Jump to content

Royal Aircraft Factory Fe2b in 1/144

Recommended Posts







God I do love the FE2.  It's in my very top five of favourite British aircraft.

It's more contrapted than constructed, and seems to have more in common with the age of sail than with aviation.  It meets the challenge of practical aerodynamics like a drunken hooligan, charging a hedgerow.  Head-on, arms outstretched.


And it's ugly...  It's so ugly.


I love it.


I've always wanted one.  I absolutely ache to have an FE2b in my collection, but I'm cursed to follow the cult of 1/144.  So what's a fella to do?

I could order some lumpen bogey from Shapeways perhaps.  Maybe buy a gigantic 1/32 kit from Wingnut Wings, only to fondle the sprues and never actually build the thing.  Or I could try and scratchbuild one...


Nah!  That would be bonkers I told myself.  It cant be done.  It can't.


I leaned back in my rickety chair and took another sip of my favourite Islay single malt.  I imagined the empty space in my tiny display cabinet, filled with a trophy-sized replica of the Royal Aircraft Factory's finest...


Not a chance!


It's too damn small in 1/144.  I grabbed my trusty Windsock Datafile and measured off the size of the nacelle and transferred it to a bit of styrene.  "See"  I said to myself.  "It's not even 30mm long.  It's impossible!"

I looked at the little piece of styrene, sitting forlorn on my cutting mat.  I grabbed my scalpel:  Just round the front off a bit...  :lol:





That was back in January of this year.  I'm committed now, or probably should be. 

Here's some shots of how things have gone so far.  I'll try and get things up to speed as quick as possible.  ;)


First up was the main body of the fuselage nacelle.  This was the fateful bit of styrene that started me off.  I marked out the plan view onto a piece of 1mm Evergreen strip and trimmed it to size. 





Sidewalls were added from .25mm styrene and laminated pieces of 3mm were prepared for the upper works and forward nacelle.




Some trimming may have occurred...




And some more.  But eventually I got here...




Once the main components were made I used dental burs to hollow out the insides.  It took several sessions of this until I got them suitably thinned.










After that I cut some strips of 1mm acrylic sheet and scraped the under-camber into them with the sharpened end of a steel ruler, then sanded the upper surfaces to get the finished aerofoil sections.

Couldn't resist a bit of RFC product placement  :)





I also made the main wheels, as there was nothing remotely similar available in the spares box. Steaming some styrene rod around a drill bit proved to be the best method.  Much better than metal, as I wouldn't have a problem with pain adhesion later on.  The bally Hun provided the period coinage for the next shot:




And I made a seat from sterling silver




That will do for now.  It's getting late here, so I'll add more of the build soon.  :)








Edited by Putty Animal
  • Like 46
  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fantastic! Right up my street. I’ve already picked up some top tips - like using a dental burr to hollow out the fuselage / nacelle. Guess which tool I definitely don’t have! I wonder if I could use a Dremel without melting the plastic. And how on earth did make the seat from silver??


Keep it up, PA, I’m already impressed.



PS Quite amused by “pain adhesion”, which is what happened to me when I last tried to make tyres by steaming plastic rod!

Edited by Jonners
  • Haha 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fantastic build and a great start to what is clearly going to be an entertaining and informative thread.

Is that seat actually made from silver? Real silver? If so - what’s it like to work? I can see me buying some down the track. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Courageous said:

Excellent...but bonkers!

I want to build one of these but in my preferred scale of 1/72. So, I'll tag along and see how long it takes for you to be 'carted' off to some padded cell somewhere.



Aren't the outer wing panels the same as Be2  ones, would that be a shortcut?


Edited by matti64
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, wow, wow!!! I like it a lot, that, is fantastic work.; hovere, do the plasic chips come witha nice spicy chutney? That air tool you have looks very good, can you tell us more about it. I have three dead Dremmels but a nice big compressor. The wings look fantastic and I think you may just have sellected the right material.


I've pulled up my chair and readied the popcorn...



Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Spad57 said:

Man that's so tiny! Excellent skill and craftsmanship are at play here. Looking forward to seeing more.

Highest Regards,

Gregory Jouette

Gregory! How are you? Great to see you here! 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

The other chaps are right, you're as silly as a 2 bob watch! :wacko: The Fee is bad enough in 1/72 but to do one in 1/144 is nuts........or else a sign of unbelievable modelling skills, and judging from your progress so far maybe you're more maestro than fruitcake!


Seriously wonderful stuff. Far, far, far beyond my abilities but I will watch this build with utter awe.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, Jonners said:

I wonder if I could use a Dremel without melting the plastic. And how on earth did make the seat from silver??

It probably depends what type you have.  I've got one but its a screaming destroyer of worlds and is way too fast.  It runs at 30,000rpm and shrieks like it is trying to make contact with the underworld.

The seat is made from a semicircle of silver for the base and has a strip bent to the same curve and soldered together with a regular soldering iron and plenty of liquid flux.  I always make the forward part of the seat base a bit long and leave a bit of extra height to the seat too, then trim it back to the correct size with a very sharp scalpel and 1200 grit paper once its assembled.  The holes in the seat back are done with .5, .4 and .3mm drill bits.  The long holes are drilled with several holes close together then trimmed to shape with the tip of a fresh scalpel (I go through a lot of scalpels). :)


19 hours ago, Bandsaw Steve said:

Is that seat actually made from silver? Real silver? If so - what’s it like to work? I can see me buying some down the track. 

Yep, I used sterling silver for this one, which behaves very similarly to brass at that scale.  Sometimes if something more malleable is needed I use fine silver, which is much more flexible without the copper in it.

19 hours ago, matti64 said:

Aren't the outer wing panels the same as Be2  ones, would that be a shortcut?

I don't think there are any readily available Be2's in 1/144 scale.  No matter though, as I've got the wings well under control now.  I'll get some photos of them up soon!  ;)


17 hours ago, heloman1 said:

Wow, wow, wow!!! I like it a lot, that, is fantastic work.; hovere, do the plasic chips come witha nice spicy chutney? That air tool you have looks very good, can you tell us more about it.


Mmmm... they're a bit minty actually   ^_^


Regarding the motor tool that I use, it is very similar to the one below.  It isn't crazy fast like a Dremel, so you can do finer work without easily melting the plastic (if you are making little flakes you are doing fine.  If you are raising a curl of material you're going at it too hard and are overheating the plastic).  There are many types of pendant motors and flexible shaft drills about.  The best ones are electric and run better for longer.  The foot pedal controls the speed, plus you can reverse the polarity of the motor by flicking the switch at the top.  That's good for "left handed" work :)


Having the motor away from you is great too as the torque is dampened almost completely compared to a handheld motor.  Plus you don't have the thing screaming in your ear as you are trying to hollow out the fuselage of a 1/144 scale biplane.  :lol:




These are the best types of bur for most jobs.  They cut the surface away.  Unlike the stone-tipped grinder bits in hardware shops.  They mostly create heat.



  • Like 5
  • Thanks 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's the next phase.  The radiator is thoughtfully buried inside the nacelle and there are two adjustable "ears" which help scoop the air in.  These were made from 0.1mm styrene and capped at each end.  It took a few tries at this to get them right.  I also finished off the thinning of the nacelle and got a base coat on to do the plywood effect in oils.





I also started making all the furniture for the inside of the cockpit.  The pilot and observer's positions are very spacious and the stepped arrangement afforded both crewmen a splendid view of their crash site.  It makes for extra work here though, as it means there is plenty of things to add, and its all in plain sight.  Unlike the mercifully dark little holes on most 1/144 aircraft.  :(


The first bit was the interior shelf that runs around the pilots cockpit and the instrument panel above.  To make the panel and the instruments I prepared the panel, then made the individual instruments from punched out disks of paint.  Sounds weird, but here's how it works:


First off I got some double sided tape with that non-stick backing paper and spread it out on some scrap plastic.  Then I brushed on a coat of Mr Color grey-black lacquer paint.  Prior to this I had measured the instrument faces and sourced some brass tube to the corresponding diameters.  I reamed out the end of each to form sharp little disk punches and pressed them into the still-soft paint to cut out the disks.  One this was done I transferred them to the instrument panel like decals using a tiny amount of PVA mixed with Tamiya Mark Fit decal solution.







The Fee's instruments had big black bezels around white faces, so it looks a bit different to your usual aircraft instruments.  Mind you, it's seriously small though and hidden under the coaming so I didn't go too crazy. 





Once it is in place you get the idea.  I took the photo by holding a diamond grader's magnifying glass over the lens of my iPhone camera.  It works surprisingly well!

I also did the plywood effect in oils by this stage.  Ripping off a recipe for the colours that I saw on the Large Scale Planes website.  I'm hopelessly colour-blind so I pray its alright!





Reference on the FE2 were always incredibly hard to come by before the Wingnut kits arrived.  Nowadays there are interior shots up the wazoo and every blob on every knob is documented.

I was able to add details without resorting to guesswork, which was really nice for a change. :)











  • Like 19
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow thanks!  It's certainly a labour of love, but there's stacks of potential in 1/144 these days.  :)


Here's some shots of the engine construction.  I jammed some bits of Evergreen rod down the end of my flexi drill and used it as a sort of poor man's lathe to shape the individual cylinders.  I used digital calipers to do the measurements.  These are the best thing ever bought and I simply cannot work without them any more. 





Once these were made I trimmed off the excess and glued them into a row with Tamiya extra thin cement.  The dreaded Hun turned up again to provide some scale...




The main block was carved from a chunk of 3mm styrene and details were added from sprue and strip.  I found some high resolution side views of the Beardmore online and reduced these to 1/144 so I could take dimensions off them in Photoshop.  This let me get everything to scale.  The tops of the cylinders are simplified somewhat, but overall things look busy enough.  The upper wing crowds the engine a bit anyway so I reckon it will be alright.


I do love the pictures with the matchstick :)







After that I popped the engine in for a bit of a Captain Cook (look)...






The paint is peeling off the seat, so I'll need to strip that back and prime it properly.  But all things considered I'm pretty hopeful.  Can't wait to flush in the exterior and start detailing the outer nacelle, but there's heaps to do before that.

  • Like 17
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Marklo said:

If you really want  a good BE2C conversion you should go for a Be9 not an F2b :)


Putty Animal, you're insane but gifted. Loving the build so far.

Had the Putnam on the Royal Aircraft Factory arrive yesterday and took a look into it this morning and found out what a Be-9 is. Shocking!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That engine is stunning. I scratchbuilt 4 engines for my 1:72 Ilya Muromets, and can't for the life of me figure out how you can do that at half the size! 



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...