Monday 4 November 2019

Dogfight Doubles: Fokker Fodder

The Fokker

This is a new retooled kit of a Fokker E.III: E as in Eindecker or One-Wing.

The Fokker E Models were essentially copies of a 1913 French Morane-Saulnier Type H. They were not particularly great aircraft but in Summer, 1915, an E.I fitted with an MG synchronised to fire through the prop turned the E.I into a lethal killing machine.

Monoplanes were not an optimum choice in 1915 compared to biplanes. Available aero engines were only about 100HP. Monoplanes needed long wings to get any lift with such low power units which increased the structural rigidity problems greatly adding to weight and lowering power to weight ratio even further. Biplanes wings gave more lift for less weight at slow speeds due to their inherent box-like rigidity. The biplane had a great deal more drag than a monoplane but, with the low powered engines, speed was never an issue.

The E.III could work itself up to about 87 mph.

The Fodder

This is an RAF (not that RAF) BE2C fighter and is another excellent retooled Airfix kit.

The BE2 first flew in 1912 and was designed for observation and reconnaissance operations at a time when planes were unarmed. It was a very well designed stable plane with the chauffeur at the back. In fact it was so stable that it was almost impossible to carry out anything resembling an evasive manoeuvre. Up against an E.III it was dead meat: it couldn't run, it couldn't dodge, and it couldn't fight.

They did fit a machine gun for the observer but he was in the front of the plane, in the middle of the wings and struts with the pilot's head directly to the rear.

This model is the night fighter version designed in 1915. The observer's place has been taken out and replaced by a fuel tank. A Lewis gun has been added, operated by the pilot and firing vertically upwards. The upward firing gun, filled with explosive and incendiary ammunition, and the stable flight characteristics made the BE2 a perfect nightfighter. In 1916, Leefe Robinson shot down Zeppelin SL11 in one of these in Sept., 1916. BE2 nightfighters went on to take down five more Zeppelins in three months halting Germany's strategic bombing raids on Britain - but by January it was obsolete.

Nevertheless, the 90HP, 72 MPH BE2C nightfighter had its brief moment of glory.