Classic Airframes 1/48 Fokker D.XXI
KIT #: 4150
PRICE: $48.00 MSRP - $38.35 from GreatModels
DECALS: four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run with resin and photo etch parts



The Luchtvaartafdeeling (Dutch Army Air Force before World War II) placed an order of 36 aircraft, which were all delivered in time to participate in the war against the Germans in May 1940. The Fokker D.XXI, although much slower and more lightly armed than the Bf 109, performed surprisingly well in dogfights, due to its maneuverability. Nonetheless, the numerical disparity of the Luchtvaartafdeeling compared to the Luftwaffe resulted in the destruction of most Dutch Fokker D.XXI fighters during the campaign. Some were captured during and after May 15th, but their fates, apart from their capture, are unknown.

The Fokker D.XXI performed better and for much longer in the Finnish Air Force, which had acquired a number of licence-built fighters prior to the start of the Winter War. Against the aircraft of the Soviet Air Force, the Fokker was more evenly matched, and its rugged design with a radial engine and fixed undercarriage made it very suitable for Finnish conditions. Later in the war, as newer models of Soviet fighters appeared, the Fokker D.XXI was underpowered and too lightly armed (with only four .30 caliber machine guns) to compete. Plans to arm the Fokkers with 20 mm cannons were dropped and only one fighter was armed as such (two 20 mm cannons and two .30 machine guns). Another fighter was equipped with retractable landing gear, but due to bad performance, wasn't continued in the series. During the Continuation War (1941-44) the Finnish State Aircraft Factory (Valtion Lentokonetehdas, VL) also built some fifty D.XXIs with the Swedish-built Pratt & Whitney R-1535 Twin Wasp Junior as the Bristol Mercury was in short supply. These can be identified by their longer cockpit glazing, smooth cowl, and large ventral air intake under the cowl.

Several Finnish Air Force pilots became fighter aces on Fokker D.XXI, top scoring Fokker ace being Jorma Sarvanto with 12 5/6 victories. Many other aces scored at least one victory on Fokker. The highest scoring airframe is FK-110, with 10 victories, which survived the war, and is on display at Central Finland Aviation Museum.

If I'm not wrong, this aircraft was Classic Airframes' first short run kit. Back then, the moldings were cruder, there was a LOT more photo etch and all the clear bits were vacuformed plastic. Still, it was a very popular kit and after production ceased, there was a heavy secondary market for these. That kit sold for the nearly unheard of price of about $25, yet modelers snapped them up.

Of course, molding technology has improved, even for short run kits in the time that has passed since then. As you know, Classic Airframes contracts out their kits and most of that goes to MPM in the Czech Republic.
 Many of you have built MPM kits and know what to expect from them. You also know how much they have improved over the years. Not as much as Eduard, but they are still generally well done, though still short run kits. This particular one comes on four grey plastic sprues with one clear sprue for the single piece canopy, a small photo etch fret and a small bag of resin, which contains mostly engine parts. A look at the sprues shows that there are a number of parts that won't be used when building this boxing. Alternate landing gear, horizontal stabs, engine cowling and other pieces are crossed off the parts layout to be used in the inevitable Danish and Finnish boxings. In terms of the quality of the molding, it is quite good. The fabric presentation is subdued and the panel lines that exist are crisply molded. My sample did suffer from some mold mis-alignment, which isn't a major deal were it not for the sprue that suffered the most was the one with the interior framework. There was also a bit of flash here and there, but nothing major.

It is the interior that has gotten the biggest boost. As mentioned, one builds up the framework and places the various interior bits within. If you have build the Mirage PZL P.11 then you've experienced this. It makes for a lot of parts cleanup, but also should look great when done. A lot of photo etch is used here for the harness and other small interior bits. Surprisingly, the instrument panel is injected plastic, a bit of a change from the norm, where this is usually etched with separate instruments on an acetate sheet. About half of the construction of this kit will center around this interior and framework. Another large portion of the work will be in assembling the engine with its separate cylinders and intake/exhaust lines.

The external airframe will get the rest of the photo etch and resin for the usual 'fiddly bits'. Some measurement will be required to install the wing guns. I am pleased to see a one-piece prop as spinner-less props with separate hubs and blades are an abomination that needs to be wiped off the face of the earth.

Instructions are well drawn and provide generic color references. There are markings for four nearly identically painted planes as shown on the box art. One is in the early scheme of insignia from 1938, two are in the later orange triangle scheme and a fourth is in a mixture. There are optional aircraft numbers provided for the first scheme. The sheet is well printed by Cartograf, which is apparently doing a booming business as you see their work in kits from all over the place. No references are given, but I'd bet that some of this information came from one of the superb Dutch Profile books.

So there you have it. Seems like we have come back to square one in regards to this kit. By the look of things, this will be a much better build as the technology has improved so much over the years. The D.XXI has been a favorite of many and I'm sure this one will be well received.


January 2009

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