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Eduard 1/48 scale Sopwith F.1 Camel RFC

Kit: No. 8057
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Eduard, 43521 Obrnice 170, Czech Republic, www.eduard.cz
Price: $32.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 75 parts (6 photoetched), painting masks, decals
Pros: Excellent moldings, accurate shapes and dimensions, choice of upper wings, excellent decals
Cons: Requires careful assembly, struts and rigging are time-consuming

The Sopwith Camel is one of the most famous aircraft of World War I. Everyone knows that Snoopy flies a Camel against the Red Baron, right? More than 5,000 Camels were produced, and their pilots scored more victories over enemy aircraft than any other Allied aircraft.

Eduard's Sopwith Camel kit has been eagerly anticipated by WWI aircraft buffs. I was impressed by Eduard's kit even before I began building it. Although it is not one of Eduard's "Profi-Pak" kits that usually contain photoetched details, it has beautifully painted photoetched seat belts and a set of self-adhesive painting masks.

The plastic parts are crisply molded in dark tan. Two types of upper wings are included, one with the large central cutout, and all control surfaces are separate and positionable. The interior is well-detailed with individual decal instrument faces, petrol tanks, chutes for ammunition, and spent shell casings. The wicker seat is represented by decals applied to the plastic seat. The Vickers guns and the Clerget rotary engine are neatly molded.

Decals are provided for three aircraft shown in the supplementary color-marking plans. The instruction sheet is outstanding (except the parts map has the B sprue labeled C, and vice versa), with assembly steps shown in exploded drawings, interior colors indicated, and color numbers given for five paint manufacturers. I used Polly Scale paints overall.

This kit was a bigger challenge than most of Eduard's recent 1/48 scale WWI releases. Small parts must be removed carefully from the sprues or they will break. I had trouble freeing the two radial push-rod parts for the Clerget and replaced broken rods with plastic rod.

Nine parts, not counting the engine and its retainer, mate at the front of the fuselage, making for a great deal of filing, fitting, and trimming. The beautiful interior fits well, and its construction is time-consuming but well worth attention, since it is so visible through the large cut-out in the center of the upper wing.

The aileron horns were fragile, so I saved them for the final rigging stage. I painted and decaled the assembled fuselage, wings, tailplanes, and landing gear before bringing them together.

The decals are some of the best I've used. They went down beautifully even without an underlying gloss coat. A little saliva mixed with water allows the decals to slide into position; decal softening solutions are not needed.

The decal representing the inside back of the wicker seat is best cut in two for easier positioning. The aluminum prop hub decal is a nice touch, as are the decals for the interplane strut pennants.

Final assembly was the crucial stage. I glued the lower wing with its forward underbelly to the fuselage after some filing and adjustment. I delayed installing the forward decking (part No. C7) to ease attaching the cabane struts to it. I used artist's dividers and 1/48 scale plans to align the cabanes. Before they were dry, I attached the decking to the fuselage and flipped it over to attach it to the upper wing, which was lying upside down on my workbench. With the assembly supported by balsa blocks, I carefully inserted the interplane struts and let the project set overnight.

The Camel's rigging was extensive, so I drilled holes with a No. 80 bit and used four-pound-test monofilament between the wings, stretched sprue for the cross wires on the struts, and fine stainless steel wire for the control-surface cables. I painted all the rigging metallic gray.

The decals comprise markings for three Camels, among them Snoo . . . er, I mean Capt. Roy Brown, the possible victor over the Red Baron, but I chose Capt. D.R. MacLaren's Camel with the larger upper-wing cutout.

The finished model looks great and measures to scale. However, it takes a lot of time to build right, due to the amount of detailing, strut work, and rigging. Perhaps I'm a slow builder, but it took me 50 hours to finish. If you have experience building biplanes in this scale, you're sure to want this one.

- Dr. Bill Funcke

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