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Book Review
Fokker Dr.I
The aces' aircraft.
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by: Mecenas [ MECENAS ]


The Great War have created and developed on a large scale one of the new arms – the air arm. From the very first airplanes, unarmed reconaissance airplanes to the fast, well armed professional fighters and multi-engined bombers in just four years – it was one of the biggest progress in the develop of new weapon in the history of human conflicts. Next to monoplane and biplane one of the airplanes design developed into active service was the triplane. The debut of the British Sopwith Triplane by the end of 1916 was a big surprise for their enemies, as it proved to be better than Albatros D.III, then the best German fighter. Although great this plane didn't become a symobol of the airwar as when you hear "triplane" you probably don't think about Sopwith... One of the constructions, designed in response to the Sopwith, was the Fokker F.I, an absolutely new aircraft designed by Anthony Fokker and Reinhold Platz (chief constructor in the Fokker bureau). Powered with the 110hp Oberursel UR.II rotary engine (a licenced production of LeRône unit) F.I proved to have the great rate of climb and maneuverability, although its maximum speed was just satisfactory. The Dreideckers gained the reputation of the dreaded enemy, especially when flown by an experienced pilot. Thanks to the famous aces who fought and died in F.I or later Dr.I types, like Werner Voss or Manfred von Richthofen, the Fokker triplane plane became one of the symbols of the Great War, although the number of produced planes was barely above 300 machines.
Book content

The book content is split into few parts and chapters, what becomes typical for the latest Kagero releases. What is not difficult to guess the first chapter is the historical background and the construction development, including history of the prototypes. Then we go to the combat service of Dr.I types where we can briefly familiarize with the aces like Voss, Richthofen, Jacobs or Wolff and the introduction of the plane to particular Jastas and JG units. Next we have the description of construction details (divided into sections for fuselage, wings, elevator and rudder, undercarriage, engine and armament). Another section describes painting schemes and markings. We can find here a summary and descriptions of quick-recognition patterns and colours used in particular Jastas. By the way I think I found an error in the description of the struts. Author says that the struts had painted markings enabling their identification and location, for example "OL for top right, OR for top left." I'm afraid this markings and their explanations are mixed up in the text as “top right” in German is “oben rechts” so the initials should be OR, not OL. The same refers to the bottom struts. The “historical” part of the book ends with the bibliography and endnotes, two appendixes (about rotary engines and Reinhold Platz) and eight tables with different statistics related with Dreideckers (production/serial numbers, aces kills on Dr.I's, performance in comparison to Sopwith Triplane or with other engines used).

Another part of the book, the largest, are 3D drawings. This part starts with the six port side profiles of the famous aces aircrafts and four views from different perspectives of the Jasta 11 plane from March 1918 (plane no. 502/17). Next we go to the deatiled drawings of construction. First ones depicts the complete Dr.I striped from the covering fabric which are followed by a lot of close-ups of particular planes sections (armament, pilots' office, undercarriage, fuselage truss, wings truss, ammo boxes, fuel and oil tanks, cowling, instruments, control column, propellers, ailerons, elevator unit etc. and much more). Authors have also attached very detailed drawings of power units used on the Dr.I: the Oberursel UR.II and Clerget 9B engines (although Clerget pictures are in other section of the book).

The close-ups of the construction details are followed by the views from different perspectives of the three aces Dreideckers. We will find here an all-black Josef Jacobs' Dr.I (450/17 – this machine was fitted with Clerget 9B engine, six views of the engine are enclosed in this part), Red Baron's 425/17 (in which he was shot down) and Werner Voss's F.I (103/17). We can also find two drawings showing the shape differences of the horizontal stabilizer and wing ailerons between F.I's and Dr.I's.

The book content ends with nine anaglyph drawings showing cockpit interior, armament, engine and the whole strip-down aircraft.
Reviewer comment

It is very difficult for me to judge the book as there is no comparison or point of reference.The quality and level of details on the 3D drawings is simply outstanding. Kagero have set a new standard on the market. The historical background is enough to understand the circumstances of the Driedecker's phenomenon when it appeared above the First War battlefields. Some may say it's not enough to describe the whole Dr.I duty, but this is not the subject of the book. In my opinion this is a great reference for everybody who wants to understand the planes construction, how the parts were attached to each other or how they worked. At the first eye glimpse it may be difficult to orientate in all these riggings but after a few minutes of careful study everything becomes clear. The book value is even greater when we realize there is no preserved Dr.I in the world. This means that everything what is depicted on the drawings had to be re-engineered, first in the illustrator's imagination, than on the paper. As for the modelers, especially the large scalers (I mean bigger than 1:72), there will be no excuse for omissions of any details and saying “I didn't know how it looked like”. Sorry guys...

The advertisement in the book says, that the next part will be about Fokker D.VII...

The pictures attached to this review were purposely unfocused on the request of Publisher to prevent any illegal copying. In fact, they are perfectly sharp in the real book.

When contacting manufacturers and publishers please mention you saw this review at AEROSCALE
Highs: Superb quality of 3D drawings, depicts all aircraft details which are usually hidden on the photographs, sets new standard on the market.
Lows: Some minor omissions on the drawings, few typos in the text. Some drawings could have scale, this way we need separate plans if we want to build a very accurate kit.
Verdict: Highly reccomended to the modelers and enthusiasts of the Great War aviation. Must have for everybody who wants to detail-up a scale model kit.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 978-83-62878-09-3
  Suggested Retail: 27,25EUR
  PUBLISHED: Dec 26, 2011

Our Thanks to Kagero Publishing!
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About Mecenas

Copyright ©2021 text by Mecenas [ MECENAS ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Nice work Michael! Good review.
DEC 27, 2011 - 07:23 AM
Interesting review Michal. Only one problem with saying that this book is a reference for building accurate scale replicas.. They are only computer generated images. As you said it had to be 'imagined' in the illustrators mind before being put into the computer. Were these taken from original Fokker plans or just imagined? Therefore, making statements that "there will be no excuse for omissions of any details and saying “I didn't know how it looked like”. Sorry guys..." is not really fair or accurate IMHO. But be that as it may, it is a well written review Michal.
DEC 27, 2011 - 07:46 AM
Many thanks for you opinions gents. Warren, I realize the problem and pointed to the lack of scale on some drawings, regarding the accuracy. Those two authors are very well known and respected writers-authorities in Poland. Well, I'm certainly not the expert of early aviation but I don't believe there are no plans or other technical refferences for those drawings.
DEC 27, 2011 - 08:14 AM
Actually there are drawings - from Flight magazine 1918. Placement of most of the instruments was first confirmed by Alex Imrie's book on the Fokker Triplane.
DEC 27, 2011 - 08:32 AM

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