The Czech model company Eduard is known for its very particular attention to detail. Like its etched metal detail sets, the company’s models are known for their crisp molding and superb accuracy. Eduard’s 1/48th-scale Sopwith Camel is no exception.
Released in a number of guises, this kit includes the markings for Canadian Captain Roy Brown, credited by some as the pilot who shot down Manfred von Richthofen, the legendary “Red Baron.” Richthofen’s quarry in the April 21, 1918, encounter was Brown’s squadron mate, young Lieutenant Wilfred May, known by his childhood nickname, “Wop.”
The kit includes a small etched metal set, but Eduard also has a more elaborate version available (FE432) that adds extra interest. With an abundance of small, delicate parts, this kit requires the rapt attention of an experienced modeler.
Start with the cockpit, painting the floor and the inside walls of the fuselage a light brown wood color. The wicker pilot’s seat can be replicated with decals included in the kit or, as in this case, the etched metal detail set, along with seatbelts and shoulder harness. The main fuel tank just behind the seat is an aluminum color. The instrument panel is wood with black instruments. The decals included in the kit have individual faces that look great with the help of some decal setting solution.
Next, assemble the rotary engine. Paint the cylinders aluminum and add the wiring harness from the detail set. Paint the wires black and attach the finished engine assembly to the firewall, also painted aluminum. Finally bring everything together to complete the fuselage.
Cement the floor of the cockpit to the lower wing and attach it to the fuselage. Ailerons are supplied as separate pieces. Cement these parts to the wing with a bit of a droop for a more natural look.
At this point you can begin adding color to this classic World War I fighter. Brown and May flew in No. 209 Squadron of Britain’s Royal Flying Corps (merged with the Royal Naval Air Service and renamed the Royal Air Force on April 1, 1918). The squadron’s Sopwith Camels sported a red cowling and a dark wood color over the cockpit area. The rest of the fuselage and the wings should be painted a light tan on the undersides and a dark olive green on the upper surfaces of both wings. Give the entire model a coat of clear gloss to get it ready for decals.
For this aircraft, the traditional red, white and blue roundels appear in all six positions: the top of the upper wing, bottom of the lower wing and either side of the fuselage. Additional squadron markings are made up of three white stripes, one forward of the fuselage roundel and two behind it. Wop May had his nickname, written in white, on the left side of the cockpit and “Lucy” written on the right. To reproduce the names, white dry-transfer lettering is a perfect choice. Each letter is burnished in place. Once complete, a coat of clear flat will seal the decals and markings in place.
Now it’s time to attach the upper wing, an important part of the build that requires a lot of patience. Four individual struts hold up the wing and another four support the center section attached to the fuselage. Super glue permits a shorter setting time, but these parts can still be tricky to work with. Take…your…time. One approach is to carefully measure and cut two cubes of Styrofoam to act as spacers between the wings. This can also help keep the wing’s struts in the right position. Once the upper wing is attached, set the airplane aside to dry thoroughly.
Paint the horizontal stabilizer the same color as the wings and attach the parts to the tail. Paint the forward part of the vertical stabilizer red and use the decal for the striped markings on the rudder. Next carefully attach the landing gear assembly. The struts are painted the standard dark olive green with the wheel covers in red. The tires should be a dark gray “rubber” color. Give the model another overall clear flat coat and the Camel is ready for the next step, rigging.
The maze of cables and wires crisscrossed between the two wings of these early aircraft can look daunting. There are a number of different ways that modelers tackle this stage of the build. EZ Line by Berkshire Junction, based in Massachusetts, is a popular solution—the polymer thread is easy to use and will stretch and return to shape when it’s bumped. Old-school modelers will remember the fine art of stretching plastic sprue to create a thin thread, cut to length and glued in place. Reference material is key. Take the time to study and make a plan. Start with the struts in the center near the cockpit and work out. One of the most important things to remember is when to walk away and let things dry. Patience is the key to success.
While taking a break from stretching hot sprue, examine the prop. The simplest route is to paint the propeller a wood tan with an aluminum hub. Take a little extra time and try using a couple different shades of brown along the length of the propeller blades. To create a more realistic, laminated look, work in layers. Painting, spraying a gloss coat and adding another layer of paint until the propeller has just the right look.
With the last control cable in place, attach the prop and Wop May’s Camel, the one that got away, can take its place on your display shelf next to the Baron’s red Fokker Dr.I triplane.
P.S.: Feel free to toss that .45 on the turntable and turn up the 1966 hit by the Royal Guardsmen.