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Fokker F.II - Classic Plane 1/72 Vacuum-formed.

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The mysterious but fascinating realm of vacuum-formed kits (abbreviatedly called "vacuformed" or "vacs") provides us, off the beaten path modelers, with subjects that tend not to be favored by their injected or resin geographical neighbors.

I am fond of them, and through the years I have built a somewhat large number.

As with other media, quality varies, and you have samples of all levels in the trade.

The subject that today occupies our attention is from Classic Plane, somewhat down in the quality spectrum (examples of good quality are, to mention just two, the late Gordon Stevens' Rare Planes range and Khee-Kha Art Products from Alaska).

Here are some of the vacs I have built:


















This kit is a rendition of a much beloved plane that had a very important role in aviation history, providing early passenger transport and starting a family of well-known designs, the Fokker F.II.

To call this kit simple would be an understatement. There are no resin or metal parts that many times accompany the molded styrene sheet, nor decals and somewhat succinct instructions.  The detail parts, provided in the sheet, are better discarded, since their worth is highly questionable to say the least.

This nice Fokker was gifted to me by fellow modeler Luis Santos, the friend that long ago also gifted his vac kit rendition of an Argentinian plane, the Bombi (that in spite its name ended up as a cropduster). Thanks to Luis for his kindness.


Work begins patching things up a bit, since this kit has seen some years of handling, and some areas were a bit squashed and had cracked. Nothing that a piece of styrene won't cure.

Next, replacement accessories need to be found, not a problem for a scratchbuilder or a modeller of some vintage: props, wheels, cockpit items, engine and struts are needed. I have gathered -and many friends contributed to (thanks Armando Gil and Jim Schubert) a now sadly diminishing stock of aftermarket items, mainly from the -now apparently in stasis- Aercoclub range.

I can -and I many times do- carve my own laminated wood props, though.

The cabin interior (not provided with this kit) is easy to scratch, and the decals...well, depending on the complexity of your chosen marks, you may somehow scrounge them or cobble together from defunct kits, print them yourself, or commission them.

The struts will be coming from Strutz airfolied brass stock (thanks, Andrew Nickeas!).

Why, ask somke of my friends, I launch myself into fixing a somewhat not very enticing kit prospect instead of scratchbuilding the desired subject? well, firstly, to honor the gift, and secondly to redeem an object that otherwise will slowly drift into oblivion. And thirdly, needless to say, because of the challenge.





You get two half wheels. With like you could glue them together and get one whole wheel:


Small bits better left for the erosion of eons....


The detail is there...somewhat:


Kit had surely went thorough some stressful situations:


Parts come easily off (not a science):


Cracked areas are reinforced internally:




All major parts out, the rest better leave it where it is:




Edited by Moa
to correct typo
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8 minutes ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

You are a braver soul than me. I probably will never touch a vacuform kit. I know it would over stress me and put me off of building for awhile. 


Once you had undergone the Shaolin training and learned to control matter, you will be able to build vacs.

"There is no spoon"

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 I've only built 2 vacs to date but have quite a large stash of them, and I love the challenge of getting them up to standard. They provide the basic material that an old Airfix kit did, and leave the rest to the modeller. Perfect!

Popcorn ordered.....



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You have a lovely collection of finely built, rare aircraft.  It seems like the vacs tackle the rare ones, being the 'short-runs' of all short-run kits.  You are truly an artist on many levels.


I have one vacuform in the stash, a Joystick Phonix A Austro-Hungarian seaplane.  I am looking forward to the experience.  Any tips for the first-time vac builder?



Edited by John D.C. Masters
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12 hours ago, John D.C. Masters said:

Any tips for the first-time vac builder?

Hi John

Thanks, you are very kind, but I have seen more able modelers created true jewels.

I just have fun, and aim to a decent result.

You made me think a bit. I have posted complete step-by-step builds of several vacs somewhere else, but can't post the links here.

Even a brief list of suggestions or tips would be surely not a short one.

But I'll try to seat down today or tomorrow and put together a few bullet-points of hopefully useful advice. 



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Well, John as it happens, I just found information on this very same site, here:

This link to another page in Britmodeller I posted before was marred. So I re-posted it to see if it works now.

It showed "no permission to see it", which is very strange.


I think this is a good start, but nothing, ever, replaces hands on experience.

If you love your vac kit, or it's irreplaceable, get a very simple "practice" one at low cost. I found many kits for 1 or 2 dollars in boxes at shows and hobby shops.

I use sometimes different approaches and solutions than the ones suggested in the pasted link, but each of us finds what one feels comfortable with eventually.

Hope this helps.


Edited by Moa
Re-posting a bad link to another Britmodeller page
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Meanwhile, more samples of kits I have built from vacs, and one I just got in the mail courtesy of a friend from Volkania, Sönke Schulz:









This is a Broplan one, they are ok, let's say almost affluent middle-class:





I have a soft spot (pun not intended) for these vacs. They have taught me a lot, and were my bridge to scratch-building.

One thing I can say with absolute certainty after building hundreds of kits of many types: vacs are not more difficult than any other media. But they require a somewhat different technique that you have to learn, in the same way that if you know how to cook a stew you may need to adapt your technique to cook a pie. And vacs are surely a part of our modeling universe, as oil paint is part of the art world. Yes, you could use acrylics, developed later, but both are valid, and oh that feeling :-)

Edited by Moa
to correct typos
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Nice to see a build that starts from a vacuform and has got all the ingredients to become another treat as those you showed us!!!:clap:

I built a couple of Aeroclub vacform many years ago (a Fiat G91T and an AerMacchi MB339 and it was real fun!!!

I may consider another go sometimes...

For now I'll be watching you and learn the trade!!!;)



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Ciao, Massimo, Yasou, Christos, and woof! chocolate labs.

We continue:

Here an image of the parts you do not like to use, under any circumstances.

Their only mission is to provide the size for their replacements:



The parts were given a modicum of sanding and truing.

I hate going to the gym, so I sand kits:



Notice to the right that I have already started to rumage my supplies to get accessories:



Obtain thin trailing edges, so your model doesn't look clunky, one of the commons pitfalls of vacs when not done quite properly:



This is how a part looks after some flat-sanding on the internal side:



Remove the pips caused by the suction during the fabrication process. Some will leave a pinhole, don't worry about it now:



Pinholes exposed by the removal of the pips. Good vac kits do not present this inconvenience, or not to this degree:



You may have noticed that I have chosen a vac quite low on the quality range, on purpose, to hopefully show how to deal with some shortcomings and boo-boos.

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Notice in the photos above that Classic Plane provides the two radiators that Fokker F.IIs had, circular and "car" style (Grülich).

In the instructions they tell you -nonchalantly- that you could use the more rectangular one and fill the resulting disparity. Oh my.

That rectangularish radiator is mostly associated with a more rectilinear window arrangement.

Needless to say, research your project thoroughly before gluing anything.




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The pinholes can either be filled with superglue, or blanked when they are in a row like in this case from behind with a styrene "stringer":



I added a spar to help with the wing shape, not trusting the mold:



I made two ventilation holes to help the glue dry, in an area not visible when the model is assembled. The halves are taped together:



Be sure that you got straight leading and trailing edges:



The stab lower half is separated as indicated in the kit:



Pinholes filled with putty:



The stab parts are glued and taped:




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Nice progress!

My first vac was a Classic Planes Sopwith Tabloid, the second a Libramodels Donnet-Leveque seaplane. Both are on here, I'm looking forward to the next one!



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Thanks for the link Moa.  I have cut/pasted it to Pages and have it on my desktop as a reference.  Especially good advice on glues--as well as many possible pitfalls!  I'll have to get some thin brushable glue the next time I'm in Athens...

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On 02/03/2018 at 8:14 PM, limeypilot said:

I love the challenge of getting them up to standard. They provide the basic material that an old Airfix kit did, and leave the rest to the modeller.

My feelings precisely!

Following with great interest. (Perhaps your efforts will inspire me to tackle the old Rareplanes Gotha G.IV still mocking me from my stash....)

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1 hour ago, thorfinn said:

(Perhaps your efforts will inspire me to tackle the old Rareplanes Gotha G.IV still mocking me from my stash....)

Go for it, Thorfinn!


We continue:

Once halves were glued, the surface is approached:



Since the quality of this one is not high, either you make the wing tip halves coincide or the rest. The chordwise panel lines will coincide at the trailing edge, but not at the leading edge. In any case all these way too prominent panel lines will be puttied, sanded and retraced anyway:



Small surface blemishes better dealt with now:





All parts that needed it (that is all parts) are slapped with some putty:



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Preparations continue:

Two spares bin seats, and a hand-made one, just to show you can do it if you need/want to:



A prop I made some time ago:



Bench passenger seats, beginnings of the cockpit frame:



New prop being carved, new radiator being made using a mesh cast by Matias Hagen from Argentina:



New radiator in progress:



A spares bin engine that will barely show in the model (only the rocker arm from the top) and pass as a BMW III:




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Great stuff! I've become a bit of a vac fan myself, completed, Sanger Bombay, Contrail Sparrow, Sanger Blackburn Iris and I have a Contrail Botha on the back burner. The challenge of making a decent model of an obscure subject is what fascinates me, can't think of anything worse than opening a box and finding all the bits there!:whistle: Still have a few in hand, Libra Bristol Fighter with different Radiator options may come out soon and a really obscure Bristol Racer (possibly the ugliest plane ever built)

Your doing a great job, look forward to more.

Almost forgot I've just bought a Sanger 1/48 Beaufort...I like to suffer!

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Thanks Stuart and Bristol Boy

So there is an active vac community out there!


The fabricated control wheel and assembled spares bin engine:



The parts so far. Some replace the kit's, some that are not provided with the kit:



At this point I have chosen exactly what Fokker F.II I am representing (PH-RSL, Rijksstudiedienst voor de Luchtvaart - Laboratorium Vliegtuig, a research plane), which is important, since props, radiators, wheels, windshields, window type, etc., varied between machines, even of the same type.

Once again, gather good references on your specific attempted model.

And remember that nothing replaces photos. Although they are a good help, and some times are right, I am extremely skeptic of drawings, descriptions, plans, and the like, since many times they have been proven wrong, and that also goes for my machine, of which I have found online some inaccurate assumptions.



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