I have some friends who annually get together and undertake a World War One re-enactment of sorts, in the form of a combat competition. Simple rules have kept the competition viable and enjoyable for six or seven years now, and little has changed over that time in the way of models. Primarily, models in the competition need be no larger than 43 inches, and be powered by a .25cc nitro engine. Their construction is not regulated, but it should be built from plans or a kit, as opposed to being an ARF.
Our Fokker builds fast and true, and flies just as well. We’ve taken the stress out of scale biplanes too, with simple cabane and interplane struts, while keeping the scale outline.
Wingspan – 1093mm – 43.0 inches
Length – 856mm – 33.7 inches
Channels – 4
Servos – 5
We have also developed an electric version, though that is not intended for combat as battery damage would likely cause fires and other difficulties.
Combat Fokker DVII Construction 2.0Mb Click to download
Plans US$40.00 printed (US$25.00 as PDF to print yourself)
Laser-cut short kit US$125.00
Once a year, at an undisclosed location in country Victoria, a group of dedicated and determined individuals get together to “recreate” the iconic aerial battles of the Great War. They are never certain just how many allied or German aircraft will turn up – just like the “real” war, but one thing is certain – nobody goes down without a fight!
As with most combat competitions, each aircraft tows a short length of paper streamer and opponents attempt to remove it, or sections of it, from the aircraft. One real difference in these battles, is the dogged determination to be displayed by the combatants, and the very real likelihood, that one or more models in any particular battle will fall foul of the repeated thrust and probe, and slashing attack from all quarters. Damage and total loss in this war is just as real a potential as in the full size battles, though obviously no pilot is harmed (necessarily) in the process. In fact, collisions are another way to score points against your opponents, and for that reason are actually encouraged. This is where a solid and durable model can make all the difference. As they say, all’s fair in love and war…..
Each pilot and his/her assistant wears a hard-hat for safety, and all observers are briefed to watch out for errant models, damaged beyond controllability, or perhaps being flown by an injured and disorientated pilot desperately fleeing the battle area and attempting to make it back to more friendly skies. Needless to say, most competitors take little home, other than wreckage and memories of a great and fun weekend.
There are few rules to these battles, and almost none applying to the aircraft. The only requirements are that the aircraft shall be powered by a .25ci glow motor and be representative of a WWI type – either German or one of the allies. Fighters or bombers are allowed, though of course the bombers are pretty much “cold meat” for the fighters unless escorted through the area by their smaller friends. Electrics are not permitted due to the very real possibility of lipo damage and/or fire – this is Australia we’re talking about, with lots of dry grass around.
With this combat weekend in mind, a friend of mine asked me to design a suitably robust model for him to compete with, hopefully strong enough to help him survive the battles and bring home a trophy – if not a functional model – at the end of the weekend. He was partial to the Fokker DVII, and was currently using a modified plan from David Boddington as the basis of his models. With this in mind, I set about finding a good three-view drawing of the DVII and scaling it to a suitable 1/8 size, and then designing the internal structure that would serve to keep the model airborne throughout the various battles. Of course, it is not practical to build a model that is totally impervious to this kind of abuse. It would be too heavy, and unlikely to fly at all. However, I thought that if I used plywood for the fuselage structure wherever possible, and built similarly robust wings, we should be able to work this out.
With judicious use of lightening holes, the plywood fuselage proved really quite easy to design, and only a few liberties were taken in the interest of simplicity and ease of building. Remember, that it is assumed that each competitor will take two or three models to the weekend (though there are no limits), so it would be important that the model be simple and quick to build. Also, the parts should be interchangeable of course, so that a wing from one could be used on a fuselage of another for example, in order to reuse parts from less successful combat encounters.
Wherever possible, the scale outline was maintained, and even the aerofoil used is close to the original’s. One simplification though, was the use of 10mm flat aluminium for the cabane struts, as it was felt that bent wire was more time-consuming and difficult to ensure consistent alignment. Having said that, none of these models were likely to be built perfectly true anyway, nor stay that way throughout the weekend, so repairability (is that a word?) was also high on the list of desirable features.
Hardwood main spars, sheer webbing, and aluminium wing joiners would provide the bulk of the strength for the wings, with aileron servos being attached to plywood plates to offer some protection as well as easy replacement should the need arise. Finally, the wings are covered by conventional materials – plastic or fabric – or even an inexpensive and easy paper alternative. This was often how the fuselage covering was achieved anyway.
The plans were drawn in CorelDraw and full use of laser cutting was envisaged from the beginning, so some parts are quite complex. Having said that, they fit together well, and the fuselage can be built on any surface, including your lap! The wing also needs a basic surface, and having a flat bottom makes it a perfect candidate for a corner of your workbench.
For those interested in building this model for an electric powertrain, I’ve designed a supplemental plan. I stress that the electric version is not planned for combat due to the more fragile nature of lipo batteries, but it can certainly be used as a Sunday flier or practice bird without any messy fuels. My personal Fokker is to be powered by a Saito 45 four-stroke. This will allow me to swing a bigger propeller, and use the extra heft of the engine to balance the model instead of having to add weight or move items around in the confined space of the fuselage. All up, the Fokker is a great little model, easily built and finished, and flies well. If you want to set up your own combat weekend, you’ll just need to find a friend with an SE5a or Camel, and a paper streamer. Go for it!