KIT: Roden 1/32 Fokker Dr.I
KIT #: 601
PRICE: $35.98 (32.46 at Squadron)
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken

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.

Thanks to for the historical background.


It is with much anticipation that the modeling world has awaited a quality 1/32 Fokker Dr.I. It seems as if these large scale models are the coming thing. Why? Well it is a simple matter of desire from the buying public and the simple fact that in many respects, the types of aircraft kits that sell well have already been done in 1/72 and 1/48.You can postulate that the worsening eyesight of their target market, baby boomers, might have something to do with it, but that is not true as when you do larger kits, you need to add in all that detail that wasn't done in smaller scales. Hence a preponderance of tiny pieces.

If you have had the pleasure of building a more recent Roden kit, then this one is very much similar. 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.

Instructions are the exceptional product that we have come to expect from Roden. 15 construction steps that clearly show where parts go as well as providing color information (Humbrol and generic references). No rigging diagram is given, but due to the limited amount of rigging (one of the attractions of this kit), you can glean that information from the box art. A huge decal sheet accompanies the kit with the following markings options:

  1. Fokker Dr.I, 213/17, Jasta 2 , Ltn.Friedrich Kempf, March 1918.
  2. Fokker Dr.I, 477/17, JG1 , Rittm.Manfred von Richthofen, March 1918.
  3. Fokker Dr.I, 450/17, Jasta 7, Ltn.Josef Carl Jacobs, Summer 1918.
  4. Fokker Dr.I, 586/17, Jasta 4, Ltn.Ernst Udet, June 1918.

Don't be thinking it is a small sheet as it nearly covered the platen on my scanner. The quality is excellent and the decals are quite glossy. I'm hoping that these work well, though I'm equally sure that there will be aftermarket sheets for this kit out soon. One thing for sure, you'll need to brush up on your paint work as the Dr.I often carried a streaky olive paint scheme that only looks good when hand painted.


I can tell you that this kit is already on the work bench and I'm finding the fit to be a real delight. After the frustration of a certain French D.VIII (which is on the crawl-track to completion), this one will be a pleasure to build. Look for the full build review in a few weeks.

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