PM 1/72 Fokker D.21
KIT #: 201
PRICE: $15.00 or so
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas


The origins of the D.XXI can be traced back to the end of 1934, when Fokker submitted design proposals to the Nederlandse Luchtvaartafdeling (Dutch Army Aviation Group) for a low-wing monoplane fighter that would feature an entirely enclosed cockpit. Envisaging a Rolls-Royce Kestrel IV inline V12 as a power plant, projections of the aircraft's performance included a maximum speed of 420 km/h at an altitude of 4,350 meters, a range of 888 km, and an altitude ceiling of 10,000 meters. The planned armament included rifle-caliber machine guns or 20mm cannons, which were to be embedded into the wings and fuselage.

With the contract for a single evaluation machine signed soon after the design submission, the prototype was ready roughly a year later. Designated FD-322 and instead powered by a radial Bristol Mercury VI-S engine, driving a three-blade, two-pitch propeller, it performed its maiden flight at Welschap Airfield, Eindhoven, on 27 March 1936. Awkwardly, while the performance was promising, the prospects for series production looked doubtful, not because of the machine itself, but due to a controversial high level change in Dutch defense policy which practically unfavored pure fighter aircraft, leaning more towards bombers and trainers, among others.

Nevertheless, the potential that the prototype exhibited and the prospect of foreign sales after interest expressed by the Finnish Air Force and others (ultimately the Finnish Air Force became the primary user of the type), seemed, together with possibly other factors, to favor the little Fokker and an approval (with the follow-on funding) for a limited expansion of the Luchtvaartafdeling that was given by the Dutch government resulted in an order for 36 D.XXIs.

The machine itself was a well designed fixed undercarriage low-wing monoplane of a mixed construction, including welded steel tubing, fabric, wood and aluminum, more or less following the standard Fokker design practices of the period. Cockpit was fully enclosed and the main armament consisted of two pairs of 7.92mm machine guns, one pair housed within the wings and the other pair within the forward fuselage and shooting through the propeller blades.

The first of the 36 Luchtvaartafdeling D.XXI conducted its first flight on 20 July 1938, with the final aircraft delivered on 8 September 1939. Upon entering service, the type represented a significant leap forward for the Dutch Army Aviation Group, whose fighter force had until that time consisted of aging biplanes with open cockpits. The new Fokker quickly proved to be an extremely sturdy aircraft, being capable of attaining a speed of 700 km/h in a dive!

During the short lasting Dutch/German conflict where the numerically superior Nazi Germany invaded The Netherlands, the 28 machines that whereby that time operational gave a good account of themselves, escorting Fokker T.V bombers, intercepting and shooting down Ju 52 transports, escorting friendly units and flying in the search-and-destroy role. On 14 May, when the news of the Dutch capitulation reached Buiksloot airfield, the 8 remaining D.XXIs that had resorted there were destroyed together with the airfield, to prevent their use by the Germans. Some machines are reported to have been captured during and after 15 May, but their later fates are unknown.

Whereas the numerical superiority of the Luftwaffe finally led to the destruction of most D.XXIs during the short campaign, the slower and lightly armed  but more maneuverable Fokker managed not only to hold its own to a good degree against its main opponent, the Bf 109, but also to follow the Stuka into its dive, something that few fighters could do. Of the 38 victories scored by the Nederlandse Luchtvaartafdeling against the Luftwaffe, 16 of those went to the brave Fokker D.XXI pilots.
PM came in 1990 (as Pioneer back then) with their simple yet neat 1/72 D.XXI kit, regularly reissuing it ever since (interestingly, even under Matchbox brand in 1995). The subject kit is the 2020 edition and for a more in depth look at its contents you may read its 
preview found in the MM archives.
The actual kit was a gift from my good Dutch friend John vd Biggelaar, handed to me upon visiting him in The Netherlands last summer. Upon returning home, I wasted no time and started it!
The lack of any interior detail but a floor and a rudimentary seat is the kit’s main shortfall. True, the one piece thick canopy hides a respectable amount of the said emptiness, but, still, the canopy’s extensive glazing and relatively clear plastic, allow the rest to be seen, especially the upper cockpit portion, where the lack of the distinctive headrest supported by four mini rods, with the radio aft of it being clearly evident (and not forgetting that the sidewalls were actually tubular framings). Off to scratch building then!

I first attached the supplied cockpit floor to the port fuselage, then fabricated a simplified instrument panel and an aft-headrest flat panel from styrene sheet and attached them where they would normally be found. The headrest was represented by a small styrene plate, supported by four mini rods made from stretched sprue and a small box-shaped styrene piece was glued aft of the headrest, to represent the radio, the whole configuration was consulted by net available pics and diagrams and also by the 1/48 Special Hobby very nice kit instructions.
Stretched sprue, bent to shape, was used to recreate the control stick, while the seat itself was thinned down to look less crude and received side supports from stretched sprue and seat belts made from masking tape. Finally, the tubular sidewall construction was represented also by pieces of stretched sprue, accordingly attached to the fuselage sides. This concluded cockpit construction.

Basic interior color was Hu128 Compass Gray, instrument panel, stick grip and radio were black and the headrest was painted ”leather”. Blobs of silver, white and red were applied to the instrument panel to vaguely represent instrumentation, hoping that its toy-ish looks will be hidden under the thick canopy.

With the cockpit somehow looking busy I joined the fuselage halves, followed by assembling and attaching the wings, the two piece wheel spats and the horizontal stabilizers, the latter having the elevators carefully separated with my hobby knife and attached “drooped” for extra realism. This concluded basic construction. Overall fit needed its attention here and there, especially at the spat/wing joints, but nothing too serious. Bigger gaps were initially treated with liquefied styrene, followed by “normal” putty and sanding at the complete model.
The one piece cowling had its bottom air intake attached, the latter having its bland face drilled out for realistic looks. I was ready to temporarily attach the cowling to the airframe and go painting, when I noticed that the distinctive exhaust that was attached to the lower starboard side of the cowling (for the Mercury powered D.XXIs) was not supplied by the kit. This was fabricated by a suitably thick styrene rod, moderately heated and bent to shape, then having its one end sanded to exhibit a smooth curvature and its other end hollowed.
Deeming the result passable, the exhaust was attached to the cowling, with its front joint, where the exhaust tube is supposed to enter the cowling collector ring, filled and sanded smooth. With the exhaust issue solved, I temporarily affixed the cowling in position and took the petite fighter to the paint shop!

Dutch D.XXIs upon the German invasion featured a distinctive all around reddish brown color with dark green and beige/sand patches applied at the topsides. By doing some net research, it came out that there is a degree of questioning on the actual shades.

With no accuracy claims whatsoever, I went with my own shades’ interpretation for the brown, beige/sand and dark green: I first gave the complete model a coat of Hu113 Rust, which dried to some sort of reddish brown shade, then, with my airbrush at “fine” settings and low air pressure, I freehanded the two other shades, using Hu63 Sand and MM IJN Green respectively. I went into a couple of airbrushing loops, in order to correct/tighten the demarcation lines, followed by carefully brushing tiny amounts of thinned paint close to the lines themselves. Deeming the result passable, I gave the bird a coat of Future to prepare it for decaling.

I used the kit decals, in order to represent #214 machine, as it stood prior to the German invasion. The quite well registered decals behaved excellently, easily detaching from their backing paper and adhering positively to the model surfaces, with the whites nicely opaque and exhibiting no silvering at all. A coat of Future sealed them.

The prominent Bristol Mercury engine was very simplified, so I decided to at least replicate with stretched sprue the 6 rods that are located in front of the cylinders, essentially forming three triangular shaped supports. The engine was then attached to the cowling, with the complete sub assembly attached to the main model. The engine block was painted black, then heavily dry brushed with silver, whereas the crankcase and the cowling innards were painted Hu140 Compass Gray. Finally, the exhaust, together with the distinctive exhaust collector ring (essentially the cowling lip) were painted Testors Burned Metal.

The two main wheels were filed to look weighted. In order to attach them, I cut off a triangular shaped part from the invisible part of each wheel (the part that is hidden by the spats) with the top of the triangular cut reaching the hub center. That way it was easy to apply some glu at the wheel centers and slip-fit them in the assembled spats at these end stages. The tail wheel was also attached, with its strut reduced in length, as the tail would otherwise rest unnaturally high. All wheels had black tires with “steel” rims, with the tail wheel strut painted underside color.

The underside tail plane bracing struts were fabricated from stretched sprue and attached, then painted the same brown camo color. I decided I could not live without replicating the pairs of elevator actuating rods, so I fabricated them also from stretched sprue pieces and painted them per the surrounding camo pattern. Stretched sprue was finally used to replicate the wing guns, which were painted Testors Burned Metal and attached. The distinctive pitot was attached at this time, as well, its body painted camo brown and its tip Testors Burned Metal.
Onto weathering, which was done using dark brown and black dry pastels at all places where dirt, grime or engine soot would reside. Since practically all exterior surfaces were wood or fabric, no chipping was performed whatsoever, with a matt coat giving the bird its final finish.

The simplified prop hub was somehow busied up by adding a small circular disk at its end, to simulate the pitch control mechanism’s cover. The complete prop was painted “steel”, whereas its blade’s rear faces were painted black. After adding the red/white/blue tip decals, the prop was attached in position.

The canopy had its well defined frames hand painted and attached in place, with fit being satisfactory and the gaps treated with white glue. The aiming sight was painted black and attached at the front. The two antenna masts were fabricated from stretched sprue and attached on the canopy and fin respectively, with thin stretched sprue run between them to replicate the antenna wire. Stretched sprue was also used to replicate the fin/tailplane bracing wires.

The wing leading edge landing lamps were replicated by painting the area with my fine tip silver pen. Tiny blobs of red and green clear paint were pinned to the corresponding positions to represent the wingtip lights, before calling the petite Fokker fighter done!

THis is a neat, simple kit of the important Dutch fighter. General shape looks correct, molding is acceptable as is the parts fit, construction is straightforward, canopy, though thick, is well molded and relatively clear and decals are great. On the other hand, the interior is nonexistent (hidden to a degree by the thick canopy) and the distinctive for the Dutch D.XXIs exhaust tube is not provided, having to be scratch built (I could not locate any aftermarket offerings). Out of the box a neat model can emerge, whereas with some scratch building you can come up with a really nice representation.

As of 2023, the other 1/72 D.XXI options are the long discontinued and almost identical in layout FROG, the very nice but limited run MPM/SH multimedia kits and the excellent looking full resin Kora offering. All above offerings are not easy to find nowadays, with prices for the MPM/SH and, especially, the Kora, being quite high.

The PM kit, regularly reissued, easy to find and very sensibly priced, represents a good, unpretentious offering that can yield a very nice result.

Happy Modeling!  

Spiros Pendedekas

12 September 2023

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