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1/28 Revell Fokker F1

Werner Voss' Fokker Triplane103/17

by David Hardie


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 Original photograph of Lt. Werner Voss, standing next to Fokker F1 Triplane F1 103/17

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German Army Air Corps Officers inspect the original 103/17
The first aircraft were produced with a tubular steel structure painted olive. This was finished in a clear lacquer to allow mechanics to inspect the welds on later production aircraft.


 The Pour le Merite- The "Blue-Max"

Construction started as per Martin Gastel's excellent article right here on Aircraft Resource Center, so I will avoid repeating what Martin had to say  and concentrate on the differences between the F1 and the DR1.

My aim was to try to build a replica of Werner Voss's Triplane: F1 103/17, in which he scored several victories before his eventual death, on the 23rd September 1917, at the ripe old age of 19.

Much time was spent researching the subject, aided by several well known photographs of the actual aircraft.  There has been some conjecture as to the actual colour scheme, and bearing in mind it is now over 84 years ago, it is likely that the truth may never be known. When the aircraft left the Fokker factory it was finished in an overall Fokker standard turquoise colour, which was then brushed over using a 10cm brush loaded with Fokker standard olive, thus creating a streaky finish.

One school of thought suggests that the rudder and the engine cowling were finished in a mustard yellow colour, but I discovered a RFC crash report of examination of the wreckage. This  had attached to it, some actual fabric samples of Voss's Triplane but makes no reference to any components painted yellow.

  The model was started by removing the sawtooth pattern from the underside of all wing leading edges, a fairly lengthy process. The final finish was restored by wet or dry paper. I assembled all three wings, and corrected the port (left) aileron to the early pattern, as per the excellent Windsock datafile drawings, which I enlarged to 1/28 scale using my home pc. Addition to the ailerons of the
Copper State Models control horns, with cycroanylate glue, and some milliput, replaced the kit items. The wings were sprayed overall with Misterkit acrylic colours and were put aside for final assembly rather like construction of the full size aircraft.



This was constructed from .40 thou plastic rod to the Windsock plans. Interior photos of the interior are hard to find but Martin Gastel came to the rescue by sending me some photos of the details from an old issue of World War One Aero. I did some research into the colour of the tubular structure and received a reply from the
Fokker-Frohnsdorf Team in Munich. They confirmed that the Voss machine had bean finished in an olive colour.

As a further point of interest, later models of DR1's were finished in a clear laquer to facilitate inspections of the steel welded joints more easily, following a series of in-flight structural failures.

Gauges from the Copper State Models (CSM) set were added.  I can find  references to only 3: apart from a German Army compass- they were the fuel quantity gauge in the dimple between the machine guns, a fuel pressure gauge on the lower left cockpit side wall, and a tachometer on the lower right hand cockpit side wall.

View into the cockpit: the biggest gauge is the tachometer and the smaller one is the army compass.
 View of the pilots seat and the four point harness. The original seat was constructed from aluminium and covered in cloth.
 The kit control column and rudder pedals were retained but modified: the rudder bar having replacement foot loops added from copper wire, and the control column having gun and throttle control wires added from fine cotton thread. These items appear to be the only parts of the internal structure painted black along with the floor linkage bar- again confirmed by photos on the web of an actual DR1 control column in the Australian War Memorial.



I built one set of CSM guns and another using the Tom's Modelworks set for another model. The trickiest bit was to roll the hollow cooling jackets into a cylindrical shape because of the fragile structure.  I eventually solved the problem by rolling the parts carefully around a 3mm diameter drill and then gluing the various components with cyano glue. The only kit parts used were the gun muzzles, suitably drilled out with a .6 mm diameter drill. Make sure you are in the correct frame of mind before you embark on this work! The guns themselves were sprayed matt black based on an actual spandau which I examined in a museum in Brussels. The CSM and Toms sets each have their merits but the CSM set has gun cartridge guide and ejector chutes included.

View showing seat harness straps draped over rear of fuselage.
Photograph of my 1/28th scale model of the same aircraft- note the magneto switch inside the cockpit and the twin leather pads behind the Spandau machine guns. These were designed to provide the pilot with some protection in the event of a crash.

An underside inspection plate was added from 10 thou plastic card to the fuselage area, between the 4 undercarriage leg attachment points ahead of the main spar.

All fuselage and foot/hand lift holes were filled with milliput ,sanded smooth and then re-drilled to accept copper wire replacements.

The tailplane differed from later marks by having a curved leading edge and reduced area elevator surfaces. The kit part was reshaped by cutting and sanding, again CSM control horns were added. Voss's triplane had no ash wingtip skids so the holes for these were again filled.

Voss's aircraft had an early style tailplane which was characterised by rounded planform leading edges. Note that there were no ash wing-tip skids under the lower wing tips.

Once the fuselage was joined and sanded smooth, the CSM stitching was applied along the lower fuselage seam and the whole lot was sprayed with Fokker turquoise. Wings and undercarriage were now added, as was the modified Obereusel rotary engine per Martin Gastel's article. I painted the whole engine with Humbrol shiny aluminium Metalcote, and then sprayed the engine with a mist coat of matt black to dull it down. Photographs of the aircraft show the engine to look quite dark- no doubt as a result of carbon staining and burnt castor oil.

The fuselage was streaked with olive in a restrained fashion, leaving largely turquoise areas around the Balkankreuz and rear fuselage, to match existing photographs.  All forward fuselage panels were finished with heavier streaking. The model was then sprayed with Johnson's Klear  (also known as "Future") in preparation for application of the CSM decal sheet.  Note that these decals are excellent, but there is one slight flaw. The moustache design on the cowling is too high up so as to fit the incorrect shape of the Revell cowl. I corrected this by adding a 30 thou plastic card strip along the lower edge, which was then filled and sanded to the rounded off shape. 

Note that the clearance hole for the prop is of the correct shape for an F1 but not for a later type DR1. Again I refer you to Martin's article on ARC for further explanation of this. The moustache was corrected by hand painting to match the famous picture - see first photo at the top of this article.

 View of the front of the aircraft showing the moustache- face applied to Voss's Triplane.

Note also the Axial wooden prop and the small manufacturers identity plate attached to the starboard side of the engine cowl.

The model ( apart from the engine cowl) was then sprayed with Modelmaster Flat varnish - the best there is.  Rigging was very straightforward, being accomplished by cutting sections from an old electric guitar first string. The light gauge and stiffness of the short lengths of wire, are just the solution when held in place by a dot of cyano glue.

 Overhead view of the Triplane showing its small and compact dimensions. Note the overall turquoise finish, streaked with olive . The first three aircraft were finished in this colour scheme. The solid metal panels such as the engine cowl were finished in a solid Fokker olive colour.

Finally a Martin Digmayer wooden propellor was added with a CSM center boss  - the one with the two concentric rings of holes. Bolts were added by carefully chopping up sections of dressmakers pins, and filing down the rough edges.  Axial prop logos were added from the decal sheet. The prop really sets off the model and looks far better than the inaccurate kit prop. However this is not a cheap solution.

  In summary , this was a thoroughly interesting project and took several months of work involving a lot of research. I think the final result gives as close a representation of 103/17 as I am likely to achieve when comparing photographs of this particular Fokker Triplane.

Thanks to all of you who supplied me with information.


 Side view of my Fokker F1 103/17

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Photos and text by David Hardie

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