The Sopwith Dolphin
For an aircraft that was possibly the best British design of the war, the Dolphin is not well known. Its design was a major departure from usual design practice for Sopwith. Firstly it had an inline engine, not a rotary. It was fitted with the 200hp geared Hispano Suiza, same as the SE5a and Spad 13. Secondly it had negative wing stagger, that is the top wing was set back slightly from the lower wing for improved visibility for the pilot.
The Dolphin was introduced into service in the last year of the war, equipped four squadrons in France with more than 1700 being built.Popular with pilots, the Dolphin was fast, manoeuvrable, easy to fly and had a strong high-altitude performance.
The Intended Kit
The decals are designed to fit the Blue Max kit whih was recently reissued after a long period of unavailability. Some modellers may have the Copper State Models kit in their stash but this has been out of production for a few years.
Pheon have provided thirteen markings options that should cover all the bases for the Dolphin modeller looking for something different. Firstly there is a selection from each Dolphin Squadron, even a Home Defense night fighter scheme. The top two Dolphin aces are there plus a great spread of nationalities: four Canadians, three Americans, three British and even a New Zealander (good on you Rowan!). Two of the schemes are relatively 'colourful' for RFC/RAF practice. One with a checker board finish on the fuselage decking behind the cockpit and one with a blue fuselage front and tail. Enough cockades and 'Lift here' markings are provided to allow four aircraft to be completed. The decals have faultless registration and appear to have good opacity.
They are manufactured by Fantasy Printshop in the UK, a well established printer with a solid reputation. Pheon note that the red and blue used in the national markings have been matched to actual samples of First World War VR2 and VB3 doped fabric. My scan of the decal sheet has the blue somewhat darker than on the decals, a consequence of fiddling with the contrast to show the white markings more clearly against the pale blue decal paper.
The 15 page instruction booklet follows Pheon's standard format, including an interesting service history, comments on the kit, general colouring notes, references, decal application guide and service history for each aircraft and pilot. Very thoroughly researched.
Bonus Item - Template for an assembly jig
This 'extra' will be very useful when it comes time to attach the wings to the fuselage. The template is printed on self-adhesive paper for sticking to a sheet of thick card. Then the parts are cut out with a sharp knife and fitted together according to the plans provided. This will help get the stagger and the dihedral just right - something many WWI modellers find challenging. A thoughtful touch!
Full Colour Decal Placement Guides
Again this follows standard Pheon practice, side profiles and top views for each marking option, printed in full colour on six A4 sheets of glossy photo paper. Beautifully done.
Postage and Ordering
Available directly from Pheon by email:
with two postage options: 1st Class £3.60 to the UK and Europe, £4.95 to the rest of the world. 2nd Class: £2.52 to the UK and Europe, £2.70 to the rest of the world. Payment is by Paypal.
Thanks to Pheon Models for providing the decals for the purpose of writing this Aeroscale review.
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