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  1. Jeannin Stahltaube (1914). Wingnut Wings 1:32 One of the more successful German aircraft of the pre-war period was the Etrich Taube (Dove), which was somewhat bird like in appearance. The design was based on research into the aerodynamic properties of Alsomitra Macrocarpa seeds, as this fascinating short Youtube vide0 shows A two seat unarmed monoplane, the only hinged control surface was the split upper/lower rudder, with wing warping in place of ailerons and elevator. In the simplest sense, control was achieved by the joystick pulling on cables attached to the trailing edge of the tail to bend it up or down. Likewise the large extensions on the wingtips could be bent upwards, (but not downwards). Roll control was thus achieved by deflecting one wingtip upwards, while the other stayed ‘flat’. Not surprisingly the Taube did not stay in front line service beyond the first year of the Great War, as better and more conventional aircraft were developed. It did however remain in second line service with training units and as a ‘hack’ aircraft. Due to a legal ruling the Taube design could not be copyrighted, which resulted in several manufactures producing their own version, notably Rumpler. Most of these used a wooden framed fuselage and tailplane, but Emil Jeannin’s company utilised steel tubing for these parts in their 1914 versions built for the German army, resulting in it being known as the ‘Stahltaube’ (I.e Steel Dove). It was with some surprise and delight that I found out earlier this year that Wingnut Wings were due to release a kit of the Stahltaube. There have been precious few aircraft kits from this time period in any scale, so to have one promised in 1:32nd from the finest producer of model kits, was a very exciting prospect indeed. Packaged in Wingnut Wings familiar silver gilt edged box, that artwork features a Stahltaube in flight over peaceful countryside, showing off its birdlike appearance. Lifting the lid reveals that the box is packed to the brim with individually wrapped sprues. I’ve learned to place each one in the upturned box lid as I remove it, so that they can be replaced in the same order. Failure to do so may result in being unable to fit the lid back on properly, as there is some much in each kit! The instructions are in the exemplary style that Wingnut Wings always supply, being on thick glossy paper, in full colour and lavishly illustrated with 3 view drawings, contemporary photographs, and superb Ronnie Bar profiles. Nobody else has yet reached the standard that Wingnut Wings have set, they are not just instructions, they are also excellent reference works. And if you go to their website there are often many more original photographs of the aircraft. Stage 1. Cockpit Interior. This 1 covers construction of the cockpit interior, with the majority of part being found on sprue A. The floor, framework, bulkheads and seats make up most of the detail, with instrument faces being supplied on the decal sheet. Colour call outs are given for each part, although sometimes the exact colours have been lost in the passage of time. In these instances the instructions will suggest a couple of probable colours to choose from, or place a ‘?’ in the callout for you to make your own reasoning. There is a fair bit of internal wire bracing and control runs, but all is clearly illustrated in a ‘rigging’ diagram. You will have to supply your own preferred rigging material. Personally I like stretched sprue for this sort of interior work, as it can be attached with white glue after everything has been painted and assembled. Both cockpit openings are wide and visible, and for once no upper wing is in the way so all the lovely detail will be easily seen on the finished model. Stages 2 & 3 Engine. The Stahltaube was powered by either a 100hp Daimler Mercedes D1, or a 120hp Argus As.II engine. I did a double take when I first examined the box contents – both complete engines are provided on separate sprues! Whichever you choose you will have a spare engine for diorama purposes, as these engine are little jewels so it would be a crime not to build the ‘spare’. Daimler Mercedes D1 on the right hand sprue; Argus As.II I often start a new Wingnuts build with engine as I enjoy them so much. There are comparatively few parts but the detail is so fine and crisp... ...with usually just aluminium and black as the base colours. Details are picked out with colours like brass, copper, brown, and various silver shades. Data plates are supplied on the decal sheet, to add the final touch. It doesn’t take long to have a lovely little engine ready to install, and they always look fantastic on the completed model. Stages 4 & 5. Fuselage. With the chosen engine completed, stage 4 sees it fitted to the interior framework, followed by fitting the etched brass belts to the seats. The two fuselage halves are then brought together. Two of the versions have an ‘X’ shaped hoe cut in the lower cowling, and neat little template is supplied in etched brass. You just need to drill a 2mm hole in the centre and four 1mm holes. A sharp knife is then used to join them up and form the ‘X’ .Engine side panels and the cabane struts bring these stages to an end. The turnbuckles (part A50) that sit on top, will greatly ease fitting of the static rigging. A similar set of turnbuckles (part A51) are fitted to the underside cabane, so it looks like it will be possible to anchor the end of each line to a turnbuckle, after having passed it through a hole drilled right through the wing. But all this is done in later stages. Stage 6. Wings and Tailplane. This covers the fitting of those bird like wings and tailplane, and what extraordinary mouldings they are. Each wing is a single moulding with beautifully rendered surface detail, with a cutout underneath that fits onto a stub moulded into the side of each fuselage. Holding a wing up to the light you can see what look like the structure under the fabric covering. Of course it is all a single plastic moulding, but so accurately is it done that it looks for all the world like a real wooden framed wing covered with doped on linen. Utterly amazing, and it underlines just how Wingnut Wings are constantly innovating and raising the bar with every new release. Stage 7. Undercarriage and Radiators. In common with most pre-war aircraft, the Stahltaube was fitted with uncovered wire wheels. Wingnut Wings provide you with two choices here, a set of etched brass rims & spokes to fit to an injection moulded tyre, are a pair of fully moulded wheels. The etched ones will require more skill to put together, but will obviously look better, whilst the fully moulded ones will be appreciated by those less confident with their skills. I have in fact seen sprue ‘D’ before, it is the same one as supplied with the Albatros B.II kit, and is even labelled as such. As a nice aside, at also contains a pair of Carbonit bombs to arm your Stahltaube with. Also fitted are the Hazet radiators under the wing on each side of the fuselage, looking pretty similar to a domestic radiator and associated plumbing. Each one is a single moulding with all the pipework, the detail is beautifully defined and I’m sure they are going to look fabulous when painted and fitted to the model. I love this sort of practical yet Heath Robinson engineering that appeared on early aircraft. Stage 8 Final Assembly. Four different propellers by Niendorf, Integral, Garuda, and Reschke are provided, complete with miniature logo decals for each manufacturer. The Integral is appropriate for the Mercedes powered versions B & D, whilst of the Argus powered machines, A uses the Garuda, C the Niendorf, and E the Reschke. Undoubtedly any machine could have been fitted with different props at different times, but it illustrates the level of research by Wingnut Wings, that they give you both the information and the parts to ensure verified accuracy. More variations are catered for, with one of three different exhaust systems to be fitted. There is a set of individual curved out ‘organ pipes’, a manifold ‘chimney’ type, or a downward ‘elephant type. Sprue C provides a crystal clear windshield. Stage 9. Rigging. The static rigging mentioned previously looks to be pretty straightforward, but there is more complexity to the control wires that work the wing and tail warping. The ‘elevator’ rigging fans out from a single to eight lines via a triangular etched brass plate, repeated top and bottom. The ‘ailerons’ are similar but only on the top surface, fanning out to six lines. An advantage over a conventional biplane is that all of it will be readily accessible to work on. Finishing options. A. Jeannin Stahltaube 172/14, Lt.Fritzlohn(?),Adlershof-Johannisthal, Late 1914 to early 1915. B. Jeannin Stahltaube 180/14, Deutches Teknikmuseum Berlin C. Jeannin Stahltaube 271/14, Emil Wendler, Adlershof-Johannisthal, late 1916 to early 1917 D. Jeannin Stahltaube 283/14, Adlershof-Johannisthal,1915 E. Jeannin Stahltaube 319/14, Armee-Flug-Park 9b, early 1915. All of these are comparatively plain compared to the finishes applied to German aircraft later in the war, consisting mainly of national markings and serial numbers. Don’t be fooled into thinking the decal sheet is just black & white, those instruments are in full colour. Conclusion. Even with Wingnut Wings appetite for the unusual, I would never have forecast that they would produce a Taube of any sort. But I am really grateful that they have! It represents an important step in the development of aviation. The finished model will be a perfect companion to Wingnut Wings Albatros B.II, which also has those domestic looking radiators bolted on the fuselage sides. It also looks to be quite a large model, judging by the photographs on the Wingnut Wings website which show it alongside a completed Albatros D.Va. Like every new release, it meets the expected high standards we have come to expect from them, and manages to surprise with some new ‘wow’ factor. Those translucent wing and tailplane mouldings are just breath taking, although the effect will probably be lost once paint is applied, it does show how accurate and beautifully thin the mouldings are. The completeness of the kit is also outstanding; few manufacturers would supply you with two engines, four propellers, and three exhaust systems to cover 5 finishing options. The quality of the mouldings is also of the highest standard, everything being free from flash, short shot, or sink marks. Actual construction of the model should be well within the capability of anyone who has even limited experience. The airframe itself is not too complicated and there is no top wing or struttery to worry about. Things will get a little trickier with the rigging, where some previous experience will be helpful. I have never used elasticated EZ-line myself, but do wonder that for those who haven’t done much rigging, it might be a good material for the multi line warping controls. It is becoming routine to say it, but this is yet another outstanding release from Wingnut Wings. A highly original subject, beautifully presented, superbly engineered, and top quality in every respect. I’ve built over a dozen of their kits now and thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them. Order one today, and get the Albatros B.II on your Christmas list to accompany it! Very Highly Recommended Review sample courtesy of
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