Spring 2017 is proving to be a very exciting time for modellers interested in British WWI aircraft, with first WnWís beautiful Camels arriving, and now Eduardís
eagerly anticipated 1:48 SE.5a. New Eduard
WWI aviation kits have become something of a rarity of late - to the point where some doom and gloom pedlars declared that the company had turned its back on the genre which it had done so much to establish in the mainstream field. Well, the release of the SE.5a is the perfect answer to knock that rumour on the head - and, better still, itís a real gem of a kit.
first release is a Hi-Tech boxing of the Wolseley-powered variant. The parts for other versions are also there on the sprues, ready for what is clearly going to be a series of kits.
The model arrives in a classy compact and sturdy top-opening box, with the main sprues bagged separately from the clear parts and accessories. The kit comprises:
96 x dark grey styrene parts ( 17 unused)
11 x clear parts
65 x etched metal parts
Kabuki tape painting masks for the wheels, windscreen and aileron pulley covers
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
The moulding is superb in the sample kit, with just the faintest traces of moulding lines. Ejector pins have been kept clear of the cockpit, with just a couple that will be hidden behind the engine. The only sink marks Iíve spotted are where there are locating pins on the bottom of the fuselage. These are very shallow and will only take a moment or two to deal with.
The surface finish comprises subtle ribs and stitching on the flying surfaces, with beautifully delicate fasteners and lacing on the fuselage. The representation of the fabric on the rear fuselage is drum-tight.
Thereís obviously only so much you can dry-assemble on a biplane, but checking a few major components on the SE.5a is very encouraging. The fuselage halves clip together precisely and the horizontal tail slots in very solidly. The full-span lower wing includes a large section of the bottom of the fuselage which clips in place tightly to provide a sound foundation for the rest of the build.
I compared the parts against Kageroís plans, and the fuselage and wings match precisely, while the horizontal tail is slightly shorter than shown. The depth of the nose matches Kagero's side illustration for the first production run - but the front view doesn't tally in the same set of plans, so Iíll leave it to others to make a call on accuracy. (It's at times like these that I wish I could still call into the RAF Museum and measure the real thing!)
A Few Details
Construction begins logically with the cockpit, which is very nicely detailed with a mix of over 50 styrene and etched parts. There are pre-coloured seat belts and a choice of etched or styrene instrument panels. The etched panel is pre-coloured cream, which will provide a good base for a wood-grain effect. Etched and decal instrument faces are provided as alternatives - but, of course, you could always mix and match as you choose to suit your favoured style of building.
The instructions show the Lewis magazine holders replaced by folded etched etched items, but less experienced modellers may well stick with the plastic versions which are fine in their own right. Jumping ahead a bit, the Lewis gun itself is very crisply moulded integrally with its track. Sadly, that does mean you canít model it pulled back for loading or servicing. The synchronised Vickers is also nicely handled, and has an etched cocking hand and ring sight.
The 9-part Wolseley Viper boasts some very fine detailing that will repay careful painting and highlighting. Itís ideally a job for an airbrush and some of the super-fine grained metaliser paints available these days (Eduard
recommend Mr Metal Color), because brush-painting with conventional enamels or acrylics will risk swamping the details.
A photo-etched bomb rack is included for one of the colour schemes. This is beautifully delicate, although itís a shame there arenít any bombs to go with it. It requires some very careful folding and curving, so will present quite a challenge to newcomers to using etched parts.
Thereís a choice of windscreens offered, and the transparent parts are crystal clear. Covers are included for the inspection panels over the control cable pulleys, along with etched triangles to finish the job.
Instructions & Decals
The assembly guide is printed in colour as a compact 20-page booklet on glossy paper. Construction is broken down into around 50 stages and sub-assemblies (lettered, rather than numbered), which sounds daunting for such a small model, but many only involve a few parts and it does make for a very clear sequence. The diagrams are uncluttered and easy to follow. Eduard provide colour matches for Gunze Sangyo paints to most details in the course of the build.
The final two stages show the rigging, and beginners to the ďdark artĒ will face an extra challenge because the flying wires are doubled. The attachment points are marked on the kit parts, but youíll probably want to drill them deeper, whatever your preferred method of rigging.
The kit includes decals for five aircraft which offer an interesting variety of colour schemes:
A. C1096, Lt. H. J. Burden, No.56 Squadron, Valheureux, France, Spring 1918
B. F8146, 27th Aero Squadron, United States, 1922
C. F8953, 2nd Lt. S. C. Elliot, 85th Squadron, Ascq, France, December 1918
D. F8038, 25th Aero Squadron, November 1918
E. C1149, Capt. D. W. Grinnell-Milne, No.56 Squadron, Bethencourt, France,
As weíve seen in a recent Forum post, the configuration and markings for Lt. Burdenís aircraft arenít quite as straightforward as portrayed by Eduard
. Itís well worth reading this detailed discussion on The Aerodrome
The decals themselves are beautiful quality. Theyíre custom printed by Cartograph, so they should behave excellently, and the register is basically perfect on the sample sheet.
new SE.5a is a little gem of a kit and deserves to be a huge success. Itís detailed enough to satisfy advanced modellers, while the precise moulding and fit will be a great help to anyone new to tackling biplanes.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE