Roden 1/72 Fokker D.VII Early (Diorama)
Model, Text and Photos by: Steven Perry
"Was ist das?"
The early versions of the Fokker D.VII had their Mercedes 160 hp engines pretty tightly cowled. Problems developed as the weather grew warmer and several pilots were lost when the incendary ammunition they were carrying cooked off in the ammo boxes. Later versions incorporated more panels with louvers for better heat dissipation within the engine compartment. The early versions have the smaller and less louvered engine panels.
I chose to model Willi Gabriel's machine 268/17 of Jasta 11. There is a story that Herman Goering, then commander of Jasta 11, threw him out of the Jasta. I have never gotten the full story behind the problem, but I suspect Georing's bombastic personality clashed with Gabriel. Photos of Gabriel in the Fokker Anthology show a young man with a definite attitude. That differences in opinion would arise between him and Goering is not hard to imagine. I figure, anyone that annoyed Herr Georing that much, had to have something on the ball, not to mention his airplane had a very interesting color scheme.
The Roden Fokker D.VII Early version is the second of the Roden Fokkers I have built. The kit has some problems which would make it difficult for an inexperienced modeler to successfully complete. That being the case, I decided that the generally high detail of the kit was worth seeing what could be done with it.
Having found out previously that the Part interior fuselage frame is too wide for the scraped out Roden fuselage shells, I decided to try a different approach on this build. I seperated the sides of the fuselage frame and applied the side frames to each fuselage shell as sidewall detail. Visible cross members being custom fit out of rod.
It's a pitty so much of the beautiful Part framework is forever hidden once the fuselage is closed. It is equally sad that the lovely Mercedes is also mostly hidden. Since I had decided to exploit the kit and detail set's potential, I figured to cut away the port engine panel to expose both the engine and the frame.This would also give me a chance to show the cabaines welded to the frame & engine bearers. The Datafile #9 has two good photos of the port side with the engine cover removed.
In addition to all the interior detail, I wanted to do the model as Willi Gabriel's machine. Stefan Karver, an on-line friend from the WWI Modeling List has coincidentally been researching the same machine, specifically the colors and what can be deduced about them from photos and written descriptions. I asked Stef for a print of a color profile that represents his interpretations. I mixed acrylic paint and Future to match his color examples as closely as possible. I found this fun as Stef did all the research and I only had to worry about doing monkey see, monkey do with the paints.
I began the fuselage construction by carefully cutting out the port engine panel. The Roden plastic is fairly soft and a sharp #11 blade will do the trick. Take care around the upper longeron, it gets a bit thin here. The interior of the fuselage halves were painted CDL. The D in CDL stands for doped and the fabric was sealed before the streaky camo finish was applied so there is no bleeding through. I painted the inside of the engine compartment a metalic color.
As I stated, the Part fuselage frame was cut and the side parts were painted and installed in the fuselage halves as sidewall detail. The truly particular builder may wish to thicken the flat PE by applying white glue or CA to better represent the tubing of the original. I did not do this on this model.
Unfortunately the Part PE frame did not go far enough forward and I was forced to scratch the frame and engine bearer visible through the open engine panel.
The rest of the interior brass was made up as per the Part instruction sheet and painted. I used stainless steel wire to represent cockpit control cables. The engine was built OOB and painted. With all the interior detail completed to my satisfaction I closed the fuselage and dressed the seam using CA as a filler where necessary. The top decking piece was then attached and the notches in the gun mounts lowered by whittling.
Adding the lower wing is the major problem with the Roden D. VII kits. I chose to whittle the gap in the wing to make it wider. Of course I whittled a hair too much in one place. I found that Testors Clear Parts Cement worked well to fill the gap.
Prior to applying lozenge and painting, I made the hinges for the ailerons, elevator and rudder. The method is better explained in the photo, but basically it is: Cut matching notches, fill with strips of card, attach and pose the surfaces then trim the card.
I used Americal Gryphon 5 color lozenge for upper and lower surfaces. Rib tapes were cut from the lozenge bolts. I apply rib tapes by painting a thin stripe of Future over the rib and then laying on the tape. Slightly over length tapes are trimmed when dry.
Painting Willi Gabriel's scheme became quite a challenge. The plane had 3 known states. The first was ex-works streaky Fokker camo over CDL on the fuselage with a turquoise bottom and 5 color lozenge wings and tail surfaces. The first field modification to the scheme had the nose, struts and wheel covers painted Jasta 11 red and the tail past the LE of the stab painted orange with light blue stripes. A final state added lengthwise orange stripes on the fuselage sides and turtledeck . I painted my model in the final state.
The colors I mixed up matched Stefan Karver's profile. The colors matched on a test strip, but in actual application they behaved somewhat differently. I will explain as I go along.
I brush painted the red nose and then masked it, the engine, cockpit and lower wings with parafilm then sprayed the rest except the bottom CDL. When that dried well I masked all but the bottom and painted that turquoise. When that dried I masked all but the tail and painted that orange.
The streaky Fokker camo was then applied over the CDL fuselage sides and turtledeck. Here is where the paint, or rather my lack of knowledge of the paint. let me down. I laid down a light coat of Future over the CDL and when that was dry I streaked the green. It looked like ... well, in fact it stunk like it too.
Maybe the acryl green didn't like streaking over the gloss Future or maybe it was too thin. This is the second time I have had bad luck using acryl to streak something and I wish I'd used an enamel now. Anyway I fiddled and doctored and got it as best I could.
The blue stripes on the tail and the orange stripes on the fuselage were made from painted clear decal material. I cut the orange stripes for the fuselage a hair wide and they cover and break up the lousy streak job to some degree. The fuselage scheme was a lot more nussance to do than to write about, but I wanted a Willi Gabriel machine.
Final assembly centered on mounting the top wing and the changes in the cabaines necessitated by the modifications to the engine panel. Be sure to add the guns and any exterior detail to the front decking first.
I mounted my wing on the mainplane struts using the strut fittings supplied in the Part set. I found that between a 1/16 and 3/32 of an inch had to be removed from the bottom of the rear strut members in order to get the top wing to sit at the correct angle of incidence.
Once the top wing was aligned I could custom cut cabaine struts to fit. The CA joint to the rod frame members looked close to a weld when painted.
The U/C and final details were last. What minimal rigging the D.VII has, I did with surgical steel wire. A final coat of clear semi gloss toned down the highlights and the model was finished.
I still had the problem of what to do with the brass engine cover panel from the Part set that was supposed to cover the opened up port side. WWI Modeling List friend Tom Sollers came to the rescue with some figures including a German WWI mechanic. He needed a tool box so I scratch built one with a hammer, screw driver and oil can in it. The mechanic figure did not have it's arms posed correctly for what I wanted, so they got amputated and replaced with arms from other figures. The sholders looked like an NFL lineman in full pads so they got whittled down some.
I made the base from a little routed edge plaque I got at a craft store. The edges were painted black and the base a redish brown. I spread white glue over the base and sprinkled grass stuff from the RR shop on it till I was happy with it.
One idea led to another which was discarded for another until I saw a catalog in a model RR shop that had a dog and fire hydrant.
Anyway, the piece ends up with the mechanic, his tool box on the ground and the removed cowl panel resting against one wheel, gesturing toward the dog who is anointing the other wheel of the airplane. "Was ist das?" is the title..
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