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Fokker D.VII dual build - and then there were two


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Its taken me a long time to commit to my first work in progress, and have have to state now that my usual rate of progress is at best stately, at worst 'still life'

 

So it would be sensible to start with something relatively straightforward. At lest that's what I told myself. But I didn't listen, and instead decided to take the challenging path, namely:

 

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There have been several excellent built examples of Roden's small scale D.VII shown in the ready for inspection section here, from the the descriptions no one was in too much of a hurry to repeat the experience. So why put myself through the ordeal of building a kit that is considered to have several significant flaws? In particular, why do it when there are alternatives, including Eduard's excellently engineered Albatros and OAW versions, much more recently released. I don't really know the answer, other than wanting to prove (to myself) that there are solutions to most of the problems, and the potential satisfaction of coming up with effective workarounds.

 

The title hints at a duplication - not wishing to go in totally the wrong direction with an audience, a second kit is also on the bench, and is being used as a test bed for some ideas:

 

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In the best tradition of 'here's one I made earlier' if fixes work on the Fokker version, I'll use them on the OAW. Eventually I hope to catch up, and this will become an almost simultaneous build of both.

 

Edited by Ologist
Correction
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So what is the collective opinion of Roden's DV.II?

 

Reviews and other builders experiences have suggested the following

 

The lower wing doesn't fit the fuselage 

The fuselage is too long 

The fuselage is too wide

The engine doesn't fit

The radiator doesn't fit

The axle wing is not wide enough

There are some consistent moulding flaws

and a rather sweeping 'nothing fits'

 

It's almost an offputting list, and the question arises again - why not build Eduard's version(s) instead? Eduard go down the alternative route of including two different fuselages i each boxing, but for some versions you are required to indulge in some deft knifework removing louvres from the from end. I'm not the biggest fan of the way Eduard portray the rib tapes either. The Albatros version is becoming much harder to find as well. 

 

In its praise, Roden moulds some parts very finely indeed, the cockpit walls are commendably thin, and there is a lot of finese in the portrayal of the internal structure as is shows on the outside of the fuselage. The engines is very detailed, although in most cases almost all of it will be hidden.

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Add to the list the strut geometry is all wrong giving the upper wing an odd pitched forward look.  And the decals are pants.

 

Still, the detail is nice and with a bit (lot?) of work the fit issues can be overcome and a nice result achieved.  But find some aftermarket decals.

 

AW

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One of the best aspects of the Eduard kit is that it comes with lots of redundant parts you can use to 'dress up' less good D-VII kits.  In the case of the Roden kits, that includes the axle wing, radiator and wheels, thereby solving some of the problems. Although, comparing the wings between the 2, both are around 3mm shorter in the Roden kit, compared with the Eduard and I'm guessing the latter is correct, without getting the plans out. 

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My hats off to you sir, you are a brave man to attempt these. Not to scare you but give you a heads up warning. I have two of these in the dead build pile as all of the struts exploded into micro fragments when I attempted to remove them from the sprue’s. The plastic is very brittle and falls apart easily.  I have the scale blue prints and hopefully will get around to scratch building them someday.  So In interest as these are some of my favorites I will follow your build. 
 

Dennis

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Posted (edited)

And so to business

 

Straightforward assembly of the cockpit and the gorgeously detailed engine, and painting of both.

So far so good, the first problems occur when trying to fit both assemblies to the fuselage. I think the engine might well be the root of most of the D.VII's problems. The multipart Mercedes is almost certainly a scale replica. As such, its not going to fit within the excessive thickness of an injection moulded cowling. I can envisage a situation where Roden's design people realised this, and compensated by making each of fuselage halves (moulded on their own sprue with the radiator) 0.75mm wider. Unfortunately this 'easing' impacts upon components on other sprues, which haven't been modified to allow for the extra width.

 

The engine is still a tight fit, and needs the inside of the starboard cowling thinning, especially around the 'shoulder' of the exhaust manifold. The low exhaust position of the early production airframes add to the complication and the hole for the exhaust pipe needs enlarging along its bottom edge very slightly. The upright air pump at the front end of the engine seems a rarity on D.VII's until quite late in the war, so was removed. There's no need to replace this with the horizontal version, as very little of the engine will be visible.

 

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Hand pump from brass tube, Aviattic 4 colour reversed interior decals over Humbrol 103 gloss cream

 

 

The cockpit floor seems to be designed for the scale width cockpit, hence is narrower than the width of the assembled cockpit. This doesn't cause any fit problems, but makes securing the floor difficult - the only point of contact as deigned is the rear step, which doesn't follow the profile of the bottom of the fuselage. It is supposed to sit on the rear spar of the lower wing assembly at its from end, but this doesn't get added until later. A square of 40thou plastic card does gives the necessary support.

 

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Cockpit assembly added to port side, as the lower fuselage is very slightly thicker on this side.

Only other additions are the screen behind the seat, from 10 thou plastic card, seat belts from paper and the throttle assembly and ignition lever from 0.2mm copper wire

 

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Now is the time to start thinking about the lower wing. Remarkably, not only doesn't it fit, it doesn't fit in all three dimensions. With the fuselage halves still separate, the fore and aft direction can be partially sorted. The aperture in the lower fuselage needs squaring up, but it can't be extended too far forward as the rear undercarriage strut locations are already close to the forward edge. Instead the area in front of the forward spar of the lower wing can be trimmed back. The slots in the fuselage sides into which the spars fit are not deep enough, and the font pair are at an angle which causes the wing to twist downwards. I'm fairly sure this is what causes the upper wing to end up too far forward.

Slots deepened and widened, but not too much as they may become visible above the lower wing. Much better to reduce the height of the spars on the lower wing - it's actually the piece of fuselage between the spare slots which is going to determine the position of the lower wing in a vertical direction, and this will be far more controllable with the fuselage assembled

Edited by Ologist
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  • 2 weeks later...

As has been well documented, the fuselage is too wide to fit between the lower wings. Narrowing the fuselage might just be possible, but would create fit issues everywhere else, so the only viable option, as others have done, is to cut the lower wing unit in half and fill the resultant gap on the centreline.

The problem with this is that the two spars linking the wings give structural rigidity, and it will be very difficult to get both wings properly aligned with each other if treating these as separate units - there's not a lot in the way of contact points with the fuselage anyway.

My solution:

Two 7mm lengths of Albion Alloys 1mm od aluminium tube superglued inside the spars

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Once properly set, the wings are cut into with a razor saw, and 8mm lengths of 045mm hard brass wire glued into the tubes of one half   

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The wing halves can now be rejoined, and the gap between them set using the assembled fuselage. Once everything is aligned, the wings can be taped down

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Fuselage removed, and superglue run into to the other halves of the aluminium tubes to lock the interwing gap

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The resulting one piece wing is quite rigid, but to be on the safe side, I filled in the spars (and the gap underneath the wings) with strips of 30 thou plastic

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The lower wings are in perfect alignment with each other, and the rebuilt spars give the very thin fuselage sides some integrity. As a bonus, the increased span now matches almost exactly the drawings in the Windsock Fokker Anthology volume 1

 

 

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A good engineering solution for widening the wings. I would consider adding a reinforcing strip of plasticard across the top, between the aluminum tubes, just to be safe. 

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Nice job so far. Haven’t built many Roden kits but I have found the ones I’ve done to be challenging. Which is probably why I scratch build a lot; at least I only have myself to blame if it turns out like this :) 

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Work getting in the way of things, but a little progress:

 

The instrument panel is nicely moulded, but almost completely hidden, so not too much effort expended on it

 

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The last major fit issue (I hope) is at the rear end.

 

First find your tailplane hidden within the flash.........

 

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Sprue attachment points are intrusive as well. But five minutes with sanding sticks and scalpel does the trick

 

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It looks much better, but it doesn't fit. Yet.

Edited by Ologist
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

 

 

So far I've not provided the evidence for the title of this thread. but the the OAW (Early) version has now caught up with the Fokker (early) version that I've been using to test some ideas out on. The only differences between the two are minor, and involve some of the access doors in the forward fuselage. 

 

So this the state of the OAW:

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And now joined by the early Fokker version:

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The fuselage sprue for the Fokker was moulded in white, so there's a throwback to the days of Matchbox two coloured kits.

 

Since the last update the upper fuselage has been fitted to both, contrary to some online build these bot fitted almost perfectly, after the forward corners of the recess in the main fuselage sides was sharpened up to a right angle. Having almost started to remove the small step in the cockpit surround, I realised that this should be there.

 

The radiator fit on the Fokker was very good, on the OAW the upper cowling siders were turned in a little too much, but easily solved by forcing them out with cocktail sticks between them and the engine whilst the glue set. Just a little filler needed - on the prototype panel lines around the radiator are almost indiscernible.

 

The recess for the tailplane needed significant deepening to allow the bottom of the rudder to be level with the bottom edge of the fuselage. The 'slot' at the front of the tailplane also needed deepening and widening - the whole tailplane assembly is moved forward about 1mm. I filed back the rear of the fuselage decking slightly but added a strip of 20  x 40 thou which gives a cleaner edge. Its far easier to make the final adjustment with the fin and rudder attached to the tailplane, everything is right when the front edge of the lower part of the rudder touches the rear of the fuselage without any gaps. Pleasingly, it didn't take very long to achieve a satisfactory fit.

 

Elevators were separated along the line of the balance horns with a razor saw and carefully bent down, Most photographs show these as slightly deflected, but nothing like the extent as with some allied aircraft, such as Sopwith triplanes

 

And so onto the  upper wings.

 

These are rough in places - I get the impression that the toolmaker was suddenly called away and forgot he hadn't quite finished these

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The aileron control horns are nicely moulded on the lower surfaces, but are missing from the top - on the right wing there is a slot which suggests there might have been a plan to include these as additional parts, but there is no corresponding feature on the left hand side

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There are some nasty blobs of unwanted plastic on the ailerons themselves, nothing too difficult to deal with, but adds another couple of minutes to the clean up time. The sprue attachment points are yet again quite intrusive.

 

However, some good news. I've seen it written on more than one online build that the upper wings are usually warped. When I'd freed them from the sprues from both versions, that was my first impression. It does seem to be an optical illusion though, caused by the unusual week geometry. The top surface is supposed to be flat - there is no dihedral as such, but the lower surfaces slope from the centre to the tips

 

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Not easy to show, but Roden's wings are indeed flat on their upper surface.

 

Its getting close to the time for some paint and other surface decoration

 

Jon

Edited by Ologist
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  • Ologist changed the title to Fokker D.VII dual build - and then there were two
  • 1 month later...

As predicted in my first post, life, work and now the Euros are all conspiring to slow progress on the D.VIIs almost to standstill.

 

However, some paint on, and now limited, if not committed to, final schemes, For both, Gunze H1 white where needed beneath the lozenge decals:

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The early OAW will be a Jasta 4 aircraft  (but NOT Udet's). Nose painted in prehistoric Gloy matt black, which behaves wonderfully. The tail and elevator colours caused me more angst than was justified. Contemporary reports speak of Jasta 4 having light blue tails, but this doesn't seem to have impacted upon decal manufacturer's thinking, the usual suggestions being white or lozenged. The few photos available of Jasta 4 in the summer of 1918 definitely show a tone darker than the fin and rudder, even Udet's striped D.VII seems to show a difference in colour between the horizontal surfaces and the elevator. Eventually I went for a 3:2 mix of Gunze H1 and H323.

Cockpit fairing is Revell 65, with Misterkit Albatros mauve hazy splodges, but washed over with the green to reduce the contrast. The fin and rudder are in Citadel Skull white, which is just very slightly off white, and for me gives a more realistic feel.

 

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The early Fokker built version will be in the first version of the Jasta 13 colours, with the vertical demarcation between the green and blue. The green is Tamiya X5.

Whilst the Revell 65 was out for the OAW version, I decided to experiment to see if hand streaking would produce acceptable results, which I think for 10 minutes effort has worked reasonably well. It will be covered by blue paint anyway, but might just give a hint of showing through. The fuselage cross is from the kit's decals, with a couple of coats of Microscale decal film. Roden's decals are often very well printed, with good register, and settle down nicely IF they can be persuaded to end up in the right place without shattering.

 

The bottom wings were extended to allow the fuselage to fit between them, so the interplane strut locations in the lower surface of the top wing need moving outward to compensate. Oddly, with careful measuring, they aren't moved as much as the corresponding lower locations.

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One the subject of decals, Roden do provide lozenge decals:

 

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From the OAW version - 4 colour

 

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And the early Fokker version - 5 colour

 

Whilst arguments will continue about the colours of German lozenge fabric, I don't feel too controversial in saying that mostly these aren't close, although the 5 colour top surface may not be a million miles away. When more reliable alternatives are available, Roden's decals aren't really worth considering, even assuming they could be painlessly applied. So, its going to be Aviattic for the 4 colour, and the last of my stock of Pegasus 5 colour.

Application should keep me busy for a while...........

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  • 3 months later...

Its been a long time since I last posted, but whilst progress has been slow, at least its been significant;

 

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The early Fokker build, of Ltn Werner Niethammer, Jasta 13, June 1918. Personal markings from the Mac Distribution Fokker D.VII (OAW), Pegasus 5 colour lozenge.

 

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Fokker (OAW) of Ltn Heinz Graf von Gluszewski-Kwilecki of Jasta 4, August 1918. The shield is a stylised version of the Kwilecki coat arms, and from Americal-Gryphon with the addition of a thin yellow border which is evident of a photograph of the pilot in the cockpit. Lozenge is Aviattic cookie cut 4 colour.

 

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Both Jastas modified the early crosses in distinct ways, and this is my best guess from the available photographs. The lower Fokker built version uses the crosses from Roden's OAW kit, the upper OAW version uses heavily modified Americal Gryphon decals

 

 

 

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