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Salmson 2-A2 'USAS'

James H

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1:32 Salmson 2-A2 'USAS'
Wingnut Wings
Catalogue # 32059
Available from Wingnut Wings for $99.00, with FREE Worldwide delivery




Emile Salmson first entered the aviation world by producing licence built aero-engines, and then a few short years later began aircraft design and production. As well as their own design work, Salmson also licence built a number of British biplane types for French use. The Salmson 2, eventually to be known as the 2-A2, was designed to eventually replace one of the licence-built Sopwith machines for which Salmson themselves were building. The new machine was redeveloped, to be powered by Salmson's own 260hp water-cooled radial engine, the 9Z, after initial trials proved quite poor. The resulting machine entered service in 1917, and was also flown by the United States, United States Army. This specific machine is the subject of this in-box review. As well as both US and French service, the Japanese licence built the Salmson as the Type 1 Otsu (Kawasaki-Salmson), and it remained in service with them until the early 1930's.




Wingnut Wings like to deliver surprises to us around this time of year, as our recent AMC DH.9 review showed. The fact they were releasing the Salmson in December was also no secret, but what was a secret was that they intended to actually bring TWO different Salmson kits to market! These are the Salmson 2-A2/Type 1 Otsu, and this previously un-heralded kit, the Salmson 2-A2 'USAS', which was the American-operated version of Emile Salmson's observation aircraft. 


The Salmson 2-A2 'USAS', being a two-seat machine, comes in the same size box as did the Rumpler, Hannover and DH.9 etc, and is absolutely chock-full of plastic. Another beautiful Steve Anderson artwork depicting a Salmson having shot down an Albatros fighter, adorns the lid. A metal gilt trim lines the artwork perimeter. More artwork, this time by Ronny Bar, is provided on the box edges, highlighting the FIVE schemes supplied with this kit.


Before we take a look at the contents of this package, I'll give you some information and statistics supplied to us by Richard Alexander of Wingnut Wings:

  • 163 high quality injection moulded plastic parts
  • 17 part, highly detailed 260hp Salmson 9z water cooled radial engine
  • Optional open or closed radiator shutters
  • Optional Vickers or Marlin machine gun main armament
  • 13 photo-etched metal detail parts
  • 28 page, fully detailed instruction manual
  • 2 high quality Cartograf decal sheets, with markings for 5 USAS aircraft.

Now, onto the plastic itself.





A great model kit should have a great, detailed interior, and Wingnut Wings have never let us down in that respect. This is the sprue where you will find the majority of those internal parts. Whilst the cockpit floor is to be found on a different sprue, the various fuselage formers which slot into this are moulded here. In order to not ruin your modelling enjoyment with ejector pin marks, WNW have created a number of tags protruding from these and other delicate parts. Just snip these away and trim/scrape away the connection point. No need to fill pesky pin marks. Fuselage former detail is excellent, with rigging holes and finely scalloped edges.








The cockpit must've been quite tricky to enter on the real bird, due to the position of the cabane struts. These also extend down to the cockpit floor, becoming a part of the internal structures. This has been recreated by incorporating them into the cockpit sidewall, which extends through to the observers position. These frames incorporate a number of instrumentation units, as well as the fuel pressurizing pump, radiator shutter lever mount, and also some quite intricate plumbing, the latter which is to be further supplemented by the addition of further plumbing.


This is possibly one of the busiest cockpits I've seen in a Wingnut Wing kit, of course by design. Inside the interior, you will install photographic plate storage, trim wheel and bungee cords, fuel and air mixture control, wireless radio unit, battery, signal lamp, and wireless aerial. The forward bulkhead incorporates the rudder pedal foot-well, and main instrument panel, complete with some very fine and sharp detail. Instruments are of course supplied on the decal sheet. Other details here are pulsameter, pump, generator bracket and compass.








Seats for both pilot and observer are broken down into two parts each, with the observer position seat being of the folding type. I'm unsure if you can model the seat in a folded position, but I don't think it would be too difficult. Other cockpit parts to be found here are the two, large self-sealing fuel tanks, rudder pedal unit, control stick, and a 50mm camera to be used with 4 of the FIVE schemes included in this release. Ammunition drums are moulded integrally with their storage housing. Gun mount cupola parts and the undercarriage spreader bar are among a good number of other parts presented on this busy sprue.








A number of non-internal parts can be found here, such as the 9z engine radiator, and also an option for both open and closed radiator shutters. Detail is exceptional and very, fine. I do tend to find that removal of parts with a razor saw is very much the norm for Wingnut Wings kits, due to the extremely fine detail present and the perceived fragility of some parts. The open radiator shutter is a point in case. Anyway, it's good practice to use a razor-saw for part removal! The tail skid and rudder support beam are to be found here too.






And then there were wings. This sprue contains only the four large wing panels for upper and lower wings, minus the ailerons, which WNW have moulded separately. A connecting centre-section for the upper wing, is to be found on a different sprue.








I love the way that Wingnut capture the whole essence of the stick and sting construction of these machines, with delicately reproduced, taught doped fabric, and superbly realistic rib detail. Strut mounting holes are moulded with an internal shape, meaning it's hard to get the wrong strut into the wrong hole. Rigging points are sharply defined too, but may just benefit from a quick twist of a small drill bit, especially if you are using GasPatch turnbuckles to rig your model.





As is just about standard with these releases, 'C' is given over to the clear sprue. This one contains FIVE parts. Two of those are windscreens, whilst the other parts form the pulsameter, wireless unit front section, and finally the lens for the 50mm camera. Clarity of these parts is excellent as always.



SPRUE D (x2)



Most parts for which two exist, are moulded on duplicate sprues. This sprue contains the wheels with their separate outer hub. The outer hub also displays a spoke too! Internally, the tire inflation valve is present. A captive collar is included here to hold the wheels onto the spreader bar axle. Two wheel options are given. These are the standard Palmer tyres and also a weighted Persan Aero Standard type.












Wing struts are also present on this sprue, as are various weapons, for which one isn't scheduled to be used in this release. Strangely, the engine mounting plate, which of course only one is required, is bundled in with 'D'. There are two fuselage interior semi-formers required, with one supplied on each of the 'D' sprues, as is the case with the photographic plates box. Whilst one unit fits to the internal cockpit tub, the other is to be affixed to the port side interior fuselage wall.


Other parts moulded here are what I can only presume are aircraft towing lugs (D6), and also aileron and elevon control horns.






This one really is 'E' for engine, with yet another brand new engine sprue making its debut this month. In this case, it's the Salmson 9z radial engine, and again, it looks like Wingnut Wings nailed it! The cylinder jackets have no cooling fins this time, alleviating an issue for those that try to remove every vestige of the seams. This is quite a complicated looking engine, but not too difficult to assemble by the look of things. All of that complexity can of course be seen if you opt to pose the radiator flap ring in the open position, and also leave off the engine cowls.










This very attractive engine, with copper cylinder cooling jackets, comprises of around SIXTEEN parts, with one 'E' part not for use with this release. That part counts includes the propeller.





Here we have the fuselage halves, amongst other significant parts. The Salmson's fuselage had its fabric doped over a series of full length longitudinal stringers, and again, Wingnut Wings have perfectly depicted this, with a superbly realistic doped fabric finish. Various footholds, access ports and plates are also finely reproduced. Control cable lead-out holes are also moulded pre-opened up, so no need to drill them out. Internally, the stringers are neatly rendered, with gaps at intervals into which the cockpit tub formers will fit. The only ejector pin marks present are placed into an area which won't be seen once all of the internals are installed. You will need to open the position for the 50mm camera, and there are two separate locations, depending on the machine you are modelling. This is made clear in the instruction manual. The location of the wireless aerial tube also varies, and again, you will need to drill out the correct position for your scheme.








The upper decking is moulded as a separate part and incorporates both the pilot and observer positions. A single piece, forward gun decking is included here too. An alternative part is also included, incorporating part of the engine cowl area. This is specifically for use if you want to use the Marlin guns though, and you will need to cut away that cowl portion of this part. You'll need to choose your scheme before you start to build this baby! A small external wind-driven generator is also included for fitting externally. Depending on the scheme, this could be fitted on either port or starboard side, and you'll need to follow the manual to get the position of this right.


The final parts to be included on 'F' are the single piece elevon and rudder. The Salmson, as with the Fokker Eindecker variants, employed a single horizontal tailplane for which the angle of the whole adjusted in order to effect climb and descent etc. It was the same, single piece solution for the rudder, with no vertical tail plane. Again, the stick and tissue representation is excellent.












Now we have the cockpit floor, giving you a good idea about the size of this particular assembly. All ejector pin marks are located on the underside of this, so as not to cause you any extra work. The vast expanse of the floor area is also mostly to be painted in aluminium, with only the rear section in wood. WNW have some great tips for recreating wood grain on their site. For me, I prefer wood grain decal from Uschi van der Rosten.









The ailerons and forward cockpit bulkhead I previously mentioned are included here too, as are the forward cowl ring and wing centre section parts with their curious, extremely taught fabric appearance. With the exception of the undercarriage V struts with their bungee cord gaiter detail, the majority of this sprue is taken over with the various louvred cowl panels. A number of these louvred panels aren't for use on this release, and I think some of them are for use with the Otsu release of this kit.


As with a number of other releases, WNW have moulded these louvres to be hollow, producing a superb and convincing appearance. A further side cowl is included here, with the characteristic bulge for the aircraft generator.









Overall Assessment
As per usual, all detail is exceptional, without exception, and the parts layout has been designed to cause you no issue with ejector pin marks etc. I can't see any sink marks, nor can I see any flash anywhere. I know this is generally expected from a new tooling, but it isn't always the case. The plastic here really is as good as any other WNW release, and more widely, as good as it gets.






A single PE fret is included which contains the seatbelts for the pilot. These come in two versions; the standard 4-point harness and also a waist belt option. The ratchet tilt brackets for the observers MG is here as etched parts too, as are the MG reticules and forward jacket end, rudder support strut bracket, and control cable grommets etc.


I don't think I ever asked this before, but I will now. Just WHY do Wingnut Wings use an elephant to represent the fitting of PE parts? Come on....spill the beans!












THREE decal sheets are given for this USAS release, with the largest one containing pretty much all of the scheme markings in terms of national, squadron and emblems. Stencils and instrument decals are also included. Roundels are split to cater to aileron placement, with rigging points included, helping to locate these precisely. The next sheet contains various manufacturer serials, as well as specific machine markings, whilst the third, smallest sheet contains more Salmson serials.


Printing is by Cartograf, and is suitably thin, with minimal carrier film, authentic and solid colour, and of course, everything is in perfect register.








This manual is a 26 page A4 publication, in WNW's customary satin finish. Starting with a parts map and a rather large paint code guide given for Humbrol and Tamiya, with FS codes included, all constructional images are clearly and beautifully drawn. Newly positioned parts are coloured blue, and complete sections are shown with full colour drawings too, to help the modeller envisage how things should look when complete.


Rigging drawings for both internal and external rig, and the various lines have the diameter of the cord given too. Many period images are given throughout the manual, showing various details, tied into the constructional sequences.






The FIVE schemes for this kit are supplied at the end of the manual, with Ronny Bar profiles. These are provided in side and upper profile, with cutaway sketches included to show specific, smaller detail. The schemes for this release are:

  1. Salmson 2-A2 '24', 1st Aero Sqn, AJ Coyle (1 victory), JW Corley (3 victories), AE Easterbrook (5 victories), October-November 1918.
  2. Salmson 2-A2 1319 '6' 'Old Carolina IV', 12th Aero Sqn, DH Arthur & HT Fleeson (2 victories?), Late 1918.
  3. Salmson 2-A2 '18' (3 victories), 91st Aero Sqn, K Douglass, LC Hammond (1 victory) & AM Seymour, Late 1918.
  4. Salmson 2-A2 '17', 186th Aero Sqn, HC McCaslin, Mid 1919.
  5. Salmson 2-A2 5464 '8', 1st Aero Sqn, WP Erwin (8 victories), AE Easterbrook (5 victories), June 1919.






This is quite an exceptional release. No one expected TWO Salmson kits either. The Salmson might not be the prettiest of airplanes, but it's a very interesting subject, and of course, Wingnut Wings' FIRST French aircraft! If you are a detail freak, then this will really appeal to you. This kit has been designed to be as friendly as possible, and whilst there is plenty of rigging to attend to, it's very easy to install. Now, if you fancied building the French/Japanese variants, then use this review as a guide, and read alongside Martin's review which will be published here on New Year's Eve, hopefully!


VERY highly recommended


James H


Our sincere thanks to Wingnut Wings for the review sample seen here. To purchase directly, click THIS link.


Check out Dave Johnson's finished build of this model here on LSM.



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