Classic Planes 1/72 Fokker F.II
|PRICE:||$10 second hand|
|NOTES:||Basic vacuform kit|
In an age of biplanes, The Fokker FII was a high wing monoplane which began Fokker's use of the very thick aerofoil section, which although it had high a very high drag factor, also had a high lift factor, and allowed internal bracing within the wing, which in turn allowed for little external bracing. The fuselage was of plain square section, and made of aluminium tubing covered in fabric. Interestingly, there is no fin, as the narrowed fuselage at the rear gave sufficient directional stability. There is room inside for four seats, and there was the possibility of a fifth passenger sitting in a seat next to the pilot, originally intended for a mechanic. Early airline passengers electing this seat would have been intrepid, as the cockpit was open, and the engine immediately alongside their left leg. The aircraft was operated by Lufthansa in a colour scheme which is much simpler than the one I chose, which is for a KLM machine who used the machine until from 1920 to 1927 before selling them on to Sabena. The Lufthansa machines were in use until 1934.
I found this in the second hand box of a dealer at an IPMS model meeting at in North London. The kit dates from some time in 1980s at a guess, and while straightforward, presents the usual problems of constructing a vacform. I think that originally it came with decals, which would have been a great help, but these were missing. The plastic is white and medium soft, which helps with the carving and sanding.
I began with the usual careful cutting around the edges of the vacformed parts and separation from the carrier sheet, and then many hours of carving and sanding down. The moulding is good for a vacform and has no compound curves to make life any harder. Leading and trailing edges must be sanded down to a thin edge. Once sanding is complete, I went over the whole thing using one of my wife's nail polishing sticks to get rid of the scratches and restore a smooth surface.
There is no interior and having no information as to the layout of the few seats, I painted the inside walls a dark blue and left it at that. Very little can be seen through the windows, but if you are planning to have the door open, some seating would be necessary. There seats for four passengers, which I would guess would be in two rows of two. The pilot's cockpit needs boxing in. I added a small seat, offset to the port side, but that can't be seen either thanks to the overhang of the wing. The cockpit was matt black, as is the whole upper nose area. I used small location tabs made from the scrapped carrier sheet and glued inside to locate the edges of the two fuselage halves.
The wing is very think, but presented no fit problems. The leading edge was a little irregular in its join, but a few smears of filler soon put that right. Wing and fuselage must be kept separate, because of the complex colour scheme on the fuselage which needs a lot of masking.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The wing was painted overall in Vallejo Dark Yellow, which is usually used for Afrika Corps tanks. I can't quite make out what the wing on the original is made of, but it looks like painted plywood, possibly with fabric covered ailerons. The upper wing details which look like a fuel filler and a small walkway, were masked off and done in gunmetal.
The fuselage was then masked off successively for the different colours, using Lifecolor US Non Specular Blue Grey FS35189 for the rear section and French Blue Grey FS 35237 for the forward lower fuselage and Matt Royal Blue FS 35050 for the upper forward fuselage. The upper engine cowl ahead of the pilot is matt black.
This was my first effort at making my own decals, and the results were not perfect but encouraging enough to try again on future models. Fortunately, there is a full colour side view of the aircraft on one of the sites listed below, and that proved perfect for the KLM insignia, which would have been impossible to hand paint. Once I had settled the size to the right scale, it was simply a matter of putting a sheet of blank decal paper into the photocopier and pressing the copy button. The results were pleasing, but of course the printer didn't print white, and so a base of white decal paper had to be cut to the right size to fit beneath.
So too with the registration numbers on either side of the fuselage and upper wing. White decal was simply cut to the right oblong shape, according to the scale plans. And then a font of the right kind and size was selected from my computer and printed in black onto more decal paper.
Unfortunately the decal paper, which I bought from a local art store, was thicker than the decals in high quality aircraft kits we are used to these days. I suspect it is used for decorating drinking mugs and the like. What this means is that the decals stand a little proud from the surface of the aircraft. It can't be seen by the camera and hardly by the naked eye, but if you run a fingernail over them, then there is a very slight bump. And so the answer to that is: don't run a fingernail over them.
I fitted the tailplane next as that was easy to align. Two struts on either side were made from plastic rod.
The wing can now be mounted on the fuselage, with care taken to get the right amount of overhang at the front. Photos would indicate that the leading edge aligns with the front edge of the cockpit. Struts are provided in the vacform sheet, but the they are one sided and so best made from plastic rod material of an aerofoil shape. Measuring and cutting can be done with reference to the scale drawings. The axle was made from plastic card, sanded to an aerofoil shape, and small mounting axles from rod were fixed at either end for the wheels.
Wheels came from the spares box, and were painted dark grey for the tires and gloss black for the hubs. The cylinder head of an inline engine was cut off a German WWI engine from the spares box, and fitting into an oblong hole cut in the nose of the fuselage. And the exhaust was also spares box, I suspect from a German WWI aircraft. Fabricating one would be tricky.
A section of clear plastic sheet was cut to size for the windscreen, the frames masked and painted blue, and the end side-screens then bent into shape, at slightly less than 45 degrees to the front screen. This can be cemented in place using Clearfix. And Clearfix was also used for the side windows, formed by circling a toothpick round and round inside the hole until the Clearfix filled it all up.
The tailskid was trimmed from a length of plastic rod, painted wood brown and fitted on the under side towards the fin.
Quite a large airliner in 1/72 from the Golden Age which is sadly not much covered by mainstream kits. The Fokker lineage is clearly visible in the very thick wing and the overhang of the leading edge above the open cockpit, features which continued with the Fokker F VII and the tri-motor versions of it.
I would recommend it to someone who had a little experience with a vacform, and rather more than I have with making your own decals. The complex fuselage colour scheme needs planning. But it is pleasing to the eye, and makes a nice companion to the old Ford Tri-motor if you have one. Or the old Frog kit of the Southern Cross. Or indeed any airliner from the 20s or 30s that you can find.
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