Fokker Friendship Revisited

A brief inbox look at Airfix’s imminent revised kit

Airfix 1/72 Fokker Friendship Series 200


Review by Frank Morgan


Review Type
First Look
Scale:
1/72
Price:
?
Contents and Media:
76 light grey parts, 5 transparencies and 1 x decal sheet
Advantages:
A reissue of a long out of production kit
Disadvantages:
Requires conversion to make it a true Series 200
Recommendation:
Recommended

 

Brief (Very Brief) Background


It doesn’t seem to be all that long ago (although it is probably around 20 years) when Fokker’s flying workhorse, the ubiquitous Friendship, readily identified by its slender square tipped wings, unique banana -shaped engine nacelles, and high pitched wine from its twin Rolls Royce Dart turboprop engines, was a common sight in Australian skies. For the best part of 3 decades, this well known, extremely versatile aircraft played a major role in Australia’s regional airline industry. But alas, nowadays this popular aeroplane, even in its more recent Fokker 50 guise, has disappeared entirely from our airways system.

My most fond!! memories of the F27 Friendship are of being awakened at some ungodly hour of the morning by the scream of those Rolls Royce Darts spooling up at Wynyard Airport in Tasmania as the overnight Fokker warmed up and prepared for departure back to Melbourne. The aerodrome was virtually located at the end of the main street and I was a young ATC trainee undergoing some field training and staying at the local pub located half way down the main drag.

First airline to receive the new F27 Friendship, a Series 100 aircraft, was Aer Lingus way back in November 1958.


Designed by the Netherlands based Fokker company primarily as a DC-3 replacement, the F-27 Friendship was a medium range, twin turboprop engine airliner that was so successful that it was to find universal use throughout the world for many, many years. A number of configurations were evaluated before the instantly familiar high winged, twin Rolls Royce Dart engine, 28 passenger layout was decided upon. The first prototype flew in November 1955 and the first production aircraft, an F-27-100 series aircraft was delivered to Aer Lingus in November 1958. A total of 793 Friendships were built covering a number of variants including Series 100, 200, 400, 500 and 800 machines  and the later Fokker F50.The main distinguishing features between the earlier Series 100 Friendships and later (Series 200 onwards),were their longer noses (extended to include radar equipment) and the square tipped propeller blades.  The Friendship was built under licence in the United States as the Fairchild FH-227. A number of military versions, including a transport variant known as the ‘Troopship’ along with armed and unarmed maritime reconnaissance versions were also built.

The F-27 in all of its variants, from 100 Series to 600 Series, was used extensively in Australia by Trans Australia Airlines, Ansett Airlines, MacRobertson Miller Airlines and the NSW based East West with the last of these being withdrawn from service in the early 1990s. Three were operated by the Department of Civil Aviation and one of these went on to serve with the CSIRO for many years.

The Revised Airfix kit

Its hard to imagine that this kit was first released way back in 1960 with the Troopship variant becoming available in 1979. Both of these kits disappeared off the shelves quite quickly and very soon became very collectable (very similar to the Revell 1:32 Mirage). Whilst many of Airfix’s other old favourites made reappearances over the years the F27 was conspicuous by its absence – until now. Rumours abounded some 18 months or so ago that the Friendship was about to make a reappearance and indeed some Aussie help was enlisted  via Daryl Williams and others, to provide Airfix with information relating to local Friendship operators in this country. Subsequently, the kit has now been reissued with TAA markings being one of the three decal options.

What’s In The Box?


Parts sprues were packed into one plastic bag. Transparencies are separately wrapped.

Released under the kit number of 05003, the Airfix kit is, obviously enough, injection moulded and contains some 82 pieces including 76 light grey parts, 5 transparencies and one large decal sheet. The mouldings appear a little rough around the edges (literally) with some small areas of flash on most of the larger pieces however, these should clean up nicely with the deft use of a sharp hobby knife and some wet and dry abrasive paper. Unfortunately, the moulds appear to be the originals and feature a number of sink marks and some areas of surface imperfection. Again a little filler and some wet and dry will fix these. External panel lines are raised but a light sanding will bring them back to scale. Sprues are loosely packed into one plastic bag. As the Friendship has a tricycle undercarriage it will also need weight in the nose to keep it from 'tail sitting'.

The kit is basically a reissue of the original 100 series Friendship with additional parts provided to give the builder the option of building a later 200 series aircraft. Included here are optional nose halves, (both 100 and the longer later series noses), optional squared tipped propellers and revised nose wheel doors. Also included in the review sample was two sets of engine nacelles – not sure why as they are all exactly the same as the original Mk 100 items.

The new sprue which contains parts for the later model, longer nose series Friendships, includes the square tipped propellers, the choice of either series 100 or later model noses and the new nose wheel doors to go with the later, extended nose versions.


Unfortunately, the instructions aren’t much help in distinguishing between the two options as the assembly sequences do not explain the optional nose mouldings or propellers – in fact, no mention is made anywhere in the instructions (or on the box for that matter) that a series 200 or later, version can be built from this kit. The only notation that optional parts are available is a question mark against the choice of propellers (even this is not offered for the nose sections). Even the beautifully printed and separately provided colour profile sheet that includes colour profiles, colour charts and decal placement information for 3 aircraft does not indicate what series Friendship each of the 3 colour and decal options is (although looking closely at the profiles, it appears that all three feature the longer nose of the later series aircraft).

The multi-lingual instructions themselves are typically Airfix and feature a brief history of the aircraft plus the usual exploded drawings for each assembly sequence of which there are twelve. The sheet is generally clearly illustrated although the lack of distinction between the optional 100 Series and later series parts is annoying plus the instructions include the assembly of some boarding steps which may have been included in the original kit but are not in this one. Humbrol paint numbers are flagged and, as mentioned above, the main colour chart and decal placement informational being contained on a separately printed sheet.

Strictly speaking, an accurate Series 200 or later series Friendship cannot be made from this kit without some modifications. The main differences, apart from the provided squared tipped props and longer radar nose, were that the later series aircraft featured 10 windows per side (only 9 on this kit and these need to be enlarged) and the fin fillet was larger on the later series Friendships. The fuselage also requires and extra air intake scoop on the rear of the starboard side.  Whether the average modeller will want to undertake all that extra work to create a more accurate late model Friendship will remain to be seen – they might be happy enough to build the model out of the box, add the appropriate decals to it and be quite happy or they may decide to wait until one of the enterprising local aftermarket manufacturers provide an aftermarket enhancement and correction set – and this will happen. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, the finished model will still be a Fokker F27 Friendship and one with local markings (although stand by for a flood of local liveries from certain Aussie decal manufacturers).

A comparison between the reissued Airfix kit and ESCI kit fuselages with the ESCI kit (which represented the Series 400 which was similar to the Series 200) correctly representing the later model fuselage with the higher and fuller fin fillet and the extra cabin windows.

The Decals

A large, beautifully printed and very colourful decal sheet provides, liveries, cheat lines, stencils, instrument panel faces and registration letters for 3 aircraft:

  1. Fokker F27 Friendship (Series 200?) VH-TFF, Trans Australia Airlines, Sydney Airport, Australia, May 1965.
  2. Fokker F27 Friendship (Series 200?) PH-FHF Nederlandse Luchtvaart Maatschappij, Fokker Heritage Flight, Lelystad, Netherlands, May 2008.
  3. Fokker F27 Friendship (Series 200?) TC-TEK Turk Hava Yollari (Turkish Airlines, Instanbul Airport, Turkey, 1971

A word about the decals for VH-TFF. TFF was one of a number of early Tango Foxtrot-registered TAA Friendships that began life as Series 100 machines and is  still listed as such in our reference sources (Airliners In Australian Service – Volume 1 by Eric Allen)however  it is known that a number of these aircraft were converted to Series 200 standard before actually commencing operations with TAA. Whilst the remainder of the sheet is accurate for this aircraft, the cheat lines only provide outlines for 9 windows with a 10th window actually being ‘blacked out’ for some reason. Technically, an extra window could be cut out of the fuselage (towards the front end) and the corresponding ‘blacked out’ window could also be cut out and applied along with the other 9 windows. Or conversely, one could just wait until a corrected aftermarket sheet arrives – and believe me, it will.

Beautifully printed colour profile sheet provides colour chart and decal placement information for 3 Friendships.
Nicely printed decal sheet contains markings for TAA, Netherlands and Turkish airline aircraft.

 

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