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1/72 Eduard Dr.1 (Flyboys)

Article by Lee Rouse

In April 1917, the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) introduced the Sopwith Triplane. The Sopwith swiftly proved itself superior to the Albatros and Halberstadt scouts then in use by the German Air Service. In response, the Idflieg immediately solicited designs for new triplane scouts. Fokker was the ultimate winner in the ensuing competition. Delivery of production machines, designated Dr.1, commenced in October. All aircraft were delivered to squadrons within Richthofen's Jagdgeschwader 1. Compared to the Albatros and Pfalz fighters it replaced, the Dr.I offered remarkable maneuverability and initial rate of climb. However, the triplane's instability made it a poor gun platform. More importantly, it was considerably slower than contemporary Allied fighters in level flight and in a dive. Furthermore, the Dr.I proved tricky to land and prone to ground looping, as evidenced by the wooden skids mounted on the lower wingtips. The cockpit was cramped, and the proximity of the gun butts to the cockpit, combined with poor crash padding, left the pilot vulnerable to serious head injury in the event of a crash landing.

The current Eduard release of the Dr.1 has decals for Dr.1's used in the movie Flyboys (actually there was only one Dr.1, which went through a couple of paint changes each day). The kit is comprised of 33 parts, which reflect excellent detail for the scale, and no flash. There is no photo-etch in this kit, which further simplifies the building process. The fit of the parts is excellent, and the parts breakdown is such that most join lines reflect lines on the actual aircraft. For 1/72 scale, the cockpit of very adequate to my eye. The only additions I made were masking tape seat belts and shoulder harnessing. After joining the fuselage halves, I added the bottom wing. The cockpit opening was covered with a plug of Blue-Tack, and the painting began. I chose the black scheme. Remember that both sets of markings in this kit reflect what was used in the movie, and are not historically accurate. I'm usually a stickler for historical accuracy, but in this case I thought the markings looked pretty cool and so I built straight from the box.

Because I chose the black aircraft scheme, I decided to start with a base of Tamiya flat black mixed with a little white, which resulted in a very dark gray. My original idea was to dry brush this with Lamp Black artist's oil paint. However, I apparently did not make the base coat light enough because when I applied the dry brushing, it was hardly noticeable. I eventually went back and highlighted the raised ribbing of the wings with gray pastel. It's still very subtle, but I think it definitely looks better that just flat black. The only really fiddly part of the build was installing the machine guns so that they rested in the proper position and were properly aligned. I eventually resolved this by first gluing each machine gun to part 9, and then gluing this assembly onto the cowling.

I used .005 smoke-colored sewing thread for rigging and control lines. I drilled holes using a #80 bit chucked in a Dremel tool, which was set to spin at a very slow rate (thereby mostly avoiding melting the plastic).

Decals were in perfect register, thin, and went on without any problem. I added a little Solvaset to snuggle them down, but I'm not sure that that was even necessary.

Every picture I've seen of Dr.1's indicates that the propeller was a laminate with very obviously different colored woods. After trying to replicate this a couple of times and being dissatisfied, I chickened out and followed the base coat of Tamiya buff with some wet brushing with artist's oil raw sienna. Looks good, but not really accurate.

Which is OK, because this diminutive little model was such a pleasure to build that I will probably be building another one at some point in the future. There's plenty of room in my crowded model case for more of these little guys. The actual aircraft is small compared to its real-time contemporaries, and in 1/72 it is truly munchkin size, being only about 3 inches in length. The entire assembly process only took me two weeks of spare time modeling, something unheard of at my workbench. It felt good to actually finish something without encountering any headaches along the way.

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The figure is from a CMK set (F72044, Richtofen Flying Circus WWI). There are very few 1/72 figure sets for WWI aviators. I've painted a couple of 1/72 figures before from Preiser sets. This figure, is resin, and is much more detailed that any injection molded 1/72 figures I've seen (OK, I haven't seen that many!). Still, it's very small, and definitely requires an Optivisor with high-powered lenses to do the paint job justice. Like the aircraft, completing the figure was much simplified by the scale. I started by assembling the figure (i.e., attaching the head), and giving it a bit of a scrub with a small toothbrush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. A primer coat of airbrushed Mr. Surfacer 1000 followed. Base coats for the pants, boots, jacket and face were done in acrylics, followed by a wash of oil paints similar in color to the base coat. The canine figure is from a Preiser set of WWII figures. Fortunately, animals are timeless!

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