Revell 1/72 Fokker D.VII,  C.1 and C.II.

KIT #: H-71 or H-380
PRICE: $Last reissue was $6.00
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Brian R. Baker
NOTES: Old kit, but Lots of Possibilities

HISTORY

Anyone familiar with World War I should be aware of the fact that Fokkerís D.VII was probably the best production fighter of that conflict.  This wasnít because of its performance, but rather due to the fact that its structure, welded steel tubing, was years ahead of its wooden rivals, and its thick airfoil wing gave it excellent slow flying characteristics as well as a respectable maximum speed.  Even inexperienced pilots could do well with the type, and its reputation was such that when the armistice agreement was dictated to the Germans, one provision called for the surrender of all military aircraft, especially all Fokker D.VIIís. Not a bad tribute to the airplane.

Following the war,  Fokker managed to avoid the Alliesí Armistice Commission  and ship a large number of airplanes and components back to his native Netherlands, where he set up an airplane manufacturing firm, producing some of the worldís most advanced airplanes into the thirties.  Quite a number of D.VIIís were sold to various European countries, and some were brought to the United States, where they were flown for several years until being replaced by more modern postwar types.  In addition, a two seat version, the C.1, was produced in small numbers, along with a C.2, which was a three seater designed for the commercial market.  Each of these was basically a stretched-out D.VII, with a longer fuselage and wingspan, although there were a few standard  D.VIIís converted to two seaters also.

THE KIT

The Revell Fokker D.VII kit has been around for many years,  first appearing in the middle sixties.  At least, thatís when I remember building my first kit. Mine is copyrighted 1975, and another, 1980.   In its day, it was the ultimate in 1/72 scale modeling of World War I aircraft, as Revell offered this kit in a series of aircraft, including the Fokker E.III and Dr.1, Albatros D.III, Spad XIII, Sopwith Camel and Triplane,  SE.5, Nieuport 17 and 28,  and Morane N Monoplane.  Airfix did a few others so that most of the major World War I fighters could be modeled in 1/72 scale.

A problem with the D.VII was that it was fitted with a variety of engines during its career, and it was also manufactured by Albatros, to Fokkerís intense satisfaction, and when Albatrosís management  asked for production drawings, Fokker merely sent them an airplane to copy.  Albatros made some detail changes, and the parts from an Albatros-built D.VII were not always interchangeable with ones produced by Fokker.  In fact, service pilots considered the Albatros-produced airplanes better than those built by Fokker.  There were some detail differences in the airplanes, especially in engine cowlings.  The Revell kit represents a late production D.VIIf with the BMW 180 hp. Engine.  Only a real purist would recognize this, but it is something to consider when modeling the aircraft. In passing, a kit of this airplane was also issued by Eldon Matchkits many years ago, and this kit is an exact copy of the Revell kit except for the cockpit, which is terrible and needs to be removed. The other parts, however, are  identical in nearly all respects.  I wonder how they avoided copyright infringement. Just be sure to do your research when you decide to build one of these, as there were variations.

The kit has adequate detail, especially for its time, and consists of about 30 parts molded in either white, red, or some other color of styrene.  Detail is a little heavy, and the fabric texture is somewhat overdone, but paint fills this in to a certain extent.  There is some flash, and some of the parts need trimming, but this is not a serious problem.  There is, however, no interior except for a couple of pegs in the fuselage interior, intended for a pilot to be seated.  This is easy to remove, and building a cockpit interior is quite easy.  In fact, this model would probably today be considered to be a quickbuild unless you want to do some serious detailing, in which such things as cockpit interior, control horns, and rigging wire should be added.

CONSTRUCTION

Construction will involve some serious filling and sanding, but it is a very simple and uncomplicated kit, and the parts seem to fit quite well.  The wings and elevators line up perfectly, and the struts are easy to install so that the upper wing sits at the correct angle.  In short, assembly is not a problem, although the kit shows its age, and certainly is not up to the standard of the newer Roden kits. One advantage of this kit is that the wings were actually cantilever, so they didnít have the rigging that most biplanes of that era had.  The only wires on this kit are the tailbraces, landing gear braces, and the control cables.  Youíll spend all of twenty minutes rigging this baby, unusual for World War I airplanes.

I decided to do a U.S. Marine Corps unarmed D.VII, which was operated at MCAS Quantico during the early twenties.  A drawing of this plane appeared in an old issue of IPMS Canadaís RANDOM THOUGHTS, which has to be one of the classic IPMS publications of all times.  The plane is OD overall, with American tail stripes and stars on the wings. A black serial number, A5846, is on the rudder, and even though the drawing shows armament, other sources and photos show the planes unarmed.  This was a quickie, and I was highly satisfied with the results. 

The C.1 Two Seater.

This model has an interesting story.  About 35 years ago, I ran across a photo of a Fokker biplane that I couldnít identify.  It was taken about 1925 around the Detroit area, and was a two seat cabin biplane with an open cockpit for the pilot. The engine was a Hisso, probably about 220 hp., with a round cowling rather than the angular one used by the D.VII.  Later I discovered that it was a C.II, registered C-262, and was on the U.S. Civil Register until the late twenties.  I built a model of it by butchering two D.VII kits, extending the fuselage and wings, and scratchbuilding the new engine cowling and cabin enclosure.

At the same time, I also decided to do the C.1 two seat biplane, and since some of them were operated by the Dutch Air Force, I did mine in Dutch markings.  However, I was never satisfied with the model, so I eventually relegated it to my scrap models box, probably to be forgotten forever.  But this was not to be.   Not long ago, I was scrounging through the box for parts for another conversion, and ran across the old Fokker model.  I decided that it was time to update the old model and give it its rightful place in my model display case, so I knocked the kit apart, and began rebuilding it.  I added a simple interior, smoothed out the imperfections created by my limited modeling skills of 35 years ago, and went to work.   I replaced the struts from parts from another D.VII kit, but used the other parts from the original kit.  I added and gun ring and Lewis gun, and repainted the model.  I didnít have Dutch decals, so I used Czech decals with the edges trimmed,  and made orange centers with a hole punch. The color is overall RAF Dark Green, which seems a good match for the Dutch color.  I am now satisfied with the results.

The C.II  

The C.II was done just like the C.1, except that the rear canopy cover  and the Hisso cowling had to be vacuformed.  The aircraft was silver overall, with black numbers.  I had to make my own drawings, as at the time, I hadnít seen a three view of this aircraft, only the C.1. 

CONCLUSIONS

I know that the Roden kit is infinitely better than the old Revell offering, but I donít think thatís the point.  I still have half a dozen Revell kits, and with a little work, they can be made into acceptable models.  In addition, they are very cheap, which is always nice in an age of styrene inflation.  They are certainly buildable, and can be done quickly. And think of the many variations in form and color that can be done from this kit.  There were numerous prototypes, and quite a number of variants which were basically a D.VII with a different engine or tail assembly.  These kits may be oldies, but they are still goodies.  Try one, and put some effort into it.  Youíll have a nice model.  But then, Iíve only built 18 of them.

REFERENCES

There is a lot of information available on the Fokker D.VII series, along with the many fascinating prototypes that aided in its development.  Probably the best source is the old Harleyford publication, FOKKER, THE MAN AND THE AIRCRAFT,  published by Aero Publishers in 1961.  The author, Henri Hegener, was apparently an associate of Fokker in the twenties, and mentions his experiences in flying with Fokker in various Fokker products.  The Squadron In-Action series is also useful, and the type is covered in many books on World War I aircraft.  A number of good decal sheets has been produced in various scales, so the modeler is presented with an airplane that can be built in considerable numbers without repetition. A new Windsock Datafiles publication on the C.1 had just appeared. Iíve seen the reviews and need to get one.

Brian R. Baker

October 2010

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