1/48 Classic Airframes Fokker D.XXI

Gallery Article by Mike Regan on Dec 9 2016



The production of the Fokker D.XXI came about as result of requirement issued in 1934 by the Netherlands East Indies Army Air Corps for a new fighter to defend what is now Indonesia. The new fighter was designed by Erich Schatski, an expat German Jewish engineer who had previously worked for Junkers and Lufthansa before fleeing the effects of the Nazi race laws to The Netherlands. 

The prototype D.XXI serialled FD-322 first flew on the 27th of February 1936 from Eindhoven's Welschap airfield as soggy conditions at Amsterdam's Schipol Airport made that site unsuitable.  The new aircraft now faced an uncertain future as the East Indies Air Corps had subsequently decided to buy bombers and instead of fighters and the metropolitan Dutch army regarded the new type as too slow. The project was saved by interest from Finland, who became the launch customer for the Fokker D.XXI and the greatest exponent of the type in combat. Interest was also shown by Denmark and one example made it's way to Spain where plans for licence production were scuppered by the civil war. 

One example of the new fighter did in fact make it's way out to the Dutch East Indies, where it was either scrapped or destroyed during the Japanese invasion in early 1942.

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The Dutch Army Air Corps (LVA) did ultimately take the D.XXI into service, with the first of 36 examples flying in May 1938. The type entered frontline service in the summer of 1938 with the army's single fighter squadron (Jachtvlietuigafdeling/ JaVa) based at Schipol Airport. 

The service entry of the Fokker D.XXI was not trouble-free as there were issues of severe vibrations from the main undercarriage wheels rotating in flight, as well as the gun bay covers coming away in the air on occasion. Additionally loading ammunition was a difficult task and most aircraft didn't receive radios until early 1940.
In the period leading up to the German invasion on May 10th 1940, incidents and run-ins with Luftwaffe aircraft increased steadily and after several occasions where Luftwaffe fighters “mistook” Dutch aircraft for French or British aircraft, the national markings were changed from the red/white/blue “rozetten” with the small orange disk at the centre to the distinctive wartime marking of the black-outline orange triangle with black-bordered orange rudders replacing the red/white/blue rudders (which had in fact been overpainted brown in December 1938). 

Despite being on a hiding to nothing following the invasion of May 1940, the Dutch armed forces gave as good as they got and the invaders got a bloody nose for their troubles, with the Luftwaffe in particular losing a considerable number of transports to Dutch and British fighters, and a number of Dutch pilots scored kills against the Luftwaffe as well.

The Kit
Well; what's a Kiwi bloke doing building Dutch aircraft? Quite simple really – in spite of my very Irish last name, my mothers family (Family Vos) hails from Oosterbeek in The Netherlands, arriving here in New Zealand in early 1957, part of the great influx of Dutch and other European migrants which did so much to change and broaden the New Zealand lifestyle in the 1950s and 1960s. As a result of my family ties, this aeroplane nut/modeller has always had an interest in Dutch aviation, particularly military aviation. 

The Fokker D.XXI was the very first kit issued by Classic Airframes, with limited run pale grey plastic and enough brass photo-etch to keep the most ardent exponent of the stuff happy for hours – or drive them completely insane! A nice resin engine and two vac-form canopies, plus markings for Dutch and Danish Fokkers were included.

This isn't that kit. 

Nope – this is the much improved (by CA standards anyway) new tool kit released by both Classic Airframes (Dutch boxing) and Special Hobby (Finnish boxings) several years ago. 

Gone is the enormous p/e fret with all the interior framing; in it's place is a much smaller fret with parts for the cockpit and engine, as well as the elevator actuators. The interior is pretty much all-plastic now, but with p/e seat belts. An injection-moulded canopy of decent clarity replaces the two vac-form canopies of the earlier kit. Markings are provided for both pre-war and wartime D.XXIs and there's also the interesting option of markings for an aircraft in the process of having the old roztten overpainted with the orange triangles. 

Construction commences with the interior – not just the 'pit, but pretty much the whole interior framing that encloses the cockpit itself and goes back into the rear fuselage. 

Typically for a short run kit, the fit is not wonderful and I found myself having to rather harshly trim back some of the rear frame members to get everything inside the fuselage. Colour-wise, everything is light grey and I used Tamiya XF-19 Sky Grey for this, with other parts picked out in colour as required. 

The wings are straightfoward to assemble, but they do lack the landing light that is positioned between the machine gun ports on each wing – next time I build one of these critters, I'll rectify that! The fit of the wheel spars is so-so, with filler required to blend them into the lower wings. Of course more filler is needed to then blend the wings into the fuselage – this ain't a Tamiya kit!! 

The motor is a neat resin assembly with photo-etch support braces that attached to the front of the fuselage, with the two-part cowling slipping nicely over it. I finished said motor with Tamiya XF-56 Metallic Grey and XF-16 Aluminium, followed by a wash to pop out the detail. The propeller is a single plastic piece that cleans up nicely.

The only “improvements” I made to the model were to replace both the pitot tube and gunsight rod with brass rod; both of these were moulded in plastic and rather crude and chunky. Subsequently, I found that D.XXI “White 213” did not have the gunsight fitted, but after going cross-eyed getting it all set up..... IT'S STAYING PUT!! (ahem.)

Time for some paint;

Dutch military aircraft in the late 1930s onward were finished in a very distinctive scheme of Camouflagebruin (Camouflage Brown) overall with large patches of Camouflagegrun (Camouflage Green) and Camouflagebeige (Camouflage Beige) on the upper surfaces. 

I used the excellent Dutch Profiles publication on the Fokker D.XXI as a guide and mixed up my colours from Tamiya enamels:

Camouflagebruin; XF-10 Brown with a small amount of XF-1 Flat Back 

Camouflagebeige; XF-55 Deck Tan with a small amount of XF-19 Sky Grey

Camouflagegrun; XF-26 Deep Green neat from the bottle

Sorry – I can't be more precise, as these colours were eyeballed rather than accurately measured!! 

Two coats of each colour were eventually applied, with the cowling ring painted bronze and the propeller in X-11 Chrome Silver (my go-to silver – lovely stuff!) with the rear face of the prop blades in flat black. 

Once glossed up, the excellent kit decals were applied and left to set. A final coat of Testors Dullcote sealed the deal. I had decided from the get-go to finish this model in the pre-war red/white/blue markings as pretty much "every" Fokker D.XXI model seems to be finished in wartime markings – this makes a colourful difference! 

This was a typical Classic Airframes/Special Hobby kit – not without it's challenges to build, but still a fun project. I have another squirreled away which will be finished in wartime colours with those famous orange triangles.

It's worth noting that recently Special Hobby announced that they had acquired the moulds of all the Classic Airframes kits and they will begin reissuing them - the first up is the .....Fokker D.XXI! This time upgraded with new parts to enable both Dutch and Danish aircraft to be modelled.

New Zealand's connection with Anthony Fokker's company is strong, with Charles Kingsford-Smith making the first trans-Tasman crossing from Australia to NZ in his Fokker triplane the Southern Cross and both the National Airways Corporation and then Air New Zealand operating the F.27 Friendship on domestic routes for decades - also add in use by the RNZAF, New Zealand Post and the Civil Aviation Authority as well. 

Mike Regan

Photos and text © by Mike Regan