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Rob Little's Sopwith Triplane

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It's been a long held ambition of mine to build a Sopwith Triplane in a scale that suits my fingers and. 1.72 was never an option. 

I was some considerable age by the time I discovered that Australia's top scoring WW1 Ace pilot had the same name as me! If I'd have heard his name earlier I would surely have remembered it.. And it's not that I'm disinterested in aviation history. UK or English recollection of WW1 is very selective. 

The Triplane was flown exclusively by the Navy. Developed from the Pup and superceded by the Camel, the type cut a swathe through the opposition in its short career. The RFC were faring badly at the hands of the Flying Circuses in 1916 when RNAS squadrons were called in to bolster their ability. 

Naval 10 is perhaps the best known, with Black Flight, manned exclusively by Canadians it seems and lead by Collishaw, racking up a noteworthy tally of scores. 

Rob Little, flying with Naval 8, was hitting his stride as well. His tally was 4 prior to converting to the Triplanes. Then he really started making Hay! 

Another 27 "kills" he added to his score in the Tripe,, before racking up a further 16 in the Sopwith Camel. 

Sadly, like so many others, Little didn't make it to the end of hostilities but having totalled 47 before his death, he is Australia's Ace of Aces and a great Australian hero. 


I've actually just started a WIP before realising I could be posting here, perhaps for a bit of Aussie input and expertise. 

I'm not skilled in WW1 plane modelling, and been hesitant to start the build. But it's under way and I'll keep this updated with the slow progress. 

This is the win at auction.... 


And this is the kit.... 


The styrene parts are simple enough, 


THIS is the challenge for me... 


By way of trying out my aptitude for these kinds of planes, I started with the Pfalz D.III and it's almost finished. That's the impetus I needed to take a shot at the Sopwith, in honour of my namesake and one of Australia's best 🙂

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  • rob Lyttle changed the title to Rob Little's Sopwith Triplane
3 hours ago, CliffB said:

this could be a fantastic little model (even in 1/48) :popcorn:

😀That's "especially in 1.48" for me! 

I remember trying with the little Airfix Kits of Camels and Fokkers etc. 1.72 is fine for a DC3 but not these little rascals 

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The Eduard Profipack comes with an option to fit a pair of Vickers guns, and I was all for going with that as I'd read about Little's exploits with a 2-gun aircraft. After some great help on my WIP discussing this, my mind has changed. There were only 6 Triplanes built with this armament with numbers N533 - N538. 

The airframe most associated with Little's time in Naval 8 is N5493, and Eduard has this on the sheet complete with a red fuselage band 👍. Looks like Little had the name "Blymp" in white on the side or sides - unfortunately the sheet doesn't have this. Instead, red heart logos are given for the fin, but this appears to be a later addition by a subsequent flyer. 

So it's the single gun installation for this. The styrene part is well detailed and enhanced with some metal etch parts. 


There's a crosshairs detail to add to the front but that'll be added later. 

I've laboured over the cockpit assembly and seat to get to this stage, 


Not sure if I can make it with the resin rotary engine..... 😲. I'll give it a go but if all else fails then I have the kit plastic version as a backup. 

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Hi Dennis, no problem at all! I'm a bit late with this to the party.

I've been hesitating starting the build, this is not in my comfort zone. In fact I've built the Pfalz D.III first to see if I have any chance with struts and rigging. 


Stretchy monofilament line. 


My only real snag was the flimsy undercarriage structure and especially the stub axles which gave way. In the end I pulled it apart and scratched the whole thing in Ali tube and wire which is considerably more stable and robust. 

This is all good practice in preparation for the Sopwith 👍

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Hi Rob.  I had been trying to get interest in an SE5a Group Build without success, and my initial intention was to build Roderick Dallas's machine for this Group Build, then follow with Little's.  My Mirage has probably consumed too much time, however.


So, I will be enjoying your build.  I have used a few rigging materials with varying success: invisible mending thread ('fishing line'), nitenol wire (very thin, stiff, springy wire) and stretchy rubber rigging line.  The wire is probably the easiest in my experience: you drill a hole at each end (before assembly!), cut the wire to length (starting a bit long and trimming down), and just poke it in the holes.  Rubbery stretch line was the best looking but it's an absolute pain... basically impossible to thread through the holes because it's like pushing rope.  I did successfully rig a biplane with the monofilament mending thread: anchor one end with super glue, thread the other through the hole at the other end, gently weight, and add a drop of super glue.  Roughening up the thread with sandpaper to help the glue grip was a good move.


Whatever method you use, I wish you very good luck.  The Triplane is not too bad for rigging.

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8 hours ago, Peter Lloyd said:

trying to get interest in an SE5a Group Build

I think that is a bit too specialised and "niche", Peter, to get the numbers required. Mention Mustangs or Stukas and you'll be inundated, or Panzer tanks! An entire WW1 aero group build might be a runner, but even then......? 

I tried out doing the rigging on the Pfalz with a stretchy monofilament - I think it's used for bead jewellery etc. It could have gone worse 😀

It looks a bit glassy though, so I tried a wipe of silver paint on some of the wires in situ and it looks better. 

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Looks the business Rob, I'm surprised you have waited this long to build something which means so much to you.

It might be 1/48 but it's seems to have a blooming lot of bits.

Best of luck


Cheers Pat 

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The plastic is a bit of a breeze, Pat. It's all the etch micro parts and resin things! The rotary engine for example - 


Etch pushrods for each cylinder..... They were a complete fail in my hands. I've resorted to brass wire in an attempt to fit them. 


A tedious old business, but while I was labouring over these I took the opportunity to sort out a couple of Wright Cyclone engines that were holding up another build. 


So that's a decent outcome for all this fiddling around ‼️😎


As for the wait, it's a matter of getting hold of the kit. Some of these items are a bit elusive. 


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On 4/10/2021 at 8:56 PM, rob Lyttle said:

I think that is a bit too specialised and "niche", Peter, to get the numbers required. Mention Mustangs or Stukas and you'll be inundated, or Panzer tanks!


For some masochistic reason I think Britmodeller deserves a single type GB from that 'other' war... Camel or Fokker Tripe would have been a little more popular, but I reckon if I can get the concept sold, I should go all the way and try to have the mighty Folland machine the feature.  I hope your efforts here inspire some others as they have me.

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There has been a bit of progress with the Sopwith although I have been sidetracked with all sorts, including trying (and failing mostly) to get the hang of a Chromebook.....

But let's see...... 

Still got a few wires to go on the engine, but I moved on to something interesting instead. I reckon I can install the engine later by cunning use of the exhaust outlet triangle under the front of the fuselage. 

So I joined the fuselage up. 


Some stretchy lines inserted first, for the tailplane controls. As for the tailplane itself, I've gone for the kit plastic option. Eduard's resin alternative is the shape that I need and I used it as a template to give the larger styrene part a reshaping. 




Elevators trimmed off, several holes drilled, and it's on. 


My own control horns fitted into slots in the elevators and some deflection down as they are glued back on. The kit supplies separate pe horns top and bottom and frankly I've no chance of getting a satisfactory outcome with those.

Bottom wing fixed.... 


Central struts go in place, and the top wing is on. 





This was all done with long time intervals between, and it's how the instructions show. The next step is to fit the outer struts through the slots in the middle wings and these can be inserted between the two fixed wings, and there you go......

I'll keep you posted with that.

There are many bits of pe to go on the struts meanwhile.... 


8 on there..... 

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