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Camel & Co Limited Edition Dual Combo Sopwith Camel (11151) 1:48 Eduard The Camel was a development of the earlier Sopwith Pup that entered service late in WWI and was an excellent fighter, although in typical form during warfare, it soon became outclassed and was relegated to ground attack duties where possible. It first flew at the very end of 1916, and was introduced into service in the summer of 1917 where it quickly became the Allies’ premiere fighter of the time, and was responsible for the most kills of any type during the conflict. It gained its unofficial name thanks to the cowlings around the twin Vickers machine guns that were intended to prevent them from freezing up at altitude. In flight it could be difficult to control for the novice, thanks to the close proximity of the weighty elements of the airframe toward the very front of the fuselage, which was one of the aspects that made it a nimble aircraft in a turn, which is crucial in a dogfight. Its reputation became quite a problem, so a two-seat trainer was created to help overcome the problem, and went on to see wide service both with the RFC, RAF, nascent USAS and with the RNAS. Its climb-rate and top speed led to its withdrawal as a fighter, to be replaced by the Snipe, which was capable of coping with the new German fighters that were coming on-stream, such as the Fokker D.VII. Its ground attack role involved strafing enemy trenches and dropping 25lb Cooper bombs, but attrition levels were high due to their proximity to their targets and a total lack of protection for the pilot and engine. The last Camels were withdrawn in 1920, long after the end of WWI, having seen a good deal of foreign service in the meantime. The Camel was famously flown by fictional RFC then RAF pilot James “Biggles” Bigglesworth in a long series of books penned by J E Johns during the 30s and beyond, up until the writer’s death in the late 60s. Why do I mention this? Read on, MacDuff. The Kit This limited-edition Dual Combo boxing is of Eduard’s new tool, and isn’t to be confused with their 2003 original. It also has a tie-in with Biggles, thanks to two of the decal options (A & being his “kite” from early and later in his WWI career. With it being brand-new, there’s a lot to look at, especially as everything is provided times two. Looking inside the well-appointed top-opening box there are six sprues in blue/grey styrene, two in clear, two nickel-plated Photo-Etch (PE) frets with colour printing on much of it, and two sets of kabuki tape masking (not pictured), pre-cut for your convenience. There are also two decal sheets, but they’re not duplicates, just an overflow onto a smaller sheet, while the instruction booklet is surprisingly chunky, partly thanks to the ten decal options in colour at the rear. So what’s in the box? Well, two of all the below: Construction of each of your two kits begins with the pilot’s seat, which was wholly inappropriately made from wicker. The back is either made from PE curved around the base, which has a perforated PE insert and has a horseshoe shaped styrene lip to the rear. There’s also a simpler alternative made from two styrene parts if you don’t feel up to wrangling PE, and that is made from two parts. The aft section of the cockpit floor is a very sparse set of slats across a pair of stringers, which the seat and the fuel tank sit upon, the tank sitting behind the pilot. The seat gets a couple of pre-painted PE lap-belts applied, then the instrument panel is made, with two options depending on which markings you have chosen. The panel can be made from a lamination of pre-painted PE parts with wood-grain printed on the front layer and the instruments on the rear. They are glued to a styrene back-plate, or you can choose the more simplistic styrene alternative that has decals for the instrument dials. The panel is joined to a bulkhead with a lateral bar supporting it, and a choice of two types of “handlebars” across the top. The breeches of the Vickers machine guns are glued over the top of the bulkhead after replacing the chunky actuators with PE, and all this is shown from the side in a scrap diagram to assist you with assembly. The forward floor is fitted to the fuselage lower insert as are the rudder pedals, then the front bulkhead has a kidney-shaped tank glued on the cockpit side before it is glued perpendicular to the floor with the control column between the foot plates. The fuselage has some nice ribbing moulded-in, over which another layer is applied, with plenty of painting information supplied for both the cockpit and the rear interior of the fuselage. The cockpit rear and instrument panel sections are trapped between the fuselage halves along with the rear tail-skid, with instructions in red letters telling you NOT to glue the two cockpit subassemblies in place. It doesn’t say why, but it’s probably to obtain a better fit for the cowling and cockpit surround assemblies that are installed next. The front floor is inserted from below, and a choice of two styles of cockpit surround are given for different markings options. There’s an even wider choice when it comes to the engine, as Sopwith’s designers took the precaution of allowing the fitting of four types of engine to prevent issues if supply problems with one type arose. You have a choice of Bentley, Clerget, Gnome, or Le Rhone power plants, three of which have three parts apiece, one only two, with scrap diagrams showing how the parts fit together from the rear. There are three different cowlings that fit all the engines, so your choice is dictated by your last option, then there’s another choice for you to make in front of the pilot’s station. Firstly though, you install the two cooling jackets of the Vickers guns, then a choice of a wider two-pane windscreen with a circular PE sight set between the guns for one option, or a tubular sight that is pushed through a small windscreen panel, but not glued. A side view shows the correct position of this installation, again between the guns. The tail is first of the flying surfaces to be made up, starting with the horizontal fin and the elevators, which have their styrene guide-horns removed and replaced by PE parts that are mounted in 0.3mm holes you’ll need to drill out. The rudder and its fin are inserted vertically, and the horns are removed and replaced in a similar manner too. The lower wings are single-thickness parts with superb detail of the ribs and tape, and have their ailerons separate with the PE horns replacing the styrene lumps, plus a small clear window over the pulley within the leading edge of the wing. Both lower wings slot into twin holes in the fuselage on long rectangular pins, and if you’re doing one of the markings options, there’s a strange little part added offset on the aft edge of the cockpit surround. The upper wing gives you more choices, with a different main span part used for three of the options, both fitted with ailerons and their PE horns, plus more of the clear inspection windows for the control wires. There’s bound to be some rigging going on before you finally join the wings together, but the interplane struts and the cabane struts are inserted into the lower wing and lined up with the top wing, with one option having a new PE propeller and brackets to its wind-driven petrol pressurising pump, which is attached to a blank strut and consigns the alternative moulded-in part to the spares. The bicycle-wheel landing gear has yet more choice available to you, with two types of wheel and four types of supports on one side, but only two on the other side. Odd, but who am I to argue? There’s only one aerofoil-wrapped axle part, and another scrap diagram shows the correct angle of the parts from the front. The optional bomb-racks are made from PE, and have four small styrene bombs and a PE spinner fitted to them before it is glued to the underside behind the landing gear. The prop gives you more choices again – sorry about that. The two-bladed prop has moulded-in front detail that is replaced by a PE part after cutting off the redundant softer detail, or with a choice of two short spinner caps, again depending on which decal option you have chosen. Rigging This might put some modellers off, but there’s not a huge amount of it, so gird up your loins and crack on. There are two pages of drawings, with the lines marked in blue on greyscale drawings, and there is a central aerodynamic bullet suspended by four wires between the Vickers guns. Good luck to you, and remember to keep it scale, and don’t use cotton as it’ll go fuzzy. Markings The kabuki tape masking will allow you to cut the demarcation between the tyres and their hubs neatly, mask off the two types of windscreen, and also those inspection windows on the wings. There are ten markings options on the sheets, only two of which are from Biggles, so if you want to depict the real thing, you still have eight to play with. From the box you can build two of the following: J4613 Capt. James “Biggles” Bigglesworth, No.266 Sqn. RFC, March 1917 J1936 Capt. James “Biggles” Bigglesworth, No.266 Sqn. RAF, March 1918 B3889 Capt. Clive F Collett, B Flight, No.70 Sqn. RFC, Poperinge, France, August 1917 B7190 Capt. Walter G R Hinchliffe, C Flight, No.10(N) Sqn. RNAS, Téteghem, France, March 1918 N3893 Capt. Arthur R Brown, No.9(N) Sqn. RNAS, Leffrinckoucke, France, September 1917 N6377 Capt. Harold F Beamish, No.3(N) Sqn. RNAS, Furnes, Belgium, September 1917 Capt. Henry R Clay Jr., 41st Aero Sqn. USAS, Colombey-les-Belles, France, October 1918 C6713 Capt. D’Urban Victor Armstrong, No.151 Sqn. RAF, Crécy-Estrées, France, April XXXX C1555 Capt. Francis L Luxmoore, No.78(HD) Sqn. RFC, Hornchurch, Great Britain, January 1918 F1471 185th Aero Sqn. USAS, Colombey-les-Belles, France, March 1919 Decals are printed by Eduard with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin carrier film cut close to the printed areas. The picture above isn’t quite how they appear on the sheets, as I photoshopped them into a more convenient shape to make a better picture. Aftermarket The kit as it stands is excellent, but some of you want to add more to any kit you buy (yes, I’m guilty of that too), so Eduard have created a raft of sets to enable you to do just that. We’ve now reviewed a bunch of sets here, and you can get wheels, cockpit in 3D printed resin, seatbelts (not needed for this boxing), a fabulous wicker seat in resin (you really need this one), and even resin and PE fuel-pumps that attach to one of the struts to keep the engine running. The engines, bomb rack and other items will be coming too. Conclusion With two full models in the box, there are a lot of choices multiplied by two, but then again, you end up with two Camels on your display shelves. You can go full Biggles, half Biggles, or zero Biggles if you wish. Lots of detail, lots of choices, and lots of colourful schemes to choose from. Did I mention that there were two full kits in the box? Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
Not sure if this should be in with the Whifs really – I have been reading a lot of Biggles books recently, and got quite interested in the modelling possibilities that they provide. In one recent read, (Biggles Breaks the Silence) he heads to the Antarctic in a Wellington under the guise of a government research vehicle to retrieve some lost gold from a shipwreck. Not much is said about the aircraft other than it being modified for the cold weather, including the addition of skis – which leaves me with some latitude regarding livery. This is my first proper build in a long time, so hopefully it doesn't go too awry! With that I toddled to the local shop and picked up airfix's offering to begin this weekend. Below is a rough mockup of my intended scheme: Looking forward to this