Fokker E.III Eindecker. Airfix 1:72

The first half of 1916 had led to the development of the Fokker Eindecker (‘monoplane’) and during the second half of 1916, it became the dominant factor in aerial warfare. This was the time of the ‘Fokker Scourge’ as the propagandists on both sides called it.

Although this is a tiny model (just 5 1/2 inches across), it represents one of the most famous and influential aircraft of all time, the Fokker Eindecker (‘monoplane’) of the First World War.

Only my second venture into First World War aircraft in about thirty years of modelling and if you know anything about rigging model aircraft, you’ll understand why! It is a very fiddly and time-consuming operation but I believe worth the effort. I used a stretchy clear nylon thread (which looks like metal) and fine wire attached with superglue to represent the bracing wires. The major attraction in my opinion of the Great War aircraft are all the wonderful and exotic colour schemes, especially on the German side, the most famous of course being the all-red scheme of Baron von Richthofen’s Fokker Tri-plane.

This is a new tooling by Airfix and I have to say they have done a very good job. Everything fit well and despite its fragility, the model is quite sturdy when everything is glued in place.

Flown by the famous ace Ernst Udet, Kampfeinsitzerkommando, Habsheim, France, March 1916. The pilot figure appears to be wearing a standard blue uniform. The choice of flying clothing was conditioned by time of year and the altitude at which the pilot expected to fly. In winter or at height the cold is intense, and privately purchased fur lined clothing was warmer.
The period of the ‘Fokker Scourge’ lasted six months during the winter of 1915/1916 when an inferior pre-war, underpowered aircraft, the Fokker Monoplane, dominated the skies over the Western Front solely because it was armed with the most famous of German ‘secret weapons’-a machine gun (7.92mm LMG 08/15 ‘Spandau’) synchronised to fire between the blades of a revolving (wooden) propeller. However, the interrupter gear gave perpetual trouble and instances of pilots shooting away their own airscrews were very frequent. Remember also pilots didn’t wear parachutes in those times!

The original Fokker E1, 80hp monoplane underwent several changes. With clipped wings and a 100-hp Oberursel it was known as the EII; redesigned with 31′ 2 3/4″ wings this became the most famous Eindekker of all, the Fokker E.III.

The yellowish area just aft of the engine represents leaking oil! The usual Fokker method of attack was in a dive; it is uncertain whether the famous ‘Immelmann turn’ (see below), in which the pilot pulls up into the first half of a loop to gain height then stall turns to face his adversary again, was Immelmann’s own invention or that of the Bristol Scout pilot Gordon Bell.
The ‘Immelmann Turn’

The introduction of this new weapon naturally led to counter tactics on the part of the Allies. These were the beginnings of the ‘dogfighting’ techniques and its protagonists, the ‘aces’. Meanwhile the less glamourous but basically more important tasks of spotting for the artillery and reconnaissance were developing rapidly, as were the embryonic bombing forces of the belligerent powers.

Internal construction. 1. Oberursel U 1 100hp rotary engine. 2. Wooden prop. 3. Forward fuel tank. 4. Undercarriage ‘Bungee’ rubber cord suspension bar. 5. Prime pump. 8. Built-up ribs 16. Welded steel tube fuselage structure. 17. Doped linen covering.18. Rear fuel tank.

Until January 1916 air warfare was a very personal matter, not only in the dropping of messages over the lines but in some of the quirky and colourful incidents: Guynemer, the famous French ace, one Sunday morning after shooting down a German over Compiègne , where he lived, spotted his father coming out of church, landed beside the road and asked Papa to ‘please find my Boche’!

The lovely box art
Painting guide on rear
Classic account really gives you an idea of what it was like to fly and fight in the Great War