KIT: Roden 1/32 Fokker D.VI
KIT #: 603
PRICE: $37.98 MSRP ($33.96  from Squadron)
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken

During the middle of 1917 the principal German fighters, the Albatros D.III and D.V, lost their superiority in the skies of the Western Front, and now the Sopwith Camel and S.E.5a dominated in the air. At this time the German Air Command (Idflieg) called all manufacturers to take part in the Fighter Competition planned for January 1918.

Fokker Flugzeugwerke, led by the genius Anthony Fokker, had a strong reputation among pilots because by this time the Fokker Dr.I had already become a legend of the air. When the Fighter Competition started at Adlershof on January 20, 1918, Fokker Flugzeugwerke proposed eight prototypes. Many of them were very ambitious, but all German manufacturers at this time had a common problem: the lack of a powerful engine. All the new designs were based on 'good old' engines like the air-cooled Oberursel Ur.II or the inline Mercedes D.IIIa. During the competition none of the all-new designs achieved the desired results but Fokker's V.13 design, developed from the V.9, showed some promise and was declared a winner. Some aspects of its performance like climb were unsatisfactory, but other fighters like the Pfalz D.VI had rather worse figures. Idflieg announced a new Fighter Competition but for now Fokker received an initial contract for 120 aircraft, which received the official designation Fokker D.VI.

The first production example was accepted on April 26, 1918 and by August sixty aircraft of this type had been produced. Contracts for sixty more were cancelled because at this time the Fokker D.VII entered service. This new design was superior to the D.VI in every way.

The majority of all 60 D.VIs built were delivered to the Kampf Einsitzer Staffeln, special units created mainly for the intercepting of Allied bombers. The Fokker D.VI which had an air-cooled engine and could take-off without delay was a good choice for this role. But the climbing ability of the D.VI was still poor and the fighters were dispersed in the Alsace-Lorraine region where bombing raids were less frequent. Other machines were delivered to the training units; and Austria-Hungary purchased seven aircraft of this type. After the end of the war at least two D.VIs were tested in France and the USA.

Overall, the Fokker D.VI was overshadowed by the most successful types like the Fokker Dr.I and Fokker E.V/D.VIII and, obviously, by the magnificent Fokker D.VII. With only sixty built, it might seem to have vanished in an ocean of fighters, but the D.VI played its own small role in the sky battles of World War One



I must say that I was quite surprised to see this kit. Like a huge number of modelers, I'd never heard of the Fokker D.VI. Sure, we figured there was an aircraft before the D.VII, but had not thought too much about what it was. Well, it turns out to have been basically a biplane Dr.I. The upper wing is what you'd find on a D.VII, while the lower wing is what was found on the Dr.I.

This makes for a very easy and interesting variation on Roden's excellent 1/32 Fokker Dr.I. What you have is a nice rotary-engined biplane with very little rigging. Only the landing gear and the control lines are needed. Everything else is just like the earlier Dr.I kit. Same fuselage, same interior, same engine and the empennage. I'll cheat a bit and direct you to the Dr.I preview to get a feeling for these things. Only one sprue was altered and that is the one that has the upper wing and wing tips. There is also an additional bit on two other sprues for the N struts. I was a bit surprised to see some flash on the upper wing sprue, but since it is on the sprue itself, I guess it really doesn't count.

Instructions are typical of Roden in that they are well drawn and offer a nice rigging diagram. Color information is by Humbrol number and generic name. There are three huge decal sheets with this one. One sheet is upper lozenge, another is lower and the third has the insignia and other markings. I'll leave it to the experts to discuss the correctness of the colors on the lozenges, but they look OK to me. They are also specific for certain parts of the airframe. A placement guild is provided. Naturally, some trimming will be needed. Recent Roden decals have been excellent and I do hope that these are also as good. Markings for three aircraft, all from mid 1918 onward.

They include:

  1. Fokker D.VI, 689/18, w/n 2646, the Flugpark Armee Abteilung B, based at Alsace-Lorraine sector, June 1918.
  2. Fokker D.VI, the home-defence Staffel, Kest 1a, based at Mannheim, Summer 1918.
  3. Fokker D.VI, "Fratz", Jasta 80b (Bavarian), pilot Leutnant Kurt Seit, Western Front, Summer 1918.

This last one is the box art aircraft and the more colorful of the three.


I have no doubt that this one will be received with glad cries by the WWI crowd as I do think this is the first mass media kit of this type ever done. Judging from my most pleasant experiences with the Dr.I, this should be a real beauty as well.

September 2005

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