Eduard 1/48 Fokker Dr.I 'Dual Combo'
KIT #: 8161
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


     The Fokker Dr.I Triplane is easily the most-recognizable airplane of the First World War.  People who know nothing else about First World War aviation know what a Fokker Triplane is.

      The Triplane is also easily the first “celebutante” airplane, being mostly famous for being famous.  The airplane was the result of Idflieg - the German Air Force high command - being bowled over by the performance of the Sopwith Triplane, which had appeared over the Western Front in March 1917 and proven itself one of the best Allied fighters during “Bloody April.”  This was not unlike the hoorah in German air Force circles the year before after the appearance of the Nieuport sesquiplane fighter, which resulted in the Albatros series losing their excellent biplane design for replacement by the aerodynamically-weak sesquiplane layout.

     By the summer of 1917, when Idflieg was actively soliciting detailed project submissions from the German aircraft industry, the Tripehound was already leaving British service, since the tactics of the air war were changing so that a relatively slow - even if highly-maneuverable - fighter was now outclassed by contemporary designs like the SPAD series, the S.E.5 or the Sopwith Camel.

      Even so, the war in the air was still such that a fighter like the Tripehound could have been a solid performer as late as the fall of 1917.  Unfortunately for the Dr.I, the airplanes were all grounded at that point due to Fokker’s notoriously shoddy quality control in the factory.  By the time the Triplane was finally cleared for unlimited service in January 1918, the day of such a dogfighter was past.  The Triplane could outmaneuver its enemies, but it could neither catch them nor outrun them, the new tactic for fighters, nor could it fly well at the altitudes air combat was now taking place at.

     The Triplane is primarily famous for being flown by famous German pilots.  During the first six months of 1918, it was nearly the only German fighter not outclassed by their opponents, which is why so much effort was expended on the First Fighter Competition and in getting the Fokker D.VII into widescale production.  After May 1918, as the D.VII became progressively more available, the Dr.I disappeared from the front.

      Interestingly enough, aeronautical experts have now shown that the Dr.I was an inferior triplane design to the Sopwith.  Unlike the British fighter, which had small ailerons on each wing, the Dr.I had large ailerons on the upper wing only.  Thus, aerodynamically, the Sopwith’s wings were all working together while the Dr.I was dragging two wings that wanted to fly straight and level while fighting increased adverse aileron yaw from the larger ailerons.

     Nevertheless, despite its failings, the fact is that the Dr.I is the most famous airplane of the First World War.  It is an interesting, distinctive-looking airplane, and all those famous pilots made sure each flew one that looked different from everyone else, so there is a plethora of marking possibilities.


     The Fokker Triplane was an early candidate for production as plastic models began, and was - if I remember correctly - the first or second release by Aurora when that company began producing World War I models in the mid-Fifties.  Revell released a 1/28 Triplane that is still available and still makes up into an excellent model out of the box, that can be made better by a modeler willing to expend a bit of extra effort.  The Aurora kit wasn’t replaced until Dragon brought out their 1/48 Dr.I in 1990.  This kit has the “fatal flaw” (which most modelers can cure with about 45 minutes of effort with a sanding stick) of an incorrect representation of the lower wing fabric surface.  Past that, it is still a good model, other than for the fact it has now been out of production long enough to command collector’s prices that keep it from being built that often.

      The new Eduard kit is truly state of the art.  Eduard has decided to do kits of airplanes that have previously been released by other manufacturers, but to produce something that is “definitive.”  This kit meets that standard. 

      All plastic detail parts are extremely petite.  The airframe itself is nicely done with a realistic fabric representation.  Trailing edges of wings are nice and sharp.  The cockpit is well-detailed and those plastic parts are set off by great photoetch parts.  The kit includes the correct horizontal stabilizer and early-production ailerons to allow a modeler to do the F.1 production prototypes.

      Decals are provided for no less than six different famous airplanes, most of which have never been done before by anyone (other than the famous “Kempf” triplane) with a separate sheet of stencils. (Editor's note: I've seen at least two of these on a Blue Rider 1/72 sheet so it may be appropriate to say most have not been seen in 1/48 before)


      Did I mention there are TWO complete kits here?  With two kits and enough decals to do both differently, this is a real bargain at a MSRP of $39.95.  The Fokker Triplane is easy enough to build that any modeler who has yet to do a World War I airplane could start with this kit, in anticipation of doing a show-stopper the first time out.  There is no World War I modeler alive who can resist two perfect Dr.I kits for a price less than the Dragon kit on eBay.  Highly recommended.

 Thanks to Eduard for the review kit.

August 2008

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