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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby # SH32076
Fokker D.II "Grünzweig’s Planes" -- 1:32 Scale



Nose art goes back to nearly the beginning of the age of aviation and has provided some of the most memorable paint schemes in history.  Nose art is also deeply entwined with the very identities of many famous (and not-so-famous) aircraft and their crews.  During the First World War, the Germans were among those that adorned their aircraft with very distinctive paint jobs giving them quite a bit of character.  In this release from April 2018, Special Hobby brings us a 1:32 scale Fokker D. II with the nose art of German Lt. Fritz Grünzweig.   

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The before the first decade of aviation came to an end, the airplane went to war.  The pace of new designs increased rapidly.  The Germans were among the first to operate combat monoplanes such as the Fokker E.II Eindecker.  It did not take long for the E.II to be outclassed by new Allied fighters, and Fokker returned to a biplane design to supersede the E.II – the Fokker D.II.  The Fokker D.II was powered by a 100hp Oberursal UR.I powerplant and equipped with a single 7.92 mm LMG 08/15 machine gun.

The German Army ordered 177 D.IIs, but production was so slow that by the time it reached operational status, it was already obsolete and outdone by the Nieuport 11 and 17.  The D.II performance was only marginally better than earlier Fokker Eindecker it was to replace.  Their retirement from the front lines was further hastened by the introduction of the Albatross.  A few D.IIs saw combat, but most spent their lifetimes as trainers.  By September 1917 most D.IIs were no loner flying.

Lt. Fritz Grünzweig was a fighter pilot by profession and also a gifted artist, painter, and caricature artist.  According to some accounts, he was a real “character” who personified the cocky, flamboyant, and showman-like stereotype of fighter pilots during the Great War.  He adorned both of his D.IIs with nose art, turning his Fokkers into distinctive and quirky looking characters.

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This Special Hobby 1:32 scale Fokker D. II is a multimedia kit consisting of injection molded parts and photoetched metal detail parts.  It’s the second 1:32 scale D.II released by Special Hobby with its molds going back to a recent 2017 tooling.  It contains 83 medium gray parts distributed across three sprues along with one fret of photoetched metal parts (featuring an additional 122 parts) and two clear acetate film parts (one is used for the windscreen with the other as a backup).  The full-color instruction booklet guides the build over 31 steps and includes a full-color painting and markings guide.  Markings are provided for two of Grünzweig’s aircraft:

Strengths:  Special Hobby’s Fokker D. II really looks like a great 1:32 scale kit of this airplane.  I would rate it as comparable to any given Roden kit, though it does not reach the level of a Wingnuts Wings offering.  Either way, you’ve certainly got a very solid and promising looking kit here from this in-the-box.  I’ve also seen this kit built up, and it can turn into something really outstanding.

There are multiple highlights of this offering.  First, kits of the D.II are pretty rare, and this is the only 1:32 scale injection molded D.II.  The cockpit is well done, and that’s how it needs to be in this scale.  You get the entire cockpit frame, seat, photoetched shoulder harnesses and lap belts, the single instrument gauge (which I believe was the airspeed indicator), throttle, and fuel tank that sat behind the pilot’s seat.  Decals are provided for the instrument dial face.    

Overall, the construction of this model will be pretty uncomplicated, and that is another virtue of the kit.  The wings are single-piece moldings (free of any discernable warp) and this, of course, makes assembly more straightforward.  I also snipped off the fuselage halves and lower wings from the sprues and found virtually perfect fits.  The full-color instruction booklet guides the build over 31 steps.  The instructions are very well rendered and go to some length to make sure you get things right, for instance, with very clear instructions for interplane strut geometry and rigging diagrams.

The kit also provides the complete Oberursal UR.I powerplant with photoetched metal ignition wires.  It looks quite nice.  The photoetched metal cooling jacket for the machine gun is exquisite.  Another really nice feature found in this kit are the prominent canvass stitching seams on the bottom of the fuselage.  Here, single photoetched parts represent these stitching seams, and they look absolutely great.  The high parts count noted earlier involving the photoetched metal parts relate to the fact that the PE fret includes all of the turnbuckles you need to rig your D.II.  They look good to my eyes in terms of size (they don’t seem TOO over-scale, which is a complaint about a lot of PE metal turnbuckles). There are also at least three different turnbuckle styles and shapes here unique to the D.II.  The decals were produced by Aviaprint.  All looks to be in register and all-around well-printed. 

Weaknesses:  Your reviewer is not a Fokker D. II subject matter expert by any means, but I try do thorough research in the process of a review.  Compared to the reference material I gathered up, this kit appears to be pretty spot-on and nothing stood out to me as obviously inaccurate.  From an engineering point-of-view, the only two critiques that I can identify involve the fact that the engine is molded in front and rear halves, and that can produce really mean seams going down the sides of each of the cylinders.  Also, some of the sprue gates connecting parts to the sprues are a bit chunky.  So, for some parts and assemblies, clean-up will be a bit more time consuming.  

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In all, this is a really nice kit of the Fokker D. II.  Special Hobby did a very good job here, especially considering the fact that this is the only one of its kind in 1:32 scale.  The bar has been set high, and the PE parts really elevate the baseline injection molded kit.  The markings options are also quite distinctive and fun, especially for someone who has limited experience building WWI subject matter.  This kit should provide a lot of enjoyment and serve as a relatively easy build.  The markings top off the kit, and which ever option you choose, Grünzweig’s nose art will make it a very distinctive looking final product.      

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample. You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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