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SE.5a Wolseley Viper Profipak (82131) 1:48 Eduard The SE.5 was a huge improvement on early WWI fighters, although it originated in 1916 as an experimental scout aircraft, designed by Henry Folland amongst others, who went on to found Folland Aircraft. After some rather serious design problems that resulted in the death of one of the designers, the kinks were ironed out, and coupled with the powerful Hispano-Suiza engine, it became arguably the most capable fighter of the Great War. After a short run of the original SE.5, the A variant appeared with a more powerful engine with geared prop, but that led to more issues, including detachment of prop, gearbox or both whilst in flight. Wolseley were at this time producing an upgraded version of the engine that they named the Viper, which instead used a direct drive-shaft for the prop, which as well as resulting in reversed rotation, made for a more robust and reliable engine that was more prone to staying attached to its propeller. It became the de facto standard for the type due to its availability and reliability. There were a number of aces that flew the SE.5a, and coupled with the Camel, the aircraft helped the Allies to gain air superiority over the battlefield, with more American built aircraft scheduled to join the fray that were cancelled by the Armistice reducing their usefulness to nil. After the war many were sold into private hands and the type continued to be seen in the skies for years to come. The Kit This is a new tooling from Eduard, and that shows in the details that are immediately apparent when perusing the sprues. Arriving in one of their smaller kit boxes with the familiar orange Profipak branding, inside are two sprues in medium-dark grey styrene, a circular clear sprue, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE), a sheet of kabuki-style pre-cut masks, a large square decal sheet an A5 portrait colour instruction booklet with painting guide to the rear, printed on glossy stock. If you're not used to handling WWI aircraft, particularly fighters, you might forget just how small and delicate they were until you see the fuselage parts, which are scarcely 12cm long on the sprues (minus rudder etc.). There is no deficiency in detail on these small parts however, with lots of crisply executed stitching, ribs, hinges and fasteners depicted in a mixture of engraved and raised forms. The cockpit is also well detailed, with additions in PE bringing a level of realism that can seldom be achieved by us mortals otherwise, with PE belts and instrument panels, which are pre-painted with fine details to enhance the finish. The cockpit framework is inserted into a representation of the inner structural framing along with the seat, fuel tank, controls and cross-braces, which once painted in your preferred manner to simulate wood, are laced with bracing wires to further enhance the detail, but you will need to provide the necessary wires/thread. The cockpit floor is moulded into the lower wing, and here additional ammo cans are stored for the overwing Lewis gun, with another above the instrument panel, which has its plastic details removed before installation of the improved PE version. The dials are raised, so individual PE faces have been supplied on the fret, and great care will be needed to ensure these don't ping off into oblivion. The use of a pick-up pencil, fine tweezers or one of those little rubberised sticky-pads would be advisable, along with some careful positioning. With the cockpit installed in the lower wing, which is a one-piece arrangement by the way, the fuselage is then closed around the assembly, trapping a number of formers within the front section under the engine bay. The Viper engine is then built from parts, beginning with the sump, banks of pistons, rocker covers and exhaust manifold, to which some additional plug wires and other details could be added at your whim. There are two cowling choices for the engine, one of which is standard, with a bulkhead added, the other made up from the standard one with a scoop cut from a spare, and added after cutting the corresponding section from the original. This is only for the first markings option. The pilot's cockpit decking is also built up at this time, with a clear access panel on one side that is fitted with a PE surround, and a small winder with a PE handle at the joint with the main fuselage. These are both installed later after the upper fuselage section between them is added, and the separate ailerons and elevator fins are glued into their positions. At this point a number of clear triangular inspection windows are inserted into the wings and elevator fins, to show off the moulded-in control detail that will need painting beforehand. A choice of two types of elevator are offered, and the fuselage mounted machine gun is installed just prior to the top decking being closed up. A choice of curved or straight windscreen glass is given, and a simple sighting device with PE mounts is fitted to the top after filling in the slot for a simplified styrene version of the mount. The radiator is mated with the cowling as it is fitted, after which the upper wing is prepared for fitting. There are a few methods to successfully paint and rig your biplane, so I'll leave that decision up to you, but another set of clear inspection panels and PE surrounds are fixed into the wing before it is lined up with the struts and glued in place, usually after much of the painting and rigging is already completed. The ailerons are repeated on the upper wings, and PE arms are fitted, replacing the simple styrene pegs moulded into the parts. The fixed landing gear consists of an aerodynamic triangular frame on each side of the lower fuselage with an axle between them with an aerofoil section, but one markings option has simplified structure, to which you will need to add two lengths of 1mm stock to complete additional bracing struts, which isn't included in the kit. Once complete, it can be installed on the underside of the fuselage in sockets that should hold it firmly in position, and a similar attachment scheme is used for the tail bumper at the rear. The rudder is also fixed at this late stage, with a PE actuator rod replacing the styrene nub that is moulded in. Tail-wheel steering is the order of the day, and another actuator is added under the tail, again replacing the nub on that part too. For some reason the instructions then show more of the inspection windows and PE arms added at the end of the build, so feel free to skip to that point to avoid any issues. The Lewis gun and its mount is added to the upper wing right at the end with the circular magazine receiving a PE carry handle and outer face, while the muzzle gets a tiny iron sight. As one decal option doesn't carry the wing mounted gun, it should be filled, but as early in the build as possible to make life easier. A two blade prop is fitted to the Viper engine, and under the nose the SE.5a could carry a small rack of four bombs, which has been supplied on the included PE sheet as an extra. Happily for any Great War modeller, a full page of wiring diagrams are included on the last page of the instructions, with the wires picked out in blue against the airframe to make spotting them easier. Markings The basic colour scheme of most SE.5as was green/olive drab with a linen colour underside, and whatever personalisation the pilot applied to his ride. There are quite a variation on the theme with the provided options, partially because a couple of post-war airframes have been chosen. From the box you can build one of the following: SE.5a Wolseley Viper C1096, flown by Lt. H.J. Burden, No. 56 Squadron, Valheureux, France, Spring 1918 SE.5a Wolseley Viper F8146, 27th Aero Squadron, 1922 SE.5a Wolseley Viper F8953, flown by 2nd Lt. S.C. Elliot, No. 85 Squadron, Ascq, France, December 1918 SE.5a Wolseley Viper F8038, 25th Aero Squadron, November 1918 SE.5a Wolseley Viper C1149, flown by Cpt. D Grinnell-Milne, No. 56 Squadron, Béthencourt, France, Ascq, France, January 1919 Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a lovely little model, and even though I'm not really a WWI modeller, which some of you might have picked up on already, this one appeals to me greatly, as it comes from a time when aircraft were starting to look more purposeful, and less like a bundle of twigs with wings! Superb detail and some really nice decal options, plus the PE and masks round out the package to a rather appealing whole. Very highly recommended. If you can't resist the lure of some of the other decal options, or can't decide which you'd prefer to model, then the Overtrees that are available directly from Eduard might well be for you. Supplied in an anonymous white box with only a sticker on the end to tell you what's in the box, the kit contains just the plastic you see above and nothing else. Not even the instructions, as you've already got them in the Profipak kit anyway, or you can pick them up from their site here. What about the PE though? Not a problem – Eduard have you covered there as well, and you can buy the PE separately too. Overtrees Overtrees Photo-Etch That's not all! Watch out for reviews of some additional aftermarket sets by Eduard to fit their kits, such as a super-detailed radiator, props, guns and the turnbuckles and tensioners for the rigging that they describe as "Stretchers". Coming soon to a forum near you. Well, right here actually. Review sample courtesy of