemblies were then fitted to the starboard frame beginning with the seat and floor assemblies. Elevator control wires from the base of the control column were fed through the rear fabric panel although at this stage were held in place with some masking tape. The ammunition case/fuel tank assembly was then glued to the side frame and rudder control wires fed through the rear panel as I had done for the elevator control wires. Aileron control wires were more problematic as in real life these would have fed through a gap between the ammunition case and the used cartridge box, but as the two cases were a single solid piece, I had to drill holes between the two cases to accept the wires. Once all of the assemblies were in place, the port side frame was fitted. All that was left to do to the cockpit was to add the lap seat belts, which were assembled in the same way as the shoulder harnesses.
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