Vacuformed 1/72 V.L.E Fokker Universal

by Gabriel Stern



   I think that there must be some kind of Fokker virus.
It all started when I scratchbuilt the V.42 seaplane glider (yes, I know). Then I couldn’t resist to make the VLE Models F.IV (aka T-2).

   Then browsing through my files I re-encountered the marvelous Universal and the epitome of grandeur: the Fokker F.32 of which I hope to receive soon a kit (more on that one in the future).

   The Fokker Universal, the subject of this article, was the first American Fokker, designed by Robert Noorduyn and produced in New Jersey by the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation.

   Although it kept a number of Fokker design trade marks, it also incorporated some local know-how.

   Starting on 1926 more than forty were built, and a number of them went to Canada . Wheels, floats and skis were all comfortable shoes for the Universal.

   A nice article can be found in the ultimate source of canned knowledge, Wikipedia

Click on images below to see larger images




   So here it is the Universal kit in 1/72, thanks to VLE Models, another vac+bits kit that is nice to build. I am glad that somebody will take the time and effort to make a kit of this classic and sell it for a very reasonable price

   As you can tell by the images, there is a low count of vac parts and a number of details provided either as metal, resin or extruded styrene (struts) plus decals for several versions. The decals are of passable quality and heck, there are a lot, but I went for my home-made brew. For the reasonably experienced modeler there are a lot of other versions livery-wise out there too, if you can print you own decals.
   Once the parts were extracted from the sheets and sanded down, minor adjustments were made to help their fit. If you want some tutorials you may visit another Vac producer site, Khee-Kha art products:

   The wing construction is similar to that of the VLE’s T-2, in having a wraparound leading edge that fits to a lip provided by the upper and lower wing parts. That lip or step has in this case to be reduced to the minimum expression in order to allow the LE to fit properly. Some panel lines were a bit undefined and had to be re-scribed. A certain amount of filler was also applied to deal with a few gaps. For most of the sanding I used wet sanding with wet-or-dry sand paper attached to flat surfaces (small and big); to accomplish that I submerged myself with the model parts in my “Opland” brand winged bathtub, and took a small fleet of toy boats and ducks to make me company. Well, not really. I sanded the parts under the kitchen tap when SWMBO wasn’t around. Wet sanding definitely provides a good grip and gets rid of the clouds of dust.

With the kit you get, besides the above-mentioned multi-decal options, floats, skis and wheels to dress your Universal in the appropriate attire. The cockpit area is also covered by the extra parts plus a bulkhead that closes the cabin area. You will have to provide a cabin interior according to the version you are building. A clear plastic strip is provided for the windows. It is covered, both sides, by a protective film. I didn’t realize that with my Fokker T-2 from the same manufacturer, and put the part aside replacing it, due to its less than clear look (Doh, it had the protective film on!). That teaches you that not always the manufacturer is to blame. This is simpler and smaller build than the T-2, and things proceeded smoothly on. In the intermezzos I read out loud poems by Mark Strand, which, as it is universally known, always helps to tame the model parts and provide for a better fit. Next the interior was stuck in with some structure that is visible from outside and that, in the case of the windows, will later support the transparencies. The fus halves were glued, and wing and stab added, then the metal part that accounts for the main frame of the landing gear, which, by the way, helps a lot with all those struts.

   Once dried, the joins and little faults were remedied with Milliput and putty. Metal control horns were added where necessary and little holes made for the minor parts and future rigging. Brass “Strutz” tailskid was added. The usual filling/priming/sanding cycle went on couple of times, and then the wing was painted to replicate the wood finish, using a combination of acrylics, oils and clear coats. A few photoecthed parts were added here and there. For the fuselage alu dope finish Humbroll 56 was used. The home-made decals were applied and then the rigging (kinda complex in this one, as the control cables are exposed). Struts were added and with engine, minor details and windshield it was done.

   Bear in kind that many machines exhibit minor differences in their strut arrangement, not only because of the skis or floats, but also among wheel-equipped machines. Variations  can be noticed in rudder profile, cockpit area and the immediate wing surface directly after the cockpit. Exhausts have many alternate arrangements.

   The plane represented by the model is one of the two Colonial Air Transport Universals that were allocated to CAM-1, under contract with the U.S. Post Office. The strange registrations are due a short-lived system that was used at the time. The window on the door was covered. I opted to make my wing in wood finish, as many other Fokker were like that, and added regs to it, although photographic evidence may point in another direction (the one suggested by the kit)

   Nice kit that allows you to go as simple or complicated as you may wish and produce, with a little work, the replica of a Classic.

Gabriel Stern

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Photos and text © by Gabriel Stern