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Fokker Dr.1 Triplane - 1:24 Meng (QS-003)


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Fokker Dr.1 Triplane

1:24 Meng (QS-003)

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One of the most recognisable aircraft of the Great War, the Fokker Dr.1 triplane achieved a reputation well beyond the small number actually built. It was in service for not much more than six months from late 1917, until early summer 1918. It needed an experienced pilot to get the best from it, as it was slow but highly manoeuvrable.  The all red aircraft of Manfred von Richthofen is the most famous of the Dr.1’s but several other aces also flew them.


It seems that Wingnut Wings may have been working on producing aircraft in 1:24 scale, as the appearance and layout of all the sprues are very much in their style. Even down to the clear parts being sprue ‘C’, and the engine sprue ‘E’ which was always what they did in their 1:32 kits. Even the box art is by Steve Anderson, who did all the Wingnut Wings box art . I don’t suppose we will find out for sure, but circumstantial evidence suggests that Wingnut Wings DNA runs through this kit.
That said, this is not a scaled up version of the 1:32nd Meng Dr.1 kit. The sprues and breakdown of the parts is completely different, as befits a larger model.


Lifting the lid reveals seven polythene bags containing individually wrapped sprues (double in the case of sprue ‘D’) , six of which are in Meng’s usual light grey plastic, and one in clear. An A5 sized instruction booklet, four multi lingual cards outlining a brief history, a sheet of decals, a small sheet of fabric, and a little box of etched brass completes the package. 

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Unusually construction begins with the assembly of the four-point harness, which is composed of pre-cut fabric straps and etched brass buckles.

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This is a ‘first’ in being supplied in a mainstream kit as far as I know, and should look extremely effective draped over the pilots seat. I’ve used aftermarket fabric seat belts in the past, they do look better than their etched metal equivalents, and I’d say that in this large scale they are essential. 


Construction then moves on to the rest of the cockpit, which is fully fitted out with a tubular structure, floor, seat, ammo box, instruments, and control items.

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This all builds up into a box structure, which is then fitted between the fuselage halves. Again, it is telling that it uses Wingnut Wings location method of an open hole in each side of the cockpit ‘module’ that locates over a raised circle moulded in the fuselage side. The inner fuselage halves themselves feature the long triangular plywood fairing that runs down the inside of the fuselage, and is such a feature of the Dr.1 cockpit.

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All the parts are beautifully moulded with no flash and very fine detail. The wrinkled fabric effect on the ‘Bulkhead’ behind the seat is a very nice touch, as is the provision of a couple of flare pistols.

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The fuselage underside has a moulded strip of stitching to apply in the same way as on Wingnut Wings 1/32 Fokker D.VII kits Looking at the wealth of finely detailed parts on this sprue, it is apparent how well suited 1/24 scale is.  Everything is large enough to have strength, yet fine enough to appear exactly in scale, something that the smaller scales can struggle with.


Externally the forward fuselage has a choice of square or circular inspection panels, the colour profiles at the end of the instruction booklet show which ones are appropriate for the particular options. The cockpit/midwing fairing is a large single piece that fits over the mid wing and onto the fuselage.  

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The twin LMG 08/15 Spandau machine guns sit atop this fairing, with the choice of either solid plastic barrels, or some stunning fretted brass cooling jackets. I don’t know how they have been done, but the cooling jackets are finely etched (or milled) brass tubes, ready to slide over the plastic body and barrels of the basic machine gun mouldings.

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They couldn’t be simpler and will surely make into an amazing centre point of the completed model. Fine detail on the ammunition rounds and belt feed into the sides of each Spandau will enhance it further. Again, like the fabric seat belts this is the first time I have seen these pre-fretted brass tubes supplied in a mainstream kit.

 

The wings are all provided as upper and lower halves, with internal ribs and spars moulded in to add strength.

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This ensures that there won’t be any repeat of the incidents of the slight warp that was found on the solid moulded wings in some of the 1/32 kits. All three wings are assembled the same way, with a drawing in the instruction book showing to open up flashed over holes in the leading edge to fit the stacking pads. Check which version you are building and follow the instructions to open up the correct pair. 

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Two ‘Axle wings’ are provided for the undercarriage the main difference being short and long chord, and again it is pointed out in the instructions which one goes with which version.

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Interestingly there are two complete pairs of main wheels on the sprue D’s. D8 and D9 are the ones used by all four variants in the kit. The slightly smaller diameter D14 and D15’s are appropriate to the prototype Fokker F.1 as flown by Werner Voss and Manfred von Richthofen.  In addition the F1 ailerons are present on sprue D, so I expect Meng will release a kit of this at some point. It won’t be possible to create an F.1 from this boxing as it only has the straight edged tailplane appropriate to the Dr.1.

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The 9 cylinder Oberursel UR.II was an almost identical copy of the French Le Rhone 9J, and was the standard engine fitted to the DR.1 at the factory. Some were retro fitted with captured Clerget 9B engines so be careful if choosing aftermarket decals. Here in the kit we have a very nicely moulded Oberursel, made up of few parts, but with separate cylinder caps and valves. All that the modeller needs to add is fine ignition wires running out to each spark plug.

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Most Oberursel powered Dr.1’s were fitted with the Axial propeller, although a Heine can sometimes be seen in contemporary photographs. The choice is yours as both types are provided in the kit, along with two further props that are not needed.

 

The clear parts consist of several items, of which only one windscreen and the inspection panel cover are used.
Interestingly an early reflector gunsight is included but not marked for use, as it is in the 1:32 kit. 

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Etched parts.
These come in their own little box, packed in a sponge 'wallet' with a lift off lid. Also in the protective sponge are the two beautiful Spandau cooling jackets mentioned earlier.

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The brass fret has no connection points to the individual components, instead all is held in place by a thin film of plastic. I really like this as it means you don't have to cut each part from the brass sheet, and clean up the inevitable 'nubs' on the parts. The two barrel ends and sights are provided, but most of the parts are buckles and connectors for threading on to the fabric seat belts.

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Options,
Four are provided, but if you leave off the ‘LO’ text from option A it will make Ltn Hans Kirschstein's Jasta 6 586/17.This was passed on to Udet in May 1918, when his usual 'LO' marking applied over the black and white fuselage stripes.
A. 586/17 Ltn Ernst Udet, Jasta 4, 1918.
B. 152/17, Manfred von Richthofen, JG 1, March 1918.
C. 577/17, Rudolf Klimke, Jasta 27, May 1918.
D. 213/17, Ltn Kempf, Jasta 2, February 1918.

 

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Decals. 
The decals appear to be Mengs own production. They are neatly printed with on a sheet close to A4 size, covering all the various German crosses (Eisenkruez and Balkenkreuz) needed to complete any of the four options. The carrier film is minimal around the crosses, and naturally a little more extensive around the ‘LO’, ‘KEMPF’, and ‘kennscht mi noch’ texts, and also the anchors. The finish is overall matt, and everything appears to be in good register. 

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Conclusion.
An unexpected and surprise release this one. It is a beautifully designed and moulded kit, and should build into a very impressive model. Hopefully there will be more releases on the way, as its appeal will be increased if it can be displayed with a Camel, Se5a, Albatros DV, or Fokker D.VII to the same scale. 
The whole package is of very high quality, and a completely new kit that has nothing in common with Meng's smaller 1:32 scale release of the same aircraft. If you like early aircraft but are afraid of rigging, then this one is an ideal starter as it only has four very simple rigging lines to apply, and they can be easily done with stretched sprue or wire.  And there is no complicated strut work either! 

 

Highly Recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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