Battle Axe 1/32 Fokker E.III






basic markings


Steven Perry


Short run with etched brass and resin parts


The Fokker E.III was the most successful of Anthony Herman Fokker's monoplane designs. Fokker started out by building himself a monoplane in 1910 that was known as the Spinne or spider. The basic design evolved and a few were purchased by the pre-war German Air Service. They performed poorly and were not well liked. Further developments led to even less successful machines. Fokker had bought a crashed Morane Saulnier type H and restored it. He was impressed with it's performance and used it to design a totally new Fokker monoplane. It is this new design based on the Morane Saulnier H that became the Eindeker and progressed from the E.I through the E.IV. He used a welded steel frame fuselage truss instead of a wire braced wooden one. He also strengthened the spars and used compression struts instead of compression ribs in the wings. The rudder was enlarged and changed in shape from the MoS style to the now famous Fokker comma shaped rudder. He set these changes on a wider wheel base to aid in ground handling. The most successful and numerous of these Eindekers was the E.III.

 Never what could be described as a nimble fighter, the Eindekers were a mediocre aircraft that would never have amounted to much had A.H.F. not equipped one with a synchronized machine gun firing through the propeller disc. The tremendous combat advantage conferred to the Eindeker pilots by the ability to aim their gun by aiming their airplane so eclipsed the poor performance, that the type was responsible for what became known as "The Fokker Scourge". It was not until the appearance of the more maneuverable DH.2 and Nieuport 11 over the front that Fokker's scourge was broken and the see-saw  battle for superior fighter performance that characterized the rest of aviation development during the Great War began.


Let me begin the discussion of the kit by stating that I am a fan of short run kits. The Battle Axe Fokker E.III is a short run kit and as such it is better than average. The parts will require cleanup and the many larger, low pressure injection gates require some careful dressing to remove all traces. It will build into an impressive model straight out of the box, though it will require some work to finish well. On the other hand it will also make an excellent starting point for a full blown super-detail project. The styrene is not brittle and very workable. All the Styrene parts come on one large sprue. Additionally there is a nice fret of PE parts. All these seem to be pieces well suited to the photo etch medium. There is also a beautiful resin engine and gun. The decals provide basic national markings as well as some pieces to represent the fabric openings along the longerons characteristic of this type. The only shortcoming I have found so far are wing panels which have 12 instead of 13 wing ribs each.  One final word about short run injected parts. They often have pronounced mold lines and a few suffer from slight misalignment of the molds resulting in a "step" along the mold line. These must be dealt with. I don't view it as a total negative though. It forces you to thoroughly clean up every part. I have built more than one "shake the box" kit where the mold lines on smaller parts were invisible ... until the first coat of paint.

 I was going to begin construction with the fuselage interior and engine, but when I checked the wing panels against the drawings I noticed there were 12 instead of 13 ribs. Well that just wouldn't do for me. I knew that I would never even see the finished model, I'd only see 12 ribs. Personal problem, I admit. The rib detail on the wings is some of the finest I have ever seen in any styrene and many modelers will choose to leave it as it is. Not many folks will call you on the number of ribs, especially ones as nicely done as these. Like I said, a personal problem.


If you leave the rib detail as it is, you will have to deal with quite a few small injector pin "towers" on the lower surface. Fortunately the plastic is pretty soft and workable, so the little pins disappear quickly without much effort and only a little care to preserve the underside rib detail. On the other hand, if you can't live with 12 ribs, then the conversion to 13 ribs is not all that difficult. I did it this way: Looking at a set of drawings that show 13 ribs, (including the root rib), and the kit part with 12 ribs, it is apparent that if the false ribs were full ribs and the full ribs false, the locations would match the drawings, lacking only a shorter full rib located on the tapered tip. I used this observation to advantage by sanding off all rib detail from the trailing edge forward to a line defined by the end of the false ribs. This leaves all ribs the length of the false ribs. I added 5 thou card strips at the location of each false rib. The result was a wing panel matching the drawings with 13 ribs.  These card rib tapes were sanded down a bit. Decal material painted with several coats of paint might work well and avoid the sanding of the card ribs. It's a little work, but a lot easier than it sounds and it sure beats looking at the wrong number of ribs in my book. With the wings corrected and primed, I set them aside and continued with the construction where I had intended to start it. 

There is a bulkhead piece that sits right behind the pilot's seat. In the real machine, this was a fabric panel stitched to the frame members behind the seat to seal off the rear of the fuselage from the wind blast through the open cockpit. Well anything behind this panel is invisible when the fuselage is assembled. Fortunately this means that the majority of the injector pins on the inside of the fuselage sides can be ignored. You only have to worry about the first three bays of the fuselage. There are molded in bracing wires in all the fuselage bays. I am not skilled enough to paint these without making a mess, so I sanded these off along with a few injector pins in the first three bays, leaving the molded in frame members intact. After painting the interior fabric  a clear doped linen color, the frame members a gray-green primer color (similar to RLM 02), and the sheet metal panels aluminum, (swirled like the outside), I added the bracing wires out of stainless steel wire with the turnbuckles represented by a couple of layers of brass paint.  After this concession to AMS, I built the interior pretty much as called out on the instruction sheet. The E.III has a very sparse cockpit and Battle Axe has provided all the main components. I did find the joystick to be poorly molded and decided it was less work to scratch a new one. I also dispensed with the fuel tank because it is located behind the rear cockpit bulkhead and completely invisible on the finished model. I added control cables of SS wire and some fuel line out of bent brass wire.

 The front decking piece, which gets several interior parts attached to it's underside, has to be sanded down in order to fit. They even make a point of mentioning it in the instructions. To get it right you need to have the front end of the fuselage assembled. I used the cockpit rear bulkhead, the "chin" piece and the firewall piece to align the two fuselage sides. Take come care here and get everything aligned and true or you will build a warp into the fuselage. I left off the bottom and the upper decking until all the interior details were added. In closing up the fuselage you need to take care to keep it all true and fix any gaps or misfits that have occurred. I do suggest priming all the seams, there are over 2 feet of them and you are guaranteed to miss a centimeter or two that won't show up until the paint goes on.


I painted the model a base coat of CDL, (cream to biege representing Clear Doped Linen). I use artist's acrylics mixed with Future unless otherwise mentioned. Next I used a watercolor pencil to shade the rib stations and the places where fuselage framework would shadow a bit under clear doped linen. The pencil marks can be made with a straight edge or free handed giving slightly different effects. After the marks are made it is necessary to buff them a bit with a Q-tip. Use it dry or ever so slightly moist. At this point you are wondering, "Why did I mess up this perfectly nice model." That's OK, the watercolor pencil marks look like crud. The magic happens when you begin misting light coats of CDL over the piece. Do this without building up so much paint that you wet the surface. You will see the marks blur and begin to disappear. Keep misting until you get the effect you are pleased with. Take care to mist evenly and compare the work in hand with already finished portions to keep the effect the same. I painted solid white fields for the wing, rudder and fuselage markings. I masked with Parafilm and sprayed a coat of Future over the mask before applying the white. No runs or paint creepies. The red and black stripes on the fuselage are decal material.

 Now for the reason I have not built an E.III since the 1960s. Fokker cowl squiggles. I tried something I had been thinking about for a while. I painted the aluminum parts a coat of Testor's small bottle aluminum. When this had gotten dry enough to handle, I painted the squiggles with a pointed brush. I used Testos Metalizer, gunmetal flavor, and it turned out to be a bit dark. I recommend titanium or steel. The lacquer based Metalizer flows on and bites into the enamel. This helps in keeping the squiggles from running where they weren't put. Use a half loaded brush or the thin lacquer will run too much onto the surface. The hardest part is to keep the squiggles fairly random. Try not to repeat the same shaped squiggle too much. A couple of coats of Future to seal it and it looks pretty much like the photos.


Attachment of the wings will drive the faint of heart up the wall. I did it the scary way. I whittled the pins molded into the roots of the wing panels and wallered the holes until I got a decent fit. I put a drop of CA on each pin and stuck the wing right on and eyeballed it straight. After the CA set, I ran a tiny bead along the entire joint. This supported the wings well enough until they were rigged. I rig with heat stretched sprue prepainted with Metalizer. On a kingpost braced monoplane like the E.III, I use one wire passing through each wing all the way around for each station. When tightened with heat and secured with a drop of CA at each hole, the wing becomes quite secure. I slipped on Grant Line model RR turnbuckles, four per wire. These I painted a brass color. Try as I might, I cannot paint a light/dark laminated prop, so I stole a Martin Digmayer hand carved prop from a broken model awaiting repair and used that.


The Battle Axe Fokker E.III is a better than average example of a short run, multi-media kit. It also happens to be the only E.III show in 1/32 town. It takes some work and a little determination, but an attractive model can be built from it. The resin engine is a real jewel and the nicest feature of the kit. The decals are top quality and apply very well. While it takes a bit of cleanup, the installation of the main U/C struts makes a strong and stable base for the model. On the down side are the twelve rib wing panels. Since it represents one more little clump of grass in the barren wasteland of 1/32 WWI Aircraft, we are fortunate that this kit builds into an impressive model of the airplane that changed fighter tactics forever.

September 2003


Squadron Fokker Eindeker In Action. # 158

Profile Publications #38

Timely photos from Brad Gossen and Robert Karr of the WWI Modeling List.

Moral support and appropriate heckling from Shane Weier and Ernest Thomas, also of the WWI Modeling List.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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