RS Models 1/48 Fokker
Scott Van Aken
Short run with photo etch parts
The Fokker D.XXIII was designed as a twin-engined
single-seat aircraft. To overcome the problems of asymmetric flight it
had a tractor engine at the front and a pusher engine at the rear. The
D.XXIII was a cantilever monoplane with the twin tail units on booms.
The pilot had an enclosed cockpit in between the tractor and pusher
engines and it had a retractable tricycle landing gear.
The prototype first flew on 30 May 1939
powered by two Walter Sagitta I-SR liquid cooled vee piston engines. The
trial flights identified problems with the cooling of the rear engine
and general engine performance. It was proposed to use Rolls-Royce or
Daimler-Benz engines in the production aircraft. Concerns were also
raised about the pilot clearing the rear propeller if he had to bail out
and an ejector seat was studied. The programme was abandoned in May 1940
when the German forces invaded the Netherlands. The lone prototype had
flown a total of four hours in the year since its initial flight.
of you with better memories that most, will recall that RS Models produced this
kit in 1/72 scale a short while back. They chose this kit to begin their foray
into 1/48 scale and picked a rather neat subject for that. I can only assume
that their 1/72 kit sold well. The kit comes with two large sprues of grey
plastic with very nicely molded parts. There are not any rivets and what panel
line detail is there is crisply formed. You will find the several parts have
ejector towers on the inside of them and in some cases, these will need to be
removed to get the parts to fit properly.
A photo etch
fret is included that is mercifully brief. It contains parts for the seat
harness and for the roll over bar assembly behind the pilot which contains some
sort of gizmo that I couldn't identify. The clear sprue includes a single-piece
canopy and six formation lights for the fins.
The cockpit is well appointed with the usual bits
such as seat, control column, rudder pedals and instrument panels. These panels
have raised detail. A decal would have been nice, but one will just have to
paint it. This all fits atop the nose gear well piece. Sidewalls are included
and have some detail to add to them, such as the throttle quadrant. One will
need to install the exhaust stubs prior to closing the fuselage halves. There is
a section of inverted vee engine to place behind the forward cowoling piece
which will eat up some of the room you'll need for nose weight as I can see this
being a major tail sitter. No indication of how much weight is needed is
Wings consist of a one-piece lower section and two
upper halves. Main gear wells are molded into the lower wing. Aileron control
rods are provided. None of the control surfaces are separate. There are ledges
on the back of the boom roots on the wings over which the tail booms will be
placed. The horizontal stabilizer is two halves and also has a control rod
piece. The kit includes two piece main wheels, the struts and all the various
retraction struts needed as well as gear door struts.
Nose gear has a split fork into which one plces the
nose wheel. Nose wheel is also in two pieces. There are some little bits that
stick down from the lower wing which could be shell ejector chutes, but with
only one gun per wing it seems odd that these are there. The two props each have
spinners with the rear one being much more pointed as on the Do-335.
Instructions are well drawn and provide generic color
references. It also includes some detail drawings, particularly helpful when it
comes the landing gear as the main wheels are quite toed in. Markings are for
the single prototype in two stages of its life. Both have the same camouflage
scheme and just differ in markings. The full color painting and marking guide
provide FS 595 color references, though I don't think there are any premixed
paints with these shades. The decals are quite nicely done and in register. I'm
sure most will choose the box art plane as it is very much more colorful.
This is a short run kit and as such, one will have to remove some rather
invasive sprue attachment points on most pieces prior to assembly. There are
also ejector towers to be dealt with and while some are innocuous, some will
require considerable care in removal.
My initial step after cleaning up parts was to paint cockpit bits, wheels
wells and inner gear doors with aluminum. Then I started assembling the
booms and the wheels. The interior had its inner side walls attached and the
aft bulkhead. On the cockpit floor, the rudder pedals and ramps were glued
on. These ramps appear to be higher vertically in the instructions, but on
one side of them are xxxx marks that show what side is to be glued. These
need to be thinned down a bit or the rudder pedal pieces will not fit. There
is no exact placement marks so just glue them where they look right. In
between these fits the control column. With this done and the details
painted, it was set aside.
I then attached the etched belts to the seat. These are commendably thin so
can be twisted around if one desires. Next bit was the fuel tank and
whatever the gizmo is atop it. The platform for this is the other photo etch
piece that is on the fret. Note that in the case of this, the actual
platform is a lot more splayed than shown in the instructions. The
horizontal stab and its actuator piece was also assembled. Back to the
interior, the fire bottle and small instrument panel were glued in place. I
then attached the bulkhead to the back of the cockpit floor piece. To be
sure this was properly aligned, it and the cockpit floor were glued to the
right side and the left side taped on. When dry, the fuel tank assembly was
similarly attached along with the aft bulkhead.
Moving to the front, the forward cowling piece and the small engine bit were
glued on along with the lower section. In all the cases mentioned, one has
to test fit things multiple times to be sure all will fit properly. I also
glued in the exhaust stub pieces. Note that these need to be trimmed to fit
I then taped the booms, horizontal stab, wings and fuselage bits together to
see how much weight I'd need. The area is quite cramped so one has to be
inventive. It turned out that 17 grams seems to be enough, but we'll see.
With the weights installed, I kept the fuselage halves taped and test fit
the forward cowling/engine piece. It seems that the engine bit would not fit
all the way because it bumped up against some of the weights. Unfortunately,
one cannot get lead weights as easily as it used to be, these things now
being made of iron. Iron cannot be easily cut or bent so the only choice was
to sand the snot out of the outside of the engine bit. Thanks to Blap's
Super Sanding Blocks, this was a fairly easy task and finally it got to
where it fit.
The fuselage halves were glued together after the instrument panel was
installed. Once that was cleaned up, I attached the lower wing. This did not
fit well, being too long for the opening. I sanded down the rear fuselage at
the join area to get it to fit using the sanding blocks. On the front, the
indentation for the nose gear well did not go back far enough. To take care
of this, I sanded down the mating surface of the nose gear well until I
could finally get the lower wing to fit flush. Once dry, the upper wings
were attached. Fit on those at the wing root is not all that good and I
needed filler there and on several other spots on the wing.
I had similar fit issues with the tail booms as they were smaller than the
area on the fuselage to which they were attached. Fortunately, the blocks
came to the rescue again and allowed me to reduce this mismatch. It isn't
really all that great, but you definitely feel it running your hand over the
join area. Thankfully, the plane is mostly wood so there are not many panel
lines that get wiped out during this situation. The horizontal stab was then
attached as was the canopy. The fit of the canopy is not all that good. One
issue is that it is too narrow and the interior bits near it keep it from
fitting low enough. Again, standing will cure this, but not the narrowness
of the canopy or the need to do trimming where it fits and fill gaps.
Eventually that was done and the canopy masked. I also drilled out the holes
for the wing boom guns and the pitot tube. Then the front piece was
attached. It is difficult to fill and sand the mismatch here as it would be
really easy to sand down the short exhaust stubs. The lower radiator piece
was then installed. This really needs to be done before attaching the wing
or you will be like me and end up hacking away at it to get it installed.
I then filled the already painted gear wells with silly putty and gave the
airframe a nice coat of Tamiya extra fine primer. There are not any readily
available paints that match the Dutch colors of the time so I had to look
around what I already have to see what was available. I did find a very old
bottle of Gunze Cocoa
Brown that looked the part for the underside and part
of the upper colors so that was sprayed on first. Then I sprayed on the tan
and for this I used another Gunze paint, while the green was FS 34102 from
Testors. There was a lot of back and forth painting as you can imagine.
Perhaps masking this would have been better, but it turned out just fine.
Next step before applying the decals was to glue in the landing gear. The
attachment points are small, but once in place, the fit is good. Thanks to
the weight required, the gear is pretty wobbly. I glued on the wheels. Note
that the main wheels are angled and not straight up and down. The gear doors
were a bit of a task. The nose gear doors were too short, thanks to the
aforementioned situation regarding the gear well and getting the wing
installed. But since the hinges are at the outer edges of these doors, you
cannot simply cut them down. I also think the main gear legs might be a bit
long as the outer gear doors have a goodly gap between them and the airframe
when properly installed. Should you consider trimming these down, be advised
that the retraction struts will then be too long and will need trimmed as
well. Despite all the weight, the plane will easily sit on its tail.
The airframe was gloss coated and the decals applied. The decals are very
thin to the point that they are a bit difficult to work with. I had to be
sure that there was plenty of water under them when sliding them off
backing. They also would tear very easily and the white is not as opaque as
one would hope. However, you are not going to find aftermarket for this one
so you'll have to use what is available.
With the markings on, the airframe was given a matte clear coat. Then
various other bits were attached, including the gun barrels, inner main gear
doors and pistons, pitot tube, and the little clear lenses on the fin. I
found that painting the exhaust stacks was a challenge as they are so short.
The props were built up. The front spinner cracked when I pushed it in place
and the spinner backing discs do not fit well at all. These were then pushed
onto the airframe, the masking removed from the canopy and a bit of exhaust
staining was added.
This was not an easy build. There are a number of
areas where one has to do quite a bit of work to get parts to fit properly, but
it is what one expects when one builds short run kits. If they did not have
dodgy fit, they wouldn't be short run and most of us know this going into them.
Despite all the issues, the end result is a nice looking model of a one-off
My thanks to, well, me for providing this kit
and getting it on sale.
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