Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fokker Triplane Build: Part 1

And now...onto the Jasta 19 Fokker Dr.I build.

As I've been threatening, I'm now starting into a build of five Fokker Triplanes for our Canvas Eagles games. I'm using Eduard 1/72 scale kits with Gunsight Graphics streak painting decals and the Pheon Models transfer sheet for the individual plane markings.

Why Jasta 19? Well, first of all, their markings in late March/early April 1918 were stark, and quite beautiful. They'll be easy to identify and differentiate on the game table.

Second, this was a work-a-day unit. It wasn't stacked full of celebrated pilots who were tearing up the skies of France. In fact, the unit was struggling in early 1918. I guess I'm a sucker for the also-rans! Be that as it may, as the last big German offensive of the war was getting underway (Operation Michael, March 21, 1918), Jasta 19 was one of four squadrons constituting Jagdgeschwader II, another fighter wing patterned after Manfred von Richthofen's very successful Jagdgeschwader I.

I have three of the required five kits on the hobby table...still waiting on the mail for the last two. However, the major components are prepped and I've started into the painting and wing decaling.

This is a flight line shot of Jasta 19 aircraft in April 1918. The first three planes you can see here will be included in this build.

In late March and early April, Jasta 19's leader was Leutnant Walter Gottsch. He was fated to be shot down on April 10th, 1918, just as the Jasta was starting to come into its own. His final victory total was 20 enemy aircraft. He was credited with 3 victories in this build's swastika-marked triplane before he was killed in action.

As I mentioned, Jasta 19 was a somewhat under-performing unit. JG II's new commanding officer, Rudolf Berthold, sent his own man to the squadron in order to give them a kick-start. This pilot was Leutnant Arthur Rahn. Rahn scored twice in his diamond-banded triplane. He was wounded on July 17 and finished the war with a total of 6 victories.

Leutnant Rudolf Rienau spent most of his flying career with Jasta 19. He scored once in his striped-fuselage triplane in early March, and then ran up his tally to 6 (flying a Fokker D.VII) towards the end of the war. He was shot down on September 13th 1918, but was saved by his parachute. He was killed in a flying accident in 1925.

Leutnant Hans Korner scored once in his zig-zag marked Jasta 19 triplane on the last day of March, 1918. He survived the war with a final victory total of 7. He remained in aviation after the war, but was killed in a motorcycle accident on the way to his airfield.

Back to the builds...

So I've tried to simulate Fokker paint streaks on models before. And while I was pretty satisfied with the result, it took f-o-r-e-v-e-r. This time around, I've decided to go with decals for the base paint scheme.

Here are three sets of wings with the decals applied (except for the upper wing ailerons).

Pheon Models supplies a lot of source information for their decal sheet. Here you can see the guidelines for Rahn, Gottsch, Korner and Rienau's machines.

Now, of course, this is a five plane build. So...which is the fifth plane? Well, as you may know, many German records were lost or destroyed at the end of the first and second world wars. As such, our knowledge of all pilots and aircraft is incomplete. Now, what we do know is that there was a Jasta 19 pilot known as Vizefeldwebel Gerdes. He scored a single victory with the squadron on March 16th, 1918. (Sorry, no pilot photo.) We also know the following triplane flew for Jasta 19 at that time, but it's pilot was unknown. Unknown pilot...unknown plane. I dub this Gerdes' triplane! It will be the fifth and final plane of this flight.

Some plan views of this build.

OK, hopefully the last couple of models come in and I can move this build forward.


  1. So what is the deal with the swastika in WW1? Was that a traditional symbol borrowed by AH and his cronies for WW2?

  2. Yes, it was a "good luck" symbol, used by German, British and American pilots (likely others) in WWI...of course it turned into a different kind of symbol in 1933, and has been stigmatized ever since.

  3. Interesting...I did not know that..