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Work-in-Progress Build Review: Wingnut Wings Gotha G.I

Building this big early bomber
FSM reviewer Chuck Davis is building this big early bomber and is sending in-progress reports as he goes.

Check back for updates.

As with all Wingnut Wings kits, the instructions are very detailed and careful study of the entire manual prior to building and at every step helps avoid mistakes. Pay close attention to all the notes, as build instructions, as well as part and decal callouts are scattered throughout. Wingnut Wings posts corrections to their instructions on their website under each kit’s information. In the case of the Gotha G.1, there are some corrections to the strut part numbers and instructions to drill out the tail skid mounting hole. Guess who didn’t check that first?

I usually prepare subassemblies based on their ultimate color; that’s why the landing gear is already done ready for the “very light grey” color called out by Wingnuts. The gear assembly looks complex, but the parts virtually click into place and are very strong.

Having built a number of these kits now, I’ve decided I do a better job by placing the seat belts BEFORE I spend all the effort of painting the seat. If I don’t, I usually scratch the paint or smear glue everywhere. Before placing the belts, I annealed the parts by holding them in the flame of a butane torch until they glowed cherry red. This softened the brass and made it easier to bend without kinking.

Wingnut Wings always include a “high detail” option of brass cooling jackets for their German guns – well worth the effort. These brass parts were also annealed, then rolled around a metal gauge pin to form the cylindrical shape. The correct diameter is listed in the instruction notes. The brass sights were not annealed, since they don’t get bent and that rigidity helps assembly.

Despite the Gotha being an early World War I aircraft, there’s surprisingly little need for wood parts. The parts have been cleaned up, sprayed with a base coat of Tamiya deck tan (XF-55), and clear coated with an acrylic gloss. They are now ready for simulating wood grain using oil paint.

The fit of the interior bulkheads was good enough to allow me to paint them assembled without glue, rather than trying to figure out how to hold them. Here they are separated ready for application of the wood grain.

The wooden propellers are prepared in the same was as the other wood parts. But from here on, the painting differs.

Simulating wood grain is surprisingly simple. I use Winsor & Newton burnt umber oil paint thinned with turpenoid, a synthetic turpentine solvent. I brush the thinned oil wash on with a flat brush in the general direction of the wood grain after the acrylic clear coat has dried.

Even at this early stage the simulated grain is apparent.

All the wood parts have been prepped and are drying awaiting the next step, actually “graining” the “wood.”

While the oil paint dried, I attacked the engines. Wingnut Wings always include engines that are mini models in their own right, including separate cylinder halves that accommodate the addition of wire  to replace the three-quarter molded pushrods. This option isn’t mentioned in any Wingnut Wings kit but is there for the taking. Once again, preparing ahead pays dividends; guided by the molded depressions, I drilled larger, deeper holes for the pushrods.

There is molded half round shape — possibly from a missing ejector pin in the mold — that interferes with fitting the intake manifold. A mini chisel makes short work of the issue.

The engine fits together beautifully and can be disassembled for painting if you’re careful.

Removing the cylinders and distributors, the engine is ready for painting with metallic shades.

After a couple of hours of drying, I use a stiff, flat brush to stroke wood grain into the oil paint. Twisting the brush slightly and teasing the oil paint results on a convincing pattern.

For variety, I change the direction of the grain if it makes sense.

After adding the grain, you can adjust the “tone” of the wood if desired by over spraying tinted clear coats ¬— in this case, I used Tamiya clear yellow.

There’s really no limit to the number of variations you can create with different tan undercoats, oil paint thickness, grain direction, and overcoat tints. For this kit, the undercoat was all the Tamiya deck tan, but some areas were overcoated in Tamiya clear yellow and others in Tamiya clear orange.

Wingnut Wings instrument panels are always well detailed and have wonderful decals. The part starts with a simulated wood finish.

Detail painting of the instruments and wires starts to make the panel pop.

Given the size and visibility of the cockpits in this scale, I like to use punched pieces of clear styrene for instrument faces instead of building up layers of clear paint — it actually ends up being quicker.

Simulating wood grain is not only simple but satisfying. With a bit of time and effort, you have a finished wooden interior to build around. The engine frames are ready to go as well.

While I was working on the wood I also finished the guns — Testors Metallizer gunmetal providing the sheen for the photo-etched metal and plastic weapons.

One of the more satisfying parts of building a Wingnut Wings kit is seeing the finished interior with all the wonderful detail packed in. Notice the faded, splotchy application of the interior color — this adds interest and is easily accomplished by spraying foggy patterns of a lightened mix of the base color.

In between working on the interior and other subassemblies, I put together the tail stand provided in the kit. I prepped it along with all the other “wood” parts and it was finished in the same way. I then added a random pattern of grey — Tamiya ocean gray (XF-82) — followed by dry-brushing with a touch of Tamiya dark yellow (XF-60). The bolt heads were picked out with Testors Metallizer dark anodonic gray and a wash of Flory Models dark dirt finished a weather-beaten stand.

I assembled the engines after painting details on the various components. Painting small things, like the spark plugs (white with sliver tips) makes the engines come to life. A wash of Flory dark dirt was applied for a suitably grubby engine.

Time to add the push rods into the prepared holes. The first step is accurately measuring the length. The mounting holes should be drilled deep enough to allow some play when fitting the rods. I cut .018-inch stainless-steel wire with heavy-duty wire cutters from my toolbox — the real toolbox for taking care of the house, not the little one I use for modeling!

I placed a drop of superglue on the upper mount. The rocker arms had been painted separately and installed.

I used tweezers to push each wire into its hole, then lift it up to meet the rocker arm and glue.

Then, I finished up by adding a drop of super glue to the base of each wire.

After just a few minutes of work, the addition of the wire adds nice detail to the already impressive kit engine.

The design of the Gotha G.I didn’t leave many options for Wingnut Wings when it came to wing molding and attachment.  There are a couple of mildly difficult seams to take care of on the underside of the lower wing, as well as a couple on the top wing where the optional trailing edge cut outs are installed.

The first step in painting is to add the white patches for the German crosses on the top and bottom of each wing. Don’t worry about complete coverage — these planes were pretty faded according to the pictures presented in the instruction booklet and on Wingnut Wings’ website.

You can have your Gotha in any color as long as it’s Tamiya RLM gray (XF-22) or equivalent. Same rule applies about coverage — we’ll be adding fading before we’re finished painting. Notice the patchy appearance.

I lightened the RLM gray with Tamiya deck tan (XF-55) and airbrushed random squiggles and patches. Generally, I prefer the apply fading between the ribs so that the highpoints stand out.

It’s hard to be completely random all the time. You’ll likely get a couple of spots that look too much like big blotches instead of random fading.  This is easy to fix.

I back the airbrush away from the model and spray a light mist coat to gradually cover the blotches so they slowly fade into the background.

Being inherently lazy — I prefer to think of it as efficient — I use a circle template as a mask to spray wheels. First, I sprayed the tires with Tamiya dark gray (XF-24), then I find the template diameter that matches the wheel cover. I apply tape to cover the other circles to prevent overspray.

Carefully hold the part up to the template as tightly as possible and spray, keeping the airbrush perpendicular to the template to prevent paint being blown under the edge. Tip: Spray only one side of the template to avoid paint on both sides that can rub off on future projects.

Pull the template away and you have a perfectly painted wheel without the hassle of cutting circles of tape.

Don’t forget to apply the fading technique to the wheel covers and any other parts while you’re at it.  You did leave the tape on the circle template, didn’t you?...

While I was prepping the main assemblies for paint, I finished the exhausts. They were painted with Testors Model Master Metalizer burnt metal, shaded with Metalizer burnt iron, and then given a heavy, thick wash of Flory Models mud brown.

You may wish to invest in a bunch of small clamps if you plan to build a World War I aircraft as there are always lots of parts to hold while painting. I’ve stocked up on large and small alligator clips, small clamps, and other items for just this reason.

Another challenging painting preparation task is masking. In addition to painters’ tape, I used the kit gun ring to create a “tape hatch” to cover the front gun tub. Cosmetic sponges fill the awkward side gun tub. Don’t forget to fill the strut mounting holes so they are easy to glue later.

Painting finished: You can see the splotchy finish applied to the light gray area of the nose, so it matches the green fuselage. The decals went on easily, despite my worries of cracking encountered on the instrument decals.

Wingnut Wings does a great job “keying” their struts to make placement easy and accurate, but it pays to be careful as some are similar. I’ve placed the struts in their relative positions for check fits of the upper and lower attachment points. The outer struts (parts D18 and D19) should be switched; this error in the instructions is corrected on the Wingnut Wings website. It’s a good idea to check it while building.

The Gotha G.I has some, shall we say, unique strut attachments. Wingnut Wings has cleverly molded the wing-spar attachments as part of four struts, along with other support struts that attach to the fuselage. Make sure you check all of the strut attachment points, not just to the upper wing. A touch of trimming was necessary for the perfect fit shown here and it prevented an unpleasant surprise while I was trying to glue the wings in place later.

Simulating laminated wood propellers is similar to adding wood grain — just with multiple shades. Remember the props had been prepped with a layer of Tamiya deck tan (XF-55), and clear coated. Then, I masked the laminations with pin-striping tape using photos as a guide. It takes about 45 minutes to mask and about 45 seconds to paint! (Why hasn’t someone come out with mask sets yet?  Seems like they should be a good seller…)

A quick spray of Tamiya flat earth (XF-52) provided the darker laminate color. With the masking removed, the two colors are obvious, but don’t stop yet. After another clear coat was added and allowed to dry, oil paint is brushed on just like we did for the wood panels in the cockpit.

I let the artist oils dry for a couple of hours, I use a stiff, flat brush to scrub grain into the oil paint — just like I did on the wood panels before.

Finally, a clear coat needs to be applied, and you can vary the tone by using clear yellow or clear orange, or keep it a straight clear gloss shade. The picture shows the difference between the as-applied shade and a final coat of Tamiya clear yellow (X-24).
Using a circle template as a mask, I painted the hub with Testors Model Master aluminum. Then, I applied a quick wash of Flory Models dark dirt and added the manufacturer’s logo decals. The finished props represent a fair amount of work, but it’s worth the effort as they are focal points on WWI aircraft.

The struts — and there are a bunch of them — all fit nicely into place. I followed the instruction’s recommendation to place the wing assembly upside down while the glue dried, and it seemed to work fine. However, I left the ailerons off since they interfered with the wing assembly sitting level as it dried. The wing attachment points are split, with half on the struts and half on the wings. I wanted to make sure they were solid, so I glued and clamped them overnight after the struts had dried.

Although it looks fragile and difficult to assemble, the wing assembly, center section struts, attachment points, and fuselage assembly all clicked into place. I didn’t even need to prop the fuselage up while the glue dried. After everything was set, I placed the model on its back to begin rigging. I left the engines, radiators, piping, landing gear, and horizontal tail off the model so I had unfettered access to the wings to make rigging easier. I used EZ Line Fine from Berkshire Junction, a stretchy nylon that is … errr … easy to use for rigging. Superglue, accelerator, fine tweezers, and a pair of “squizzers” — combination tweezers and scissors — are my rigging tools of choice.

I attached EZ-Line cut to the rough lengths needed to all of the attachment points on the upper wing. Wingnut Wings always includes rigging diagrams in their kits, and I study them carefully to come up with a plan. I typically attach wires to the top wing, then attach the other end to the lower wing, working from inside to outside.

Here you can see one of the oversize lengths of EZ-Line near a set of interplane struts. The attachment points are molded in place by Wingnut Wings. They suggest deepening them, but I’ve never had an issue with using them as-is.

Begin by stretching the EZ-Line so it is taut near the attachment point.

Using the squizzers, cut the line so it is short of the attachment point by a few millimeters. I use a short piece of wire in a pair of locking tweezers to apply a drop of superglue at the attachment point, then I swipe a bit of superglue accelerator onto the end of the wire, touch the line to the glue drop, and wait for a second for the accelerator to “kick” the glue. Simple. Then I repeat the process — over and over and over again, until all the wires are attached.

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