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1/32 Fokker D.II “Black & White Tail” Special Hobby Catalogue # SH 32065 Available from Special Hobby for € 39,90 Introduction It must be difficult for any model company to venture into the WW1 aviation realm. With Wingnut Wings keeping their plans close to their chest and being quite unpredictable in their subject choices. The fact that the Fokker D.II is a lesser known subject, does not insure Wingnut Wings not tackling it. I mean: who’d expected a Sopwith Dolphin?? So here we are, looking at the brand new Fokker D.II kit by Special Hobby. This is a kit that has had it’s development shared with the modeling community from the start. This could be a strategy to claim the subject, or just to make us enthusiastic. The Fokker D.II is one of those planes that were too little, too late. With the Allies gaining superiority over the Fokker E-type monoplanes, the German command ordered Fokker to develop a biplane. Fokker designer Martin Kreuzer developed the D.II (also named M.17z type) from the M.16 (not E-type). The D.II was powered by the Oberursal UR.I engine producing 100 HP. That is 20 HP more than the Fokker B.II (which was developed alongside the D.II) which carried the Oberursal U O. One thing that attracts the attention on this plane is that it had wing warping steering controls and thus no ailerons. Just like the Fokker E series. A technique that was more sensitive to damage, but I guess the time stress that rested heavily on the development played a role here. Armament consisted of only one LMG 08 machine gun located on top of the cowling, a little off centre. The production of the D.II was slow, since the Fokker factory at Schwerin did not have enough capacity to cope with the demand. As a result only a few Fokker D.II were seen at the front and this being the more quieter fronts. In the end most of the delivered D.II’s were used for training purposes. One hundred and thirty two aircraft were ordered, but at best only half of this number were available at any one time and by September 1917 most were no longer in use. Still; this is an important subject in the development of fighter aircraft and shows the transition from monoplanes to biplanes in the German airplane development. The Kit Special Hobby is really stepping up their game. Most of the parts were designed in CAD which we saw lovely renders of already in March of 2017. Some parts were (I believe) mastered the traditional way. Like the fuselage halves, rudder and wings. The box is quite small (A4 paper size) and the sprue layout modest. Three sprues, one sheet of photo etch, decals and film for the windshield. The sprues are sharply moulded in easy to work with plastic. I can’t help myself comparing the details to Wingnut Wing kits… When I look at the engine for instance. Special Hobby seem to have tackled the superior moulding techniques from WNW by supplying a lot of intricate detail on the Photo Etch sheet. Very clever. More on that later. Photo etch sheet: Photo's of the main parts before mould making: CAD rendering of the cockpit: CAD renderings of engine and LMG 08: Some more CAD renderings: The Cockpit This area does not hold too many surprises and seems pretty straight forward. The instrument panel appears to be almost non existent and to be honest… in reality it was. Only one guage and otherwise staring at the oil tank. The seat cushion could use some extra love. I would recommend either making your own from Milliput or adding some creases in the leather with a sharp blade. The seatbelts are photo etch, but don’t let that stop you replacing these with HGW harnesses. The detail on the plastic is crisp and all the elements are there, but It will definitely benefit from the addition of details like the control cables. Be warned: reference photo’s for this area of this particular plane is pretty hard to find. The cockpit floor is nicely done will be wood grained, just like the Fokker E-types. I guess the Fokker E-III is a good reference for colour for this pit as well. Overall the colour instruction guide give you a pretty clear guidance. Sprue C: Cockpit floor: Seat cushion: Cockpit frame: LMG 08 gun: Engine: Wheel halves: The wings Since this aircraft was controlled by warping the wings, these parts are fairly simple. No ailerons. No control windows in the wings to check the control cables. The ribbing is done subtly. The ribtapes are crisp and the sack of the linen between the ribs is not overdone. Otherwise known as the ‘starving cow syndrome’ J. Wingnut Wings would have probably added a woven texture in the facric, but I think that in it’s way is maybe too overdone. There is a little bit of flash around the edges of the wings (as can be found on some other parts), but they are easy to deal with. Sprue B, wings: Sprue A: Sprue A, reverse: Prop 1: Prop 2: Prop detail: Rudder: Tail planes: The Oberursal UR.I engine Yes. 24 parts make up the engine. The rocker arms are moulded separately. The wiring harness and spark plugs are provided by means of PE. I myself would use thin wire and perhaps rod for the spark plugs. Other than that: this is a nice section in the kit. The LMG 08 The difference between the LMG 08 and LMG 08/15 is pretty obvious. The front sight is rectangular and the barrel protruding from the cooling jacket is straight and short. I’m saying this because I see a lot of false info on the Fokker D.II armament online. Luckily you don’t need any after market in this area. This is what I meant with Special Hobby being smart. The delicate detail on the gun mainly consists out of PE. The gunsight, cocking lever, cooling jacket, rear sight and ammo. Very very nice… The struts All I have to say about the struts is that I think the wraps are too pronounced. Too thick. No problem. I would recommend sanding them down a bit. Check the photo for reference: The instructions: Other areas of interest - The stitching on the bottom of the fuselage is provided in PE. I prefer this over the usual WnW approach where they are often provided in plastic. - The wheels are split down the middle. Not sure why this method was chose. Couldn’t they have been moulded as single parts? The stitching on the canvas covers are a nice touch. - Rib detail on the tail planes and rudder is subtle. Like the wings, not too overdone. - The elastic bands on the undercarriage are provided in PE. I love this. Might want to use your own wiring here too, but still… nice attention to detail. - Wiring attachment points and fasteners are also provided in PE. Haven’t seen this before, but I can imagine it makes life a lot easier when rigging. Nice one Special Hobby! - The windshield (another nice touch) is provided by film. These windshields are just too thin to mould them out of clear plastic like WnW does. - Two propellors are provided. The prop hubs have great detail. Little bit of flash around the prop edges as you can see in the photo’s. Weird thing is the instructions don’t tell you what prop fits what scheme. But if you look at the instructions I take it A2 belongs to scheme B. - The decals are few and printed by Aviprint. They register and have great detail. The carrier looks thin and delicate, but I'll have to give them a test drive to properly comment on them and see how they respond to softener. Rigging The instruction uses a colour coded rigging diagram in 3D. Lovely. Since the control cables run out in the open and therefore a lot of wiring is in plain sight, this is quite welcome. Schemes The two schemes provided are at the same time the schemes you’ll find most often online. This is a good thing if you’re looking for reference. At the same time, scheme A already warns you that there is a bit of speculation on the accuracy of the colours. A little artistic license will be in place here. Overal: I love the simplicity and smart decisions Special Hobby made when engineering this kit. The quality of the moulding is very good for Special Hobby standards and the instructions are very nicely done. Special Hobby have done their homework on a plane that has not seen a lot of battle and is a bit of an obscure subject. The few rare photo’s that I was able to find show pretty weathered examples, so you still get your chance to add some personality to your kit. The price is about half the price of a WnW kit, and should offer some nice challenges and variation to the spoiled rotten WW1 modellers out there! Highly recommended. My sincere thanks to Special Hobby for sending out this review sample to us. To purchase directly, click THIS link.