German Fokker E.III Eindekker

Published: September 6th, 2018     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Brian R. Baker, IPMS# 43146
Scale: 1:72
Company: Airfix
Price: $9.05
Product / Stock #: A01087

Instructions

The instructions in this kit are similar to those of all of Airfix's new issues. They are on full size sheets, with one page of general historical information in 5 languages, one sheet of brief modeling instructions in 12 languages, and 19 detailed assembly drawings on 4 pages. There is also one sheet of excellent rigging instructions with 1/72 scale drawings, since this model needs wire rigging to look realistic. The box art has the color guide and painting references, although there isn't a lot of interior information, especially since not all interior colors are covered. There is no sprue diagram or detailed information on the forward part of the cockpit interior. The photo on p. 20 of the Imrie book should solve this problem.

Decals

The decals in this kit provide markings for only one aircraft, one flown by Ernst Udet during 1916. These provide the crosses, stripe markings, designator and serial number, and "lift here" markings. The decals have no borders, so they need not be trimmed. They need no setting solution, and are excellent in all respects. I used a gloss coat lacquer first, followed by a dull lacquer coat after decal application.

The Kit

The kit consists of light grey styrene parts, nearly all of which are used. There is very little flash, although there is some on a few of the very tiny struts and parts which attach to the fuselage. I had a couple of struts break off, but they were easily repaired. In all, this is an excellent kit.

Assembly

The first step is to build up the cockpit interior. Some color information is missing, and a few parts show colors that are not listed in the color guide. There is little information about the forward cockpit, although several parts are included that are very helpful. The photo in Imrie, p. 20, should be helpful.

The bottom fuselage section mounts all of the cockpit floor assembly. The instructions say to attach the upper sections of the fuselage independently, but I found that a better way was to glue the sides and tops together and then attach them to the bottom section. There will be some filling and sanding involved, but this is not a real problem. The forward sections, including the engine, firewall, and upper fuselage cover, can then be painted and attached to for forward fuselage. I painted them all silver, with the exception of the engine, and then masked them off before painting the major parts of the airframe.

I decided to attach the landing gear struts and other appendages immediately after painting the major parts (fuselage, wings, wheels, etc.) RLM 71 green, which looks, from the box art, to be a pretty good representation of the overall color of the airplane. Most E.III's left the factory unpainted in clear varnish, a beige color, but some references show a darker color, either darker green or medium grey. You're on your own here. I used super glue on the struts and landing gear parts, which worked better than the MEK based solvent I usually use.

The wings, in two solid pieces, appear to have very small and weak attachment tabs, and I was concerned that they would be very fragile once attached. However, although a slight amount of trimming on the inside of the engine fairing on the right side was required, the wings fitted easily into their receptacles, and they line up perfectly with the fuselage without undue effort. I don't know why they are so strong, although I usually handle the model at the rear fuselage rather than the wingtips. I used superglue, not MEK.

One part that I questioned is the upper wing bracing "V" strut, which mounts just ahead of the cockpit. There are some protrusions off to the side, which are meant to represent the attachment points of the bracing wires. They would look funny if bracing wire is not used, but the problem is that they do not show on photos of the real airplanes, and although I left them on with my model, If I were to do another one, I would snip them off and attach the rigging wires directly to the top of the strut.

One issue I noticed is the fuselage fairing on the right side of the fuselage behind the cowling. On some E.III's, the parts are symmetrical on both sides, as shown in most photos, but some E.III's had a squared off section on the right side with the rounded section on the left side. It would have been nice for Airfix to include both parts, but they didn't, so you will have to improvise of you don't want to do the variant depicted in the kit. If you do the kit as per box art, this is not a problem. If the kit is reissued later, they will probably have to include both fairings.

Note that I did one of the Revell kits at the same time for comparison.

Painting and Finishing

This has been covered in the assembly portion. I used RLM 71 green as the basic color. After a coat of gloss lacquer, I applied the decals according to instructions, and then used a Dullcote spray over the entire airplane. Following this, I applied the rigging wires using my special process of using stranded electronic wire, separating the wires into individual sections, rolling them straight, cutting them to the proper length, and attaching them with white glue. To me, this is a lot easier than trying to use thread, and it appears much more realistic. I used the rigging diagram, as it appears to be entirely accurate.

I added rear elevator horns, which are shown in the rigging diagram but are not included in the kit. They are VERY small parts attached beside the rudder, and I made them from trimmed plastic strips. No problem here.

I also added a small circular windshield, as some of these planes had them, and they show in some of the book photos. I used a small piece of clear plastic, cut to shape.

Recommendations

This is only the second kit I have seen of the Fokker Eindekker, the first, dating back to 1981, is the old Revell kit. It is typical of the period, with a one piece wing which is easy to align. There isn't much interior detail, but otherwise, it is still a useful kit despite its age. The only advantage is that the Revell kit has the symmetrical engine-fuselage fairings on both sides, allowing more variants of the airplane to be constructed. I have a done a number of them over the years, including a Morane L and H, and a Fokker M.6 trainer, as well as some production E.III's. I would suspect that the Airfix kit also has this development potential, but either kit could be converted without a lot of undue effort. In any event, this kit is definitely worth getting, and getting in quantity of you want to do all of the variants. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Airfix/Hornby and Phil Peterson for the review kit. It was a lot of fun to build.

History

Anthony Fokker, a Dutchman, began designing, building, and flying airplanes before the outbreak of World War I. By 1914, he was building airplanes for the German government, and by 1915, had begun building monoplanes inspired by the Morane Saulnier aircraft. Although they superficially resembled the French airplanes, they were radically different in construction, as the French aircraft used wooden structures throughout, whereas the Fokkers has welded steel tubing fuselages covered by fabric. The first Fokkers had 80 hp. rotary engines, and when Roland Garros's Morane was brought down in German territory, after some successes with his machine gun firing through the propeller arc, his mechanism, merely steel plates bolted to the rear of the propeller blades to deflect any bullets that would have hit the prop, inspired Fokker to develop a mechanism to allow the gun to fire through the prop arc by timing the trigger to fire the gun only when the prop was out of the way. There had been interrupter gear designs invented and patented before, but nobody had ever built a working model of one until Fokker's device was installed on one of the original Fokker monoplanes. By 1915, the E-I had appeared, and after a small number were built, the design was slightly improved, culminating with the E-III, with rotary engines of 100 hp. allowing maximum speeds exceeding 80 mph.

The first Fokker monoplanes were controlled by wing warping, where the wings were twisted to change the shape in order to bank the plane. Later airplanes used ailerons, which simplified the problem immensely, but ailerons were never fitted to a Fokker monoplane of this series.

The first Fokker monoplanes were attached to reconnaissance squadrons, used mainly to escort and protect the slower two seaters. Later,
"hunting squadrons" were formed, equipped entirely with the fighters, and a number of German pilots became aces rather quickly, notably Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann, developing combat tactics based on their ability to aim the entire airplane at the target rather than having to flying the airplane and use the gun separately. The E.I through E.III generally used a single machine gun, while the E.IV generally had two guns, and there was even a three gun version, but it was basically too heavy with the available powerplants. During 1916, the British captured an E.III that came down intact behind their lines, and they developed interim fighters, DH-2's and Nieuports, with forward firing armament without interrupter gear, and used these until being replaced by Spads, SE-5's, and later model Nieuports, thus rendering the Fokker fighters obsolete. Fortunately, this plane has somehow survived, and it is currently displayed in the National Museum of Science and industry, in South Kensington, England. This is believed to be the first example captured. Production records conflict, but it is believed that around 258 Fokker E.III's were completed, with total production of all monoplane types slightly exceeding 300. Fokker later came out with some unsuccessful biplanes, followed by the excellent Dr.1 Triplanes and D.VII biplanes. But that is another story.

References

There are many publications dealing with the Fokker Monoplanes, most with excellent photographs and detail drawings. Some of these are:

  • J.M. Bruce..The Fokker Monoplanes. Profile No. 38
  • D. Edgar Brannon, The Fokker Eindekker in Action. Squadron-Signal,#1158.
  • Peter L. Gray, Ian R. Stair. Fokker Fighters of World War I. 1976
  • Peter M. Bowers. Fokkers of World War One. Hobby Helpers, 1960.
  • Alex Imrie. Fokker Fighters of World War One. Vintage Warbirds No. 6. 1986
  • Henry Hegener, Fokker, the Man and the Aircraft. Harleyford, 1961.
  • Back Cover
    Back Cover
  • Complete
    Complete
  • EIII Sprue 1
    EIII Sprue 1
  • EIII Sprue 2
    EIII Sprue 2
  • instructions
    instructions
  • Decals
    Decals
  • completed 2
    completed 2
  • completed 3
    completed 3

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