RCU Review: Great Planes Fokker DR-1 Triplane

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    Contributed by: Greg Covey | Published: July 2007 | Views: 185516 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon

    Review by: Greg Covey
    Flying Photos: Papa Jeff Ring
    Video Pilot: Lynn Bowerman


    Dealer Info
    Fokker DR-1 Triplane
    Distributed exclusively by:

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Website: www.greatplanes.com

    Available at your
    Local Hobby Shop


    Magnetic Cowl and Battery Hatch
    Great ARF value and looks
    Scale Flying Performance
    All Hardware Included
    Spare Parts Available

    Difficult to Land on grass

    Great Planes Fokker DR-1 Triplane

    The Great Planes Fokker DR-1 EP ARF is a pre-built balsa and plywood R/C parkflyer version of the historic WWI Triplane. It takes advantage of technology breakthroughs in electric power for long flight times and maintenance-free operation. The quick build ARF is ready to fly in just a few hours of assembly time.

    A complete hardware package is designed for light weight and precise control response. The kit includes vacuum formed engine cylinders and also pre-bent landing gear painted in red along with two 3" (76mm) diameter lightweight foam tires on red wheels.

    Great Planes Model Manufacturing Company guarantees this kit free from defects in both materials and workmanship at the date of purchase.


    • Wingspan: 29.5" (745mm)
    • Wing Area: 300 sq in (19 sq dm)
    • Weight: 20 - 24oz (567 - 680g)
    • Wing Loading: 10 - 12oz sq ft (31 - 37g/sq dm)
    • Length: 23.5" (600mm)
    • Airfoil: Flat bottom

    Key Features:

    • Laser cut balsa and plywood
    • One piece each tri-wing configuration with painted cabanes and interplane struts
    • Battery Compartment is accessible under magnetic cover at front of fuselage
    • Two-piece unpainted pilot bust
    • Dual servo aileron control on top wing
    • Performs realistic WWI fighter aerobatics — spins, rolls, loops, Immelmanns and more.
    • Perfectly suited for flying at a local field or nearby park

    ARF Contents

    The ARF comes very well packaged with all the main sections protected and sealed in plastic. An included 20 page manual has detailed step-by-step instructions each accompanied by a clear photo of the area being assembled.

    The pre-built main structures are covered in high-quality film. Scale-shaped landing gear with an airfoiled center section, and lightweight scale wheels are included.

    Some additional support components needed to finish the Fokker DR-1 are the Great Planes ElectriFly GPMP0823 Lithium Polymer 11.1V 1250mAh 3-Cells In Series Battery Pack, ElectriFly Rimfire 28-30-950 Brushless motor, GPMM3122 Motor to Speed Control Connectors, and GPMQ4959 3mm Prop Adapter.

    Four micro servos are needed like the Futaba S3114 Micro High Torque Servo which is ideal for small electric planes and helis.

    The ElectriFly Silver Series 25A Brushless Speed Control is a perfect match for the 150w RimFire motor. It comes with a pre-installed receiver connector, battery connector, and motor connectors.


    The assembly begins by mounting the ailerons on the upper wing using the pre-cut hinge material and thin CA. Two pre-cut dowels are then mounted into the lower wing and held by a small amount of medium or thin CA.

    Although the DR-1 comes with a pilot figure that can be glued together and then painted, I decided to take a shortcut and use the FSK101 Pilot "Slim" from Hobby Lobby that comes ready to use. I simply cut away some of the lower torso and tied the scarf material from the DR-1 kit around the pilot's neck. The scarf was then secured with a few drops of thin CA on the knot area.

    The horizontal stabilizer was glued to the fuselage using medium CA after first cutting away the covering on the bottom section. The elevator and rudder were attached similar to the ailerons using the hinge material and thin CA. I had no alignment problems or warping of the control surfaces.

    Motor Mounting

    The motor mounting instructions were a bit unclear as they did not tell you to remove the metal mounting bracket that comes with the RimFire motor and replace it with the longer plywood bracket from the kit. Note: the RimFire motors also come with two rubber o-rings, which are discarded or not needed when the other end is used to mount the prop. For the DR-1, we'll be using a prop adapter.

    I also needed to use slightly longer 3mm screws as the plywood mount was much thicker. Once the mount was attached to the motor, it was a simple procedure to follow the manual instructions for mounting the assembly to the firewall. The three t-nuts come pre-installed.

    Tail Assembly

    The control horns for the rudder and elevator were CA'ed into the pre-cut slots. The pre-bent control rods were then inserted from the aft end of the fuselage and secured to the control horn holes with the supplied caps. I used the control rod position of least resistance for determining the direction of entry into the horns.

    The servos were centered electronically with a live radio system and then mounted into the bay. The Futaba S3114 servos don't come with and mounting screws so you need to supply them. The quick links for the servo arms are supplied in the DR-1 kit. Everything seemed to fit fine. Using the third hold from the center provided excellent control surface throw so I set the dual rates to 70% and 100% on both the elevator and rudder.

    Exponential was set to 50% (or -50% on my Futaba 9C radio) for the elevator. I don't use exponential on the rudder.

    ESC Mounting

    One of the things I really like about the power system for the DR-1 is that it is plug and play. No soldering required. The GP Silver Series ESC comes with motor and battery connectors. The battery connectors mate directly to the ElectriFly 3-cell 1250mAh LiPo pack but the motor connectors need the GPMM3122 bullet adapters to mate with the RimFire brushless motor. Note that I used the 35-amp ESC since Tower Hobbies was out of stock on the 25-amp ESC. Either one will work work fine.

    The recommended ElectriFly GPMP0823 1250mAh 3-cell LiPo pack has a separate CHARGE connector for safety. The charge connector uses built-in "SafeCharge" circuitry that prevents individual cells from overcharging. If any cell reaches 4.20V, the SafeCharge circuit automatically stops the Charge process entirely. While this is entirely safe and greatly reduces the possibility of fires when charging, it is not as optimal as balancing the three cells in the pack. If the pack gets stressed over time and usage, balancing the cells helps to increase safety and longevity. At $14 less cost, the Great Planes GPMP0713 1250mAh 15C Balance BP1250 3-cell LiPo pack makes an excellent alternative.

    The ESC mounts against the inside of the fuselage wall using the supplied "hook and loop" pieces. Note that the battery and receiver wires are closest the top of the fuselage. The long motor wires are then folded and tucked away from the spinning motor. The rectangular opening just behind the cowl area is where the battery will be accessed.

    If the motor spins the wrong way, simply swap any two of the motor to ESC wires. On a Futaba radio system, use reverse on channel 3. When you first plug in the battery pack, you'll hear a single beep. Move the throttle to full and wait for the second beep. Move the throttle back to off and the motor is now armed...ready for flight. Be sure to test this without a prop connected.

    Aileron Servos

    Routing the aileron servo wires required some thought. After looking at the small wing rib openings and reading the technique in the manual, I decided to deviated from the instructions. I did, however, follow the instructions for mounting the servos to the plastic covers after first centering the servo arms with a live receiver and transmitter.

    First, I tied a second string to one end and then pulled it through to the middle opening. Next, I tied a separate string to each end of my Y-adapter harness and routed it into the center hole...one end at a time. This almost worked but I still needed to cut an opening near the strut mount to help guide the connector around it and though the small rib openings. I can either tape the opening back into place or use some of the supplied extra covering meant to hide the aileron wires during the final assembly.

    Note that this part of the assembly takes plenty of patience. It helped me to hold the wing up to a bright light and twist the Y-harness cable at the center hole to orient the connector until it passed through the small rib openings. A combination of twisting the wire, tugging on the string from the other end, and shaking the wing seemed to work best.

    I finished up the aileron servo installation by mounting the trays using 4 supplied screws in the pre-drilled holes. The linkage was made from two pre-bent rods that were joined together by shrink tubing and CA.

    Wing Assembly

    The wing assembly went smoothly and quickly. All the pieces seemed to fit well and the instructions were easy to follow. The 4 types of strut mounts are all labeled and a diagram in the manual shows the proper placement for each wing.

    After first mounting the center wing using dowel rods and screws, a plastic (ABS) fairing is glued into place to maintain the fuselage shape. The bottom wing is mounted next using the same dowel rod and screw technique. For the top wing, two metal cabanes are mounted first using the front pinholes and rear strut mounts in the fuselage.

    The last step is to additionally secure the wings with 4 wooden struts. I found it easiest to simply drip some Zap thin CA into the strut mounts after they had the struts in place.

    Gear and Sub-wing:

    The sub-wing and landing gear assembly went smoothly. By following the steps in the manual, I had no issues. This area was very well designed.

    Just what this triplane needs...more wing area!


    I used a bobbin to coil up the excess antenna wire so that the length just reached the tail skid.

    Battery Hatch:

    The battery hatch comes pre-assembled with built-in magnets that keep it secure during flight.


    My Fokker DR-1 was ready-to-fly at 21.5oz. The CG was right at the recommended setting in the manual using the stock 3-cell LiPo pack. The control throws were set per the manual instructions as it provides the greatest chance for successful flights on a model like this with exceptional aerobatic capability. I measured 14.5amps (150w) at full throttle using the stock battery and APC 10x4.7 SF prop. This provides a very capable 112w/lb power level.

    Another great scale addition to this model would be to use a wooden prop.

    Test Flying

    Fokker DR-1 Maiden Flight video.
    CLICK HERE (8meg)

    After our first few flights, we realized that the Fokker DR-1 was a handful. It takes off from grass nicely and really looks great in in sky! However, it seems to fly true to its scale heritage and not like a docile parkflyer. You'll need intermediate to advanced flying skills and a transmitter with exponential function to help tone down the elevator sensitivity. It is amazingly agile but can be a bit twitchy on turns or speed changes. We flew the maiden in 5-10mph winds for the first video and in calmer conditions later in the evening not on the video. Flights lasted about 10-12 minutes. The rudder is quite ineffective at low speed which is no surprise, as it is true to scale. Sometimes landing on grass with parkflyers doesn't always work so well and the DR-1 isn't any different. You do need to keep power applied when landing and set up the approach before reducing power or you lose steering authority. All three landings on the grass ended on its nose...which is also true to scale. Perhaps it would land better on a hard surface but none was available for testing the DR-1.

    The plane is super cute and drew plenty of attention at a local R/C show, but, it is not a model to fly for relaxation.

    After the maiden flight, I added a 1/4oz weight to each side of the motor box, so that it doesn't interfere with the magnetic snap-on cowl, to see if it had any effect on the next round of test flying. The CG was now 1-7/8" back from the top wing leading edge which is still within the +- 1/8" limits recommended in the manual.

    Fokker DR-1 video 2.
    CLICK HERE (13meg)

    After adding 1/2oz of weight, we found the Fokker DR-1 to be a much better flyer. In this video, we kind of play with the ground gaining more and more confidence to land as we revel in our new flying ability. After several roll overs, the Fokker DR-1 (or pilot) becomes determined to get it right! Although still a handful to fly, requiring advanced flying skills, the little Great Planes parkflyer version of the DR-1 is as cute as it gets.


    As can be seen in both videos, the DR-1 can easily perform loops and rolls from level flight. The RimFire brushless power system delivers a strong level of power to the DR-1 enabling it to pull sharp turns and change directions quickly.

    My APC SF prop was painted wood color after the first flights. I will eventually add some lines with a brown marker pen to give it a laminated appearance like the original full-scale models. These type of scale touch-ups are a great deal of fun on small models like the Fokker DR-1.

    Great Planes has several other famous WWI fighter planes to choose from. Note that they do not all fly the same. The Fokker D-VII and the SE-5A are smooth, relaxing, and fun to fly. The DR-1 is more of a handful for the experienced warbird pilot. No matter which one you choose, Great Planes has done an exceptional job to recreate history with a quick build, all-wood ARF that looks and flies like the real thing!

    Fokker DR-1

    Manufacture Information

    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Web: www.greatplanes.com

    Hobby Lobby
    5614 Franklin Pike Cr.
    Brentwood, TN 37027

    ZAP Glues On-line at Frank Tiano Enterprises

    Pacer Z-42 Thread Locker
    5-minute Z-poxy
    Pacer POLY ZAP(tm)

    Comments on RCU Review: Great Planes Fokker DR-1 Triplane

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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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