Best in Show: Museum-Scale Fokker Triplane

Best in Show: Museum-Scale Fokker Triplane

When it comes to top level scale modeling, the WRAM show is the place to go to see what the Northeast section of the country has to offer. One of the best scale modelers we know of is Mike Gross Sr., from the Long Island Sky Hawks club. From Mastic Beach, NY, Mike won the Best of Show award at the recent WRAM show.

Best in Show: Museum-Scale Fokker Triplane

Mike has been working on this immaculate 1/3-scale Fokker Dr.1 Triplane for a couple years and we had a chance to chat with him after he stepped down from the awards stage.

Best in Show: Museum-Scale Fokker Triplane

Mike, as always, your model is just amazing. Tell is a little about it.

I started with the very well done Glenn Torrance Model kit and used it as a foundation to which I added my own scratch built details and functions. The model is 1/3-scale and uses very scale like construction techniques. The wings include scale box spars and the trailing edges are scale cables attached to the ends of the built up ribs. All the wing attachment points and struts are scale and use scale size hardware. The model uses scale strap hinges and covering is linen finished with dope to shrink it into place, which was also done on the full-size aircraft. The paint is Dope, all hand brushed on to duplicate the distinctive splinter camo scheme. The dummy 9-cylinder Oberursel rotary engine is from Nick Ziroli Plans. For documentation, I used Windsock Data Files and Engels scale drawings.

Best in Show: Museum-Scale Fokker Triplane

What about the engine and radio gear?

For power I am using the DLE 111cc twin cylinder gas engine and for the radio I use the JR 12X transmitter and all JR servos. I use A123 battery packs for the receiver and engine ignition system, both from Hangtime Hobbies.

Tell us about your scale details and control system rigging.

Best in Show: Museum-Scale Fokker Triplane

Like I said, I started with the basic GTM kit but I then added my own scratch built details. The cockpit is completely detailed including the floating compass, fuel lever and shutoff valves (Both of which switch the battery packs on and off,) the pilot seat and straps and all the internal structures. On the left wing strut is a scale Marell anemometer (airspeed inciicator) which is all scratch built. The fully functional cable control system is exactly like was used on the full size aircraft. The rudder is rigged to the functional Rudder bar and the ailerons and elevators are connected with pull-pull cables to the control stick which is also fully articulated and detailed with machine gun triggers.

Best in Show: Museum-Scale Fokker Triplane

All the cables are guided with scale pulleys and guards, and when you move the control stick, it in turn, moves the control surfaces. To control the model, I installed my servos under the cockpit flooring and connected them to the base of the control stick. This is the same setup that I use with my 1/3-scale Sopwith Camel which I competed with at Top Gun. It works extremely well and with the use of scale turnbuckles, the whole model can be broken down and taken apart for transport.

Best in Show: Museum-Scale Fokker Triplane

Mike’s Triplane ready for cover and finish!



Updated: July 30, 2015 — 12:00 PM


  1. Do you Scale guys have to do and re-do the details many times to get them correct, like the instrument panel and etc. Great work!!!!!

    1. Hi Wayne. often we redo details to improve the model. But yes, many scale modelers set a standard for their work, and if what they do does not measure up, it goes in the trash or gets another coat of primer and is done again.

  2. is there any source to see how the ailerons were controlled? I am making a mch smaller model and wanted to try to do a scale set up with pull – pull wires.

  3. Does the dummy rotary engine turn with the prop? I would guess not since centrifugal might pull it apart if made from wood or plastic, and might add unwanted vibration. Love the detail and scale structure, fantastic! ~~~ DRB

  4. I noticed there was no attention to detail on the “thousand dollar” check that had ONE too many zeros on it? LOL. Thousand turned into TEN THOUSAND!!! Woo hoo!!!

  5. Absolutely fantastic. Makes me want to start over on my 1/5th scale DR1. Thanks for sharing.

  6. amazing plane great job!!!!

  7. Hi Gerry –
    If I wanted to embark on a project to build a full-scale replica sopwith camel or fokker triplane, where would you recommend starting?

    1. Hey Gary. when you say full-scale, in like full size, I would recommend Replitech. (sp?) they have amazing fully detailed drawings for full size WW1 aircraft

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