Along time in the making but it seems the newest aircraft model manufacturer is the brain child of Wingnut productions owner Peter Jackson (LotR) fame. They have opened with a bang and the subject matter is 1/32 WWI plastic model aircraft kits
Assembling a group of 3D artists for his movies Mr. Jackson added some of the contemporary greats to his staff. Now we see them contnuing in their service to the lord of the wings. This Rogue's gallery of artists are listed in the info section on the website. One of the most immediately recognizable is the superb fellow Mark Miller. His Virtual graphics in the modeling venue have been the stuff of inspiration for years. Ronny Bar, Steve Anderson and so many others.
Their products are most impressive according to the previews and the review kits they have sent to me. Our future is looking bright indeed.
History of the original,
When the 150hp V8 Hispano-Suiza 8Aa powered RAF SE.5 (Royal Aircraft Factory Scout Experimental 5) first appeared over the front lines in early April 1917 with 56 Sqn it was to mixed reactions though it soon proved itself in combat. The large canopy type "greehouse" proved most unpopular and was removed almost immediately at Squadron level. Later production SE.5 incorporated this change, shorter span wings and several lesser alterations. The final few SE.5 built in July 1917 were fitted with more powerful 200hp Hispano-Suiza ‘Hisso’ 8Ab engines, effectively creating the SE.5a standard and it was pretty much in this form that they soldiered on to the end of the Great War 15 months later. (The actual definition according the the Air Board was a modified wing structure that gave the "a" suffix to the SE 5.)
Problems with supply and reliability of the 200hp ‘Hisso’ engines dogged the SE.5a throughout its service (until the overly thin copper oil tubes were replaced.) and led to a dizzying array of engines from Hispano-Suiza and Wolseley (mostly improved ‘clones’ of Hispano-Suiza designs) being installed. The two significant differences were the earlier ‘geared’ types, where the propshaft was driven by a reduction gear off the crankshaft (the propeller has a higher thrust line and rotates counter clockwise- from the pilots perspective) and the later ‘direct drive’ types (with a lower propeller thrust line and rotating clockwise). As Hispano-Suiza supplied most of the early engines and they were mostly of the geared type, ‘Hisso’ has become how these early geared engine powered SE.5a have colloquially become known, whether their engines were manufactured by Hispano-Suiza or Wolseley. Eventually the reliable direct drive Wolseley Viper (again a much improved clone of the 150hp Hispano-Suiza design) was settled on as the preferred engine. Just as SE.5as with geared engines have been identified as ‘Hisso’ powered, direct drive engined aircraft have become ‘Viper’ powered, whether they were powered by the Viper or a late model direct drive Hispano Suiza. (from the Wingnut Wings site with some edited details to improve the accuracy.)
For the SE 5a with the Hispano Suiza motor #32003 you will find ;
1. Excellent Cartograf decals for 5 aircraft .
2. 136 injection moulded plastic parts .
3. Optional loose / wrinkled/ stressed fabric fuselage halves.
4. 2 radiators, 2 and 4 blade propellers that are appropriate to the type.
5. Fine, in scale, rib tape detail.
6. Highly detailed Hispano - Suiiza geared V8 engine.
7. small fret of photo-etched metal detail parts
8. Full rigging diagrams.
9. Highly detailed instruction book/ monograph.
From my view this is a great kit. Now we are still in the box here, but looking at the sprues and taking a few measurements I can't help be impressed with this kit. Even the smallest details molded in even to the hinges for the spats on the landing gear. As I get deeper into this build I will give you the usual heads's up on issues that might come up. But I get the feeling excellence has come to WWI aviation model kits.
I had a great exchange of e-mails with Project Coordinator Richard Alexander here is some of the info he shared with me.
". . .Our models are designed and researched by passionate professionals utilising original factory drawings whenever possible, historic and contemporary photos and information supplied by some of the worlds leading experts in their fields. We also work closely with The Vintage Aviator Ltd [url]http://thevintageaviator.co.nz[/url], which gives us access to full size airworthy examples of many of our subject aircraft. We have also had great support from various museums who have given us access to aircraft and engines within their collections. . ."
Their focus is to design models to be a pleasure. From what I have seen they have a drive to provide accurate, detailed, 1/32 scale WWI aviation models that are ". . .as enjoyable to build for both the experienced and novice modeller alike. . . " I was told that they are making kitls the way they have always wanted models to be made. They feel that average modelers are intimidated by WWI aircraft models and have designed tooling and instructions to assist them in every way possible. They also seem to be drived to get colours accurate when possible. I asked about the software and was enlightened even further.
". . .For their time these aircraft represented the cutting edge of technology or in terminology of the day 'the cat's whiskers' . It is not surprising that we use the latest in 3D Computer Aided Drafting /Computer Aided Machining software and tool making techniques available to us to ensure that modelers receive only the highest quality product. . ."
While this was not mentioned directly the success of the LotR movies has given them such great advance in software we may yet see products we haven't even dreamed of.
". . .We have 6 more releases to follow, and we are well underway with our first two years of scheduled production and tooling for many more kits during this period. You need to tell people that we are not a market-driven company, but rather a group of passionate individuals. This has taken us up from the "safe and popular" WWI subjects and allowed us to focus on two-seaters and bombers, as well as many yet-to-be-modeled fighters. If we see enough to cover costs, we will keep going!. . ."
LotR becomes LotW,
As one fellow in New Zealand has said, ". . .Judging by a quick look at the New Zealand Companies Office. Wingnut Wings and The Vintage Aviator share the same director, James Corke, who is a Wellington accountant. Wingnut Wings is a subsidiary of Wingnut Films Ltd in which Peter Jackson is a 97% shareholder. It's Peter Jackson and his passion for WWI aviation that has created The Aviation Heritage Centre in Omaka, the restored engines and reproduction aircraft coming out of The Vintage Aviator and now these gorgeous models from Wingnut Wings
However there are a lot of other passionate folk involved in Wingnut Wings as well, and not all of them are Kiwi. . ."
B574 "F" Vickers built, 84Sqn,2nd Lt. T.V. Lord, October 1917.
B603 "'Niada Gana" Vickers built, UK training unit, 1917-18.
C1057 "'C", RAF built, 24 Sqn, 2nd Lt. A.P.C. Wigan, March 1918.(Note many of the Se 5a from this unit had the dihedral taken out of the wings. )
D351 "4", Vickers built, 6th Training Sqn AFC, October 1918.
D3540 "K", Vickers built, 40 Sqn, Capt G.H.Lewis, April-May 1918.
1. The SE.5 File, Ray Sturtivant & Gordon Page, Air Britain, 1996.
2. RAF SE.5a, J.M.Bruce, Windsock Datafile Special, 1993.
3. RAF SE.5a, J.M.Bruce, Windsock Datafile, 1989.
4. SE.5a in Action, John F Connors, Squadron Signal, 1985.
5. Private Collections SE.5a, Charles Bourget, WW1 Aero Publishing Inc, 1966 http://thevintageaviator.co.nz - 1914-18 Aviation Heritage Trust.
6. "British Fighter Units 1917-18” by A. Revell, Osprey Pub. Ltd. 1978.
7. “Fighting Fifty Six” by A. Revell, Aeroplane Monthly Pp. 591 - 596, Nov. 1976
8. “S.E. 5 Fighter Supreme” by J.M. Bruce, Aeroplane Monthly Pp.264 - 269, May 1977
9. “S.E. 5 Fighter Supreme” by J.M. Bruce, Aeroplane Monthly Pp. 327 - 331, June 1977.
10. “S.E. 5 Fighter Supreme” by J.M. Bruce, Aeroplane Monthly Pp. 355 - 360, July 1977.
11. “S.E. 5 Fighter Supreme” by J.M. Bruce, Aeroplane Monthly Pp. 437 - 442, August 1977.
12. “S.E. 5 Fighter Supreme” by J.M. Bruce, Aeroplane Monthly Pp. 493 - 498, September 1977.
13. “S.E. 5 Fighter Supreme” by J.M. Bruce, Aeroplane Monthly Pp. 552 - 558, October 1977.
14. “S.E. 5 Fighter Supreme” by J.M. Bruce, Aeroplane Monthly Pp. 608 - 613, November 1977.
15. Royal Flying Corps in WWI by R. Rimell, Osprey Vintage Warbirds series #1, 1985.
16. The SE 5 by J.M. Bruce, Profile Publications #103, 1966.
17. The SE 5a by J. M. Bruce, Profile Publications #1, 1964.
I have to say this kit is worth every penny you pay for it. In the future I would like to see one of McCudden's ship should be represented.
Highs: kit includes pulley detail for the inspection windows and the main fuel tank is exquisitely detailed. The there is even a complete optional fuselage with a wrinkled fabric effect.
Lows: The cockpit flooring should be built up and not an insert. The wrinkled/ over stressed fabric effect. It more extensive than I like and needs to be more subdued IMHO.
Verdict: This kit is a winner by any sense of the word. As I get deeper into this build I will give you the usual heads's up on issues that might come up. But I get the feeling excellence has come to WWI aviation model kits.
Our Thanks to Wingnut Wings! This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash) FROM: COLORADO, UNITED STATES
I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...