Wingnut Wings 1/32 Fokker E.III (late)

KIT #: 32048
PRICE: $65.00 SRP includes shipping
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


The Fokker Scourge: 

            In the Spring of 1915, French pilot Roland Garros introduced modern aerial warfare when he appeared over the Western Front with a Morane‑Saulnier Type L Parasol, which was fitted with a forward firing machine gun that used armored deflector plates to protected the propeller from 'serious' bullet damage.  While machine guns had been carried in combat by airplanes as early as 1912 in the Balkans War, the weapon was wielded by a second crewman, and could not be fired along the aircraft's line of flight due to the lack of synchronization to allow the bullet to miss the propeller.  Some aircraft like the Bristol Scout carried a gun offsit to the side, but this created serious aiming difficulties.  The easiest way to shoot down an airplane was to aim one's own at it.  Garros' device did not synchronize the gun, and in fact he was nearly put out of action twice when his propellers were so weakened by hits that they broke.  Nevertheless, he managed to shoot down five enemy aircraft, creating a sensation in the press and leading to the creation of the "ace" pilot. 

             Garros shot himself down on April 18, 1915, and both he and his airplane were captured.  Inspired by this, the Germans set about coming up with their own version.  According to the Great Official Fokker Myth, the head of the Luftstreitkräfte gave 25 year old Anthony Fokker the assignment.  Disgusted by the crudity of Garros' contraption, Fokker created his own interrupter gear in just 48 hours.  As is true with nearly everything involving Anthony Fokker, the truth is quite different. A mechanical interrupter gear had been patented in 1913 by Hans Schneider of LVG.  However, it was not until Fokker perfected it (or more likely stole it like so many of his other "inventions"), or - according to his court testimony - created a similarly inspired design all on his own, that the gear worked reliably enough to be used in combat. Lawsuits filed by Schneider against Fokker continued up until September 1933 when they were resolved in Schneider's favor.  So much for Anthony Fokker and his tenuous-at-best connection to reality.   

            What became the legendary "Fokker Eindekker" was Fokker's unarmed 80hp and 100hp reconnaissance A type Eindeckers, which were "inspired by" a successful pre‑war wing warping Morane‑Saulnier design, but used a welded steel tube frame fuselage developed not by Fokker but by his real designer, Reinhold Platz.  With further development and the fitting of the interrupter gear, the E.I (armed Eindecker 80hp) entered productions and arrived at front line units in June 1915.  The airplane scored its first victory on July 15, 1915, when Leutnant Kurt Wintgens shot down a Farman spotter.  This marked the beginning of "the Fokker Scourge."

            The initial armament was a Parabellum LMG 14, which proved unsatisfactory.  This was soon replaced by the much better lMG 08 'Spandau' machine gun of 7.62mm.  At the same time, the 100hp Oberursel U.1, a license-built 100hp Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine was added to the mix, and this was the E.II, which was produced concurrently with the E.I and  entered service a month after the E.I in July 1915. The E.III was externally identical to the late production E.II and entered production in August 1915, with the updated E.III (late) with internal ammunition storage and a wing mounted compass appeared in October 1915. The 160hp Oberursel U.III powered Fokker E.IV, which was initially fitted with 3 lMG 08 machine guns, which proved to be 1 gun too many, first appeared in September 1915 but did not arrive at the front in numbers until March‑April 1916.

            The French and British were forced to quickly develop an antidote to the Eindekker, and they came up with the first designed-for-the-purposed fighters, the Nieuport 11 and the deHavilland DH.2, both of which were more aerodynamically advanced than the Eindekker with aileron controls that made them far more maneuverable than the Eindekker.  These airplanes began appearing at the front in limited numbers, and by the Spring of 1916 they were present in such numbers that they ended the "Fokker scourge", since in comparison the wing-warping German monoplanes were obsolete. The Eindekker was withdrawn from front line service by December 1916, though they continued to be used on the Eastern Front and by the Austrians for a few months longer.

Max Immelmann:

            Born September 21, 1890 in Dresden Max Immelman joined the Eisenbahnregiment Nr. 2 in 1911, in pursuit of a commission. He left the army in March 1912 to study mechanical engineering in Dresden and returned to service as a reserve officer candidate on the outbreak of war, as a reserve officer candidate assigned to Eisenbahnregiment Nr. 1, but soon transferred to aviation. 

            Immelmann was a pilot with Fliegerabteilung 10 from February to April 1915, and then in Flg Abt 62. He engaged in combat on several occasions while flying L.V.G. two seaters, but achieved no success.  He was shot down on June 3, 1915,  by a French pilot but managed to land safely behind German lines; he was awarded the Iron Cross, Second Class for preserving his aircraft.

            Two very early versions of the Fokker Eindekker were delivered to the unit in June, one Fokker M.5K/MG production prototype numbered E.3/15 for Oswald Boelcke's use, while  Immelmann receiving E.13/15 as a production Fokker E.I.  Flying the E.13/15 aircraft,  he gained his first confirmed air victory on August 1, 1915, two weeks after Leutnant Kurt Wintgens obtained the very first confirmed German victory on July 15, 1915 with Fokker M.5K/MG production prototype E.5/15.

            As Immelmann remembered his first successful combat, flown against Lieutenant William Reid, RFC, "Like a hawk, I dived and fired my machine gun. For a moment, I believed I would fly right into him. I had fired about 60 shots when my gun jammed. That was awkward, for to clear the jam I needed both hands ‑ I had to fly completely without hands... "

            Reid fought back, flying with his left hand and firing a pistol with his right. Nonetheless, Immelmann's 450 bullets had their effect: Reid was wounded four times in his left arm, and his engine quit, causing a crash. The unarmed Immelmann landed nearby, took Reid prisoner, and rendered first aid.

            Immelmann quickly built an impressive score, with three more victories in September.  In October he eas the sole air defense of the city of Lille, where he became known as Der Adler von Lille (The Eagle of Lille), gaining two more victories at this time to become the first German ace. 

            Immelmann and Oswald Boelcke traded the position of Germany's leading ace.  Boelcke six and became the first to be awarded the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern.  Immelmann was second when he scored six; on December 15 he scored number seven.  On January 12, 1916, the day of his eighth victory, he became the first pilot awarded the Pour le Mérite, Germany's highest military honor, which became unofficially known as the "Blue Max" in the Luftstreitkräfte in his honor.  He and Boelke were both awarded the medal by the Kaiser in a special ceremony. 

            The two aces were even on March 13,at 11 each; Immelmann lost the lead on the 19th, regained it on Easter Sunday 14 to 13, and lost it forever on  May 1 when Boelcke scored 2 and went to 15, scoring another the next day.  On April 25, 1916, Immelmann attacked two RFC D.H.2s; he described the fight "The two worked splendidly together...and put 11 shots into my machine. The petrol tank, the struts on the fuselage, the undercarriage and the propeller were hit... It was not a nice business." Air combat was changing.

            On May 31, Immelmann nearly died when his synchronzing gear malfunctioned during a fight and a stream of bullets cut off the tip of a propeller blade. The unbalanced air screw nearly shook the engine loose from its mounts before he could cut the ignition and glide to a dead‑stick landing.

            In the late afternoon of June 18, 1916, Immelmann led a flight of four Eindekkers in search of a flight of eight F.E.2b's of 25 Squadron over Sallaumines. The British had just crossed the lines near Arras when Immelmann intercepted them. After a long‑running fight over an area of some 30 square miles, Immelmann shot down one F.E., wounding both the pilot and observer, for his 16th victory.  Later that same evening, flying Fokker E.III 246/16, Immelmann encountered 25 Squadron again near the village of Lentz. He got off a burst which hit the pilot of one of the F.E.s, killing him instantly, for his 17th victory. The crew of the second F.E. was piloted by Second Lieutenant G.R. McCubbin with Corporal J. H. Waller as gunner/observer, who shot Immelmann down with his Lewis Gun.  Minutes later, Max Ritter von Mulzer downed McCubbin and Waller, who managed to crash on their side of the lines.

            On the German side, Immelmann been proclaimed invincible and most could not believe he had fallen to enemy fire. The British McCubbin the Distinguished Service Order, with the Distinguished Service Medal and Sergeant's stripes for Waller. Many Germans claimed Immelmann shot off his propeller again, but this does not fit the facts of the event.

            Immelmann is immortalized in aviation for developing "the Immelmann," a manuever in which a pilot dives, zooms up into the beginning of a loop, then rolls upright at the top, in position again for another attack.  This is not an easy maneuver to do properly (I speak from experience), and doing it in an underpowered airplane with extremely poor lateral control like the Eindekker makes it even more of an achievement.


             This is one of Wingnut Wings most recent releases, and is done as a series, with a kit for the E.I/E.II released as a "dogfight double" with the Airco D.H.2, and this kit of the late production E.III.

             The model has the least number of parts of any Wingnut kit, which recognizes the overall simplicity of the Eindekker's design.  A full cockpit, a highly-detailed Oberursel rotary, and a choice of weapons and propellers is provided, with decals by Cartograf for aircraft flown at one time or another by Ernst Udet and Manfred von Richtofen, two Austrian Flying Corps airplanes, and the E.III Immelmann was flying when he was killed.

             While everyone has always "known" that Eindekkers were in Clear Doped Linen, I will quote from the WNW instructions about colors:

             "It appears that the Fokker Eindecker steel tube framework and fittings were painted in grey‑green while all aluminium panels and cowls remained unpainted and were given a 'squiggly turned' finish. Despite conventional wisdom, photographic evidence indicates that no Fokker Eindeckers were factory finished in Clear Doped Linen. Contemporary allied combat reports record Fokker Eindecker colours such as "dark brown", "dark brown wings on the upper side", "grey", "straw yellow", "white", "black" and "butcher blue". A French report mentions that "the fabric of the Fokker wings was generally beige in 1916" while capture reports of later production E.III 196/16 and E.III 210/16 simply mention "beige". It is possible that "beige" and "straw yellow" are actually same colour and "white" and "black" may refer to misidentified Pfalz Eindeckers. It would appear that the linen covering was dyed, possibly before being fitted to the aircraft, or colour doped after being attached but before being finished with clear shrinking dope and varnish. Most Fokker Eindeckers exhibit heavy caster oil staining along their fuselages which soaked through the fabric from the inside, considerably darkening the coloured fabric."


            This is quite an easy model to assemble, if you commit the radical and revolutionary act of Following The Instructions.  As is usual, I painted all parts on the sprue trees before assembly, per the instructions.

             The cockpit is an easy assembly, and includes behind it a box that is the secret to how the model goes together, since this box holds the one piece wings in position.  I painted the fuselage, wings, landing gear and elevators separately before assembly.

             Several modelers have said they think the wings sag.  If you assemble the wings and leave the model upright while they are setting up, it's very likely this will happen.  If you turn it over upside down and let it set up overnight, gravity is your friend and the wings will not sag.

             I used Tamiya RLM02 as the instructions suggest, lightening it a bit with light grey, to create the "Fokker Green" that everything was painted.  I did preshade the wings and the fuselage to give the sense if "depth" inside, using flat black and then applying the RLM02 with repeated misted coats of paint thinned 50-50.

            The "machined" aluminum is easy to do: brush paint the surface with Tamiya "Flat Aluminum," then do "squiggles" with Tamiya "Chrome Silver" over that.  Voila!  The "machined look."

             After applying the decals, I liberally coated the model with Tamiya "smoke" to represent castor oil.  As Javier Arango, owner of the largest World War I air force on the North American continent pointed out to me a few years ago, rotary engines throw oil everywhere.  So the fuselage, the inner wings and the elevators were all brush painted with thinned "Smoke" to give this effect.

            Rigging was done with .010 wire, which greatly strengthens the airframe.


             You can't go wrong with a Wingnut Wings kit.  This Eindekker is an important addition to any collection of historical aircraft.  I was surprised to realize how much bigger it is than either the Nieuport 11 or the D.H.2 when I set it down next to its enemies.  It is about 2/3 the size of the F.e.2b!

             This would be a good first rigged World War I airplane for a modeler entering the genre.  It's much easier to build and rig than you might expect.  Highly recommended.

Tom Cleaver

 Thanks to Wingnut Wings for the review copy.

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