Author Topic: Meng 1/32 scale Fokker Dr.1 Triplane  (Read 4168 times)

Online Dave W

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Meng 1/32 scale Fokker Dr.1 Triplane
« on: August 24, 2020, 11:15:17 AM »
Meng 1/32nd Fokker Triplane

Reviewed by Erik W. Whipple

Standard edition without 1:10th scale 'Red Baron' bust.
No. of Parts: 124 plastic, 15 photoetch
Length: 180.44mm, Width: 225mm
Marking schemes: 4
MSRP: $88.00USD. Available in the northern hemisphere at for $70.49USD and for £63.69 (plus shipping, taxes, etc.)

General impressions:

The Meng kit's heritage is obvious in the parts layout, fine detail, and surface textures on four(4) medium soft, light grey and one(1) clear sprue. Parts supplied for both the F.I and Dr.I versions. The photoetch fret is on a thin clear backing with no connection points to cut between the parts and the fret. Shapes and dimensions appear to be precise and accurate, displaying a high degree of correspondence to the line drawings in the Windsock book. Instruction booklet printed in color, with indicators to distinguish which parts are appropriate to one's choice of variant and scheme. Two-sided historical and technical information sheets printed in several languages. Decals display some errors, but appear to be well-printed with good color saturation and registry with some surrounded by fairly wide carrier film. Kit box dimensions correspond to those of the Wingnut Wings pursuit types, so this one shouldn't disrupt your tidy stash. Box art is striking and acceptable according to individual taste; I covered mine with some large printouts of Steve Anderson's artwork. Quality issues, including a bit of flash and artifacts of mold misalignments- including a few that may be difficult to remedy- are present in both of my kits...

Want some initial free advice? Don't sell or trade off your Roden 1/32nd Fokker Triplanes just yet... at least not before you get a chance to inspect this Meng kit for yourself.

Sprue A: This sprue contains most of the detail parts common to both triplane versions along with the tail surfaces and axle wing for the Dr.I, including most of the cockpit, armament, wingtip skids, ailerons, interplane and axle wing struts, and firewall/engine mount. Attention to detail and texture is commendable, such as the creases and lacing on the aft cockpit bulkhead and the corrugated cables for the gun triggers and interrupter gear. The four-piece, independent arrangement of the axle wing struts may require a decent jig to ensure proper and sturdy alignment. Many of the parts appear to be very delicate and removal from the sprue and subsequent cleanup will require minimal pressure to avoid breakage. Parts #A39 and A48- the port and starboard cockpit interior framing- both have a sprue support spanning four(4) points molded into them which will require extreme caution during removal. However, I did not see any sprue gates that impinge on the parts themselves so cleanup should not involve significant restoration. The rudder pedal braces are sealed with flash in both of my kits. The elevators on this (and sprue F) feature molded-in control horns which will require caution to avoid breakage during handling of the kit. Personally, I would've preferred to see the control horns in metal on the p/e fret. The rudder control horns are molded separately in plastic on the same sprues as each version of the rudder. There are a few parts that bear mold seams along their lengths that will have to be scraped or sanded away. One glaring issue on this sprue is toothy flash along the trailing edges of the ailerons which obscures the rib ends and shallow scalloping. There are several methods one can apply to restore the shape, but it promises to be exacting work.

Sprue B: The main airframe parts, two propellers, and the cabane struts. Surface contours on the exterior of the fuselage halves is subtle and smooth with crisp details present where appropriate. The triangular formers inside the fuselage are the only molded-in details evident on the interior, the rest being left to the interior subassemblies. The forward cockpit deck, integral to the middle wing includes tiny fasteners and recessed bolts with very subtle undercut and relief. These features promise to pop out nicely with a suitable oil wash. All three wings are molded as single pieces, each having the correct number of ribs- the stitching and tape details are exquisite- and the restrained fabric texture should look marvelous under a few layers of paint and clear coat. There's a fine, but very noticeable, mold seam running perfectly around the edges of all three wings in both of my kits. A soft core, medium grit sanding stick should do the trick, but be careful not to flatten the edges of the parts.

Some collectors have already mentioned an issue with the wings on a few forums, so let's address the elephant in the room (er, on sprue). Apparently, Meng (or Wingnut Wings) thought it would be a good idea to provide arch supports with large sprue pins pointing downward in order to protect the very delicate cabane struts. However, the pins appear to protrude a few mm beyond the lower plane of the perimeter and interior courses of the overall sprue. This discrepancy appears to be the culprit in a production process that resulted in all three wings bearing a constant-rate curvature as viewed from the front and back. (Remember the upper wing on DML's 1/48th Fokker D.VII?) The wings are solid and heavy, but the struts are dainty so I don't expect perfect alignment to straighten things out. Before I start  building mine, I will strap the wings to a 1/4” x 3” x 29” guitar neck gauge (very straight, inflexible aluminum available from StewMac) and dip them in hot- not boiling- water.  If that doesn't resolve the issue, then I may attempt a kit bash using some of the Roden parts.

Sprue C: This one holds the clear parts, which are crisp, smooth, and transparent. Three varieties of the windscreen are included, plus one part that looks for all the world like a primordial reflector gunsight. I don't recall ever seeing this feature before, so I'm going to have to consult my references to address my ignorance.

Sprue D: Cowling, a third propeller, alternate control column, and axle wing. The axle wing on both this sprue A appear to be approximately 3mm too wide when compared to the drawings in my Windsock book, assuming that my scale-up of the line drawings didn't result in distortion and I'm correct about that, but an extra1.5mm per side probably won't be a glaring discrepancy anyway. I didn't detect any other issues on this sprue, which appears to contain parts exclusive to the later Dr.I variants.

Sprue E: Engine parts. Two versions of the engine front are provided, with separate cylinder heads, and the rear details on for the valve lifters and pipes look marvelous. The sprue gate layout is extensive and may require extra attention to avoid breakage. The molding, however, appears to be state-of-the-art.

Sprue F: Ailerons, horizontal tail, rudder, alternate cowlings, and wheels for the F.I and early Dr.I variants. As on Sprue D, the cowlings are lovely. The characteristic rivets, facial overlap, and curvatures appear to be crisp, accurate, and faithful to the original. There is some irritating flash present on the trailing edges of these ailerons, but it's less prominent than on the ailerons on Sprue A.

Photoetch: These metal parts are thin and precisely cut. Surface detail and textures are consistent with that of the plastic parts, so they should blend in well among the surrounding features to which they attach. There are no connection points between the fret and the parts, but rather a thin cellophane backing that holds them in place until destiny calls on them to either take their place on the model or spend eternity in the insatiable belly of the carpet monster.

Decals: Options include the most famous triplanes of all time... Richthofen's all red Fok. Dr.I '425/17' and Voss' FI.103, Hermann Göring's Jasta 27 mount, and '202/17' flown by Jasta 19's Walter Göttsch. The serial number decals appear to have the correct fonts, but to my eye are too heavy/bold. Oddly, the Richthofen scheme only provides the Maltese-style crosses, so it's final appearance would require outsourced national insignia. Based on the photographs in my possession, it seems that Meng messed up the face decal for the cowling based on some highly questionable artwork. The eyebrows, eye shapes, and moustache are incorrect in every perceivable way. I've included images for the reader to compare and derive their own conclusions, but  any modeler wishing to build this one will probably have to outsource this decal from the Encore Models or Aviattic/Pheon sheets. As for the box art, if you don't mind, then perhaps it won't matter.

Instruction booklet: The instructions are printed in color, the recommended order of assembly seems logical, and include grey squares with letters A-D to indicate which of the alternate parts are appropriate for each variant and/or decal option. Nearly devoid of historical or technical information, they're printed on thin glossy paper and don't really emulate the handsome booklets typically provided by Wingnut Wings. Meng have attempted to compensate by including information sheets printed in several languages on heavy rag paper, but those do not include any photographs.

Conclusion: For those of us who really dig the Fokker Triplanes, the announcement from Wingnut Wings lifted our hearts like the promise of a new and untamed land, eyes bright and wide with enthusiasm. Some of us even twitched and shivered in gleeful anticipation when initial test shots and CAD images were revealed. Then, struck by the saddening announcement that the New Zealand-based kit design firm was closing indefinitely and likely forever just prior to the release of the nearly-finished Fokker Triplanes, our spirits were then somewhat buoyed once again when the word went around that Meng had secured the rights to finish the project and distribute it.

I had very high hopes for this kit and based on the discrepancies and arguably egregious errors, such as the obvious bow in the wings, circa 1970s flash and mold lines here and there, plus some erroneous decals, I suspect that Meng may have simply lunged toward the finish line and landed a little bit short. Frankly, I would've rather seen all of these issues detected prior to distribution even if I had to wait several additional months. (Yes, I know, I can already hear the chorus... “Stop whining! Any decent modeler possessing a modicum of skill should be able to fix all of that!” Hey, it's your time, your money.

This 1/32nd scale Fokker Triplane displays some significant refinements in detail, shape, and dimension over previous, similar releases from other manufacturers. Built with some corrections and vigilance in parts cleanup, it should make for a beautiful model. I look forward to building both of mine and remain nearly as excited to have two in the stash as I was to hear that the project was being revived. However, I'll be keeping my Roden kits, and unless Meng addresses the bigger issues described above, then I think there's still room on the market for yet another 1/32nd Fokker Triplane. Perhaps even from a company originally born in my own home state of Arizona aka, “The Copper State”.

(Kit purchased by the reviewer)

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