Special Hobby 1/48 Fokker D.XXI 'Finland'
$32.99 on sale ($70.99 SRP)
Scott Van Aken
Two complete kits
The Fokker D.XXI fighter was designed in 1935 for use by the
Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force (Militaire Luchtvaart
van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL) . As such, it
was designed as a cheap and small, but rugged aircraft, which had
respectable performance for its time. Entering operational use in the
early years of World War II, it provided yeoman service for both the
Luchtvaartafdeling (Dutch Army Aviation Group) and the Finnish Air
Force, and a few were built by the Carmoli factory before the factory
fell into Nationalist hands during the Spanish Civil War.
In 1936 a few Fokker D.XXIs were used by the Spanish Republic.
Although the order by the ML-KNIL was cancelled, the
Luchtvaartafdeling (Dutch Army Air Force before World War II) placed
an order of 36 aircraft, which were all delivered in time to participate
in the war against the Germans in May 1940. The Fokker D.XXI, although
much slower and more lightly armed than the Bf 109, performed
surprisingly well in dogfights, due to its maneuverability. It was also
one of the few aircraft that could follow a
Stuka bomber into its
dive. Nonetheless, the numerical inferiority of the
Luchtvaartafdeling compared to the
Luftwaffe resulted in the
destruction of most Dutch Fokker D.XXI fighters during the campaign.
Some were captured during and after 15 May, but their fates, apart from
their capture, are unknown.
The Fokker D.XXI performed better and for much longer in the Finnish
Air Force, which had acquired a number of licence-built fighters prior
to the start of the Winter War. Against the aircraft of the Soviet Air
Force, the Fokker was more evenly matched, and its rugged design with a
radial engine and fixed undercarriage made it very suitable for Finnish
conditions. Later in the war, as newer models of Soviet fighters
appeared, the Fokker D.XXI was underpowered and too lightly armed (with
only four 7.92 mm/.312 in machine guns) to compete. Plans to arm the
Fokkers with 20 mm cannons were dropped and only one fighter was armed
as such (two 20 mm cannons and two 7.92 mm/.312 in machine guns).
Another fighter was equipped with retractable landing gear, but due to
less than anticipated performance improvement, wasn't continued in the
series. During the Continuation War (1941–44) the Finnish State Aircraft
Factory (Valtion Lentokonetehdas, VL) also built some 50 D.XXIs with the
Swedish-built Pratt & Whitney R-1535 Twin Wasp Junior as the Bristol
Mercury was in short supply. These can be identified by their longer
cockpit glazing, smooth cowl, and large ventral air intake under the
cowl. The fixed undercarriage lent itself to both unimproved runways and
conversion to skis for winter use, both of which were advantages in the
Several Finnish Air Force pilots became fighter aces with the Fokker
D.XXI. The top scoring Fokker ace was Jorma Sarvanto who obtained 12 5/6
victories with the type. Many other future aces scored at least one
victory with the Fokker. The highest scoring airframe was FK-110, with
10 victories. This aircraft survived the war and is on display at the
Central Finland Aviation Museum.
can only assume that Special Hobby had a bunch of extra kits laying about
and so decided to combine a couple of them into a special boxing. This one
is all Finnish AF aircraft, which is quite appropriate, since one of the two
kits is a Wasp powered version that was only used by the Finns. Aside from
the difference in engines, cowlings and canopies (the Wasp powered one has
more transparencies aft of the pilot), the two kits are the same plastic.
As one expects
from many Special Hobby kits, this one has a photo etch fret. In this case
it includes the pieces for both aircraft. You will notice that pretty much
everything is duplicated including the seat harness, rudder pedal straps,
instrument panels, cowling braces and some other small bits. Note that the
instrument panels are slightly different and designed for different types.
Resin is also included as both engines have to be built up with separate
block, cylinders, and pushrods. The areas under the wing slats is also a
resin part as are some guns. All of the resin is in a single bag with one of
The D.XXI was a tube frame covered with fabric, much like the Hurricane.
Special Hobby provides a nearly full frame from the front of the cockpit
back to near the tail. This looks a ton better than the photo etch used in
the CA D.XXI, but also means that one will have to take a lot of care in
construction. The seat, instrument panel floor and all the various boxes for
the sidewalls will fit within this construct. I should mention tht there is
an acetate backing sheet for the instruments that fits behind the etched
The wings are a single lower piece with two upper halves. Also in halves are
the engine cowlings, so getting rid of the seam on the lip will take some
careful work. There are three different landing gear options. One is a set
of skis, one is the standard spatted gear and another has the spats removed.
This latter option is only for the Wasp powered aircraft. To get this one
built up, a set of the spatted gear needs to be cut for installation of the
lower gear legs. There are also differences in the tail plane braces with
two options having a single brace and the rest a double brace.
Instructions are very well done with color information supplied throughout
the build process. I would have expected the instructions to basically be
two different sets with one for the Mercury powered plane and one for the
Wasp powered version, however, these two are interspersed throughout the
instructions. There are specifics of various markings options, so one needs
to know which is being built before starting construction in order to get
the minute differences right.
are for six planes as shown on the box art. The three Mercury powered
options are for LeLv 12 and LeLv 24 with two of them in the overall upper
olive green scheme and one in the later version that included the black. All
three Wasp powered planes are in the later scheme with the one that does not
have the wheel spats being a post war plane. The decal sheets are nicely
printed and as expected, the insignia are in segments for those using the
swastika insignia. Those who have access to any of the Techmod Finnish
insignia sheets might find those to be a viable option to the kit versions.
I have to say that I would have overlooked this one
were it not on sale. The two kits look to be quite well done and have all the
detail you could ask for in a kit of this important plane. The kit does come
with the smooth cowling used by Dutch aircraft, so there is no reason one of
these could not be done if you have decals for it. Not sure if the Danish
version could be built as there are no cannon included, but I'm not sure all of
the small batch had these weapons. Anyway, if you are a fan of the aircraft or
want the unique Finnish version, this would be worth seeking.
My thanks to, well, me for picking this one up.
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