Tony Fokker's and Rheinhold Platz's penultimate fighter design was the D.VII. Many argue that it was the best all around fighter of the Great War. Its fame is akin to that of the Messerfirestangs of WWII and so much has been written about it that a potted "history" here is pointless. You all probably know a great deal more about the D.VII than I can ever hope to learn. I've listed six references at the end of this review and they will more than suffice except for the most dedicated and inquisitive enthusiast.
It's big! The big box is very attractively presented (The French always do very well with matters relating to art and good taste.) showing color profiles of the two color schemes provided for by the decals. The top-opening (Yay!) box is almost stout enough for its task.
The parts generally compare quite closely with the Ian Stair and Dave Roberts drawings in the Windsock Datafile and Anthologies referenced below. The quality of the injection-molded parts is reminiscent of early Eduard kits - a little soft around the edges, corners and some details and with noticeably pebbly surfaces. Plan to spend a significant amount of time prepping the parts for use. Both early and late Fokker engine cowling side panels are provided as well as early and late exhausts. BTW - The reason there is difference between early production cowlings and exhausts is that engine heat concentrating in the forward fuselage was "cooking off" the new German incendiary rounds loaded in the ammunition tanks just behind the engine compartment! The engineering of the kit in this area implies that we will see more versions of the D.VII released in the fullness of time. The kit's engineering is otherwise absolutely conventional: Vertically split fuselage halves, Wings in upperand lower halves, Tailplane and Rudder/Fin each in one piece. A small photo etch sheet is included along with a pair of resin Spandaus. The only significant errors that jumped out at me in this "First Look" were that the sternpost is leaning forward a noticeable amount and the last bay of the fuselage on the bottom is molded closed and it should be open for the tail skid. The propeller just does not look right either and the shape of the cutout in top of the engine cowling over the valve gear does not look quite right either. The prop and the cowling will require some study of photos to correct. If i build this model, I'll carve my own prop so that I know it'll be right.
The decal sheet and painting guide provide for two early D.VIIs: 309/18 of Ltn. Friedrich Friedrichs, Jasta 10 in 1918 and that of Haupt. Rudolph Berthold, Jasta 15 in 1918 (Serial unknown). Friedrichs' plane has streaky green fuselage sides and top with a light turquoise belly and yellow nose. A blue body band and red, white and black coats of arms on either side complete the fuselage colors and markings. The upper and lower wing surfaces carry German lozenge camouflage. The rudder and aft half of the fin are white. This is a very colorful plane indeed. Berthold's plane has the fuselage sides from the cockpit aft, including the top of the tailplane, front half of the fin and the top of the spreader bar painted dark blue. The top surface of both wings is the same dark blue. There's a wide white band over the top of the upper mainplane's center section. The nose, wheels and wing and undercarriage struts are red. The undersides of the wings, spreader bar and tailplane are in lozenge camouflage. All of this is finished off with Berthold's personal emblem of a winged sword in white on either side of the fuselage just aft of the cockpit. Certainly the aftermarket decal makers will rush to offer markings for other equally colorful D.VIIs. There is such an amazing variety of liveries from which to choose. The kit includes and adequate acreage of upper and lower surface lozenge decal material along with a cutting guide. The colors of the lozenge patterns look too bright to me. I would tone them down a bit with a final overspray of Tamiya Smoke or a little black in a lot of clear. This will also blend the colors a bit.
You will have noticed there's not much of a negative or nit-picking nature in the above review of the kit - that's because it's good. Battleaxe, of France, has produced a very good kit of a very popular subject, from which an outstanding model can be built. You must remember this, however, as the scale of a model increases the threshold for detail is correspondingly lowered. Details that can be ignored in 1/72nd must be addressed in 1/32nd - things like screw heads and serial numbers on individual components of the airframe for example. Even though I don't build in 1/32nd scale, this kit tempts me. The review sample from Emil Minerich's Skyway Model Shop in Seattle was priced at $59.95; I believe the MSRP is about ten bucks higher.
Profile No. 25: (No author's credit), Profile Publications, UK.
Fokker D.VII In Action: D. Edgar Brannon, Squadron Signal Publications, Carrollton, Texas, 1996, ISBN 0-89747-371-X.
Windsock Datafile 9 - Fokker D.VII: P. M. Grosz, Albatros Productions, Ltd., Berkhamsted, Herts, UK, 1993, ISBN 0-948414-15-4. (Addresses all D.VIIs)
Fokker D.VII Anthology 1: Charles Schaedel, Dave Roberts & Ray Rimell, Albatros Productions, Ltd., Berkhamsted, Herts, UK, 1997, ISBN 0-948414-99-5. (Addresses Fokker built D.VIIs)
Fokker D.VII Anthology 2: Dave Roberts, Greg Van Wyngarden, Harry Woodman & Ray Rimell, Albatros productions, Ltd., Berkhamsted, Herts, UK, 2000, ISBN 1-902207-10-6. (Addresses Albatros and O.A.W. license built D.VIIs)
NB Albatros Productions are currently advertising Anthology 3 to be available in March 2002.