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Eduard 1/72 scale Airco DH.2

Kit: No. 7048
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Eduard Model Accessories, Obrnice 170, 43521 Obrnice, Czech Republic, 420-4761-18668, www.eduard.cz
Price: $18.98
Comments: Injection-molded, 64 parts, decals
Pros: Important subject, crisp surface details, excellent rigging instructions
Cons: Cabane struts unequal in length, colors identified only by numbers, some fit problems, dihedral too flat

Britain's first true fighter aircraft was the de Havilland-designed Airco DH.2 pusher. Introduced in early 1916, it was desperately needed to counter Germany's Fokker E.I "Eindecker," which dominated the the Western Front. Though slow and armed with a single Lewis .30-cal. machine gun, the DH.2 achieved air superiority for a brief six months until Germany's Albatros fighters appeared.

Eduard's kit exhibits clean moldings, crisp detail, and lots of parts for such a little model. It is molded in tan plastic with both raised and recessed detail. The ribbing is well represented - delicate and muted, especially on the tail surfaces. There are 16 unused parts, obviously intended for kits to come. The 14-page, multi-step pictogram instructions are comprehensive and include a great rigging guide. The decals have markings for two aircraft: No. 32 Squadron, France, 1916; and No. 14 Squadron, Palestine, 1917. An Eduard Express painting mask set is also included - a nice touch.

The parts breakdown is good, with single-span wings and a multi-piece center tub. Having the cabane struts molded as part of the fuselage sidewalls is a nice touch. The cockpit interior detail is good, but you may want to add a seat harness. Even though the push rods (part B11) are too thick and difficult to remove from the sprue without breaking, the engine is nicely molded.

Before going too far, study the instructions, especially the rigging section, and check your references (Windsock Datafile No. 48, Airco DH.2 is extremely helpful). You'll find it easier to paint the model in subassemblies before adding struts and rigging. This is a typical building sequence for biplanes, but it is not apparent in the assembly instructions. I drilled holes for the flying wires in the wings.

When I attempted to mount the upper wing, I discovered the cabane struts were not equal in length and were a bit too long. I cut them off the fuselage, made them even, and reinstalled them after the upper wing was set. After placing all the interplane struts, I laid the assembly on its rear edges to help align the unstaggered wings.

At this point I began rigging the model. Without the rear tail structure in place, I had full access to all the wing bays, making the job easier. I used a combination of brown one-pound-test fishing monofilament and stretched black sprue. I started in the center and worked outward on each side, completing one bay at a time. I glued on slices of styrene rod to simulate the control-wire pulleys.

When adding the rear structure and tail planes, I dry-fitted main frames A5 and A9 to make sure they were equal in length and fit snugly into slots in the upper wing. This assembly is tricky, and a "third hand" tool would be helpful. I assembled the rear structure separately, making sure it was square, then joined it to the wings.

Final detail included fuselage decals, wheels, actuators for elevators, the upper fuel tank, a nose (Lewis) machine gun, compass housing, and a windscreen (mine was missing from the kit so I cut a new one from clear-plastic sheet) - and, of course, more rigging.

I used Testor, AeroMaster, Model Master, Xtracolor, and Humbrol enamels. Eduard's decals were thin and responded well to Solvaset. I chose the markings for No. 32 Squadron. The color demarcation under the nose should follow the engraved, curved panel line, not the straight line as shown in the instructions. There should be a small black C under the nose of this aircraft, but it's not provided. The Datafile drawings suggest more wing dihedral than the kit provides.

The DH.2 is a challenge, even for experienced modelers. I spent nearly 40 hours on mine. You can make it into a little jewel if you can devote a lot of time to the fragile assemblies and rigging.

- Ross Whitaker

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