Kit: AZ (1:72)
This is the observation version as opposed to the B2 bomber. Dimensionally it sizes up very well and the parts fit well with only minimal amounts of filler. There is a PE set included which provides the cockpit floor and other innards, the French gun mount and the rigging posts. The floor and mg ring were enough for me as I find most PE too fiddly. There are transfers for three aircraft, two French although technically one is Czech, and a Polish aircraft which was fighting the Bolsheviks in 1920. I used the French roundels, the rudder type numbers etc and they were no bother at all. The triangular squadron markings are fanciful and originated from a Matchbox Buffalo many years old. As for the Breguet 14 it entered service in the summer of 1917 and production continued until 1926. According to Munson it served with 71 Escadrilles on the Western Front of which 17 were equipped with bombers. It also served in Serbia, Greece, Morocco and Macedonia. The Belgians had two escadrilles and the USAS used the Breguet in 1918 although the DH4 was the main US bomber. Most Breguet 14s in US service were employed as trainers. Post war about a dozen air forces flew the type. Aircraft colours range from CDL for the early versions and there are several variations of French five colour camouflage. Armament wise some aircraft toted upper wing Lewis guns instead of the fixed Vickers and there are both twin and single Lewis set ups for the observer. Some bombers had a Lewis covering the lower rear so there is plenty of choice to make something different. All in all a very nice kit but the crew came from the spares box.
Kit: Scratch (1:72)
The Franco British Aviation Co, which despite the name was a French company, designed a series of flying boats based on an earlier pre-war Leveque design. The FBA B and C were powered by the 100hp Monosoupape and 130hp Clerget rotary engines respectively. The B served in some numbers with the French Marine Nationale and over 120 served with the RNAS. The C served alongside the B well into 1916 before reverting to a training role. It served with the French, Italian and Russian Navies. The H was powered by the new Hispano Suiza V8 and entered service in May 1916. They remained active until withdrawn in October 1917. The main French base in Northern waters was at Dunkirk where they frequently came into conflict with German naval aviation units based at Ostend and Zeebrugge. From July 1917 the FBAs were compelled to operate with an escort, the usual formation being 2x FBA and 4 x fighter escort. The H was replaced by the S type which featured a 200hp Hisso and an improved tail assembly which comprised a larger rudder and triangular fin. They served until EOW. Apart from the French the most prolific user of the FBA H was Italy. It was built by six manufacturers and served alongside locally built Macchi designs. Most were powered by the 160hp Issotta-Fraschini engine and had an improved tail section similar to the S type. Over 900 were built and many served until EOW. Some examples were in service as late as 1922 in Libya. In the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Baltic the FBA types carried out coastal patrol and anti-submarine activities. Improved enemy opposition exposed the pushers weakness to attack from behind which lead to the FBA being allocated duties beyond the range of enemy aircraft. As submarine hunters they served to the EOW and beyond. They were another unsung workhorse. The build fuselage was shaped from balsa with the wings scratched from 40 thou plastic card. The tail unit was cut from 30thou card with the struts made from Evergreen rod and strip. The engine was a spare Hisso from the Olimp Curtiss Jenny. It was built for the Flying Boat and Floatplanes GB on Britmodeller and there is a build thread.
Kit: Revell kit bash (1:72)
This is another conversion using the Fokker Eindekker as the donor kit. Ray Rimmel published an article in Scale Models in 1975 and this build is based on his techniques except the wing was formed from two Fokker wings. The cowling is a modified horseshoe from the Eduard Nieuport 23 kit and the Lewis gun set up was scratched. The engine is a seven cylinder Gnome, a spare from the AZ Morane, although the kit nine cylinder could be used as some machines had Le Rhone engines. It represents a French aircraft operating on the Western Front circa mid 1915 to the end of the year. Aces who cut their teeth on the type included Georges Guynemer and Roland Garros. The latter flew an aircraft fitted with an unsynchronized magine gun and steel deflector plates on the propeller. By Spring 1916 the L had been replaced in the west by improved Moranes and Nieuports although it soldiered on in the East to the end of the war and beyond as it was used by both sides in the Russian Civil War. It was licence built by the Pfalz company of Bavaria and served with German forces for a similar length of time to the Allies on the Western Front.
Kit: Revell-Airfix kitbash (1:72)
This was on the to do list for some years. It was my intention to build a Baby using Alan Halls method and convert an Airfix Avro 504. This method involves cutting the fuselage into several sections before reunification and much filler. By chance I had an old Revell Sopwith Triplane which was destined for the spares box. I thought a Baby conversion might be a good way of ensuring it did not reside there for decades to come. I had a pair of ancient Airfix Camel wings and these basic parts were sized up to the outlines provided in Alan Halls article and Munsons Fighters 1914-19 which are to 1/72 scale. The wing chord had to be widened as did the fuselage width but both looked feasible. In short, after removing the ribs from the triplane sides plastic card was applied along the fuselage. The cockpit was moved forward and the lower cowling was removed to create a horseshoe type. Strip was added to the trailing edge to increase the chord of the wings. The fin/rudder were made from card and the elevator was reshaped from a Fokker DVII spare. The floats were scratched from plastic card. For a change I finished the build as a French machine. They served 1917 -18 and early machines were delivered from Sopwith. The majority were built under licence by Hanriot with a smaller batch by SACA. A bit of fun that offers an alternative to the 504 method. Airfix Sopwith Pup wings would be better than the Camel I used but I think the Triplane fuselage is a little easier to modify than the 504 fuselage.
Kit: Revell (1:72)
This kit originated in the sixties and has been around all of my modelling life. My French representation was low at the time so Guynemers Spad was selected. A little research was called for as Spad XIIIs sported two types of wing that differed in wing tip shape. The earlier aircraft had rounded tips which were later modified to a squarish outline. These early types also had rounded lower wing tips and Guynemers mount was such an aircraft. The Revell kit is a hybrid with square lower wings. The span is also a scale 28ft which is a foot too much. It is dodgy schoolboy maths based on this inaccuracy that has led to the claim that this kit is 1/69 scale. The rest of the kit checks out as 1/72 so all I did was reduce the wingspan by a scale foot and round the wingtips. The 28ft wingspan is quoted on the Rise of Flight web site so presumably Revell must have got the information from the same source that they did. If the true span is divided by the false span and then times by the scale 72 you will get 69. The Spad XIII was intended to replace the earlier Spad VII and entered service in May 1917. It served until 1923 in French service. By March 1918, over 700 had been delivered but this was far less than the envisaged 2000 +. The geared Hispano engine proved troublesome but better quality control and design changes led to improved serviceability. Eventually, the Spad XIII served with over 80 French escadrilles and more than 8,750 were built. Other users were the USAS where it served with 16 squadrons, the Belgian air force, the Italian air force operated several units of Spad XIIIs and 23 RFC used early type XIIIs before replacement with Sopwith Dolphins in April 1918.
The Spad XVI was a development of the Spad XI which was a two seat development of the Spad VII fighter. The XI was powered by the 235hp Hispano Suiza and in common with other aircraft so powered suffered problems with the engine reduction gearing. It had handling issues which were exacerbated by poorly distributed equipment stowage. Never the less it equipped 15 French escadrilles and 3 Belgian. The latter served until the Armistice and beyond and were well regarded despite opinions to the contrary. The French machines were withdrawn from the Front in July 1918. The Spad XVI was powered by the Lorraine Dietrich 240hp direct drive engine. Performance was similar and this version served to 1920. At the end of the war 305 were at the Front. This is basically two Spad XIII kits glued together. Apart from the rear gun ring set up and the main struts everything is out of the two boxes. The front section is cut a tenth of an inch behind the cockpit. The rear section is cut at the front of the cut out for the twin Vickers mgs. The cut out is shaped to become the rear cockpit while the original is filled with plastic card and filler. A larger elevator was made from card and the two undercarriages were cut up and reassembled to make the wider XVI set up. Both sets of wings are required to achieve the greater wingspan which is also slightly swept back. The centre section was cut out and the butt ends of the outer wings were filed to give a small angle with the leading edge farther forward. When joined together this creates the sweep back. A couple of narrow cuts were made in the lower wings which allowed each to be bent back. CA was run into the joints. As the Spad XVI is essentially a re-engined Spad XI this method could be used to create either. Build thread on ATF.