Eduard 1/48 Fokker Dr.I

KIT #: 8161
PRICE: $39.95 SRP
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Dual Combo kit with two aircraft.


             The Fokker Dr.I Triplane is easily the most-recognizable airplane of the First World War.  People who know nothing else about First World War aviation know what a Fokker Triplane is. 

            The Triplane is also easily the first “celebutante” airplane, being mostly famous for being famous.  The airplane was the result of Idflieg - the German Air Force high command - being bowled over by the performance of the Sopwith Triplane, which had appeared over the Western Front in March 1917 and proven itself one of the best Allied fighters during “Bloody April.”  This was not unlike the hoorah in German air Force circles the year before after the appearance of the Nieuport sesquiplane fighter, which resulted in the Albatros series losing their excellent biplane design for replacement by the aerodynamically-weak sesquiplane layout.

            By the summer of 1917, when Idflieg was actively soliciting detailed project submissions from the German aircraft industry, the “Tripehound” was already leaving British service, since the tactics of the air war were changing so that a relatively slow - even if highly-maneuverable - fighter was now outclassed by contemporary designs like the SPAD series, the S.E.5 or the Sopwith Camel.

            Even so, the war in the air was still such that a lightly-loaded triplane fighter like the Sopwith could have been a solid performer as late as the fall of 1917.

            Unfortunately for the Dr.I, the airplanes were all grounded at that time due to Fokker’s notoriously shoddy quality control in the factory.  By the time the Fokker Triplane was finally cleared for unlimited service in January 1918, the day of such a dogfighter was past.  The Triplane could outmaneuver its enemies, but it could neither catch them nor outrun them, the new tactic for fighters, nor could it fly well at the altitudes where air combat was now taking place.

            The Triplane is primarily famous for being flown by famous German pilots.  During the first six months of 1918, it was nearly the only German fighter not completely outclassed by their opponents, which is not much of a recommendation. This is why so much effort was expended on the First Fighter Competition and in getting the Fokker D.VII into widescale production.  After May 1918, as the D.VII became progressively more available, the Dr.I disappeared from the front.

            Interestingly enough, aeronautical experts have now shown that the Dr.I was an inferior triplane design to the Sopwith.  Unlike the British fighter, which had small ailerons on each wing, the Dr.I had large ailerons on the upper wing only.  Thus, aerodynamically, the Sopwith’s wings were all working together while the Dr.I was dragging two wings that wanted to fly straight and level while fighting increased adverse aileron yaw from the larger ailerons.

            Nevertheless, despite its failings, the fact is that the Dr.I is the most famous airplane of the First World War.  It is an interesting, distinctive-looking airplane, and all those famous pilots made sure each flew one that looked different from everyone else, so there is a plethora of marking possibilities.

            Following the success of JagdGeschwader 1, formed from Jastas 4, 6, 10, and 11 in June 1917 under the command of Manfred von Richtofen, two additional JagdGeschwadern - II and III - were formed in February 1918 for participation in Operation Michael, the German offensive that began in March 1918 with the goal of ending the war.  JG II was initially under the command of Hauptmann Adolph von Tutschek, commander of Jasta 12. Von Tutschek was killed in action on march 15, 1918, and his place was taken by the “Iron Man,” Hauptmann Rudolph Berthold.  JG II would oppose both the RAF and the fledgling United States Air Service during the great air battles at the end of the war.  JG II would also be the last first-line unit to use the Fokker Dr.I on the Western Front. 


            The Fokker Triplane was an early candidate for production as plastic models began, and was - if I remember correctly - the first or second release by Aurora when that company began producing World War I models in the mid-Fifties.  Revell released a 1/28 Triplane that is still available and still makes up into an excellent model out of the box, that can be made better by a modeler willing to expend a bit of extra effort.  The Aurora kit wasn’t replaced until Dragon brought out their 1/48 Dr.I in 1990.  This kit has the “fatal flaw” (which most modelers can cure with about 45 minutes of effort with a sanding stick) of an incorrect representation of the lower wing fabric surface.  Past that, it is still a good model, other than for the fact it has now been out of production long enough to command collector’s prices that keep it from being built that often.

            The new Eduard kit is truly state of the art.  Eduard has decided to do kits of airplanes that have previously been released by other manufacturers, but to produce something that is “definitive.”  This kit meets that standard. 

            All plastic detail parts are extremely petite.  The airframe itself is nicely done with a realistic fabric representation.  Trailing edges of wings are nice and sharp.  The cockpit is well-detailed and those plastic parts are set off by great photoetch parts.  The kit includes the correct horizontal stabilizer and early-production ailerons to allow a modeler to do the F.1 production prototypes. 

            Decals are provided for no less than six different famous airplanes, most of which have never been done before by anyone (other than the famous “Kempf” triplane) with a separate sheet of stencils.

Aftermarket Decals:

            One of the great stumbling blocks to successful Fokker Triplane modeling for many modelers has been to get an acceptable “streaky” camouflage; even for people who have done this scheme many times, it’s always something of a hit-and-miss affair, and I have yet to run across any WW1 modeler who has been completely satisfied with their re-creation of this scheme.   This past spring, two aftermarket decal suppliers - Gunsight Graphics and Microsculpt Decals both came out with decal sheets that allow a modeler to create the streaky camo without having to paint it.  The two sheets are very different in look as well as underlying philosophy.

                        The Gunsight Graphics sheet provides two large strips of decal, with the modeler required to bring to the project knowledge of the differing “streak angles” associated with the wings, ailerons, fuselage top and sides, horizontal stabilizer and elevators - all of which were painted at different angles prior to final assembly.  This method of printing allows a modeler to end up creating as many as three and possibly four triplanes, depending on how much streaky camo is applied to each.

            The Microsculpt Decal sheet differs by providing sheets of decal for each different sub-assembly; with the streaks printed at the appropriate angle for each part. This considerably eases things for someone who is new to the Triplane.  Again, depending on how much of the model has streaky camo applied, one could do as many as three different airplanes with this sheet.

            Artistically, the two sheets differ in that the Gunsight Graphics sheet is more dense in terms of color, while the Microsculpt sheet is less dense.  As to which is more accurate, there is photographic evidence to support both.  As regards the color on a model, “scale effect” does work to the advantage of the Microsculpt sheet if one is doing a model with the majority of the surfaces in this pattern.

            There is additional good news that Microsculpt Decals is going to release this sheet in 1/72 and 1/32 (as is Gunsight Graphics. Ed).  Given the availability of the very nice Eduard 1/72 Triplane and the awesome Roden 1/32 kit, this is welcome news indeed.  

            As regards markings, the kit decals are very complete and accurate, and provide six well-known aircraft.  While there have been other aftermarket sheets for the Dr.I produced over the years, notably by MicroScale, SuperScale and Aeromaster, these are now all out of production and available only from collectors and dealers.  There is however a new decal maker that has come along to fill the void.

            Pheon Decals has just released “Fokker Dr.Is of JG II” (48-003), which provides markings for an astounding 30 airplanes, nearly every identified Dr.I ever flown by a Jasta of JagdGeschwader II.  If you as a modeler are tired of models in markings that have been “done to death,” this is the sheet for you.  The research is top-notch, with a booklet explaining the particulars of each airplane, and full-color side and top profiles.  The decals are superbly printed with perfect register and in my experience go on the model without the slightest difficulty.

            The good news here is that Pheon has also released this sheet in 1/72 and in 1/32 scale.

            With all these decals, I decided to do both kits simultaneously, using the different camo sheets, for a direct comparison.  I chose to do one as an airplane of Jasta 13 of JG II, and one as the triplane flown by Herman Becker of Jasta 12, the last German pilot to win the Blue Max (which he never received due to the abdication of the Kaiser two days before the ceremony was scheduled)


            If you’re going to camouflage your model, there is a very specific construction sequence you have to follow.  The wings are assembled and set aside, then the fuselage is assembled and set aside.  None of the sub-assemblies go together until after the model has been painted and decaled.

            Assembly of the wings of this kit present no problem.  Unlike the inaccurate wings of the old Dragon kit, the fabric effect on the lower wings is shown right, so there is no worrying about sanding things down before assembly.

            The cockpit is beautifully detailed with delicate plastic parts and very useful photoetch details.  I painted the triangular wooden formers in each fuselage side with a light brown, over which I drybrushed some dark brown for a “wood grain” effect.  This isn’t all that noticeable when the model is assembled, so if you just paint those light brown and the rest of the fuselage sides with Tamiya “Buff” for fabric, you’ll be fine. The floorboard was done similarly to the side formers.  The metal fuselage structure was painted with Xtracrylix RLM 62 Green.  There is a lot of debate about what color “Fokker Green” was; some say it was really just the standard RLM02 Grey-Green, a color in use by the German military since the late 18th Century, others say it was more green.  Looking at the green in the color profiles from Pheon, I decided that RLM 62 Green looked good (and no one can conclusively prove me wrong!).  Once all was painted, I assembled the cockpit, attached the photo-etch seatbelts, and glued the fuselage together without problem.  I used a little cyanoacrylate glue to be sure I didn’t have a seam on the turtleback, and glued in the separate lacing on the lower fuselage.



            Since I was doing both kits at once, so that I could test out the differing streak camo decals, the two models were painted as follows:

             The Jasta 13 airplane was first painted white for the insignia backing area on the upper wings and the rudder, while the Becker airplane was painted black in those areas, with the cowling painted white.  The rest of the wings and the lower surfaces of the fuselages of both models were painted with Xtracrylix RLM65 Hellblau (which most think a good substitute for “Turquoise Blue” on these airplanes), with the Jasta 13 airplane also painted this color on the lower surfaces of the horizontal stabilizer and elevators.  The upper surfaces of the wings of both kits and the fuselage of the Becker airplane painted with Tamiya “Buff” to simulate fabric.  The fuselage of the Jasta 13 airplane and its horizontal stabilizer and elevators were painted a mixture of “Prussian Blue” that matched the color on the Pheon color profile.  The cowling of this airplane was painted Tamiya “Park Green.”  The metal fairing pieces that go over the center wing were painted RLM 62 Green for both models.  The axle wing of the Becker airplane was painted overall RLM 62 Green, while the other was painted RLM 62 on the upper surface and RLM 65 on the lower.  The wheels of both were painted RLM 62 Green.

             Both models were given a coat of Future prior to applying decals.


             The Streaky Camo decals went on without problem.  I traced the outline of the kit part on the back of the decal and cut accordingly.  The decals slid onto the surfaces  without trouble and snugged down under a coat of Micro-Sol.

             The Pheon decals went on flawlessly and also snuggled down under a coat of Micro-Sol.

           When everything was dry, all parts were given a coat of Xtracrylix Satin varnish


             I attached the lower wings of both kits to their respective fuselages, then applied Tamiya “Smoke” with a brush on the undersurface for engine oil stain, and applied mud streaks to the lower wing and to the wheels with the Tamiya Weathering system.

             Following Eduard’s very clear instructions, assembling the kits presented no problems at all, with all parts fitting as they should.

            Readers with a discerning eye will note neither model has been rigged.  That’s because I have a more important project from my other life as a screenwriter going on now, and did not have the time at present to finish that part of the projects if I was going to satisfy everyone about getting the decals reviewed.


             The Fokker Triplane may not have been the terror its mythology endows it with in reality, but it is definitely the most-recognizable and best-known World War I airplane.  Eduard’s double combo allows a modeler to do two different variants, with a kit that is easy enough it can be recommended without hesitation as a “first WW1 model” to any modeler.  The Gunsight Graphics and Microsculpt Decals streaky camo resulted in the best-looking triplanes I have ever done.  The Pheon decals allow models of airplanes that haven’t been seen before.  With all these decals left over, I have a feeling I haven’t seen my last Dual Combo kit.

             Did I mention there are TWO complete kits?  With two kits and enough decals to do both differently, this is a real bargain at an MSRP of $39.95.  There is no World War I modeler alive who can resist two perfect Dr.I kits for a price less than the Dragon kit on eBay.  Highly recommended.

Thanks to Eduard for the review kits.

Thanks to  for their streaked camo sheet

Thanks to Gunsight Graphics via your editor for their Streaked Camo sheet.

Tom Cleaver

September 2009

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

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page