1/32 Wingnut Wings Fokker E. III

Gallery Article by Mike Muth on July 10 2019



After completing the Eduard Fokker Eindecker in 1/48 scale, I felt I was ready to attack the WNW's kit in 1/32. For some reason, it is easier for me to figure out the rigging using a 1/48 scale kit rather than a larger one. Go figure. The E.III was powered by a 100 hp Oberursel rotary engine. A single machine gun, centrally mounted was synchronized to fire between the spinning propeller. More E.IIIs were produced by Fokker than any of the other 3 Eindecker variants. The flight characteristics of the Fokker Eindeckers were sub-par. If it wasn't for the synchronization gear developed by Fokker that allowed the pilot to aim the machine gun by pointing the nose of the plane in the direction desired, the type would have likely passed into obscurity. However, the synchronization gear made the Eindeckers something special for a period of time over the Western Front.

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Ernst Udet was born in 1899. After a brief stint as a volunteer motorcycle messenger, he took private flying lessons and was accepted into the German Air Service in 1915. He was assigned to an observation unit and flew 2 seater aircraft until he was transferred to a fighter unit. Flying Eindeckers, Udet scored his first victories of an eventual 62. In his book, Ace of the Iron Cross, Udet recounts a dogfight with French Ace Georges Guynemer. Both planes (by then Udet was flying an Albatros) twisted and turned, taking the occasional shot at each other. Udet's machine gun jammed and when Guynemer noticed this, he flew over Udet, waved, and left the fight. Udet believed he was spared by Guynemer because he wanted a fair fight. Guynemer eventually was shot down and killed after attaining 54 victories. Udet went on to become the highest scoring German ace to survive the war. He befriended Herman Goering when they both served in the Flying Circus. At Goering's urging, he joined the Nazi Party in 1933, eventually becoming the Luftwaffe's Director-General of Equipment. Udet committed suicide in 1941. I decided to do Udet's E.III.

WNW has produced 3 versions of the Fokker Eindeckers. The kit I chose to build was for the E.II/E.III. The are 5 decal marking included in the kit and I chose option E, the machine Udet flew when flying with KeK Habsheim in March of 1916. The fuselage bands are provided as blue and white decals. There have been other decals for this plane that have the band as red and white or black and white. The instructions in the kit explain their reasoning for the blue and white, and I decided to follow their decision. Besides, the blue and white looks quite striking against the beige fuselage.

About the fuselage color, I went with Model Master Sand. Colors are always a sort of hit and miss thing with WW I airplanes. I had done my previous Fokker in an overall green with white and red Austrian markings. The WNW instructions show the E.II and E.III in either a grey or beige color. I went with the beige. Like all the WNW kits I have built, the tolerance for the pieces is a tight fit requiring no paint where the surfaces mate to each other. It you keep this in mind, the kits are pretty easy to build, with the parts almost clicking together. The elevator, part A6, is extremely fragile and I broke mine 2 times. While I finally fixed it, you can tell is is not perfectly straight on the finished model.The cowling on the Eindeckers was machine turned to give a squiggly appearance. I first painted the cowl with Model Master non-buffing aluminum. I then used a chrome paint pen and did some random squiggles. This is the first time I tried this technique and am still learning how to accomplish the right look. 

As for rigging, this kit is not for the faint of heart. The cabane inverted v strut on the top of the fuselage has a pulley that allowed the cables to pass through. No ailerons were used on the Eindeckers; they relied on wing warping. I couldn't get the piece provided in the kit to work so I substituted a round piece of plastic with a large hole in the center. Although the instructions have a pretty good rigging diagram, I found myself often going to Windsock Datafile #15 to look at the pictures. It would be taxing to try and do the rigging all in one night. I found the rigging on the undercarriage particularly difficult. While it is easy to recommend the kit to someone with minimal experience, if you plan to rig it (and you should), you should have rigged a few biplanes under your belt first.

Because the machine gun was so prominent, I opted not to use either the plastic Spandau or the pe Spandau, choosing instead to go the after market route with a Gaspatch Spandau. This is the first time I've used them, but won't be the last. They are beautifully produced and well worth the price. I enjoyed building this kit and ordered the E.IV version during the WNW recent 10th anniversary sale.

Mike Muth

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Photos and text by Mike Muth