Sopwith Camels
by Marc Flake

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Belgian Sopwith Camel

The Aviation Militarie Belge received 54 Sopwith Camels. The first 36 aircraft were numbered Sc1 through Sc36. The numbering of the last 18 is not known, although there were an Sk1 and and Sk7.

The 11th Fighter Squadron (Paper Bird or Cocotte insignia) had six Camels on May 1, 1918, and 11 on Sept. 25.

I chose to model SK 4, mainly because I wanted to build an aircraft that wasn't flown by one of the more famous aces. As such it is rather non-discrept when compared to Olieslagers and Copens' mounts. It is loosely based on Jean vand er Voordt's aircraft.

The kit is from Revell. For the interior I used Roseparts' brass, which bent up perfectly and fit nicely without any adjustments. I removed the molded-in engine and replaced it with the Aeroclub Clerget with the photoetched pushrods. I also used the Aeroclub prop. I filled the trenches in the wings and used Contrail struts.

The hardest part of the build was removing the step (much bigger than a seam) that runs the length of the fuselage both on top and bottom, although the bottom was worse. Even grinding out the cowl to accept the Aeroclub engine was easier.

The rigging is .005 steel wire. Upper surfaces are painted in Xtracolor RFC Green, while the undersides of the wings were Humbrol Cream (#103).

The Paper Bird insignia was made by using some white Superscale decal stripes. I cut two trapezoids and one triangle for each side. The rondells were from Americal-Gryphon, while the tail feathers were painted. The SK 4 was taken from an "N" scale railroad letter decal sheet from Microscale.


Naval 10 Sopwith Camel

This is another 1/72 Revell kit, which I started at the same time as the Belgian Camel. The intent was to replace two badly done models from 15 years ago with new ones using updated techniques. I bought an Aeroclub Clerget for this kit as well, but opted for the one without the photoetch pushrods. The cowl was ground out with a Dremel tool to accept the white metal engine. I made several attempts at heat/smash molding on this and the Belgian Camel's cowl, but failed each time.

Since I was building both simultaneously, I used the Roseparts interior as a guide for scratching the interior of this model, keeping in mind that most of it wouldn't show anyway once the fusleage was closed. I filled the troughs in the wings with Squadron White Putty and cut Contrail struts to the right size using the Aircraft Archive Volume #1 plans as a guide.

As with the Belgian Camel, there was a big step on the upper and lower fuselage. At first I thought the fit was misaligned, but finally determined that one side was taller in profile that the other. This mold is getting very old. While I sanded the top of the fusleage level, I trowled on the White Putty underneath to acheive an even surface.

I used Humbrol Cream #103 for the CDL under the wings and Xtracolor RFC Green for everything else but the white nose. Decals are out of the box. The rigging is .005 steel wire.


Brown's Sopwith Camel

This 1/72 Revell kit was built 15 years ago and was intended for the trash or the less-than-gentle hands of my three-year-old son. However, both he and his 6-year-old brother love sitting on my lap while I play Red Baron III , especially the Intro Video which features Roy Brown in a somewhat fictionalized end to the Red Baron's career. I thought it would be nice to paint up this old model in Brown's colors, keeping in mind the latest information that indicates a more colorful bird than the image I grew up with.

I started by removing the top wing and sewing thread rigging. This model was so old it was before I started using beeswax to prevent clumps from forming on the painted thread. It was truly hideous. Next I trimmed down the existing struts to the proper level and glued the top wing back on. I left the engine/cowl as they were and tried to impart some depth using three different metalic colors: Modelmaster Jet Exhaust for the firewall and crankcase, ModelMaster Gun Metal for the cylinders and Testors Chrome Silver for the pushrods. The fuselage needed sanding like the more recently purchased models --indicating this has been a problem for a long time.

The CDL was Humbrol Cream #103, while PC 10 was Xtracolor RFC Green. The nose, fin and horizontal tail were painted in Modelmaster Guards Red, while the elevators were painted Gloss White. The gloss was toned-down with clear flat. The rigging is smoke-colored "Invsible Sewing Thread." Decals are out-of-the-box.


Texas Sopwith Camel

This is the 1/72 ESCI Camel and another rehab project. Instead of giving this 12-year-old kit to my 6-year-old, I decided to paint it up as my personal English "mount" after D. The Chopper launched his OT aviation fantasy celebrating a listmember's birthday. My German "mount," a black Albatros with a red Blitz, was inspired by E. The Heretic and his query on how we would decorate our own OT aircraft. I hope the list will tolerate not only the lack of a historical prototype for the Albatros, but the inclusion of this aircraft which is slightly outside the WW1 time-frame.

The US Navy received several Sopwith Camels after the end of the war, many of which were used aboard ships. One was assigned, along with a Hanriot, to the USS Texas and was flown off a platform built atop the #2 Turret. Although pictures I have seen of this aircraft show it in what looks to be PC10, the aircraft displayed at the US Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is painted in overall light gray. This is the subject I chose to model.

As this model had already been assembled, I merely removed the sewing thread rigging and repainted it. I used ModelMaster Light Gull Gray and Testor's Silver. The molded-in engine was painted with the same variety of paints as I used on Brown's Camel. However, the lack of actual depth on this piece hurt the ultimate appearance as compared to the Revell kit. Decals came from the decal drawer, including lettering from a Microscale Railroad decal set. For what it's worth, the struts on ESCI kit are the correct length and need not be cut.


Sopwith Camel 2F1

This is the much maligned 1/72 Airfix 2F1 Camel and the result of inspiration born of competition. While in the process of finishing four Sopwith Camels and with a local model contest two weeks away, I decided I needed one more to qualify for the Collection Category (five or more of a closely related subject). While leafing through "The Camel File," I found a compelling photograph of "N5," the 2F1 prototype, armed with Le Prieuer rockets. Now here was something completely different. I also began wondering about the paint-job. As this would be an RNAS machine, and other RNAS Sopwiths (namely the Triplane) wore PC 12, wouldn't it be possible that "N5" wore it?

Using the secret handshake, I canvased the list and was told to read the chapter on Camel markings at the end of "The Camel File." And, lo and behold, the author of the article notes that Sopwith-produced 2F1s were painted in PC 12 at the factory. "N5" was a Sopwith-built 2F1.

There is a lot to dislike about the Airfix kit. I discarded the cowl and undercarriage, using the spares box to replace them. The machine guns were also replaced, the Lewis with an Aeroclub part and the Vickers with a Rosepart. I didn't do a full rebuild, but I did widen the fuselage nose some, sealed off the starboard-side gunport in the nose and scratched an Admiralty-pattern Lewis gun mount using pictures in "The Camel File" as a guide. The rockets were purloined from a TOKO Nieuport that has yet to be built.

For PC 12, I used Ceramcoat Iron Oxide straight out of the bottle and thinned with Future. It brushed on smooth, without a blemish. Flying surface undersides and the fin were done in Ceramcoat Old Parchment. Another coat of plain Future was applied prior to decal placement, which came off the Americal/Gryphon sheet. The registration number was created from a white stripe decal from SuperScale and railroad lettering from Microscale. An old Superscale sheet also provided the Sopwith logo. Rigging is with .005 steel wire.


Collishaw's Sopwith Camel

I built the 1/48 scale SMER Sopwith Camel as one of many preparatory exercises before attempting to tackle the more expensive and more detailed 1/48 scale models produced by Eduard. I'm mainly honing my mammoth-scale skills on the cheap kits so that I won't ruin the Eduard's too badly.

That said the SMER Camel was built out-of-the-box with some rudimentary interior detailing with styrene strip in the cockpit. The only place that needed work was the covered gundeck, the opening of which was too narrow for my purposes. The guns of the kit are its worst feature and replacements are required. Unfortuntately, Aeroclub's Vickers were too big. I cut out two long slots to make a semi-covered gundeck (the type that covered the rear portions of the guns).

I picked Collishaw's XX Squadron machine. The PC 10 was Extracolor RFC Green, while the CDL was Humbrol Cream. The wood grain effect was achieved with a base of ModelMaster Wood, watercolor pencil scratches and a coating of Future. Decals are out-of-the-box except for the white band, which was made with white decal film. Rigging is mostly .008 steel wire, except for the control wires, which were .007 fishing tippet line.


Monogram Sopwith Camel

When a 1/48 scale Monogram Sopwith Camel turned up for sale on the list for $5, I couldn't resist. I had the Monogram SE 5a, thought it well done and thought the Camel would equal it. It turned out to be one of those "Kits from Hell."

The main problems with the kit are the gundeck, overstated ribs, and the cowl appears to be the wrong shape. I was also dismayed to find that the aerlions and elevators were represented by *raised lines* on the wings and tail. The attachment of the undercarriage to the fuselage is assisted by a pair of reinforced attachment points not present on the prototype fuselage.

The gundeck is the covered type with a slot that was too narrow to accept the Aeroclub Vickers replacements. I carved out two slots to make it the semi-covered type of gundeck. I sanded down the ribs and scribed in the aerlions and elevator lines.

Both wings were seriously warped. Using hot water, I straigthened them out, remembering to impart a dihedral in the lower set. (I detailed this nightmare in a posting to the list a couple of months ago and don't want to think about much less write about it again.) The trenches were filled with putty and Contrail struts were used instead of the kit parts. Painting and rigging were done in the same manner as the SMER Camel above.

By the way, these are two different kits. The cowls are different as is everything else except the engines. However, you could put the SMER Camel on the Monogram and vice-versa. I almost bought an Aurora Camel to further my research into similarities, but resisted the urge. I'd have to say my experience with the Monogram Camel assisted my resistance.


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