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Fokker Dr.I

Meng 1/32 Fokker Dr.I Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2020 Manufacturer Meng
Subject Fokker Dr.I Scale 1/32
Kit Number QS002 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Typical WnW quality design Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $87.99

First Look

Fokker Dr.I
Fokker Dr.I
Fokker Dr.I
Fokker Dr.I

Once upon a time, there was a model company founded by none other than Peter Jackson of 'Lord of the Rings' movies fame. This company, called Wingnut Wings, even had its own air museum with full scale examples of aircraft they'd go on to produce in 1/32 scale. What came out of the factory came kits with such excellent engineering that they raised the bar for other hobby companies around the world, and in the process, brought more modelers into the domain of World War I modeling. These hobbit-forming kits were supported by instructions that also raised the bar in the industry, making the job of building and painting these models far less intimidating. Wingnut Wings came to the IPMS/USA 2019 National Convention to display their first kit outside the sphere of World War 1 aviation, the Avro Lancaster in both the B.I/B.III and Dambuster configurations, and also in 1/32 scale. Then came the Wuhan virus in early 2020 which added to a complex business situation at the company and suddenly, Wingnut Wings was gone. One kit that was nearing the finish line for release at that time was the Fokker Dr.I which promised to be a popular subject. Somehow the molds and materials were sent off to Meng and the Fokker is here!

The Fokker Dr.I was a triplane that is one of the best dogfighters produced during the war, and the all-red triplane was the iconic mount for German ace Manfred von Richtofen, the dreaded 'Red Baron'. With the wing area of the Fokker Dr.I, the aircraft could climb and maneuver better than most of the allied aircraft at the time, though that same wing area created drag, and that made the Dr.I slower in level flight or a dive than its adversaries. The Dr.I was a rapid design in response to sightings of the Sopwith Triplane appearing in-theater. As such, there were bound to be some problems and indeed, the wings would buckle under load leading to a number of crashes that killed a number of notable German aces like Werner Voss. As a result, production of the Dr.I was halted after little more than 300 examples were built and surviving aircraft were relegated to rear area duties.

I am one of those modelers that didn't have much interest in World War I aviation as the concept of rigging was intimidating at best, but when Wingnut Wings came along, I began collecting some of their kits for the day when I was ready to face my rigging fears. I knew of one subject that had minimal rigging which had always interested me, the Fokker Dr.I. When Meng released the kit, I still waited until I saw one built online as I was still not certain how much of this kit was Wingnut Wings versus Meng. Aside from one glaring problem with the kit, I decided to get one for my collection.

Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on five parts trees plus one small tree of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched parts. There aren't many parts in this kit given that this isn't a complex subject, but you'll note that there are a number of options in the box. These include:

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Choice of control yokes
  • Photo-etched pilot restraints
  • Detailed Oberursel Ur.II rotary engine
  • Choice of crankcase covers for the engine
  • Choice of tail skids
  • Choice of horizontal stabilizers
  • Choice of rudders
  • Choice of styrene or styrene with photo-etched shield Spandau guns
  • Choice of propellers

There are four subjects featured in this kit and they represent the aircraft in different phases of development, hence the parts options. The instructions clearly call out which parts are used for which version with at least one exception, the 'fuselage cover assembly'. Three of the subjects are the Fokker Dr.I while one is a Fokker F.I that was sent to the front for evaluation. These subjects include:

  • Fokker Dr.I, 425/17, JG.1, March 1918, as flown by Manfred von Richtofen
  • Fokker F.1, 103/17, Jasta 10, September 1917, as flown by Werner Voss
  • Fokker Dr.I, 206/17, Jasta 27, May 1918, as flown by Hermann Goering
  • Fokker Dr.I, 202/17, Jasta 19, February 1918, as flown by Walter Groettsch

So one of the distinctive features of the Dr.I is that all three wings have zero dihedral - flat as pancakes. The one I saw built online had the upper wing with an obvious dihedral and it looked like that wing fit onto its struts like it belonged that way. Take a look at the wing sprue from an angle and not only does the top wing have a dihedral, so does the mid wing as well. I don't know if this is by design or a warp in the sprue tree that seems to be consistent with the other kits I've seen. The nice thing here is that it will take little effort to straighten those wings flat and make whatever adjustments are needed with the interplane struts to compensate. Of all of the kit glitches I've seen over the years, this one will be the easiest to fix.

Fokker Dr.I

Update 1: So after publishing this first-look with the above statement that I could fix the warp in that top wing, an old acquaintance reached out to convince me otherwise. None other than Bill Bosworth of the original Accurate Miniatures team who has dealt with his fair share of kit mold warpage. He suggested that it would be better to reach out to Meng for a replacement wing and I heeded his advice. On their website, they have a customer support tab, and you'll scroll down to their After-Sales Service notice. They provide an email address and instructions to send a photo(s) of any defective parts as well as the QC number stamped inside the lid of your kit. I sent in the required information as well as my shipping address, and a few days later, they reached out for my telephone number for the shipper. A few days after that, I received a shipping notice and something is coming out of their Netherlands warehouse. I'll update this as soon as that package arrives, but it looks like Meng has stepped up with some good customer support!

Update 2: After initially being impressed with Meng's customer support, I was surprised that their 'shipping number' had not become active over a week later. I reached out to Meng After-Sales Service to find out when/if this part might be shipped, but no answer. I am disappointed that the initial response was not followed up and we're stuck in limbo. For now, the Meng Fokker Dr.I moves to the pile of shame and it is time to move on to other projects. If things to improve, I'll follow up again, but I'm not holding my breath.

Final Update: I heard from several folks who submitted their requests for a set of replacement wings, that it took a few weeks but their wings did arrive. Sure enough, a package from the Netherlands arrived today with a new sprue tree that contains the wings, and while there is still a slight warp in them, I think we can make this work. My thanks to Meng Models for sending these and we'll get the kit into the queue for a build, though now there are several projects now ahead of the Fokker Dr1, including the Italeri 1/32 Tornado GR4 and the Zvezda 1/72 C-130H.

Aside from the wing warp, this is easily the nicest Fokker Dr.I kit in this scale, and second only to Hasegawa's magnificent 1/8 Museum Scale kit.