Copper State 1/48 Fokker D.V
Model, Text and Photos by: Ken Zelnick
The Fokker D.V went into service in the fall of 1916, and some remained in service until November 1918. Although it never saw combat, it helped the Fokker Flugzeugwerke to remain in business and go on to produce the DR.1, D.VII, and D.VIII. The D.V served as a trainer, and helped acquaint pilots with the characteristics of rotary engines. It was powered by a 100 hp Oberursel U.I engine and was armed with a single Spandau machine gun.
This kit marks my first foray into a multimedia kit. Before now, all my experience has been on styrene, with a couple of balsa kits that were optimistically labeled as "flying." However, with considerable help from my online friends at http://www.wwi-models.org, I expect to be able to turn this into a respectable model.
The Copper State kit consists of seven resin parts, two packages of photoetch details, a white metal/photoetch engine, and a package of assorted white metal parts that include propeller, cowl, gun, seat, wheels, and struts. There are two decal sheets in my sample, possible due to an oversight in printing. Each decal sheet contains only one serial number, where two are needed for one of the schemes. The other scheme is un-numbered, so you'll have a complete sheet of spare German crosses.
I have one other resin kit in the cupboard waiting to be built, and the parts in the Copper State kit appear to be superior. They are all well-molded with no bubbles and good surface details. There is some "orange peel" effect in a few places, but it doesn't interfere with any of the molded details. The two pieces of the horizontal stabilizer - this would be called a "stabilator" on a modern aircraft, as the entire surface swings up and down - are the worst-molded pieces in the kit. They are quite thick, with no airfoil shape at all. The rib detail is very good, and it's a shame that it will have to be sanded off, but I think it is necessary to make the stabilator look right. The stringers in the fuselage are a little underdone when compared with photos of the original plane. This detail could probably be added with some stretched sprue or possibly wire run along the fuselage, but I opted not to do this.
My first step was to remove the casting blocks and flash from the resin parts. I did this by judicious use of a razor saw on the fuselage halves, and a #11 X-Acto blade on the flying surfaces. I repeatedly scored along the line between the casting block and the wings, on both sides of the pieces. After several passes, I was able to flex the parts gently and remove the blocks. Afterward, some sanding was necessary on the fuselage halves. The resin appears to be softer than styrene, so be careful not to remove too much material during sanding operations. I'm told that resin dust is not good if inhaled, so you might want to wear a respirator to be on the safe side. Wet sanding also helps hold down the dust.
The fuselage is split in half horizontally, with a hole under the cockpit. This hole will have to be enlarged to receive the photoetch cockpit details provided. Rather than try to remove this much material with a blade and sandpaper, I dug out the old Dremel tool. After roughing out the openings with a fairly large bit, I switched to some old dental bits supplied by my hygienist. These are excellent for getting into small places, and the price is right - free, if you're on good terms with a dentist. Be careful during this operation, as it is very easy to remove too much material and be left with a hole in the fuselage. Having learned this the hard way, I had to find a way to fill said holes. I found that I could dip an appropriately sized tool in medium viscosity cyanoacrylic glue (CA) followed by a dip in some resin dust I had retained for just such a purpose. This created a sort of quick-setting putty that could be applied to the appropriate areas and worked into shape before it set. A quick touch with some sandpaper, and the repair is complete.
Concurrently with hollowing out the fuselage, I devoted quite a bit of time and effort to the cockpit interior. I decided to build a modular structure that I could affix as a unit inside the fuselage. I made several unsuccessful attempts at this, and finally wound up building a frame from plastic strips along with 26 gauge copper wire soldered together and soldered to the floor. The photoetch supplied with the kit takes solder very well. Cockpit details were made from the supplied photoetch, supplemented with bits of stretched sprue and thin wire. I used strips of masking tape for the seat belts. The hardest part of the interior was getting it to fit inside the hole I had created for it in the fuselage.
Before installing the cockpit interior, I painted the fuselage interior with Ceramcoat acrylic paint thinned with Future floor finish. I mixed Territorial Beige and white to try and approximate a linen color. Ceramcoat has quite a wide line, so you may be able to find something more suited to your taste.
I wasn't able to find a photo of a D.V cockpit, so after looking at some photos from D.VII cockpits, I scratched a speculative instrument panel from .005 card painted with Testors Wood, highlighted with darker brown Ceramcoat, and outfitted with some of the supplied photoetch gauges. I attached it to the top half of the fuselage with CA, and epoxied the cockpit structure to the bottom half with 5-minute epoxy. After letting both dry overnight, I epoxied the fuselage halves together and secured them with rubber bands, tape, and clothespins.
While that was drying, I turned my attention to the wings, tailplanes, and supplied Oberursel engine. I thought the wings were a little too thick, so I sanded the undersurface only so I could retain the upper rib detail. I didn't remove all of the undersurface rib detail, just toned it down a little. The upper wing had quite a bit of thick flash left from the pouring block, but this was easily removed with a #11 blade and some sandpaper. The lower wing didn't have this problem. The tailplanes are too thick, with no airfoil. I sanded them from both sides, losing all of the rib detail in the process. However, ribs can be replaced, and the thinner airfoil shape looks much better. The rudder needed only a little thinning toward the trailing edge.
The lower wings come in one piece, and needed only a little sanding to fit into the fuselage.
The instructions call for the two pieces of the tailplane to be tied together with plastic rod, but I found bamboo skewer to be more readily available, and it was easy to shave and sand down to the desired diameter. I cut a notch in the tailplanes to receive the ends of the bamboo rod, and epoxied the whole thing together. However, one side managed to break loose, so I removed the epoxy and tried CA on it. This method was successful, so you can use the glue of your choice. Both sides seem to be satisfactory now. I attached the photoetch elevator brackets to the bamboo rod with CA. These required quite a bit of care, as I had to trim them to fit on the rod properly, and I tend to be all thumbs. These brackets are surprisingly durable, as I have managed to bend them many times, and they are still intact. Once the tailplane assembly was complete, I attached it to the fuselage with 5-minute epoxy. However, it proved to be premature at this stage of construction, as they made it more difficult to hold the fuselage, and got in the way more than once. It would be better to wait until the engine is attached.
The engine consists of two white metal parts and one piece of photoetch. They need only a little cleanup to go together well, but for this model it is necessary to remove the intake pipes, as these were not present on the Oberursel U-1 engine used in the D.V. When installing the engine, the push rods should go toward the front. Because of this, purists may want to use wire instead of the photoetch push rods to avoid the flat appearance of the photoetch.
I wanted the engine to turn, so I followed the example of fellow modeler Robert Karr and made a firewall with a short piece of tubing protruding from it. The tube receives the crankshaft on the aft side of the engine and holds it in place while allowing it to turn. I designed the firewall to just fit inside the cowl, and attached it to the front of the fuselage. As I learned later, this method proved to be less than adequate, as the short length of tubing I used allowed the engine to wobble inside the cowling. It would be better to attach a longer shaft to the engine and have it protrude farther into the fuselage. Of course, this whole exercise is unnecessary if you simply affix the engine so it doesn't rotate.
My white metal cowl was quite pitted. I filled these with Squadron White putty and sanded it smooth. It looks like this will be satisfactory, but I don't know how well it will stand the test of time if the model encounters temperature changes. The inside of the cowl needed to be hollowed out quite a bit, so out came the Dremel again. A fairly large bit was useful for roughing out, and the old dental bits removed the last bits. When the finished cowl is in place, there is enough room inside for the engine to turn. I painted the inside of the cowl with some various shades of brown to simulate castor oil spray, and attached it with 5-minute epoxy.
The propeller had a seam and a little bit of flash. I removed these with a small file and sandpaper. It has no hole for mounting it to the engine shaft, so I found the center with a compass and drilled it out with a #60 drill. I then smoothed it all over with some #600 wet-and-dry, and painted it with Ceramcoat acrylic in what I judged to be a light wood color. I added some additional details and stripes with a darker brown to achieve what I consider to be an acceptable laminated wood appearance.
I had to cut a notch in the fuselage to attach the machine gun, and this was fairly easily accomplished with a razor saw and X-Acto blades. I waited until after painting to actually attach the gun.
Now the fuselage/lower wing assembly was ready for some paint. I mixed my own colors from my on-hand supply of Ceramcoat acrylics. I started with an overall (except the lower surfaces) coat of clear doped linen (CDL), and followed with my attempt at olive drab, applied in traditional Fokker streaky finish. The lower surfaces were done in turquoise. An overall coat of Future floor finish gave me a satisfactory semi-gloss finish.
I painted the machine gun with Testors Model Master Gun Metal and attached it with CA.
The supplied photo-etch cabane struts are, in my opinion, only suitable for use as a pattern for making your own struts. I used some bare 26 gauge copper wire. This is easily cut with an X-Acto blade to give nice, flat ends, and can be easily straightened by rolling it between two hard surfaces. I used a piece of glass and the top of my workbench. I notched it, also with an X-Acto, where a bend was needed. This allowed a nice sharp bend, with minimal distortion. Once these were shaped and cut to size, I attached them with 5-minute epoxy.
Before attaching the top wing, I used a #80 bit to drill holes for the rigging. Since I plan on using monofilament line for the rigging, I made sockets in the top wing and drilled completely through the lower wing at the attachment points. This will allow me to pull the rigging taut, and then cut off the excess after securing it with CA. I colored the monofilament with a black Sharpie permanent marker and attached pieces to the top wing, making sure I had plenty of length to work with. Once this was done, I was ready to attach the wing to the cabane struts.
Mounting the top wing was probably the most difficult part of this build. It took several attempts to even mount the wing because the cabanes kept breaking away from the fuselage. When I finally got it mounted, the wing was terribly crooked and I had to remove it and start again. After much frustration and re-gluing, along with adjusting the cabane positions and lengths, I finally got the wing attached to my satisfaction. I wound up using both epoxy and CA to attach the cabanes to the fuselage and the wing to the cabanes. In retrospect, I think I should have used straight pieces of wire for the cabanes instead of trying to bend them, and I should have drilled sockets into the fuselage to hold them more securely. That's why I'm writing this article, so you the reader can take advantage of my experience.
Now it was time to attach the interplane struts. The supplied white metal struts were too short, possibly because I had made my own cabanes, although the cabane length appeared from the drawings to be correct. I made replacement interplane struts from a bamboo skewer that I split, carved, and sanded into shape. I then glued the bamboo pieces to lengths of 26 gauge bare wire and wrapped it with some strips of aluminum foil to mimic the shape of the supplied white metal struts. I found I had to custom-fit the wire, as no two struts had exactly the same length after all my mounting and re-mounting. The differences were not too great, though, and the end result looks satisfactory.
Once the wing was mounted, I pulled all my rigging through the associated pre-drilled holes, pulled them tight (not too tight!), and secured them with CA. This method of attachment results in rigging that is at least partially functional, and strengthens the model considerably.
The white metal undercarriage needed just a little cleanup, and attached without too much problem, but again I wound up using both epoxy and CA to do the job. I used another piece of bamboo skewer split and sanded to size for the axle. I simulated bungee cords with some beige sewing thread wrapped around the under carriage struts and the axle. This also added a lot of strength to the glue joint. The supplied white metal wheels are way too thin, but I used them anyway. If you have some in the spare parts box, you may want to substitute. The tailskid is supported on either side by some photoetch bracing. This could probably be replaced with something stronger, but seems to be adequate.
There were a few bits of photoetch left to attach, so I did this now. It could actually be delayed a little longer, as they are quite delicate and make the model more difficult to handle.
Now it was time to paint the backgrounds for the decals. Two schemes are provided, and I opted for the white backgrounds (clear doped linen on the bottom wing.) After drying and overcoating with one coat of Future floor finish, the decals went on very nicely. After the rudder decals were applied, I finally attached the rudder to the model. It looks a lot better now.
The last step was to attach the propeller and spinner, which I did with CA. A final overall coat of Future floor finish, and I called the model done.
This was probably the most challenging
model I have ever built. It was probably not a good choice for my first multimedia
kit, as I had to learn or devise new construction methods as I went along. Still,
for modelers more advanced and skilled than I, it should be a fun project of
an important if somewhat unknown plane that I have not seen kitted anywhere
else, and Copper State did an excellent job of it.
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