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Wingnut Wings Felixstowe F.2A WIP

Kit:32050 // Scale:1/32 // Price:$269
Wingnut Wings,
Engineered for ease of assembly; terrific detail
Fragile aileron attachments; decals brittle, slightly translucent
Injection-molded, 377 parts (45 photoetched-metal), decals

Despite the Felixstowe F.2A's importance during World War I, this is a model that simply should not exist in 1/32 scale — except that it comes from Wingnut Wings, a company not known for following rules. Unquestionably the largest kit in Wingnut's catalog — the wingspan is 36" — the F.2A has been released in early and late versions, along with a "Duelist" kit that also includes a Hansa-Brandenburg W.29.

As you would expect, the parts count is high — 377. But be careful: Many of the pieces that go into this large aircraft are fragile, including the center-section struts that are connected with scale fuel lines. Mine broke into three pieces.

The fully appointed interior requires you to paint a lot of wood. Decals are included for placards and dials on the fuel tanks, flight engineer's panel, and T-truss supports as well as the instrument panel and cockpit fittings.

Rigging instructions are provided to install the myriad control lines inside the airframe, although I skipped that step.

The fuel lines on top of the tanks lack positive locators, and I had difficulty aligning all of the joins. But that was the only fit problem I encountered inside.

Wingnut advises mounting the Lewis guns in the waist before assembling the fuselage. But I worried about broken barrels. I attached the mounts and saved the guns for later. Modelers wishing to build U.S. Naval Air Service Felixstowe F.2A N4291 (Option C2) will require additional Scarff ring brackets and should contact, which will send a small photoetched-metal fret containing these parts free of charge.

After many hours painting and assembling the interior, the fuselage went together quickly and cleanly. The only gap that needed filling was at the aft end of the upper deck — and the instruction book said it would be there.

Before attaching the inner part of the wings and tail, I taped the waist hatches in place. Then I masked and painted the hull’s dazzle camouflage. The tail components fit snugly and the struts pop into place, making glue almost unnecessary.

I applied the decals next and found them to be a bit more fragile than I'm used to from Wingnut Wings.

Before adding the wings, I built the Rolls Royce Eagle engines, which are fully detailed with external piping, radiators, and screens. Once the power plants were painted and mounted, I installed the upper wing's center section. The struts connect to the internal T-truss supports, but I couldn't get them to sit properly. I suspect I trimmed too much off the bottom of the struts.

I applied glue at the junction of each strut and the upper deck through the waist and over-wing maintenance hatches. Then, I added the hull support struts.

I assembled the lower wings and let them dry overnight. Next, I glued the struts to the lower wing and left the assembly overnight again.

The outer upper wings fit easily. I bent the struts and popped them into place one by one, clamping the wings with tape as I progressed. A drop of super glue secured each strut. I left the huge ailerons detached until near the end, because the attachment points are very small. In theory, you can remove the wings for transport. But I can't see anyone attempting that after assembling the wings and struts.

Rigging this beast looks daunting, but if you take it section by section it is logical and manageable. The rigging diagrams are mostly adequate, but the drawings aren't always clear about where the tailplane control lines enter the hull. There are pre-molded holes for rigging placement — helpful if you want to drill holes through surfaces to pass lines.

I used elastic EZ Line from Berkshire Junction for rigging, and nylon monofilament suture for control lines. Because many of the control lines are divided by kit-supplied photoetched-metal splitters before reaching the control horns, I assembled them off the model.

Building the beaching trolley and support stands finished the behemoth.

I spent 118 hours on it and could easily have spent more. I skipped some external lines and all the internal ones, and it still took me almost 12 hours to rig. Masking the striped camouflage didn't make things easier — that alone took six hours.

This is a model I never expected to see. With care and time, it can be built into a showstopper. It isn't for a novice, but if you've built a few biplanes, give it a try.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2015 FineScale Modeler.

This is a big, complicated kit. Even with Wingnut Wings' well-deserved reputation for molding, ejector-pin marks appear. They're seen here on a couple of interior components. A few scrapes with a knife or a bit of filler is all that's necessary to make them disappear.

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