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In-Box Review
Nieuport 17
  • Academy_Nieuport_17_Boxtop

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Roden are steadily establishing a dominating position in the world of large-scale WW1 kits, but their highly detailed models are understandably reasonably costly. That's no problem for dedicated WW1 modellers, but it's worth remembering that there are cheaper kits available that, while not matching Roden's in sophistication and accuracy, offer a great opportunity for newcomers to the genre who might otherwise be deterred. One such kit is Academy's Nieuport 17 (ex-Hobbycraft) which I found in my local hobby shop the other day selling for under 8 - perfect for an impulse-buy.

The kit is attractively packed in a conventional box, with the sprues and decals bagged separately for protection. The kit comprises:

56 x grey styrene parts
1 x clear injected windscreen
A spool of thread for rigging
Decals for 2 colour schemes

Academy's version of the kit seems to date back to 2000, but I think the original Hobbycraft kit pre-dates that by some years. Despite this, the moulds are still in excellent condition with the parts cleanly moulded with no flash or sink marks. The fly in an otherwise pristine pot of ointment comes in the form of ejector-pin marks; the kit is plagued by the pesky little blighters, both raised and embossed, and a large number will be visible on the finished model unless they are taken care of.

Other than that, the surface finish is nice and smooth, with simple raised lines representing the ribs and tapes on the flying surfaces, and there are a few raised panels and lines of stitching on the fuselage.

The basic construction is quite simple and the main parts fit together very positively. The relatively large size and simple interplane struts makes this an excellent choice for anyone tackling a biplane for the first time. From the point of view of accuracy, it's been pointed out that the fuselage cross-section at firewall is a bit too wide, with the cowling consequently also too great in diameter - and looking at the parts, Academy's Nieuport does look a bit big in the nose and there's also no exhaust channel on the underside.

The box claims a "detailed cockpit & engine compartment". That may be stretching things a little, but the cockpit does comprise a (rather simplified) seat, control column, rudder bar and heelboards, plus a throttle quadrant and framework. No instruments are included in the kit and the detail can certainly be beefed up a little with some simple additions, but the basics are there and aftermarket sets for instruments and seat belts are available if you desire. The inside of the fuselage halves is marked with light raised lines to indicate the internal structure and bracing. The engine is constructed from four parts and includes exhausts and push-rods.

Turning to the exterior, the propeller is neatly moulded with good detail on the hub, while the wheels have nicely depicted laced-on covers. The fuselage- and wing-mounted guns are fair enough and actuator horns are provided for the tail control surfaces.

Although it's quite a simple kit, it's nice to see that Academy have included rigging and control cables. I wouldn't use the thread supplied, but the instructions are helpful in giving the length of each cable and show clearly where they attach. As depicted, threads are anchored and fed through holes in the fuselage prior to closing everything up - this makes the rigging easier, but painting more awkward, so some modellers may prefer to add them after painting.

Staying with the instructions, the assembly diagrams are very clear and include generic painting notes keyed to each stage. Apart from the rigging/control cables, the construction sequence is very logical and straightforward.

Decals are provided for a pair of machines:

1. Nieuport 17, s/n N1895, flown by Lieutenant Charles Nungesser, Escadrille N.65, 1916.
2. Nieuport 17, s/n N1550, flown by Capitaine Georges Guynemer, 1917.

The decals are beautifully printed in perfect register, but (and it's a big "but") Academy's decals are notoriously hard to apply, being prone to breaking up and almost impervious to decal solutions. I haven't had a chance to test the Nieuport's decals, but another point to watch out for is that the white used looks very translucent. On the plus side, the sheet includes separate centres for the cockades to ensure perfect alignment and three styles of stork insignia for Guyneymer's aircraft.

Despite the simplified details and over-large cowling, Academy's Nieuport 17 looks a surprisingly neat kit. It obviously can't compete with Roden's specialist output, but the thing to remember is the price; 7.99 for a 1/32 scale kit represents almost absurdly good value for money. Straight out of the box it's an ideal kit for newcomers or anyone looking for a simple first WW1 project. It also represents an excellent basis for superdetailers to go to town on, and with some work the result should be quite impressive.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Extremely cheap and a simple and attractive kit.
Lows: Some dimensional worries and simplified detail. Lacks an exhaust channel under the nose. The decals are attractive but could be troublesome.
Verdict: Academy's Nieuport 17 is a good starter kit for beginners and anyone looking to tackle largescale WW1 kits for the first time. An easy build, it also offers plenty of scope for extra detail.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: 2190
  Suggested Retail: 7.99
  PUBLISHED: Nov 20, 2008

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Thanks Rowan. You are probably right about those decals. But, as you said, it looks like a great stringbag starter.
NOV 20, 2008 - 11:02 AM
I do remember this kit from hobbycraft first came out in the early 90's . The molds haven't changed since then . It has been reissued many times over . I can't remember if there is any other manufacture who produces this aircraft in 32 scale . A little surprised that Roden has not come out with one yet ! However , you are right on with it being a great kit for some one who is just starting WW1 subjects , very easy to build . Parts do have good detail , just the cockpit lacks which is good for the detailers . So everyone wins with this kit . Thanks for the review on this kit Rowan , well done .
NOV 20, 2008 - 04:41 PM
If memory serves, doesn't the exhaust channel have to be added to this one as well?
NOV 21, 2008 - 12:58 AM
Hi Matt Yes, I think it does and I noted its absence in the review text. I should probably add a mention in the "Cons" too. Cheers. All the best Rowan
NOV 21, 2008 - 02:26 AM
Yep, no exhaust channel as you noted. I built it before I knew what an exhaust channel is. I bought my Hobbycraft version a number of years ago, with the Billy Bishop decals. The colour scheme is attractive - I even added a blue 'spinner' which Bishop had for a while. But I think it looks kind of dorky, so I didn't glue it in place. BTW - the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa has a replica Nieuport 17 painted in Bishop's colurs, with the original spinner and windscreen nearby in a dispaly case. Not far away is the fuselage of William Barker's Sopwith Snipe - a little worse for wear though. There are a few details missing, such as you have noted, and the lack of the prominent seam on the engine cowling. Evenso the model looks pretty good, even up close. I think there some aftermarket 1/32 scale Russian decals for the kit, and Tom's Modelworks sells brass detail sets - so lots of opporunity to add on to the basic kit. Maybe Specal Hobby will make a kit of the 17 to accompany their Nieuport 11. Here's hoping. Cheers, Happy biplane modeling
NOV 21, 2008 - 02:32 AM
Greetings all; Korean companies Academy and Hobbycraft kits are the same mold. Whatever you do don't follow the box art to set the landing gear. Don't forget to to copper coat your fuel tank. Also the raised lacing and the fatness of the tires is a detraction. Master Casters has announced a replacement for the cowling and wheels. Hobbycraft released at least 2 other kits of the Nieuport 17, with different markings. The first kit was for a Nieu. 17in the markings of G. Guynemer which included a "cone de penetration" The second release was for the same aircraft with the markings of B. Bishop. No "cone de penetration" was included with this kit, as Bishop's aircraft did not have one. There are problems in the forward fuselage resulting in an over size cowling. But cutting the exhaust channel may fix some of this. The width problem at the cowl is just a case of too much plastic. When you get it, take the fuselage halves and the cowl ring off the sprues, and clean them up. Then either tape, or hold the fuselage together and put the cowl ring up to it. It's too wide. Just sand the forward surfaces of the feuselage (keep checking) until it matches the cowl ring. Nothing major, just a few swipes should do it. I took 15 minutes. Nothing insurmountable. But the MG (s) plural, should probably be replaced with some 'Tom's Modelworks' PE stuff. The interiors are deffinately candidates for "Tom's", as they give you all the stuff that's missing. List of aftermarket sets. http://www.amug.org/~copperst http://www.tomsmodelworks.com/
NOV 21, 2008 - 04:45 AM
Greeting Sir, Concerning Bishop & the cone'. I am sure you know the cone de' penetration was strictly a Nieuport installed item and not a spinner. The "cone" was mounted to a fixed extention insterted in the propeller hub / spindle. It was stationary and did not spin or turn. So while it is possible that the British Sargent did give him a spinner from a captured German machine and attached it to the prop, it would not be considered a cone.
NOV 21, 2008 - 05:45 PM

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