Special Hobby 1:48 Fokker D.XXI 3. Sarja with Mercury engine

Kit: SH48078 Special Hobby Fokker D.XXI 3. Sarja with Mercury engine.

Price:  £23.30 Available from Hannants UK

Decals: Four Options

Reviewer: Richard Reynolds

Notes: Multimedia kit with resin and photo etched parts.



The development of the Fokker D.XXI came from a requirement by the Dutch East India Company (Militaire Luchtvaart van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger) in 1935 for a rugged monoplane fighter suitable for operations in the Netherlands East Indies.

In the event the type only saw service in the European theatre with the Air Forces of The Netherlands, Denmark and Finland. The Fokker D.XXI was a low-wing monoplane fighter of steel-tube construction predominantly covered with fabric with a fixed undercarriage. The first three series of Finnish Fokker D.XXI’s were powered by the 840 hp Bristol, PZL or Tampella Mercury VIII 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine with a Ratier propeller.


The prototype of the Fokker D.XXI was ready in the early part of 1936 and was delivered to Welschap airfield close to Eindhoven. The first flight was flown by test pilot Emil Meinecke on the 27th February 1936.

36 Fokker D.XXI’s equipped with the Mercury VIII engine were ordered by the Dutch government. The Hærens Flyvertropper (Danish Army Air Corp’s) ordered 2 aircraft and built 10 on license, whilst the Suomen Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force) received 7 aircraft and built 93 on license.


The Finnish Air Force had an established record of aircraft procurement with the Fokker aircraft factory having purchased the Fokker D-10, the Fokker CVE and CVD during the 1930’s. Finland became the first export customer for the type, signing a deal for seven aircraft with a license for 14 more on the 18th November 1937.

The procurement process for the Fokker D.XXI began on August 27th 1937, when Finnish Captain G.E. Magnusson flew 9 test flights in Fokker D.XXI FR-76 at the Fokker aircraft factory. Captain Magnusson had experience flying with the “Georges Guynmer” Squadron in 1933 and with the “Richthofen” Geschwader unit. He flew a rigorous test profile with the Fokker D.XXI noticing that it was possible to disengage quickly from an opponent with the Fokker D.XXI by executing a fast dive. A tactic that would serve Finnish fighter pilots well during the coming Winter War. The fighters were delivered from Amsterdam on October 12th 1937, arriving in Finland between the 4th and 13th November. Just 17 days before the beginning of the Winter War.


The Mercury VIII powered Fokker D.XXI had a maximum speed of 460km/h (286mph), a cruising speed of 429km/h (267mph) and a maximum ceiling of 11,350m (37,238ft.). Time to an altitude of 6000m (19,685ft) was 7 minutes and 30 seconds.

Whilst this performance was by no means remarkable, the Fokker was rugged, reliable and ideally suited to the cold climate experienced at the outbreak of hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union on the 30th November 1939. In addition, the Fokker D.XXI was well matched against its principle Soviet opponent the Polikarpov I-16.

At the beginning of the Winter War the Finnish Air Force could field only 36 Fokker D.XXI’s and just 10 Bristol Bulldog bi-plane fighters. Ranged against them were 900 Soviet aircraft, 375 of which were Polikarpov fighters of various types. Despite this overwhelming disparity in numbers, the Fokker D.XXI acquitted itself very well and proved itself to be a capable opponent in the hands of Finnish pilots.


My Modeling Madness article on the 1/32 Special Hobby Polikarpov I-16 in Finnish service: http://modelingmadness.com/review/allies/ussr/rey16.htm details the history of both types during the Winter War campaign.

The Mercury VIII Fokker D.XXI’s were armed with two 7.7mm Vickers machine guns in the forward fuselage and one in each wing. These weapons when used in combination with the Goertz optical tube-sight Revi 3C or D gunsight, proved a good arrangement against the Four ShKAS machine guns of the Polikarpov I-16.

In spite of the odds that the Finnish Air Force and in particular the Fokker D.XXI faced at the beginning of the Winter War, Finnish fighters shot down a confirmed 200 Soviet aircraft whilst losing 62 of their own. The Finnish Air Force through an astute procurement programme increased in size by 50% by the end of the Winter War on March 13th 1940.

A further 300 Soviet aircraft were bought down by Finnish anti-aircraft defenses. Lack of fuel, inclement weather, poor tactics and leadership further hampered Soviet attempts to occupy Finland. Indeed, Finland remains the only country other than the United Kingdom during World War Two that was not occupied by the forces invading it.

The Finnish Air Force flew a total of 5900 combat missions during the Winter War, 3900 of these were intercept missions. The Soviet Union flew a staggering 44000 sorties. The Finnish Air Force dispersed their Fokker DXXI’s to forward air bases and only attacked select formations of Soviet aircraft using high speed hit and run tactics refusing to engage the Soviets on their terms.


At the conclusion of the Winter War and under the terms of the Moscow Peace Treaty, Finland was required to cede 10% of its territory to the Soviet Union. Finland however, against extraordinary odds remained an independent nation.

I decided upon the Fokker D.XXI of Jorma Kalevi Sarvanto (August 22, 1912 – October 16, 1963). Jorma “Zambo” Sarvanto was the top scoring Finnish fighter ace of the Winter War achieving 13 Kills. Whilst flying the Brewster 239 during the Continuation War, he downed a further four more aircraft bringing his total of Air-to-Air combat kills to 17. Sarvanto had flown a total of 255 combat missions at the conclusion of the Continuation War.

His most notable action was the shooting down of 6 Ilyushin DB-3S Bombers in one sortie. This occurred on January 6th 1940. The incident caused widespread interest in the international press who considered the action a world record. Jorma Sarvanto’s Fokker D.XXI, FR-97 received 27 hits in this engagement. Sarvanto was widely regarded as the best Fokker D.XXI pilot of the war.

Jorma Sarvanto ended the war with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as Commander of the Flight School in Kauhava where he served until 1954. From 1954 to 1960 he served as the Finnish military attaché in London.


Everstiluutnantti Överstelöjtnant (Lieutenant Colonel) Jorma Kalevi Sarvanto

Battle Honours:

Cross of Liberty, 2nd Class, with swords, of the order of the cross of liberty

Cross of Liberty, 3rd Class, with swords, of the order of the cross of liberty

Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland

Order of the German Eagle 3rd Class, with swords

Luftwaffe’s pilot badge honoris causa




The Kit

The 1/48 Special Hobby Fokker D.XXI (Mercury VIII), consists of four sprues in soft injection molded grey plastic, the style of which that we have come to expect from Special Hobby. In addition, there is a clear bag containing the transparencies, a clear bag containing the resin components for the Mercury VIII engine and wing mounted guns and a final clear bag containing one photo etched fret.

I have recently made a few 1/32 scale kits complete with extensive after-market accessories, and some have not even come close to the amount of wide-ranging, high quality parts that you get in this kit.

The kit consists of a comprehensive, well laid out seven page instruction booklet, a four page painting guide in full color which is printed on high quality glossy paper. The painting guide depicts all four available decal options with each aircraft represented in a 3 view format with a full set of painting instructions for each. There is a brief description of the aircraft and the role it played during the Winter War and the Continuation war during World War II.

I washed the kit, including the photo-etch and the resin in a warm soapy solution to remove any residual mould release. Once dry, I primed the entire aircraft in grey auto-primer from a rattle can. The interior was airbrushed using Humbrol 165



The Instruction booklet comes in 19 stages. To date I haven’t come across such a detailed cockpit in this scale. 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 peddle assembly with etched brass toe straps.

The only mild disappointment would be that the instrument panel is a little basic, however Kuivalainen of Finland produce a fine replacement.



The construction of the steel-tube cockpit interior can be a little tricky. I had to apply some thought, attention and time to get it right. I would suggest several dry-fits before attempting the final stage as some of the cross-members are deceptively similar.



Once the steel-tube interior assembly was complete, I began work on the shelf/head-rest assembly directly behind the pilot’s seat. This was a straight forward affair and only requires minimal effort. Once the headrest was attached to the steel frame, the instrument panel was painted black, given a light dry-brush of Humbrol silver and inserted into one side of the fuselage. The fuselage halves were then cemented together secured with masking tape and allowed to dry for 24 hours.


Whilst the fuselage was drying, 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 Bristol Mercury VIII that touch of realism and was ultimately pleased with the result.

Stages 11, 12 and 13 deal with attaching the engine to the fuselage and glueing the two halves of the cowling together. I recommend allowing the cowling to dry at least overnight because any less may risk the unit coming apart once the engine is installed.

I decided to complete stage 9 after I had completed the engine assembly, simply to avoid the tail planes getting in the way during the construction process. The Tail assembly is a straight forward process, however, be aware that dependent on which version you are doing you will require either one under-wing strut or a V-shaped arrangement.


Camouflage and Markings

I elected to finish the aircraft as FR-97, the mount of Jorma “Zambo” Sarvanto, The highest scoring ace of the Winter War with 13 kills. In addition he was credited with downing six DB-3 bombers in a single action. Sarvanto remains to this day the highest scoring ace on the Fokker D.XXI. Therefore I felt that it was fitting to represent his aircraft. FR-97 is finished in overall olive green. This is a VL State Aircraft Factory Color and although some paint ranges match, you may be required to add a small percentage of other paints to achieve the correct result. I used Humbrol 155 80% and Humbrol 117 20%. After consulting Kari Stenman’s excellent book “Sotamaalaus” the result looked satisfactory. The forward engine cowling was painted with Humbrol 54 copper and the underside with Humbrol 196 Light grey.


Final Construction

Jorma Sarvanto’s aircraft in this configuration had skis, which were relatively simple to construct. At this stage I attached the canopy which had already been pre-prepared with primer and top coat over Montex Masks. Then it was simply a case of adding the tail ski, Aerials and guns, the wing light transparency, gun sight and the propeller. I decided to invest in some Kora 1/48 Finnish Air Force propeller manufacturer logo for the Ratier Mercury VIII Propeller. The back of the propeller was also painted anti-glare black as per points made by Kari Stenman’s Suomen Imavoimien Historia series of books. The last stage was to add the aerial wires to the fuselage and the tailplane assembly using Lycra thread.



This aircraft is a real gem. Special Hobby as always requires care, but with patience and attention you can achieve an extremely satisfactory result. I can’t recommend this kit enough.


–          Themodelgallery.wordpress.com https://historiasaxonice.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/special-hobby-132-polikarpov-i-16-type-1017-in-finnish-service/

–          Themodelgallery.wordpress.com https://historiasaxonice.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/finnish-hurricane-mk-i-gallery/

–          The Axis History Forum Fokker D.XXI http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=169640&start=15

–          Fokker D.XXI’s to Finland http://www.sci.fi/~fta/fr-fin-1.htm

–          Fokker D.XXI War Over Holland http://www.waroverholland.nl/index.php?page=fokker-d-xxi-d-21

Richard Reynolds.



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