Kit: DML (1:48)
This model represents the veteran Dr.I 139/17 whilst in service with Jasta
5 during May of 1918.
Dr.I 139/17 was one of 12 aircraft dispatched from the Fokker factory at
Schwerin on 12 December 1917 and was delivered to Ltn. Lothar von Ricthofen’s
Jasta 11. Ltn. von Contra is one Jasta 11 pilot known to have flown it in Feb
The aircraft is finished in the streaky Fokker factory finish. This finish
can be difficult to replicate, but by patiently building up the colour, good
results can be achieved. You may use a base coat such as an enamel-based
paint while you apply the streaking with acrylic paints. If you are unhappy
with the results, immediately strip the acrylics with a remover that will not
affect your enamel base.
The aircraft arrived from the factory with black iron cross insignias
painted on large white cross-fields. These cross-fields were often overpainted
in the field leaving 25mm borders around the iron cross insignia. The order to
convert to straight-sided cross-dated March 17th 1918 resulted in the cross
style that I used on the model. The rudder is white with the appropriate
cross style painted in black.
The original personal markings consisted of horizontal white fuselage
stripe and a pale (possibly blue) disc applied to the fuselage sides as well
as possibly to the turtledeck Along the way it eventually acquired a full set
of Jasta 11 markings consisting of red cowl and interplane struts. The cabane
struts, landing gear struts, wheel centres and wingtip skids could also
acquire a coat of Jasta 11 red. Based on the May 1918 photo of this aircraft,
the wing tip skids appear to have been in factory finish.
In May 1918 Jasta 5 shared the same airfield as JG.1 and was the recipient
of at least 11 hand-me-down triplanes from Jasta 6 and Jasta 11. These units
were re-equipping with the superb Fokker D.VII fighter. Jasta 5 exchanged
it’s worn out Albatros D.V /D.Va fighters for equally worn out examples of
Anthony Fokker’s quirky triplane.
The May 1918 photo shows changes made to the personal markings with the
A white vertical stripe had at some point been added to the fuselage. The
engine cowl, cabane struts, landing gear struts and wheel centres most likely
remained in the red overpainting they received at Jasta 11. The red
interplane struts were overpainted in possibly Jasta 5 green or Fokker
The triplanes tail most likely in green, as Jasta 5 was well known on both
sides of the lines as the “Green Tails”.
The formidable Jasta 5 ace Josef Mai’s flight log shows he flew Dr.I 139/17
on May 15th 1918 to score his 12th victory over a Bristol F2B of the RAF’s 11
To begin with all my models are built to 1/48 scale.
The Fokker V4 triplane (FI 103/17) is the Dragon (DML) kit with Rosemont Hobbies
V4 conversion kit. I use only acrylic paint. The base coat is Gunze Sangyo H-67
(RLM - 65 Light Blue) . Once throughly dry I use very thin Gunze Sangyo H-78 (Olive
Drab 2) . Use a flat brush approx. 8 scale cm wide to replicate the Fokker factory
finish. I followed Ray Rimmel's description (Fokker Triplane Special) of the method
used by Fokker's paint shop but I do it in reverse. The first coat of thin olive
is the lightest streaking seen on my models. When this has throughly dried I selectively
build up the colour with more coats of the thin olive. Use photographs of real
Fokker triplanes as a guide. The key is to work slowly from light to dark.
There is no datum line or weight tables on the V4 triplanes. The lower wing
cross field is painted in clear doped linen (Gunze Sangyo H-321 Light Brown)
on the V4 aircraft. The fuselage cross is farther forward than on production
machines. I used chrome yellow for the cowl and there is a possibility that
the wheel covers were also yellow. Your choice. It has also been suggested that
by Sept 23/1917 a replacement cowl was in place , but in natural metal finish.
The same method was used on Fokker Dr.I 204/17 , Dr.I 454/17 , and Dr.I 586/17
with the exception of Gunze Sangyo H-321 being used as the base coat.
At one stage in the career of Dr.I 204/17 cross patees were applied to large
white cross fields inboard of the interplane struts on the upper surface of
both lower wings. These crosses were later painted out and you can barely see
them on my model under a thin coat of olive.
I painted Dr.I 454/17 in factory finish and then used thin pale yellow to
overcoat in a glaze that allows the factory finish to show through. The crash
photos of this triplane show dark aileron. This is my interpretation of the
top wing. It received a lighter coat of yellow than the fuselage and horizontal
Greg van Wyngarden's monotone profile which appears in his book "von Richthofen's
Flying Circus" was used as my reference for striping Dr.I 586/17.
Kit: Roden (1:32)
This machine was dispatched from Fokker’s factory at Schwerin on Oct 29 1917
and as a result of the requirements for a strengthened wing, had it wings
replaced in the field probably at Air Field Park IV.
It is not known how long it was out of service, but when photographed in late
February 1918 on Phalempin aerodrome when the commander of Jagdgeschwader 1,
Rittmeister Manfred von Ricthofen visited Jasta 30 it was still basically in
it’s factory finish. The engine cowling had only been painted red at this
time and a update to the national insignias had started. A
misinterpretation of the painting orders resulted in the overpainting of the
white background of the rudder in camouflage leaving a 5 cm wide white border.
This treatment should have been applied to the upper wing and fuselage
crosses, but not to the rudder which was to be left as delivered, although
this rudder overpainting became typical for Jasta 11 triplanes at this time
This aircraft later received additional red overpaint as in all struts, wheel
centres, top surface of the top wing, entire tail unit along with turtle deck
to a point aft of the cockpit. In this later form von Ricthofen used 127/17 to
score his 71st, 74th, and 76th victories in late March/ early April 1918.
The model kit I used is the 1/32 scale Roden kit. The top wing inspection
panel was modified to more realistically portray this feature. A written
description with photos appeared in the “Rudder Post “ column of “ Windsock
International Vol. 22 No.2
The triplane’s finish is light green, dark green and dark brown wet blended.
Back in the 1980’s Wally Batter presented in the publication “WW1 Aero” a
most convincing argument regarding the wet blending of two or more shades or
hues on the fabric using the same brush dipped alternately in either colour
without cleaning it.
More recently the wet blending of colours on the Triplane was again discussed
by Dave Roberts in Windsock International Vol. 18 No. 5 .
I have based my finish on the Robert’s article. Further inspiration was
provided by the recent triplane profiles by Ray Rimmel which appear in
publications from Albatros Productions I must also give credit to my good
long time friend Evelyn Petterson, master photograhic artist who taught me
some very cool painting techniques.
This subject of wet blending of colour in the streaky Fokker finish is also
discussed in Albatros Productions “Fokker D.VII Anthology 1 “
I used Cutting Edge Modelworks “ The Baron’s Tripes” for the decals on this
model. These decals are most complete. I did find a couple of minor errors in
details, but a quick check with Alex Imrie’s “The Fokker Triplane” corrected
I used etched gun jackets and seat belts by Toms Modelworks.