Special Hobby have offered WWI aircraft modellers a welcome change from more commonplace subjects with a new-tool kit of the Nieuport 10, designed prior to the conflict as a competitor for the 1914 Gordon Bennet Trophy and developed into a military machine after the race was cancelled with the start of the war.
The two-seat Nieuport 10 introduced the sesquiplane layout that was to be such a trademark of the company's famous fighters that followed and served in reconnaissance and training roles, as well as a makeshift fighter by fairing over the front cockpit. The type saw widespread service with many air forces around the world before being superseded by more advanced aircraft.
Special Hobby's core kit has been designed to cover both single- and two-seater variants, with the first release being the latter. It arrives in a sturdy and compact top-opening box with the main sprues and accessories bagged separately. The two-seater comprises:
60 x grey styrene parts (plus 7 unused)
1 x grey resin part
59 x etched brass parts
1 x clear film for the windscreen
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
Bearing in mind that this isn't a mainstream kit, the moulding is very good on the whole, with just a little flash, and one or two minor surface blemishes which a quick polish should take care of. I spotted a shallow sink mark on one fuselage half (easily filled) and found the culprit on the reverse side - one of a pair of very prominent and poorly placed ejector pin marks that will both interfere with the construction of the cockpit and be very visible. As you’d expect in a kit of this nature, most parts need a bit of extra preparation, but it shouldn’t take long.
On the plus side, the surface finish is nicely handled, with raised detail on the metal areas and quite a convincing fabric effect. I'll be tempted to knock back the wing ribs a tad, but I really like the way the designers have given a subtle impression of the underlying structure on the sides of the fuselage.
A Few Details
The cockpit is simple, but quite effectively detailed and can be constructed with the pilot seated either front or rear depending on the colour scheme you opt for. This is achieved by simply reversing the position of the flying controls on the small floor section and choosing the position of the etched parts for the very basic instrumentation and the throttle quadrant.
The etched fret also provides lap belts for the pair of seats, giving a total of 19 parts for the completed "office". The seats themselves are moulded solid, but I've also seen illustrations of perforated backs.
The Le Rhone rotary engine has some flash between the cylinders, but should clean up easily enough – and by the time you've added the individual induction pipes and etched push-rods it should look pretty decent if painted carefully. Its semi- open cowl has bevelled edges, but I'll still thin them back further to give a better scale appearance.
A film windscreen is included, which will be much truer-to-scale than a moulded clear part. It might take a little coaxing to fit, so it could be a good idea to curl it slightly by taping it over a suitable shape and dipping it quickly in very hot water first.
The way fitting the cabane struts is handled really marks the kit as best suited for modellers with fair bit of experience constructing biplanes, because they are all individual and lack very positive locations on the fuselage. The proof of the pudding will be in the proverbial eating, though, because we've all seen kits where the assembly looks easy and turns out to be tricky, and visa versa... but my gut instinct is that this will take a bit of fiddling and trial error to get right.
There are locating pins for the struts on the wings, which should aid assembly. However, the lower wings attach to the fuselage with short lugs that share the same locating holes as the spar running through the cockpit. That looks like a recipe for trouble, so I'll be tempted to ditch the styrene spar in favour of a length of brass rod and drill a hole in each wing to accept it. Using a jig will undoubtedly be a useful asset building this kit, be it a a homemade affair, or a bought item like Aeroclub's wonderful intricate etched brass beauty or Sram's somewhat simpler item (reviewed HERE
The undercarriage is a little bit unusual in that it includes etched fittings for the axle to run through. These need bending to shape, but the instructions are vague as to how, so it'll pay dividends to refer to shots of preserved airframes to get an idea of what you're aiming for.
Two of the cAolour schemes feature a Lewis machine gun mounted above the top wing, and the kit version is adequate if not exceptional (although at even first glance the angle of the hand-grip looks too vertical). It’s a shame Special Hobby didn’t include a resin version, as it's obviously going to be heavier moulded than some aftermarket items, so it’s very tempting to replace it.
And that sole resin part that is provided? - a very neatly rendered venturi tube to attach to the top wing for one of the decal options.
Assembly rounds off with a pair of diagrams for the rigging. These are very clearly done and will be a great help. No doubt experienced modellers will have their own favourite methods of tackling rigging, but a nice touch by Special Hobby is the inclusion of etched turnbuckles should you want them.
Instructions & Decals
Special Hobby supply a neatly produced 12-page A5 pamphlet printed in colour on good quality glossy stock. The assembly sequence is logical and broken down into 13 stages, and the diagrams are clearly drawn - although reference to photos will be a help in places (as noted above with the undercarriage).
Special Hobby quote Gunze Sangyo paint matches throughout, and these are keyed to details at every stage.
The kit includes markings for three colour schemes that offer a nice variety of markings and fit-out:
A. Nieuport 10 Av, No. 632, Escadrille MF388, Aeronautique Militaire, Boresnica, Macedonia, December 1916
B. Nieuport 10 Av, No. 318, No. 4 Squadron, Aviation Militaire Belge, Houtem, 1915
C. Nieuport 10 Avr, s/n 8517, No. 1 Wing, RNAS, Dunkerque, 1916
The decals are printed by Avi Print and look excellent quality, with minimal carrier film on the thin, glossy items. The colours look good and a nice touch is the inclusion of separate of rudder markings with- and without tail stripes.
Special Hobby's Nieuport 10 deserves to be a success with hardcore WWI enthusiasts. Despite its apparent simplicity in number of parts, it's by no means a beginner's kit, but experienced modellers should really enjoy the opportunity to build an important if rather neglected Great War subject.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE