Encore 1/32 Fokker F.1 Dreidekker "Voss"

KIT #: 32003
PRICE: $69.99 MSRP
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Roden kit with a ton of goodies



In the middle of 1917 the tide of battle in the skies over the Western Front turned again, and not in Germany's favor. Albatros and Pfalz fighters found themselves unable to put up effective resistance against Allied planes of the latest design. In particular, the new Sopwith Triplane impressed the Germans, a plane that was winning many air battles for the British in the summer of 1917. German aces gave the plane due respect and warned the High Command it had the upper hand over their Albatross and Pfalz machines, surpassing them entirely in maneuverability and climb rate.

One of the British Triplanes was brought down intact by the Germans, and thoroughly examined. Air Force Inspection (Idflieg) soon placed an order for a similar triplane. Among all the various designs proposed by key manufacturers, Fokker's V4 project possessed the best specifications. The aircraft would soon be known as the Fokker Dr.I, and it became an iconic image of WWI.
In August 1917, two prototypes were placed at the disposal of Manfred von Richthofen andКWerner Voss, serving with the elite unit JG1. In October 1917, production examples were delivered to the front.

The Fokker Dr.I's compound structure consisted of a cable-braced steel tube fuselage, and cantilever wings with wooden ribs and single main box spar, all covered by fabric and plywood panels. All this made the construction very light in weight. The machine was equipped with a standard 110 h.p. Oberursel URII air-cooled engine, enabling the aircraft to demonstrate excellent flying qualities. The Fokker Dr.I was not especially fast, but its maneuverability, due to its small dimensions, was considered unequaled at that time.

Because of defects in the upper wing, several Dr I crashed during both combat and non-combat flights. It was not easy to fly the aircraft, and inexperienced pilots were rather afraid to try; however, combat experience proved that it could be a formidable weapon if flown by an expert pilot, and it was sometimes flown in combat against several enemy aircraft at once. Manfred von Richthofen, Ernst Udet, Josef Carl Jacobs, Erich Loewenhandt and other famous German aces proved that the Triplane had no equal in close-quarter combat. Even after the well known 'best of the best', Fokker D.VII was added to the German arsenal, notable aces continued to use it in special cases. At the end of the war, though the fame of the Fokker D.VII was at its peak, a few Fokker Dr.I were still serving.

320 Fokker Dr.I were produced, and of course it was a small number to put up against the Allied Air Armada. Nevertheless, this distinctive machine went down in history as one the most maneuverable aircraft of the War, and as the famous mount of the Red Baron.

As you know, the current Encore line has concentrated on picking very nicely done kits and adding all the goodies to them as well as some extra bits. This is the Roden kit and as such, the parts are very well molded, the 'hills and valleys' of the fabric surfaces have been kept to a minimum. No sink areas (that I could initially find), and the few ejector pin marks will be invisible once the model is complete. There is a tad of flash on some of the thinner parts like the interior frame work. In fact, cleaning up all the detail bits will probably be one of the more time-consuming facets of building this kit.

Detail is very nicely done with some rather finely molded parts like the interior framework, rudder pedals and control stick, machine guns and the engine. The engine itself is built of two halves with separate manifold and individual valve covers for each cylinder. Ailerons are separate pieces and each of the wings has a separate end cap. Some folks like that and some do not. I'm ambivalent about it as I have little trouble filling in wing tip seams. There are some parts that are not used in this boxing. One is the narrower horizontal stabs and elevators. There are also additional ailerons, while another is a different prop and finally, a set of machine guns that have no cooling jacket. This is for those of you who have etched cooling jackets that you might want to use. Though the Dr.I was not that widely used and lasted in front line service only a short time, it was used by a number of Jastas and so there are a wide variety of colors that could be used.

Since this is a preproduction version of the triplane, the F.1, it differs in a few way from the standard aircraft. Specifically, the ailerons, horizontal stabs, rudder and engine cowling are different and these are represented by superbly molded resin replacement parts. Also a replacement is the upper deck area to provide the differences shown there. As resin offers a greater amount of detail over plastic in most cases, there is a new engine provided. The kit also includes a photo etch fret or two with the interior fret in full color. This is for instruments and pilot harness. A larger fret supplies additional interior bracing, machine gun jackets, linkages, engine ignition bits, a lower plate for behind the engine, reinforcement strips and a bunch of other small items. Of course, the kit can be built without these items, but they are provided for those who wish to all the extra detail.  As an extra bonus, there is a 1/32 resin figure of Werner Voss to add to your display.

The instructions are among the best in the business with color assembly guides and excellent illustrations. These show any optional assemblies and provide a number of construction notes. A separate photo-etch assembly guide is provided so you can preassemble some of those parts that need it. Markings are provided for two of the F.1 Dreidekkers. One is the box art plane of Werner Voss and the second is a similarly marked plane of Kurt Wolff. Decals are from Cartograf so are top quality. A separate painting guide for the figure is also supplied.


Thanks to Encore, you can now do a complete and accurate Fokker F.1 without the need to purchase a lot of expensive aftermarket items. It is a real bargain and one that I know you will enjoy building.



November 2009

My thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. You can get yours today from your local shop or on-line retailer.

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