Special Hobby 1/48 Finnish Fokker D.XXI (Wasp) Review

Special Hobby 1:48 Fokker D.XXI 4. Sarja with Wasp Junior engine

 Kit: SH48073 Special Hobby Fokker D.XXI 4. Sarja with Wasp Junior engine.

Price:  £25.80 Available from Hannants UK

Decals: Six Options

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds

Notes: Multimedia kit with resin and photo etched parts. Accessories used; Montex Mini Mask SM48301 Fokker XXI (Wasp) Special Hobby. Kora 1/48 Finnish Logotypes for propellors DEC 4848, Techmod 1/48 Finnish Air Force Swastikas and Serials 1934-44 48073.

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History

Finland was the first export customer for the Fokker D.XXI. The first of 36 examples used in the Winter War of 1939 were delivered between the 4th and 13th of November and formed the backbone of the Finnish fighter fleet during the early stages of the conflict. A more in-depth look at the history of the Finnish Fokker D.XXI 3. Sarja with Mercury engine in 1/48 scale by Special Hobby; can be viewed in my article on THEMODELGALLERY website.

On the 9th May 1939, the Finnish Government placed an order for 50 series 4 Fokker D.XXI’s powered by the 825 hp R-1535 Twin Wasp Junior engine. In total the Finnish Air Force bought 7 aircraft and built 93 on licence. The decision to re-engine the aircraft stemmed from a serious shortage of the Bristol Mercury VIII engine which was needed for the Bristol Blenheim bomber.

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All but one of the Wasp powered aircraft were delivered before the continuation war with the Soviet Union which began on 25th June 1941. These aircraft were designated FR-118 – FR-167.

The VL State Aircraft Factory based at Tampere (Valtion lentokonetehdas) produced a total of 55 Wasp powered Fokker D.XXI’s under license.

The Wasp Fokker D.XXI’s were tasked with the protection of towns and industry of South-Western Finland and to prevent air attacks to Turku. The aircraft were initially assigned to Lentolaivue 30 (Squadron 30) based at Pori between 1941-42. The Squadron consisted of 3 flights under the command of Squadron Commander Captain L. Bremer.  Between the 25th June 1941 and 27th March 1943 Lentolaivue 30 gained 40 aerial victories with its Fokkers and sank 17 surface vessels. Eleven aircraft were lost, six in combat, one in an air raid, one was downed by anti-aircraft fire and three were destroyed in accidents. Nine pilots were killed.

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12 aircraft were also assigned to Lentolaivue 10 on 18th September 1941 based at Tiiksjärvi in eastern Karelia under Squadron Commander Captain K. Kurimo. Between the 21st of September 1941 and the 1st of November 1941 Lentolaivue 10 scored five victories losing two Fokkers, one in the air and one on the ground with no casualties.

An additional squadron was established in Tiiksjärvi in eastern Karelia from August 1942 to September 1944. This unit was Lentolaivue 14 under the command of Major R. Magnusson. LLv 14 was tasked with supporting the Finnish Army’s 14th division by attacking ground targets and harrying Soviet troops. During 1943 the Fokker D.XXI was becoming supplanted by the more capable Messerschmitt Bf 109G series and was increasingly used in the close-support and reconnaissance role. Between the 1st of August 1942 and the 4th of September 1944, the Fokker D.XXIs of Lentolaivue 14 inflicted considerable losses on Soviet ground forces. They gained one aerial victory, losing three aircraft, one in combat, one in a fire and one in an accident. One pilot was killed.

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Lentolaivue 12 was the last operational Squadron to use the Wasp Fokker D.XXI based at Nurmoila on the Olonets isthmus tasked with close range reconnaissance between the lakes Ladoga and Onega. LLv 12 received their aircraft from Lentolaivue 30 on the 27th of February 1943 until they were handed over to Täydennyslentolaivue 35 at the end of May 1944 where they were used in a limited reconnaissance role.

Between 27.2.43 – 28.5.44 the unit lost one Fokker D.XXI in an accident. There were no pilot casualties.

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The Kit

The 1/48 Special Hobby Fokker D.XXI (Wasp Junior engine), consists of four sprues in soft injection molded grey plastic, the style of which that we have come to expect from Special Hobby. Essentially, the kit is identical to the Special Hobby 1/48 ‘Sarja 3’ Bristol Mercury powered version, with the exception of the Wasp engine and cowling, canopy and series 4 fuselage. There is a clear bag containing the transparencies, a clear bag containing the resin components for the Wasp Junior engine and wing mounted guns and a final clear bag containing one photo etched fret.

After carefully washing the kit in a warm soapy solution and allowing the parts to dry in order to remove the mould release, I set about cutting away the parts that would not be required in this build. The wheeled spats were removed as I had decided to do this version on skis, as were the single-strut tail surfaces.

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There are no less than six colour scheme options for finishing this kit, detailed in a full-colour painting guide with three-view diagrams for each aircraft and a brief history of the machine. Impressive, even by Special Hobby’s standards.

There is the usual 8 page instruction booklet, which as always I study with care as it isn’t always clear to the modeller how certain stages are to be assembled.

Once the sprues, photo-etch and resin parts were dry, they were primed using grey auto-primer from a rattlecan.

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Construction

As with the Special Hobby Mercury powered Fokker D.XXI, the Instruction booklet comes in 19 stages. The cockpit consists of a full steel tube interior, with a bucket seat complete with a full set of etched brass seat-belts, a steel tube frame into which the seat is positioned; control levers and throttle, gas cylinders and a rudder pedal assembly with etched brass toe straps.

I decided to use the photo etch control panel which includes a clear film instrument panel and was impressed with the results. I had used an after-market replacement on the Bristol Mercury Fokker D.XXI, however, the instrument panel supplied in this kit was excellent.

19 Cockpit

I was fortunate in that having already built an identical cockpit for the Sarja 3 series, the Sarja 4 cockpit assembly presented no problems. I airbrushed the interior in Humbrol 128 blue-grey as suggested in Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia 3B, Fokker D.XXI (Wasp) by Kari Stenman and Kalevi Keskinen. The Photo-etched seatbelts were painted using Citadel Colors ‘bleached bone’. The seat was then fitted as was the control column and rudder pedals. At this stage the steel-tube cockpit interior was constructed around the pilot’s area.

Once this stage of the assembly had been constructed, I placed it to one side and began work on the shelf situated behind the pilot’s headrest. I allowed these assemblies to dry for 24 hours before putting the fuselage halves together the next morning. Having experienced difficulties at this stage with my last Fokker D.XXI kit, I added the instrument panel into the cockpit after the fuselage had been glued together. This ensured that the panel is square-on to the airframe, fortunately the Fokker D.XXI has an extremely roomy cockpit opening making this process a simple affair.

20 Cockpit

The next phase was identical to my last Fokker D.XXI build, I cemented the wings together and applied masking tape to ensure a secure fit. The resin engine parts were the next project. These are attached to resin casting blocks which makes them easier to handle. All of the blocks were lightly sprayed with auto primer from a rattle can and then airbrushed with 90% Humbrol black, 10% Humbrol 64. Once dry, the parts were assembled and dry-brushed with small amounts of Humbrol 11 silver. I elected to add 0.2mm HT leads from my spares box to give the Wasp Junior that touch of realism and was ultimately pleased with the result.

The cowling on the Wasp powered D.XXI can be tricky in that if it isn’t correctly glued (I used plastic weld), it can have a tendency to split apart when handled. The skis went together without any difficulties save a tiny amount of flash, once fitted I filled any obvious gaps and fuselage joins with MMD Green Putty and left the project to dry overnight.

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I have experienced some difficulties with Montex Masks in the past, this set thankfully went on perfectly with no hint of curling at the edges. Once the aircraft was rubbed down using wet and dry 600 grit paper I fitted the canopy using white glue. Once I was satisfied with the result I sprayed the kit with white Tamiya Fine Surface Primer. At this stage, I airbrushed the fuselage band, cowling and underwing theatre bands with White Ensign Model’s 04 Gelb.

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Camouflage and Markings

I elected to finish the Fokker D.XXI Wasp as ‘FR-157’ of 1/LeLv 30 piloted by Lt. V. Lilja Römpötti. The description in the painting guide reports that aircraft received repairs after a collision in March 1942, returning to service in January 1943. The aircraft carries the standard ‘Warpaint’ applied to all Finnish aircraft of this period, a combination of Olive green (6 parts Humbrol 116, 6 parts 117, 1 part 163. IPMS Stockholm colour reference) and black. FR-157 was given its winter scheme of patches of white in the winter of 1942/43. In addition, the white figure of a Red Army soldier with a bayonet was painted on its starboard side. This aircraft unfortunately burnt to the ground on the 21st June 1943.

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Final Construction

At this stage the sub-assemblies were added. The propeller with logos, supplied by Kora and the Red spinner hub. Then it was simply a case of adding the tail ski, Aerials and guns, the wing light transparency and gun sight. Once the canopy mask had been removed, the final stage was to add the aerial wires to the fuselage and the tailplane assembly using Lycra thread. The decals were applied using Micro-Set and Micro-Sol, I elected to use techmod’s national insignia as I have found them to be a superior quality product. Once complete, the aircraft was given a coat of Johnson’s Kleer/Future floor wax.

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Conclusion

This kit was a pleasure to build. I never seem to tire of their products and once again, I can’t recommend it enough.

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Richard Reynolds.

2 thoughts on “Special Hobby 1/48 Finnish Fokker D.XXI (Wasp) Review”

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