by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
BackgroundThe Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 was a two-seat fighter floatplane that entered sevice with the Kaiserliche Marine during 1917. Known as the "Kamel", the aircraft was armed with either one or (occasionally) two forward-firing IMG.08 machine guns and a flexibly mounted LMG 14 Parabellum. The gunner enjoyed an uninterrupted field of fire to the rear and above, thanks to the rudder projecting beneath the tail.
The W.12 served with some success until the end of WWI, despite the arrival of the monoplane W.29 intended to replace it. Indeed, the type was constructed post-war under licence in The Netherlands as the Van Berkel WA, and remained in service in this form until the early 1930s.
The KitWingnut Wing’s W.12 arrives in a deep and sturdy conventional box that’s adorned with a dramatic painting of the aircraft engaged in a “David vs Goliath” battle with a Felixstowe F.2. The package is surprisingly heavy for what should be quite a compact finished model, and the reason is apparent as soon as you open the box - it contains 10 sprues, plus accessories.
The kit comprises:
141 x styrene parts in two tones of grey (plus 61 unused)
8 x clear styrene parts
11 x photo-etched parts
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
The moulding, as we’ve come to expect with Wingnut Wings kits, is quite superb. There’s no hint of flash on my kit, and the designers look to have done a fine job keeping ejector pin marks out of sight as far as possible. Items such as the engine covers are beautifully thin, with delicate open louvres. The overall finish is satin, with a nicely restrained taut fabric effect on the wings and tail. Panel lines are crisply engraved, while appliqué panels are subtly depicted.
Test FitThe fuselage halves snap together precisely, while the lower wing panels slot in with sturdy locating tabs. Wingnut Wings have followed their usual neat trick of using the cockpit floor to brace the tabs, making for a very solid foundation for the rest of the build. The lower wings and outer panels of the upper wing are moulded solid, so they are quite heavy. The trailing edges are nice and thin.
A Few DetailsThe interior is constructed from around 25 parts. The side frames also include some of the cabane struts moulded integrally, which should ensure a simple and stable mount for the top wing. The instrument panel is crisply detailed and supplied with decals for the instruments and data-plates. Wingnut Wings provide good quality etched brass seat harnesses which look very neat if painted carefully. I've found previously that the belts benefit from annealing to make them easier to bend to shape, and it's worth test-fitting them early (before painting the pilot's seat etc.) to avoid damaging the finish.
The 150 h.p. Benz Bz.III engine is beautifully detailed and built up from 23 parts. The starbord engine cover can be left off if you want to display the finished engine, so extra work superdetailing it won't be wasted.
The kit offers the options for both single and dual forward firing guns (C2MG and C3MG specifications), and the guns themselves are supplied in both standard and high detail forms. The standard gun is solid-moulded , while the high detail version includes and etched cooling jacket and sight. The etched parts aren't hard to construct and definitely do look superior, although beginners could always go for a middle option and add the etched sights to the solid guns.
The same is true of the Parabellum, which is also supplied with an optional Oigee sight.
Both the wings and floats look to be pretty straightforward to fit and line-up, thanks to precisely engineered mountings that combine good strength with scale appearance. Despite the apparent complexity of the struts for the floats, the W.12 should be suitable for any modeller with a little experience.
The only slight criticism I'd make of the floats is that the do look very "factory fresh", whereas the reference shots provided in the instructions show quite a heavily stressed appearance. Perhaps Wingnut Wings were stung by the negative reaction in some quarters to the wrinkled fabric effect on their SE5a? If so, it's a shame, because something along the same lines would be appropriate here.
Finally, there's a handly set of beaching dolleys and a trestle on which to display the finished kit. I found the only sink marks in my kit on the wheels, and they shouldn't be hard to tackle.
Instructions & DecalsThe instructions are very classily printed in Wingnut's traditional style as a 27-page "vintage-look" booklet in colour throughout. The diagrams are excellent and the assembly sequence is very logical. As usual, the instructions include numerous reference photos and detailed notes that put most manufacturers' efforts in the shade.
Colour matches are provided for Tamiya and Humbrol paints, along with F.S. equivalents so you should be able to find suitable matches if you prefer to use other paint brands.
Decals are provided for five aircraft:
A. Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 1184 C3MG, Fl.Mt.Urban, Lt.Ehrhardt, C-Staffel, Zeebrugge, December 1917
B. Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 1395 C2MG, C-Staffel, Zeebrugge, late 1917 to early 1918,
C. Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 1401 C2MG, Sylt, mid 1918
D. Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 1407 C2MG, Norderney, July 1918
E. Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 1410 C2MG, Zeebrugge, February 1918
The decals are beautifully custom printed by Cartograf with pin-sharp registration and minimal carrier film. The lozenge patterns are provided in "cookie cutter" form, ready to apply to the wings and tail, fuselage rear decking and the tops of the floats. Setting solution will probably be called for to convince the decals to snuggle down over the moulded detail on the floats, but there's also the option of plain bitumen-painted floats if you come to grief.
ConclusionWingnut Wings' W.12 is a gorgeous kit that fully meets the very high standard the company has set with its range. As noted above, it should be suitable for average modellers with a little experience, and promises to be a good first biplane build thanks to there being so little rigging to worry about. Highly recommended.
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