I was handed this kit at the IPMS Scale Modelworld show in Telford. As I don’t normally build WW1 aircraft and therefor have no references I thought it would be interesting to review this from the point of view of an experienced aircraft modeller looking to build their first WW1 model. So using what I know (which is not a lot) and what I can find out about this aircraft in the short time available and, knowing that I can ask questions about colour schemes and available paints on Armorama. I was very interested to see what Eduard had to offer.
As I have no references I have included Rowans (Merlin) summary of the types history:
“Bristol's famous 2-seater first appeared in late 1916 as the F.2A. Early operations proved disastrous because the new aircraft was used according to existing 2-seater doctrine and the "Brisfit", as the aircraft was later fondly known, was hacked from the sky in alarming numbers.
Hasty modifications led to the F.2B - and with the new version came new tactics; henceforth RFC squadrons equipped with the aircraft adopted fighter tactics... with spectacular results! Initially a failure, the Bristol Fighter was soon recognised as the best 2-seater in service in France during 1917-18.
While the Armistice signalled the demise of many classic WW2 types, the F.2B continued to serve throughout the British Empire during the 1920s and into the '30s. The Brisfit combined both strength and speed - and established the concept of a "heavy fighter" with a gunner for defence, which persisted into the early years of WW2.”
I wasn’t aware that there were any nightfighters in the First World War so it came of something of a surprise when I saw the kit. Surprise turned to delight when I opened the box.
Eduard have released 2 other kits of this aircraft, 1 as a Profipack boxing. This is the nightfighter version of this famous fighter, there is nothing on the box but there is the “Profipack” logo on the instructions. The kit consists of:
156 plastic parts (a number, such as the bomb halves are not used in this boxing).
1 sheet of clear film for the windscreen and underfuselage observation window (2 of each are included).
Decals for 4 colour schemes (all nightfighters).
A fret of coloured etched parts.
Masks for the wheels and insignia (to colour out the white portions).
15 page instruction booklet.
Coloured marking guide.
The parts are exquisitely moulded in tan plastic, exhibiting very fine detail, you won’t need to replace the two pronged pito with wire and the detail in the fuselage halves is also nicely done. The stitching and other detail around the fuselage halves also looks well done. The underfuselage window, which is offset to starboard, has a curious method of fitting. The acetate window is fitted, then a filler piece is positioned to the inside of this. I’m guessing that this is to allow for the window being cut oversize, then the filler would protrude slightly and then can just be sanded to size. I’m assuming that Eduard has seen a few potential problems with fitting this window and this is their method of addressing them. Looking again at the fuselage, while photographing the sprues for this review I also noticed that a hole, on the port underside of the cowling is treated the same way. Something to lookout for again in the cowling area, on both halves, there is a hole to be opened out. There is a smaller hole around which is thinned plastic, circular in shape to be removed, something to check on references, or ask the experts. The engine is moulded as half relief sides, to which the exhausts fit. Other scoops and holes in the front allow glimpses of the engine but, as there is no option to remove the engine cowls, the engine detail as supplied is more than ample. Other scoops and holes, two now bigger, in the front allow glimpses of the engine but, as there is no option to remove the engine cowls, the engine detail as supplied is more than ample. In fact I have found some excellent pictures of a restored aircraft, which prove this to be true, painting the engine carefully will pay dividends, for those that like to take a closer look. The wings have dihedral moulded in and they and tail parts have separate control surfaces, a very nice touch as you don’t get this very often, even in 1/48 scale, all these parts have very fine trailing edges as well, excellent. I have read elsewhere that the rib tape depiction on the wings and control surfaces is over done. I disagree, as it looks pretty good to me, although I have never seen a F.2B in the flesh or any other WW1 aircraft for that matter. Since writing this I found the restored aircraft, plus pictures from WW1 and I would change this statement slightly, as I now think it to be more of a matter of personal taste. No rib tapes are visible on the restored aircraft but they are on the contemporary pictures. I think that under paint they will look OK so we’ll see when I build this kit. There is virtually no flash, what there is, is of no consequence. I really had to look hard to find any. There are very few injector pin marks visible, those that I can see are inside the fuselage halves but do not impinge on any detail and will not be seen when the fuselage halves are joined. This is a real plus point, as there can’t be anything much worse than detail destroyed by these marks, especially in hard to get at areas, well done Eduard. Another couple of well thought out areas, unique to Eduard I believe, are the re-sealable cellophane bags, which contain the sprues and the 2 sprues with all the delicate parts actually clamp together, protecting each other. I could only find sink marks on some of the 25lb? Bombs. There are some holes to drill, for the long reach exhaust and a rail, on the bottom of the fuselage. The locations are well marked on the instructions and this method is possibly preferable to flashed over holes, as they might damage interior detail. Just remember the old addage, “measure twice, cut once”, and all will be fine.
I guess that the normal day fighter can be modelled from this kit, as there are bombs and racks on the sprues and I see no parts that appear specific for a night fighter, such as shrouded exhausts. The only concession to operating at night seems to be the removal of the white areas of the national markings, for which there are masks in the kit. There are 2 styles of propeller, 2 and 4 blade, only the 2 blade is required for any of the 4 options. 2 styles of exhaust and undercarriage legs are supplied, as well as 2 styles of tailplane and separate elevators for them. Items not for use are clearly marked on the sprue layout plan. Unlike the Roden kit the Exhaust supports are separate items, which are neatly moulded and not just triangular blobs. There seems to be discrepancy over which of the 4 aircraft depicted had which style of exhaust. The box top painting and the marking scheme for this aircraft (B) show the long pipe, but the instructions give marking schemes B and C the short exhaust. I will be doing scheme B, with the long pipe. There are both open and closed radiator shutters. Basically very nice details all round but with the added bonus of a fret of coloured photo etch, including; instrument dials, harness, for both pilot and gunner, gun details and the pilots wicker seat, excellent.
Detail colour information is given throughout the instructions using Gunze Aqueous, Mr Color and Mr Metal Color numbering. The colour instructions also give “approximate color match” information for Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell and Testors paints, but there is only a complete listing, for Humbrol. Reference to the colour marking guide clarifies odd names for some of the colours, such as H85 “Sail colour” the colour guide gives it as “Doped linen” and H66 “Sandy Brown” clarified as “Wood”. According to what I have been able to find on the Internet, the detail and main colour painting guides are accurate. Assuming of course that the restored aircraft are accurately painted.
The fuselage halves have one small locating pin which seams to align the halves perfectly. The nature of the Bristol fighter’s design makes test fitting anything else impractical, the fuselage is "suspended" between the wings on struts. Eduard has tackled this in a way that, in the instructions at least, looks straightforward. I’ll know more when I build this, the first WW1 model that I have tackled, I certainly have no fear of doing it, at the moment.
Instructions & Decals
The instructions are very well done, with clear diagrams and arrows showing where each part goes with gluing surfaces highlighted in blue. There is one area that I had difficulty in working out PE parts 7 and 22 on page 9. Their position is shown in blue and look as if they are on the inside of the fuselage. Checking page 10, shows similar parts, gun sights, on the upper wing, so parts 7 and 22 are gun sights on the outside of the front fuselage. Part PE 7 is one part I will replace with wire, as PE I think is the wrong medium for this part. There is a rigging diagram but the excellent box art shows some double wires, which it does not, so clarification is required here.
Decals are provided for 4 aircraft, all nightfighters in similar colour schemes, 2 have tail art one has a pennant on the tail, but with no way of depicting it in the kit. Not that you would expect anything and there are numerous ways to depict it. The decals are thin and glossy and are in register the bonus is that the marking and painting guide is in colour. I couldn’t say if the colours of the national markings are correct, again I will need to ask the experts. I know that early in the war a light blue was used and a darker blue later. The decals depict a dark blue, and I’m not to sure about the red, so again we will see. I am quite prepared to paint the markings if I find the colours to be wrong and I can source the correct colours. From a novice WW1 modeller perspective the decals are fine.
This going to be the first WW1 model I have built, I think it is testament to Eduard’s continued improvement in the production of desirable kits, that I have no fear in tackling this one. In fact I am really looking forward to it and it might just jump to the front of the pile. It is more expensive than the Roden offering, but judging by Rowans excellent review of that kit, this is the better of the 2, unless cost is the major factor in the buying decision. Remember the colour etch though, which would probably sell for more than a fiver if bought on it’s own. All round an excellent production, not one for the novice, what WW1 aircraft model is? But for someone with experience and looking to build a WW1 model for the first time, like me, if you don’t mind tackling rigging, I have no doubt that it will make for a great experience. I have all but decided to put nearly all other builds on hold and start this lovely model.
Thank you to Eduard for kindly supplying the review sample.
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