by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Special Hobby have released a new semi-short run kit of the Fokker D.XXI, famous for its desperate clash against the Luftwaffe, despite facing overwhelming odds in the defence of Holland in 1940 and, later, in Finnish hands as a rugged fighter against the Red Air Force. Despite its antiquated appearance and obvious obsolescence, the D.XXI soldiered on with the Finnish Air Force until 1949 and wasn't declared officially surplus to requirements until 1952!
The D.XXI fist caught my eye as a child back in the '70s thanks to the Flypast compilation of Profile Publications, but it's an aircraft that's never appeared as a mainstream kit. Classic Airframes released a mix-media model over 10 years ago and this new Special Hobby kit really serves to show just how far short- and semi-short run technology has progressed over the intervening period.
The kit arrives in a solid conventional box with a new-style artwork that is very eye-catching. The main sprues, clear and resin parts are all bagged separately, while an etched fret is seal in with the decals. The kit comprises:
93 x Grey styrene parts
3 x Clear styrene parts (5 unused)
29 x Beige resin parts (6 spare)
30 x Etched metal parts
Decals for 4 colour schemes
The parts show all the hallmarks of the MPM group of companies - so, that means quite soft styrene, with finely engraved panel lines and (in my opinion) some of the nicest-depicted fabric surfaces in injected kits. The moulding is pretty clean, with just a hint of flash on some of the smaller parts. There are some knock-out pin marks to deal with (a couple are very prominent in the cockpit), but my kit was free of sink-marks except for a couple of small ones on the tailplane.
Now, I'll state straight away that my references for the D.XII are limited to the above-mentioned Profile, so I can't judge the kit for accuracy. It does differ considerably from the old Classic Airframes kit though, both in the fuselage - particularly in the position of the stabilizer - and in the wings, which are both longer in span and have a much deeper airfoil at the roots. A test fit looks very positive. There are no locating pins but the fuselage halves line-up perfectly and the wings fit well, with nice thin trailing edges.
The kit includes quite a complex interior, with a comprehensive framework structure that extends way back towards the tail - hopefully a sign that a P&W Twin Wasp-powered Finnish aircraft with glazed fuselage spine is also planned. The seat is fitted with an etched harness, and the flying controls and other details are also good. It's a shame that an etched instrument panel isn't included - the injected version isn't bad, but the details aren't a patch on the old Classic Airframes etched version. That said, the injected canopy is moulded closed (and, with only one included, it'll be tricky and risky to try to slice it up to open the access panels), so the instruments may be largely hidden on the finished model. The canopy itself is nice and clear with a crisply defined framework.
Resin radial engines are often a highpoint in Special Hobby kits, and the D.XXI's Mercury is no exception, with separate cylinders, pushrods and crankcase - 19 parts in total.
There are alternative stabilizers, depending on the colour scheme, plus a choice of undercarriages with wheels or skis.
Instructions and paintingThe assembly diagrams are excellent - clearly laid out, with additional info-views and Gunze Sangyo paint matches keyed to the details in most of the 19 stages. The 4 Finnish Air Force colour schemes are illustrated in colour on a separate sheet:
a. Fokker D.XXI FR-98, "White 3" of 1, LLv 12, Nurmoily, May 1942.
b. Fokker D.XXI FR-98, White 3" - the same aircraft as above, 5/LLv 24, January 1940 and 1/LLv 32, June 1941.
c. Fokker D.XXI FR-97, "White 2", flown by Lt. Jorma Sarvanto, 1940.
d. Fokker D.XXI FR-100, "White X", 1/LeLv 14, Tiiksjärvelle, August 1942, flown by Lt. M. Tainiem.
The decals are very nicely printed; thin and glossy, with minimal carrier film. The Finnish Hakaristi (swastikas) are split into sections in a pointless exercise to keep the "politically uninformed" happy, but the colours look good. The camouflage diagrams include F.S. equivalents along with Gunze Sangyo matches.
ConclusionSpecial Hobby's Fokker D.XXI looks a very nice little kit that should really appeal to anyone looking for something beyond the usual WW2 fare. The tricky interior structure probably makes it unsuitable for inexperienced modellers but, other than that, the well moulded parts and basically simple airframe makes it an ideal first short-run kit to cut one's teeth on.
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