- Published on Friday, 15 February 2013 00:00 James Hatch
1:32 Sopwith Snipe 'Early'
Catalogue # 32020
Available from Wingnut Wings for $69.00USD with FREE Worldwide delivery
The Sopwith Snipe was a very late entry to the Great War, first seeing active service in August 1918. Let's not decry the Snipe's achievements in those last months of World War 1 though, as it proved to be a worthy successor to the machine is was to replace, the Sopwith Camel. Designed by Sopwith's Chief Designer, Herbert Smith, the Snipe was a far more robust and heavier fighter than its predecessor, and was the last RAF fighter to be powered by a rotary engine. Although only marginally faster than the Camel, the Snipe was superbly manoeuvrable, and had an overall better performance such as rate of climb. Only 500 Snipes were built, with production ending in 1919 due to lack of need. Operators of the Snipe, as well as the UK, were Brazil, Russia, Canada and Australia.
To say that the warehouse department of Wingnut Wings must've been in overdrive recently is a major understatement. By my reckoning, with the release of the two Sopwith Snipe variants, that puts WNW's output at seven kits in the around the last 10 weeks or so. We all know that Wingnut Wings' releases are sporadic with a small number released in each wave, but this was unprecedented. We have been fortunate enough to receive both of these kits, and today we'll be looking at the 'Early' variant.
Steve Anderson and Ronny Bar must never sleep. A beautiful box art of Mulcair's Snipe from 43 Sqn is seen at the later part of dusk, having made a successful kill on a Fokker D.VII which is licking flame from its undersides. Definitely one of Steve's most atmospheric creations, and again edged in metallic trim. The box edges show the FIVE schemes included in this release, in glorious Ronny-Bar-O-Colour.
Under the lid, SIX sealed bags each contain a precision moulded, light grey plastic sprue, with the clear sprue also being bagged individually. Sprues F and G are connected and bagged together. A loose instruction manual (usually bagged), and a wallet with a single, large decal sheet and sub-bagged photo etch fret, are included. The bags on WNW's sprue seem to have changed, and are a little less clear and also thinner, with some of the protruding detail chaffing the bag, but no parts are damaged.
Let's hit a sprue-by-sprue on this one.
Wingnut Wings seem to have pretty much contained the whole of the Snipe's office on this sprue, with only the engine firewall, cowl and undercarriage struts and spreader bar being the real interlopers, with the exception of a small number of other airframe detail parts such as the cabane strut mounted fuel venture.
One thing I have noticed immediately is how refined this sprue is. I know we always come to expect nothing but the very highest of quality from WNW, but this sprue takes it to a whole new level, with some extremely delicate, filigree detail, and some amazing feats of moulding complicated parts. As an example of both of these points, the cockpit interior walls are just incredible. Just looking at these, I really don't know how they've been moulded without any apparent tell-tale signs of sprue humps where slide moulds would operate.
The framework, which is complicated and detailed enough as it is, it pre-moulded with four external formers per side, which create obvious complicated undercuts. The definition of these parts is simply excellent. As well as the clean locating points for the cockpit equipment to be mounted, a small amount of very fine pipe-work is slung between the vertical posts. You'll see what I mean about the superb definition in my series of photos.
Apart from the sidewalls, the cockpit is centred around a floor with an integral fuel tank and footboards, as well as control column torsion bar. To the rear of this part fits a control cable spreader bar through which the various cable run to the rear of the fuselage. If rigging is your thing, then you're not short-changed with the interior of the Snipe. There is a healthy quantity of both bracing wire and control cabling to be added. The instructions provide a good drawing of how this is installed, but take care to mark the lines off as you attach them, for clarity.
The cockpit is broken down into a rudder bar with integral cross brace member, a large, highly detailed instrument panel with plank faces to take the decal instruments, two choices of tachometer, fuel tank pressurising pump, secondary oil and petrol tank, a two-part seat with integral mounting bars, throttle and petrol tap etc. The control column is moulded along with its horizontal bar and control horns. Moulding and detail throughout it superb, and for me, is taken to a whole new level.
Undercarriage struts are moulded with positive location tabs and excellent suspension bungee detail, and assembly looks a breeze.
Other detail parts on this sprue include a number of struts, tubular tailskid with attachments, Aldis sight brackets, ammunition feed chute and bomb racks.
Despite the general complexity of this sprue, ejector pin marks are so placed as to not cause the modeller any consternation or extra work. In all, very intelligently thought through.
This contains four parts only; namely the single piece upper and lower wings, and the upper wing ailerons. The lower wing is moulded not only with the fuselage centre panel, but also the v-shaped splash 'tray' that sits to the rear of the engine and usually deflects the burned castor away from the fuselage underside. There are two pulley access ports moulded on the outer wing, with subtle iternal detail which will be covered over with a clear 'plexiglass' window.
The upper wings, in reality, plug into the centre section above the cabane struts, but as this is a single part, all is done for you, with the viewing port neatly moulded in situ. Wing detail is as good as it gets, with a delicate fabric texture and realistically represented rib tapes. Holding the sprue to the light, you can see the suggestion of the small, leading edge rib-lets that run along both upper and lower wings.
Strut location points are clean and differently shaped so that you can't get these things in the wrong places. Everything is designed for ease of building. That's important when you need to bolster your confidence with this genre. Rig holes are also cleanly moulded adjacent to the strut locations.
True to form, this is the clear sprue, containing THREE parts. These are the windscreen and two pulley access windows for the lower wing. Moulding is excellent and the clarity of the parts, exceptional.
SPRUE D (x2)
Where there are even sets of certain parts, WNW tends to mould these across two sprues. The Vickers machine gun is moulded with the front jacket as two parts. This is done to allow the hollow end of the cooling jacket to be reproduced accurately. You will also find the empty link chutes on this sprue.
The wheels are moulded as a tyre and inner hub, with a separate out hub part. An access port on the hub will display inner spoke detail moulded on the main wheel part.
Other parts on this sprue include the wing struts with their shaped plugged ends, bombs, fuselage former parts, control surface horns and tank fillers. One part, D17, is not for use with this release.
This little sprue contains all the sixteen main parts which comprise the 230hp Bentley BR.2 rotary engine. The breakdown of this assembly comprises a forward and rear engine half, with separate rocker arm parts for the cylinder heads, a pushrod and intake pipe ring.
There will be a feint seam to be seen down each cylinder, but if it's anything like the Gnome-Monosoupape of the DH.2 that I built, it will be minimal. The rods which support the cylinder head cap blocks are moulded onto the cylinders. Detail is excellent, with refined cooling fin detail which looks commensurate with the reference images within the manual.
Assembly is straightforward and the result will be superb. For the detail freaks out there, I believe Taurus Models will be releasing a super-detail resin engine for this kit. What's there not to like?
Here you will find the fuselage halves, upper deck, horizontal tail-plane and propeller. The exterior of the fuselage displays extremely refined stringer and fabric detail on the rear half, with lined foot stirrup holes, and cleanly reproduced wooden and metal panel detail to the front, with cartridge chute slots and carburettor ports. Cowl fastener detail is beautifully restrained and control cable holes are finely pre-moulded.
Internally, the cockpit area walls are stringered, with the rear fuselage being suitably thinned in order to accommodate the internal fuselage detail in the vicinity of the tail skid.
The non-stringered upper fuselage deck is supplied as a single part, with leather-trimmed pilots position, and clean apertures from which the Vickers MG's protrude from the airframe. Again, moulding really is exquisite, with neat cabane strut location points.
WNW mould some of their tail planes with integral elevators, and this is one. I presume this is because the profile of these is very thin. It is possible to cut and amend the elevator position though, with minimal effort. I would just score down the joint and carefully bend downwards before running a brush of Tamiya Extra Thin cement along the joint to set it. Tail plane detail is excellent, again with subtle fabric detail and neatly reproduced rib tapes.
This last sprue contains the upper wing ailerons, vertical tail fin and separate rudder part. Fabric and tape detail is as good as elsewhere on this kit. Just be careful with the extremely fine tail post which is moulded to the vertical fin.
OVERALL PLASTIC ASSESSMENT
There's nothing to fault here anywhere. Ejector pin marks are intelligently placed, and seam lines nigh on non-existent. No sink marks to be seen, and the detail present is every bit as good as the likes of Tamiya-san. I really can't level any criticism in any aspect of the parts quality and detail.
This small brass fret contains a beautifully detailed set of seatbelts, with sharp buckle, lace and fastener detail. The other parts here are the Vickers MG jacket fronts, reticule and MG cocking levers. Production quality is sharp, with suitable thin connecting tabs.
Markings for all five schemes are presented on this single sheet, printed by Cartograf. Printing is suitable thin and glossy, with cut-outs in various decals to correspond with positions of control linkages, foot stirrups or other apertures on the airframe exterior. The decals are printed with minimal carrier film, and in perfect register. Colour definition is excellent.
Decals are provided for the various bands and stripes present on these schemes. I'd be interested to see how the two forward cowl decals conform to the compound curved surface. Some national markings are printed on the same decal as specific markings, meaning no real risk of misaligning the various components.
Also provided on the sheets are the various bomb markings, instrument decals, and stencils.
The included schemes are:
- Sopwith Snipe E7992, South Eastern Area Flying Instructors School, 1918 – 1919
- Sopwith Snipe E8015, "E", E Mulcair, A Flight 43Sqn, October – November 1918 (27 victories)
- Sopwith Snipe E8057, "1 – 4", B Flight 70 Sqn, 1919
- Sopwith Snipe E8069, "2", TCR Baker, B Flight 4 Sqn AFC, October 1918 (12 victories)
- Sopwith Snipe E8132, "D", A Flight 208 Sqn, November 1918
These follow the same high quality format of previous releases, printed on a high grade satin paper, with all constructional illustrations being presented in clear drawing format, with use of colour shading to denote part placement. Some accompanying drawings are printed in full colour to denote the various painted aspects of assemblies. Those colour references are given for Tamiya, Humbrol and Misterkit.
Rigging drawings are also given for both internal and external aspects of construction.
As with other WNW kit manuals, the various constructional pages are peppered with both period and contemporary illustrations to help the modeller with their reference trawl. To be honest, I don't think you'll need anything else other than this manual. It is THAT good!
Colour profiles are supplied by Ronny Bar, and I think you'll be hard struck to choose your scheme from the range given. I might have to invest in another Snipe kit to do what I want to do. Each illustration gives clear decal placement locations, and a machine history is also supplied.
So what do we think?
I pretty much have all the Wingnut Wings kits in my collection, and next to the D.VII, this looks to be one of their best yet, and that's saying something! The sheer level of detail and quality of both engineering and production is mind-blowing, and the accompanying schemes chosen by WNW provide some very tough choices. At $69.00, this represents fantastic value for money, and many, many happy hours of model building.
Very highly recommended.
My sincere thanks to Wingnut Wings for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.