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Roden 1/48 scale Sopwith 1-1/2 Strutter

Kit: No. Ro 402
Scale: 1/48

Manufacturer: Roden, available from Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, 972-242-8663, www.squadron.com
Price: $23.98
Comments: Injection-molded, 82 parts (31 photoetched), decals
Pros: Clear molding allows translucent fabric appearance, good detail, excellent photoetched parts
Cons: No instrument panel dials, no harness for the seat
Although the Sopwith 1-1/2 Strutter was not as well known as its siblings (the Pup, Triplane, Snipe, Dolphin, and the Camel), it was nevertheless a significant World War I fighter, bomber, and scout. The 1-1/2 Strutters were the first Allied aircraft to carry synchronized machine guns firing through the propeller arc.

This is Roden's first effort in 1/48 scale. I built the two-seat fighter-scout version; a single-seat bomber is also available (kit No. Ro 404).

The kit comes in a sturdy box with helpful box art. There are 12 clear and 39 light-gray crisply-molded plastic parts and a fret of 31 photoetched brass parts.

The wings, fuselage, and tail pieces are innovatively molded in clear plastic for two reasons: First, if the machine you are modeling has the clear inspection panels and the large clear panel in the upper wing, you won't have to insert separate parts. Second, and even more clever, it helps you duplicate the translucent appearance of the varnished linen fabric seen in many photos of WWI aircraft. The "shadows" of underlying ribs and spars could be seen through the fabric covering. Roden includes a set of 1/48 scale drawings to help you mark the interior structure onto the clear parts.

The Lewis and Vickers guns and the Clerget engine are exquisitely molded, and you get one extra Vickers and five extra Lewis guns for your spares box. The instructions show a parts map, exploded assembly drawings, paint guides, and rigging diagrams. Decals for two British and two French aircraft were provided in this issue. I chose the clear-varnished French version so I could try the translucent fabric effect.

I used a Sanford ultra-fine-point permanent black marker on both sides of the wings. My guide was a flexible plastic ruler with a wide rubber band glued to its backside. I sprayed Polly Scale clear doped linen color in light coats, as I didn't want to completely obscure the lines.

Make sure you seal the paint with a clear gloss before applying decals; setting solutions can penetrate the paint and make the marker lines run underneath. Take my word for it! The decals conform well without softening solution.

As much detail work as possible was done prior to assembly, and the cockpit interior assembly fit nicely within the fuselage halves. The cutout in the lower wing had to be widened to match the fuselage width. I had no problems adding the struts and mounting the upper wing; I just had to work carefully and use slow-setting glue so I could make adjustments. I strengthened the landing gear struts with brass wire and used fine stainless steel wire for the undercarriage braces.

The face of part 171, the engine shaft bushing, had to be thinned to allow the engine to sit back far enough to fit in the cowling. Some adjustment was needed to get the two-piece cowl to fit properly, too. I had to use seat belts and an instrument panel decal from my spares box.

The photoetched rigging eyelets were useful and looked realistic. The eyelet lugs can be bent up to the correct angle and then the C-shaped base glued in place at the top and bottom of each strut. I used solvent glue initially to soften the plastic and position the lugs properly. Then super glue was used with care to anchor the lugs but not close the eyelets. I prepainted two-pound monofilament nylon fishing leader for the rigging.

I spent nearly 30 hours on the 1-1/2 Strutter. The finished model matches the 1/48 scale drawings by Ian Stair in Windsock Data Profile No. 34, an excellent reference for this aircraft.

I recommend this outstanding model to all 1/48 scale WWI fans with some modeling experience. The translucent effect is impressive!

Dr. Bill Funcke

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