Monday, September 14

Review Pt.II: Meng's 1/32nd scale Fokker Dr I Triplane Construction

Today we build the new 1/32nd scale Fokker Dr I Triplane kit from Meng. We take it on without paint, warts and all, to see what the quality is REALLY like in the best type of review - All in our part II...

Review Pt.II: Meng's 32nd scale Fokker Dr I Triplane Construction
From Meng Models
Product No: #QS-002
1/32nd scale
Product Dimensions 180.44mm long and 225mm wide

Last week we looked at the contents of the box of Meng's new 1/32nd scale Fokker Dr I Triplane. We looked sprue by sprue and at all of the other parts and what we thought the kit might end up like. Today we build the kit unpainted to show you just how it DOES build up like and to better see the quality of the kit. 
OK Lez build it!

My rules for this build guide:
To get this to you so you can really see the quality and so we can better understand the kit I thought it would be good to "take one for the team" and build this without painting it completely. Then what you are seeing is just kit - and no cover-up. We like to do this here on TMN (in fact we have done it from the start) as we think it helps the modeller see the real kit without judging on the skill of painting. 

If I ever had time this is the one that I would choose from this boxing. Jagdstaffel (Jasta) 19 202/17 (Leutnant Walter Göttsch) 1 February 1918. Leutnant Walter Göttsch HoH, IC.
Throughout the instructions there are A, B, C & D mentioned often, this is where you get to choose between the options of the kit in the four marking choices. The process and option choice is easy to follow when you keep an eye out for these cues in the instructions. Because I fancy the colours of Option "D" - I will be making this version in this build guide.
Step I
"The construction starts with the cockpit" (heard that one before? Soon I'll start talking about "Subline" and "crisp lines") but in this case, you would be correct in starting int he cockpit, with the one part seat and kind of cushioned insert which I will use for the option "D" (I don't know how to verify a seat cushion int he aircraft or not). The photo-etch seatbelts will be added at this time.

A bonus with this photo-etch is that it is not attached to the main fret! held in place by the plastic sticky sheet all you need to do is to peel them off the sticky backing to free them, and then apply. No removing stubs of annoying metal! This is especially handy on the smaller parts.

Here is the seat attached to the rear canvas and stitching wall attached to the framework. This would look just great painted up.

One thing I would do is anneal the metal before you bend it. I had not annealed the belts here, and you can see they do bend a little "stiff". so get the lighter out and heat these right up (and then let them cool down) and bend way with no hard creases.

Step 2
The control stick, cockpit floor and foot pedal/ rudder control are next to be put together. 

The simple process of the rudder controls fitting to the top of the front fuselage are easy to put together. You will notice in these first thin parts of the kit there are mould seams on most every bit of plastic that comes in the box.
There are two options of control stick to choose from, again I do not know how they made this choice but they know more about the Fokker Dr I than I do. The compass on the floor has a decal on the sheet to provide some scale accuracy.
Step 3
The cockpit seat and rear wall, the floor and rudder controls and the two frames for the sides of the cockpit all go together next. Usually, this would all be finished painting up by this stage, but we are pressing ahead and gluing these up now in step 3.

The sum of all parts laid out for construction. Notice the holes in the sidewalls? (the squares and rectangles are all sockets for the notches to lodge into them). The cockpit actually sits together without glue. Nicely thought out and detailed with e cockpit sides looking nice when detailed ready for paint.

The cockpit altogether. Notice the large round hole at the rear of the frame? Wingnut Wangers will know what this is for...

You can see the cockpit from several angles here - its a nicely executed 'pit.
Step 4
The prepping of the cockpit is next, with the holes of .5mm to be drilled for rigging, grab handles and engine access points to be made now so you can easily and securely attach everything later. Notice again, the A, B, C & D options pointed out here depending on where the hole sneed to go.

A simple .5mm drill bit (I dared not use the Archimedes drill action for fear of breaking the drill) made the holes, the rear ones at 45 degrees for the rear handles for groundcrew moving the aircraft. These holes make the handles settle securely into the fuselage.
Step 5
The next step is also pretty simple, with the two sides of the fuselage securing around the already constructed cockpit frame.

Those two holes in the rear of the cockpit from come to recollection - they fit neatly into the circle-shaped lugs on the inside of the fuselage to guide and help secure the cockpit into place. They actually click together without glue. The fit is very good here.

Step 6
The grab handles we talked about earlier, the rear skid, the underside centre sea, for the skin of the aircraft and the front firewall is secured to eh fuselage in this step.

Captured a little later int he build, (you can see the tails are on here and the lower wing is mocked up in place) You can see the 45-degree angle on the grab handles and the centre step for the pilot. This step could indeed be left off until later in the build as this step especially gets banged and dinged around and it sits on the centre point of gravity for the fuselage to rest upon.

Step 7
The choice of a circular or square access point is chosen here in step seven (I know some of these steps are ludicrously easy). Check your reference, but I found that quite correctly the instructions for the "D" variant needed a round access point.

Step 8
The choice between the slightly rounded and the straight tail is brought to a point here. on this version, I needed the straight tail, so that as an easy choice. Those among you that wan to pose your rear flying surfaces will have to make your own cuts with a scalpel to make this a little more interesting (that's what I would do). The round, vertical tail is added here also, and you can pose this turned off to the side easily as it just glues rather flimsily to the rear. You will notice there are no rigging diagrams for these surfaces, and it is a part of the kit that I feel has been rushed out. Careful inspection of the real thing will help here.

The struts supporting the tail are also added at this point. Holes for the rigging are drilled in an earlier step, but no map to show you the connections are given.

Step 9
The centre wing is next to be cleaned, prepped and added to, with the struts to the upper and lower side added as well as the bracket for the twin Spandau machine guns added at this point. Notice the drill point for the front clear transparency at this point (I forgot it).

The struts securing the wings are easily secured with the parts having lugs on them and sockets to fit the one correct positioning in the recessed trenches in the wings. Nicely thought out. 

A little shout out here - for most of this build, I used AK Interactive's new Extra Thin Citrus Cement - I liked it a lot - it did not stain the plastic when I put too much on and dried fast and tough - a very good alternative to the mainstream glues I must say...

Nice positive securing screws and rivets here, the "lugs fit snug" (which I dug...)

Step 10
The construction you just made fits neatly on to the top of the front fuselage. The clear part we talked about can go on to the centre section now - and if you have the hole pre-drilled as I mentioned in a previous step you could even leave it until the end of the build.

You may notice that I had already secured the lower wing into place as you might as well do this first so the centre wing can be strengthened by joining the struts together here at this point. Only the top wing really gets int he way of installing the guns and any other parts around the cockpit.

Step 11
As I noted above, step 11 can be done before step 10, or left until now it does not really matter. I must have been thinking ahead for once, and you all know how thinking for yourself works out...😜

The view from below showing a nice view of the centre seam of the fabric and the front metal cowling for the engine section. This part seals over the spar of the wing nicely. If you notice the gouges down either side of the centre line you are not seeing things - the parts broke off the sprues and left some nasty holes which I left exposed for you to see. This is not a good thing and Meng need to protect the larger connections or connect them in less exposed places.

There is a large seam before the tail which exists on the real aircraft, I do not remember it being so large though...

A nasty ol' seam on the top rear which would be eliminated with filling and sanding. I left this exposed to show you how it builds without putty. It is an easy fix, however, so nothing to be alerted, just aware...

Just as an example you can see indie the cockpit the construction after she is all together. I did not secure my front firewall until just before I added the engine.

Step 12
Those twin guns are next, with the Spandau MG08/15 8mm machine guns in different difficulty and detail degrees. With the Parts 35/36 are the all-plastic versions with the slightly recessed cooling jackets of the guns evident, these are OK, but parts 37/ 38 have the guns without the cooling jacket. The Photo-etch we looked at earlier is bent in a circle to cover these and it is this more difficult but scale accurate version that I think many modellers will go for.

The tools I used to make these so. The flat squeezing pliers, the light for annealing, the round kebab stick for shaping the cooling jackets.

After learning from my previous photo-etch experience, I annealed the shuzz-but out of the metal barrel cooling jackets
I used AK Interactive's new "Magnet" superglue for attaching these barrels to the plastic, It held just fine without too much surface extra residue and the jackets on the guns and front sight sections never moving after I glued them (with the help of a toothpick to apply it). I like this gue it holds and performs well.

For a comparison of size and detail, I present both guns choices - it is up to you which you choose, but using the method I simply showed you just now, it's an easy choice for me to go with the metal jackets.

The real thing for comparison
Step 13
Joining these guns together is a good thing to do about now. As you will see on the build, I left them until later and found that the top wing which I put on got int he way of placement of the flare pistol, the front windscreen and the twin machine guns. Just follow the instructions here and save yourself the exercise of that "Thinking ahead" B.S that I did. 

I skipped stage 14 and went straight to step 15...(more on that later)

Step 15

The top wing can go on now. I would in hindsight) make sure all of the parts fo on to the aircraft fuselage before this goes into pace, for two reasons.
1. It is an easy job that does not disturb the rest of the flimsy parts.
2. Putting the top wing on last takes away the finger gymnastics /twister and makes it easier to fix things in place. Lessons were learned.

Two different ailerons are included - check your references, but these are clearly marked in the instructions for the four box art versions. Both had some flash on the trailing edges that needed to be removed.
Positioning the control surfaces in a slightly slack position give some more depth to the wings (ass if we need more depth with the three and the fourth underneath). But you will have to make your own activating cables for the control surfaces.

Step 16
That fourth wing right? Underneath the fuselage, the strut between the wheels has a fairing covering it that is in an aerofoil shape and in effect can be called a fourth wing. I made these up and they are to be installed later on in the build.

The very excellent wheels (two choices check instructions again)Are joined by a centre axle, with locking clips holding them in place without securing them in the one position (so those inclined can wheel your new model kit all around the house if you like). The hubs fit in neatly with lugs locating them in the correct position.

Two pictures showing the angles of the struts that secure the foil and wheels to the fuselage. The joints are strong, but I left mine off until a little later.
Step 17
That rotary engine is next, with simple construction and careful placement of the parts after the seam has been trimmed away there appears to be not too much work to clean them up. There are two fascia options for either the Oberursel Ur.II 9-cylinder air-cooled rotary piston (82 kW / 110 hp) or the La Rhone engines.

Coated with silver and some copper colour depending on the condition of the engine and use you want to display - these are great replicas although most of all but the tops of the pistons are hidden behind the front cowling.
Step 18 
The wheels are to be added at this point, with the struts located easily inside the sockets int he fuselage and wing provided by meng to help secure them. You do not need steel /metal gear for this kits so forget it, you spendthrifts.

Photos showing just how the struts go into the lugs and ho the kit is set up for these nicely. Meng has done the prep so you don't have to.
Step 19
This step should be the last one (just after you secure the top wing), as it makes it easier to install the wing struts into the fuselage from the sides with the firewall out. The choice of three (but really only two that cover the kit choices) are to be picked here. Funny enough there were two choices applicable for option D.

A point of attention and the business end of the aircraft, the engine and propeller look great here. Just make sure you clean the seam line of both and you are left with something very nice.

It is at this point in the build I took stock before the last details were added. In hindsight, I would add the top wing second last and then the engine last so all of these parts, (the machine guns, the tail, the tubular gunsight, the last dials and the flare pistol). The new "Wolverine" glue from AK Interactive I used to secure many internal parts held really well. I would hope that sometime in the future that I could take this kit apart and paint it - so the white glue worked really well and help excellently.

The instructions from part 14 - it is at this endpoint that I added all of the smaller cockpit details. 

The clear parts for the gunsight and the wind visor.

The major lesson I learned about making a Fokker Dr I Triplane - add the cockpit details BEFORE the top wing, and then last the wing, then engine.


It is at this point that I would (now) choose to add the top wing. It just gets in the way far too much otherwise and if I built this kit again I would leave it off till the last step if I could. YOu can easily add the engine (connected to the firewall that I left off earlier at this last step.

Notice the lugs that the struts to eh top wing slide into from the sides? Easier to leave the engine off until the very last thing after the top wing.

A view from the top - the slight seam int he centreline and around the sides of the cockpit would be fixed with putty on a normal build, and will be sometime hopefully when I get time in the future.
An' that's that jack...

I was pretty happy with the time that this took to build in this form (a weekend fo easy work) and the end result as you can see. Not pimped out warts and all, it isn't a build that will take a lot of skill to make something very nice.

The kit is inexpensive compared to the other kits of similar standard out there, and it builds very well. I had no experience in building WWI aircraft before so you, I assume, if you are reading this can do way better. I found it a great exercise of exposition and exploration. ( I love my alliteration in this article you might notice). 

This kit is an excellent base to build upon, some might say it could have been more, and I do understand that and agree, but some elbow grease, rigging and skilful paint and weathering and this could be as good as it's forbears in your model cabinet.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Meng for sending this kit to us to build, For more on this kit, you can visit the Meng Website

Thank you also to AK Interactive for letting me try out their new glue range. It worked pretty well1 You can find a link to their website here...
Appendix: Instruction Manual