MPM 1/72 Fokker D.XXI 'Dutch Defender'

KIT #: 72517
PRICE:  £10.69 (about $17)
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Sander Roubos
NOTES: Injection molded with a single resin part

HISTORY

The D-XXI was one the last of a long line of fighter aircraft developed by the Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker. Originally built to a specification for the ML-KNIL (Dutch East Indies Air Force), it was ordered by the LVA (Dutch Army Aviation Group) and delivered to squadrons in 1938. It was also exported to Denmark and Finland.

The plane was constructed of metal tubing, covered with metal and linen, similar to the Hawker Hurricane. The wings were covered with wood. Power was provided by a Bristol Mercury VIII radial engine, delivering 830HP. Armament consisted of 4x 7,9mm FN Browning machine guns. At the outbreak of WWII the fixed landing gear, low-powered engine and light armament made it inferior to more modern designs like the Spitfire and the Bf-109, but it proved to be a very nimble aircraft and it booked its share of successes in the German invasion of the Netherlands and the Winter War in Finland and Russia.

The Dutch Fokkers fought valiantly during the short war in the west. While the German planes were numerically superior, in a one-to-one fight the D-XXI could use its manoeuvrability to counter the disadvantage in power and speed. Unfortunately, the overwhelming numbers and rapid advance of the German forces necessitated Hollandís surrender after only five days of war. The remaining D-XXIs were captured.

No completely original Fokker D-XXI remains; the Central Finland Aviation Museum has restored a D-XXI from parts of various Finnish aircraft. The Dutch Military Aviation Museum has a replica, built by Fokker in 1988.

THE KIT

MPM has released a whole host of D-XXIs in recent years. Most of them have been Finnish variants, but luckily for builders of Dutch planes they have also released the ĎDutch Defenderí version. A number of brands have released D-XXIs in 1/72 over the years, but they are all rendered obsolete by this MPM model. Itís a very nice kit indeed. It has finely engraved panel lines and while they are not as subtle as Tamigawa products, they are better than your average limited run kit. The fabric structure of the rear fuselage is convincingly rendered. An injected canopy is included, which is very clear. As the sprues share some parts with other versions of the D-XXI, you will be left with some spares. The kit has one resin part, the propeller hub. The blades are molded in plastic. Why this was done I donít know, itís a simple enough assembly and just creates extra work. Give me a single part prop any day.

The instructions are clearly written with colors called out in Humbrol codes, but I did deviate from the construction steps in some cases to make painting easier. The color schemes are quite comprehensive and include four versions of the LVA; both peacetime and wartime schemes are included.  This is very nice, but unfortunately the decal sheet itself is terrible. Where to start? The colors are wrong. Both the orange and the blue are too light in tone. Furthermore, the roundels are out of register (a common issue with Dutch roundels). It doesnít end there: The black borders around the triangles are too narrow. The serials are all different fonts (only the 212 serial looks right to me). All in all, this decal sheet is simply not usable. Although I thought I had replacements available, this didnít turn out to be such a simple issue to resolve Ė more on that later.

CONSTRUCTION

As on most kits, it all starts with the cockpit. Detail is rather nice with some sidewall detail, separate rudder pedals and a very nicely rendered instrument panel. Only seatbelts are needed; I settled for painting them on. Note that MPM indicates the cockpit color to be interior green; this should be light grey. Fit of the cockpit section in the fuselage was a bit dodgy but nothing a sharp knife and some sanding couldnít fix. The fuselage then went together without a hitch. Very little filler is needed to clean up the seam. Fitting the three-piece wing was painless as well. With some careful fitting and sanding, no filler is needed to get the lower wing to fit with the fuselage. The upper wings fit nicely as well, as do the stabilizers. I decided to leave off the clear landing lights until the end of the build, but I did test fit them. A bit of work with the hobby knife is needed to clean up the area in the front wing for them.

The engine requires some planning ahead, and I deviated from the instructions here. It consists of four parts, which are all best painted separately and glued together towards the end of construction. You have the engine itself, the cowling, the cowling ring and the exhaust. I decided to glue the engine to the fuselage as indicated in the instructions, as it would provide me with something to hold the plane during the extensive airbrush job ahead. The remaining parts I left off for now, but I did test fit the cowling. It is held in place by the engine, and itís a tight fit, so I had to sand the top of some of the cylinders to get it right. I then took it off again to be painted separately, along with the cowling ring and the exhaust.

The rudder is a separate piece (use the right one, thereís two in the kit), and I left this off as well to make painting and decaling easier. The wheel covers go together well, but I did not put the wheels in between the cover halves as it would be hard to paint them later. I cut off the small plastic pins to hold them in place and I found was quite easy to push in the wheels later. The completed landing gear is not a very good fit as the tabs that go in the recesses on the lower wing are in the way. I cut them off and got the gluing surface to fit after some sanding.

I spent a quite hour on masking the canopy with a combination of very thin tape and maskol, but I forgot to properly test fit the canopy to the fuselageÖ mistake, as it leaves a gap at the front where it meets the fuselage. Ah wellÖ no kit is perfect.

COLORS & MARKINGS

White Ensign produces a range of enamels specifically tailored for Dutch aircraft in the pre-war years. They are slightly different in tone from the Humbrol codes listed in the instructions. Although I have the White Ensign paint, I prefer to use water-based acrylics from Gunze, as Iím a novice with the airbrush and I have the best results with them so far. I was able to find three colors in Gunzeís range which come very close to the White Ensign colors, and Iíve used these (H321, H406 and H420). Purists may cringe at this, but to my eyes it still looks pretty good.

This is the most complex pattern Iíve airbrushed since I started using it, and masking it was a pain for me. I used strips of Tamiya tape which I taped to the general area of the demarcation and traced the boundary with a pencil. I then stuck the tape to a pane of glass and cut the section of the pattern with a new hobby knife. Lots of tape, lots of airbrush sessions and some touch up work were required. Iím quite happy with the final result, although the demarcation is a bit ragged in places. Next up was spraying the cowling (H406) and the cowling ring and exhaust (Revell Silver with a bit of black mixed in), and gluing them together. The rudder was sprayed black. Everything was then given two light coats of Future in preparation for the decals.

As I wasnít going to use the kit decals, I needed some replacements. After comparing many different sets with orange triangles in my stash, I finally found the triangles meant for the DH-85 in the Dutch Decal set 72068 to be best match. These were quite thin and easy to apply. I used serials and other markings from the DD 72030 set. These all went on fine, but the decals on the fuselage required a number of applications of setting fluid. This is partly due to the fabric-structure of the fuselage, but also because the older Dutch Decals tend to be quite thick (the newer sets, like 72068, are much thinner).

After decaling, I painted the engine black and dark grey and gave it a light drybrush with aluminum. I installed the cowling, and gave the model a coat of about 50% Vallejo matt finish and 50% Future. I then removed the masking on the canopy. I also used some dark wash to highlight the control surfaces.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

 The propeller blades and hub went together with some superglue. I then sprayed the prop in Revell Silver. The red-white-blue decals for the tips required some touch up with a very fine brush. I also used some red followed by green to paint on the wing tip lights. The wheels were painted Gunze tire black and pushed in place inside the wheel covers Ė no glue needed. I pushed the landing lights in place, no glue needed here either. The machine guns I made from stretched sprue (I threw away the kit parts as they are too crude) and painted them dark metallic. The pitot went on, the antennae on the canopy roof and tail and the gun sight. I also reinstated the broken off tail wheel to its rightful place. Finally, I made the antenna cable from stretched sprue and painted it black. I finished the kit by spraying some more matt finish over these final parts.

CONCLUSIONS

 I really enjoyed this built and I learned quite a lot from it. It was rather time-consuming due to my lack of skill in masking and using the airbrush, but Iím happy with the result. The MPM kit is by far the best out there in this scale and it builds into an interesting subject; the Dutch camouflage makes it a colorful addition to any collection. Iím getting another one!

REFERENCES

 Fokker D.XXI Ė History, Camouflage and Markings; Frits Gerdessen & Luuk Boerman; Dutch Profile; 2007.

 Sander Roubos

March 2011 

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