Manfred von Richthofen’s Dr.Is

Manfred von Richthofen’s Fokker Dr.Is

Manfred von Richthofen's Fokker Dr.I

The recent Veterans Appreciate Sale cleaned me out of my Cutting Edge 1/32 Manfred von Richthofen decal sets. However, this info page will be quite useful to modelers building MvR’s ships.

Rittmeister Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen (MvR), the “Red Baron,” is history’s most famous fighter pilot. He scored a total of 19 of his eighty victories in Fokker Triplanes. The 17 he scored in the Dr.I (two were in F.1s) were all achieved in a six-week period between March 12th and April 20th, 1918, during Operation Michael, Germany’s last great offensive on the Western Front.

My decal set provides markings for six of the eight Triplanes known to have been flown by MvR, and ALL of those in which he scored aerial victories. Markings are not provided here for 114/17, written off in an emergency landing shortly after it arrived at the front, or 525/17, an aircraft in Jasta 6 markings that he flew on a visit to Jasta 5 in 1918. Neither of these ships was historically significant.

The complete Dr.I stenciling data is presented here for the first time anywhere as far as we know. This data comes from a variety of sources as well as very close study of many photos. The stenciling diagram is “standard,” and may not have applied to each aircraft for many reasons, including overpainting of factory stencils.

The Red Finish

The red color used on MvR’s aircraft can be traced back to two sources: its use in Jasta Boelke, his first fighter unit, and its use as the regimental color of his old cavalry unit, Uhlanen-Regiment Kaiser Alexander III Nr. 1. Red was a difficult color to find, and MvR often sent an assistant out to try to find supplies of it. Since anything that could be found was used, the shade of red no doubt varied considerably in use.

It is also known that the red paint tended to be somewhat translucent, perhaps because it was thinned to extend the supply. This meant that the factory stenciling such as the weight table, military serial, strut numbers, etc., could probably still be seen through the thin coat of paint, at least from certain angles or in certain lighting conditions. The red could also look very different on the various parts of the airframe, depending on the color over which it was applied. It might look very dark over the streaky green topside camouflage, but much brighter over the white areas of the cross fields or rudder.

When the red was applied as the Jasta 11 unit color (as opposed to MvR’s personal markings) it was typically applied to the cowling, struts, and wheel covers—but not necessarily all those areas. Check your photos carefully!
Note that Jasta 11 added on many aircraft a circular or racetrack shaped access panel to the sides of the fuselage in front of the carburetor intake to give better access to the oil pump. This would apply to MvR’s aircraft as well.

Fokker F.I, 102/17

This was one of the two pre-production aircraft allocated to front line units for combat evaluation. This ship survived at the front for only two and a half weeks. It was flown by both MvR and Ltn. Kurt Wolff. MvR scored his 60th and 61st victories in this plane on September 1st and 3rd, 1917. Wolff was shot down and killed in this aircraft on September 15th, 1917.

This F.I did not have the wingtip skid, nor the leading edge stacking pads molded on the wing leading edges of most Dr.I and F.I kits. The F.I had minor differences in the wingspan and chord, which are insignificant in this scale. This particular F.I may have been equipped with a captured 110 HP Le Rhone engine, but it was practically identical to the Oberusel provided most Dr.I/F.1 kits.

The topsides of this plane were finished in Fokker green streaked over an overall turquoise base (not clear doped natural linen). Some sources claim the under wing crosses were painted directly on the turquoise undersides of the wings, or perhaps on a clear doped linen panel. However, photos show a clear edge to this insignia consistent with the width of a white background. While it’s possible this plane received red overpainting to the cowl or some of the struts during its short life, no photos document this. A photo taken after it was shot down indicates no overpainting.

The stencils for this ship differed from the standard Dr.I. Photos show no weight table, rigging datum line, nor Axial prop logos on this plane. The Werke Nummern shown on our instruction sheet appear on both sides of each interplane strut and each side of the rudder. Photos are not available for possible stenciling on the top or undersides of the plane, so feel free to use the standard Dr.I stencils in these areas.

Dr.I, 127/17

This early production airplane had the wings and ailerons replaced in service per IdFlieg directions after all Triplanes were grounded due to structural failures. MvR scored three victories in this plane.

Early Scheme: Standard factory scheme with red cowl. The cabane struts might have been red, but it is impossible to tell from the available photos. Note the streaky finish that has been applied to the rudder, which was probably applied over the original white paint.

Later Scheme: Eventually this plane was partially overpainted with red, typical of MvR’s reserve Triplanes. MvR’s combat reports indicate this was the scheme carried when he got his kills in this plane. Since no photos of the undersides of this plane exist, we can assume the under wing crosses were consistent with official regulations.

Dr.I, 152/17

This is one of MvR’s better-known planes, and he scored three victories in it. Although preserved in the Berlin Zeughaus Muzeum after the war, it was destroyed in WW II by a bombing raid or Soviet soldiers.

Early Scheme: Similar to 127/17 in its’ second incarnation. The best-known photo of this plane clearly shows the lighter color where the white of the upper wing crosses were overpainted. We’ve provided typical underwing crosses since no photos show this area.

Later Scheme: NOTE: The photos purporting to be of this aircraft in this scheme are not 100% confirmed, but are likely to be correct. MvR did not score any kills in the overall red scheme

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Dr.I, 161/17

No victories for MvR in this aircraft. It was clearly one of his reserve Triplanes and was finished and marked accordingly.

Dr.I, 425/18

This was the plane Richthofen was flying when he scored his final two victories on April 20th, 1918, and when he was shot down and killed the following day—13 days shy of his 26th birthday. Precisely who shot him down is a controversy for another forum!

Early Scheme: Frequently misidentified, even today, this plane was certainly 425/17. Photos confirm the overall red paint was well applied and quite glossy in appearance. However, the red was nonetheless applied over the standard factory camouflage, as preserved samples of fabric from this plane show the red over the green streaking. Some of the prese4rved samples do not show the streaking, which may indicate some parts of the plane may have been re-covered at some point. These samples clearly show the much brighter red color where it was applied over the original white backgrounds to the crosses.

Later Scheme: This is how 425/17 appeared during MvR’s final two victories and the day he was shot down. An existing fabric sample from the Australian War Memorial shows the underwing crosses were not completely modified at the time he was killed.

The seat in this plane was covered with red-doped fabric. The wingtip skids were red, and no wing stacking pads are visible in the photos.

Dr.I, 477/17

MvR scored more kills in this plane—nine—than any other Triplane he flew. Although a combat report exists that suggests this plane was overall red, no photos exist to confirm this.

One existing photo shows the markings in a state of transition. The tailplane was described as red on the top only, an exception for MvR, who preferred red on the top and bottom of the tailplanes for easier identification.
The underwing crosses are very interesting. The starboard cross is a standard iron cross, but the port cross is much thicker and appears to be in the process of modification to the thick, straight black style. The white backgrounds have been painted out with a much darker color than the surrounding turquoise. We’ve shown it as a darker turquoise, but who knows! It could have been olive, or red, or . . . !

The wingtip skids were red.

Although the middle and lower wing leading edge stripes are visible, the upper wing stripe has been overpainted by the red.

FS 595 Color Cross Reference

Yuck! WW I color matches are a snake pit, for many reasons. They are approximate, and I do mean approximate!
The Fokker green has been described as an olive color for many years, but pilots remember it as distinctly green in appearance. It’s likely there were shade variations, but remember that existing fabric samples are now even older than you are and probably bear little resemblance to the way they looked way back when (gee, that describes me, too!).

The turquoise color was remembered by pilots as “blue.”

The paint was quite glossy when first applied, but faded and dulled quite fast in service. It’s worth remembering that the finish on Fokker aircraft was never very great to begin with!

The reported FS 595 color ranges for the Fokker colors are listed here, based on existing fabric samples.

Fokker green 24064 through 24051
Fokker turquoise 24241
Clear doped linen 23727

 


Here is what you missed in my MvR decal set, but also a link to my other available Dr.I decal set, which includes Lothar von Richthofen, Rudolf Klimke, and Adolf von Tutschek:

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The Baron’s Dr.I Tripes. COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. Fokker Dr.I Nr.1: Manfred von Richthofen. MULTIPLE SHEET SET. This decal set has been identified by several internationally known WW I aviation historians as the best-researched and most complete decal set ever offered for a WW I aircraft. The set covers six of the eight Tripes BvR was known to have flown, and ALL of the ships in which he scored aerial victories. The two not included are historically insignificant, as explained on the instruction sheet. The included ships are F.I, 102/17; Dr.I, 127/17; Dr.I, 152.17; Dr.I, 161/17; Dr.I, 425/17; Dr.I, 477/17. The set also includes, for the first time any place, FULL stencils for the F.1 and Dr.I.

 

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Fokker Dr.I #2. FINAL STOCK! Only six or fewer available, and then these are completely gone too. Dr.I, 577/17, yellow (black) anchor insignia, Ltn Rudolf Klimke; Dr.I, 404/17, (black tail), Hptm Adolf von Tutschek; Dr.I, 454/17, (yellow tail), Lothar von Richthofen, commander of Jasta 11. Includes FULL and accurate stenciling! This decal set was awarded some of the highest marks ever given a decal set by Windsock magazine.

$24.97
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