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Featured In: August 2010 Newsletter

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Fokker Dr.I
By: Neal “Pour Le Non Merit” Izumi
Manufacturer: Roden/Encore
Scale: 1/32
Product No: EC32003
MSRP: $69.99
Materials: Injection molded styrene,
polyurethane resin, photo-etched
brass, waterslide decals

Roden’s 1/32 scale Fokker Dr.I caused considerable excitement when it was released, as it was the first kit of the subject in “big” scale. (The old Revell Dr.I was 1/28.) The parts breakdown appeared to indicate the makings of a great kit, with optional ailerons, tailplanes and propellers, a multi-part engine with separate cylinder heads, and optional machine guns with or without molded-in jackets.

Of course, no kit is without its faults, and Roden’s Dr.I is no exception. The cowling represented the single-piece type, not the more commonly seen riveted multi-piece unit. The engine fit too tightly in the cowl, making it impossible to spin it in prototypical fashion. There was an instruction sheet gaff that mixed up the wingtips. The cockpit lacked the triangular plywood side fairings and instruments. The oil filler cap on the upper deck, and the access panel under the forward fuselage were missing. The infamous fictitious joints on the underside of the aerodynamic landing gear fairing were repeated in the kit. The horizontal stabilizer had a recessed center section, which was incorrect. Finally, Roden did not include PE seat belts or jackets for the guns.

All of the problems were correctable, using aftermarket parts, scratchbuilt bits, elbow grease, or a combination thereof. I used the Encore boxing of the Roden kit, which contained Eduard PE details and resin parts to model the F.I version of the Dreidecker. A quick test fit revealed that most of the resin parts were slightly undersized, so none were used except the engine and cowling. The Eduard PE parts were much more helpful, and added quite a bit to the finished model.


The two cross braces needed to be shortened a bit so that they would allow the fuselage to close around the side framework pieces. I assembled the framework separate from the fuselage to make sure everything was straight. The PE printed instruments really spruced up the bare cockpit interior. The fuel tank pressurization pump was incorrectly shown installed along one of the internal frames; it should mount diagonally across two frames.

The Roden cockpit is rather nice, only lacking instruments which the included Eduard PE set addresses. I only added control cables and some wiring. In this photo, the seat, cross bracing wires, and fuel pump line have not been installed yet.

Although PE parts were provided for the triangular framing inside the fuselage, I preferred to use plastic strip as it was easy to apply.

The Eduard PE map case seemed too large to fit in the cockpit, so it was left out. I used the Eduard PE machine gun jackets and other detail bits, with cocking lever handles made from sprue. I put the guns aside to be installed later.

The missing oil filler cap was added to the right side of the deck. Note the forward cabane strut just barely reached its socket on the deck. I should have bent the struts to adjust the fit.

The missing oil filler cap came from a second Dr.I kit, and its opening on the fuselage upper deck was drilled out. Punched discs of sheet plastic were glued to the backside of the deck, so that the caps could be added afterwards. The sides of the PE lower fuselage access panel did not quite match the plastic fuselage, so its edges were sanded down to match the fuselage, filled in with CA glue and sanded flush. It was also short, so strips of sheet plastic were superglued to the front and back edges and sanded flush.

A quick test fit revealed that the cutout in the upper fuselage deck needed to be slightly enlarged to fit the guns, ammo chutes, and gun pad.

I was surprised that the PE panel didn’t match the fuselage, being too wide and too short. Note plastic filler strips on the leading and trailing edges. The PE fuselage stitching strips have been added to the aft fuselage.

The twin Spandau guns received PE jackets and sights, which greatly improved their appearance. The top deck cut out had to be slightly widened to allow the guns to fit.

The cut out for the horizontal stabilizer was not straight, so it was cut back a bit more, then a shim of sheet plastic was glued in and sanded flush.

A sheet plastic strip at the leading edge of the stabilizer/fuselage joint was installed to true it up.


The resin engine was well molded and was simple to clean up. I had a little problem with the rocker pushrods being a bit too long on a couple of cylinders (my fault), so the offending rods were carefully trimmed then reattached to the rocker arms. The intake manifold ends received punched plastic discs to provide a better gluing surface to the cylinder heads. The kit’s original plastic mounting shaft was trimmed and attached to the backside of the engine, but I eventually cut it off and drilled through the engine so that I could insert a temporary shaft to facilitate handling during painting.

The cowling was thinned from the inside, but I still had to grind down a couple of cylinder heads to get everything to fit.

The resin cowling had the riveted faceplate which the Roden kit lacked. The resin engine was easier to clean up and assemble compared to the plastic version. A PE cowl strap (top left) was also provided in the kit.


The wings assembled with few problems, except that the interplane struts fit too tightly. They were cut into pieces so that they could be fitted between each set of wings one at a time. Their locating holes were carefully enlarged until the struts were a snug, not force, fit. The real Dr.I’s struts actually set on the wing surfaces and were secured with bolts on the front and back edges. Because of this, I filled and sanded the mounting blocks as best as I could so that they would not be visible after construction. The stacking pads disappeared during the sanding process, so they were replaced with short bits of plastic rod. The spar inspection window on the upper wing was cut out and the resulting hole was lined with sheet plastic. A small piece of clear packing tape would form the inspection window later on. The wingtips were easy to sort out, despite the error in the instructions.


The unmodified stabilizer is on the left. Note the depressed center section, which was corrected on the stabilizer on the right.

The horizontal stabilizer suffered from an incorrect depressed center section, so it was reprofiled with putty and sanded to shape. The Eduard PE set provided replacement control wire lead-outs for the molded ones that were lost during sanding. I attached the teeny leadouts with Testors Gloss Cote, which was much more forgiving that CA. The control horns were drilled out to accept wires for rigging.


I used Wingnut Wing’s color recommendations for most of the details. Tamiya acrylics were used for this project, with the exception of the metallic bits. The interior plywood panels were given a wood grain treatment using oil paint. I tried to reproduce the translucent effect of the red paint on the exterior my model by applying a faded version of the standard Fokker finish of olive streaked topsides and turquoise undersides. I applied the stencil decals from a Cutting Edge sheet prior to applying the final red paint.

I applied a standard Fokker Dr.I paint scheme prior to the red, hoping it would show through. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

The flat red I used obliterated all traces of the base camouflage and nearly made the stencils unreadable. The white cross fields fared a little better, but only just. I finished with gloss red, which I should have used throughout the final paint application.

I used Cutting Edge’s “The Baron’s Tripes” decal sheet to model 425/17, the all-red aircraft that Richthofen was shot down and killed in. There was a surprising amount of stencils to be applied all over the airframe. I had to trim the bottom edges of the fuselage crosses, as they were slightly too tall. The decals were a little thick, but performed flawlessly.

Cutting Edge’s “The Baron’s Tripes” decals were used for this project

The propeller was painted with Dark Yellow, then masked and painted with Dark Earth. I dreaded this task, but it went easier than I expected. I used punched discs of Tamiya tape to mask the curved tips of the color demarcations

I decided to ignore Cutting Edge’s recommendation to paint the tail and wingtip skids red, and instead painted them a dark wood color with metallic grey fittings. Why? Because I thought the monochromatic color scheme was too bland.

The engine was primed with flat black, then painted with Alclad’s dark aluminum, magnesium, and steel. The intake manifold was lightly sprayed with Tamiya dark earth to represent the copper color. A Gundam Color Marker (burnt iron) was used to accent the engines and guns, and was used to paint all control horns and wires.

Rotary engines were notorious for leaking oil, as they used a total-loss lubrication system. Fearless Leader Glenn Boss reminded me to add some drips and runs to the undercarriage wing fairing. I used a bunch of different colors, from straight black, to brown, to clear yellow, applying them in spots and streaks. The underside of the fuselage was treated to streaking and staining as well. I also airbrushed some dirt color along the undersides to complete the weathering process.


The landing gear struts were really wobbly, and thanks to my careless assembly practices, made the model sit cockeyed. I used brass wires for the rigging, adjusting their lengths to correct the skew of the landing gear. Stretched plastic tubing was used to simulate turnbuckles and fittings. The wheels, wingtip skids, tail skid, and guns were then added, completing the model.

Scramble, scramble, scramble. This is my model in the convention hotel room, minus landing gear. (The diet iced tea is non-standard.)


Roden’s Dr.I is a pretty good kit, and Eduard’s P/E set makes it even better. The resin engine in the Encore boxing is worth the extra cost of the kit. I thought the simple lines of the Dr.I would have guaranteed a simple build, but it was not so for me. Proper clean-up and alignment were critical to getting the most out of this kit. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that the model was finished in the hotel room at the Nats. It was a real adventure scrounging paints and glues in the vendor’s room, and working with only a minimum of tools. I tinted acrylic paint with felt tip markers on the backside of a coupon for touch-up, and I had to ask Dean for a piece of white sprue to fabricate a part! After several late nights, I finally had the model ready for the contest on Friday morning.

It is Friday, 9:30 am. The Dr.I is on its legs and ready to go play in the contest room.

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