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Eduard SE.5a

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/48 scale plastic model aircraft kit

Not as well known as the Sopwith Camel, the Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a is still widely considered one of World War I’s best fighters. Eduard’s new kit captures the rugged, agricultural looks of the plane.

This ProfiPack kit includes the Wolseley Viper engine. Other power plants are sure to follow as a number of parts marked “do not use” include other engine, cowling, and propeller options. Also in the well-stocked box is a set of photo-etch (PE) details and a mask set.
Clear plastic provides two styles of windscreen, cable-inspection windows, and the instrument-panel skylight.
Decals give markings for five aircraft, including two American.

Assembling and finishing the interior takes up most of the build, thanks to numerous details. Use care removing them from the sprues; I liked the 3-D trim wheel, but I broke it trying to clip it from the sprue.
A pre-colored PE instrument board lacks wood grain and depth. I preferred the molded panel with decals, but I appreciate that both options were included.
I could assemble most of the interior parts prior to painting, thanks to accurate moldings and good fits. The interior clips into place on top of the lower wing center. Fit is outstanding, but make sure you have everything aligned to avoid issues later. I used the PE ammo-drum holders, which look better than the thick, plastic parts.
Don’t install the floor-mounted rack on the wing center section until the cockpit is in place to avoid fit problems.
I included Eduard’s Brassin SE.5a guns set (No. 648299) that provides finely detailed Lewis wing and Vickers cowl machine guns. Be careful with the Vickers mount — it is fragile. I opened the lightening holes in the Lewis mount using a pin.

Closing the fuselage proved anticlimactic after all the interior work; I used a bit of putty to blend the aft join. The rest of the airframe assembles just as easily.
I left the cowling loose so it could be removed to display the nice engine. I replaced the kit’s plastic radiator with a more detailed Brassin set (No. 648298), removing the square radiator cap from the upper cowl for fit — this wasn’t mentioned in the instructions.

Triangular projections on the radiator’s rear must also be removed. I left the engine and radiator off for painting.

I prepared the model for painting by installing the control-cable inspection windows. The kit parts were too big, so I replaced them with .005-inch clear plastic. All the masks were installed, and the model painted with Tamiya acrylics: deck tan (XF-55) with desert yellow (XF-59) shading for the lower surfaces, and a mix of khaki (XF-49), olive drab (XF-62), and flat brown (XF-10) on the upper surfaces.
Decals were applied with help from setting solution; the white was nicely opaque. It’s disappointing that Eduard did not include either masks or decals for the narrow red rings on the wheels for the color option I chose.

I attached rigging to the upper wing using EZ Line, then installed the center section cabane struts using a business card template marked for proper spacing. Once the struts were dry, I installed the upper wing followed by the outer struts. The struts and landing gear fit well. A little trimming was needed for the rear gear leg mounts. Clear diagrams made rigging easy. Finally, I added the Lewis gun and propeller.

I spent a little more than 34 hours on my SE.5, much of it painting wood grain and details; rigging took time as well. The finished model captures the utilitarian look of the real aircraft superbly. I can’t wait to see the next kit in Eduard’s growing WWI stable.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2017 issue.
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