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1:32 Bristol M.1C 'Checkers and stripes'

James H

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1:32 Bristol M.1C 'Checkers and stripes'
Special Hobby
Catalogue # 32060
Available from MPM for 36.45 €






The Bristol M.1C was probably one of the best fighters that the RFC never had. In an age when biplanes were standard, and the monoplane was treated with suspicion, the M.1C was always going to have its work cut out. Monoplanes had actually been banned by the RFC in 1912 following a flying accident, so the fact that the M.1C was designed at all is quite an achievement. Please remember, however, that the Germans had some particularly stunning successes with their Eindecker machines, until the introduction of the DH.9 countered them, followed by later types with forward firing, synchronised guns. Bristol's fighter was quite different in appearance to machines of the day, with streamlining being a key factor in the type's remarkable speed for this time. The fuselage was almost cylindrical, and a large, domed spinner helped to counter any further drag problems. Wing arrangement was also quite unusual, with these being fitted to the shoulder of the fuselage, and braced from a pylon mounted above the fuselage, and also from below. Unlike the German wing-warping monoplane, Bristol fitted ailerons to their machine, making it far more responsive than the former.



Under combat conditions, it was thought to be at least 30mph faster than German fighters. Manoeuvrability was also very respectable too. A 110hp Clerget 9Z rotary engine powered the machine, and armament was provided by the installation of a single forward firing .303 Vickers. First flown in 1916, and introduced in 1917, the life-span of the M.IC was to be short-lived, with only 130 being produced before the project was cancelled. Officially, the reason was due to the landing speed of 49mpg being too high for machines operating from French airfields. Unofficially, it was more likely due to those suspicions that still surrounded the monoplane.


Special Hobby have released TWO versions of this kit simultaneously. Today, we look at the attractive 'Checkers and Stripes' release, and in the next weeks, Jeroen Peters will review the 'Wartime Colours' version. Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen the Bristol M.1C here at LSM. Take a look at the resin kit that we reviewed, from Alley Cat.


The box for this release is quite small, but is certainly packed full of plastic and other stuff. Just be careful with the decal sheet because it's slightly larger than the box, and needs to be packed with a little thought. Thankfully, this is a rigid, top-opening box too, and with some beautiful artwork. You'd be forgiven for not even thinking this machine was from WW1. In fact, in this release, you won't use the Vickers gun at all as all schemes are for unarmed machines. Hardly surprising when you see how colourful they are.


All sprues are packed into the same re-sealable wallet (which never gets my vote!) and also in there is a small zip-lock containing two resin pieces. Thankfully, no damage seems to have occurred to my sample, despite the packing arrangements, and all parts remain on the sprues. There are a total of FOUR sprues, moulded in medium grey plastic. No clear styrene parts here, as the windscreen is included as an acetate part. That printed acetate sheet is placed in a large sleeve with TWO decal sheets and a small fret of photo etch parts.





The fuselage here is traditionally supplies as halves, with some gorgeous external detail. Essentially, the fuse was a traditional former and stringer design, and this has been convincingly portrayed, with fairly sharp edges along the stringers, and no formers of course, as the stringers sat proud from the rest of the construction. Hand/footholds are moulded 'open', but the control cable grommets to the rear of the fuselage will need to be opened up with a small drill bit. The forward fuselage looks excellent with its riveted plates and fabric turnover/stitching. A very finely detailed access panel is also moulded in situ. For some reason, the carburettor openings to the rear of these panels are closed-ended. These will need drilling out for extra realism. A very fine cockpit coaming ring is also moulded in situ.








Internally, a series of formers and stringers provide some cockpit wall detail, which you will see behind the frames of the cockpit tub. An ejector pin mark is evident in roughly the place where the hole will be drilled through, from the carburettor stubs. This may coincide if we're lucky, but usually, the world doesn't work like that. A lack of connecting pins is also apparent, as tends to be the case for short-run kits such as this. Just make sure you get everything properly aligned before you commit to glue.


Stabilisers are moulded separately, as are the ailerons. The former parts are located to the fuselage via small pips. Surface detail perhaps looks a little heavy to me. I'm not sure if cap strips were placed over the ribs inside the tail structures, but that is what the appearance is reminiscent of. It's no deal breaker, and it still looks very good. I would perhaps just reduce this a little with a sanding sponge. The same applies to the vertical fin and separate rudder, also found on this sprue.






Special Hobby have provided the wheels with an integrally moulded inner hub, with very nice spoke detail protruding through the canvas. Internally, they've also moulded a single spoke which will be seen then you look through the tyre filling port in the separate outer cover. This is something that Wingnut Wings have been doing for quite a while, and I imagine is the inspiration for this.


Other parts on this sprue include the two struts for the upper wing rigging pylon, the pilot's seat cushion and also the Vickers gun, alas not used for this model. The studded seat cushion looks very exaggerated, and the large deep stud holes should be reduced a little with some Mr Surfacer, or similar.





Here we find the wings, with their separate ailerons. The surface detail here is very similar to that of the tail, and alternate ribs seem to have that capping strip. As those between don't, I'm assuming that is intentional and correct. I don't have any real reference material for the M.1C to verify or deny this. Surface detail is very good, either way, and the wings are moulded with the rigging cord shrouds in place. You will need to drill these out as there are no rigging holes provided at all. Other detail is good, such as the downwards-viewing ports, and the metal plating at the wing root.






The ailerons contain the same surface detail, and will require a little clean-up of excess plastic along their connecting face. A number of hinges seem to be represented here. They can't be locating pips as the wing has no sockets for them.





I think Special Hobby did a great job with the Clerget engine in this release. The engine is constructed from forward and rear halves, and separate end caps/rockers are supplied. Detail far surpasses what I have seen on many short-run kits. Some of the crankcase bolt detail might be a little soft in places, but this is made up for by the very sharply defined cooling fins. Again, no locating pins are provided, so you'll need to carefully align the halves. Induction piping is supplied as a separate ring, as are the nine pushrods. There are a few seams evident on the pushrods, and you'll need to par these down. Also separately moulded is the ignition line insulating ring which sits at the rear of the engine. You will of course need some fine wire to rig these to the spark plugs. The plus, moulded to the main engine parts, are a little crude. You could possibly find something useable in the Taurus Models range of resin sparkplugs.












Where I think a little PE could have been well-used if the prop hub. The prop itself is very nice, with sharp edges. A little tidying up should be done here, but the hub detail is quite soft. Despite that huge spinner, you will see the hub through the central hole. That spinner is provided here as the main forward section and a framework back plate onto which you'll install a couple of fillets and some PE finishing strips to the prop opening.


The cowl is a very simple affair, and is thinly moulded. Other parts on this sprue include the Vickers MG blanking plate, fuel filler port, windscreen head padding and two, as of yet, unidentified parts for which I can only presume aren't for this specific release.





This is the smallest of the sprues, but contains a wealth of parts; mostly aimed at the cockpit. There is a distinct feeling that sprue looks to be of a higher quality that usual short-run kits, with the plastic having a different finish, and nice, neat sprue gate attachments. That cockpit is based around two frame sidewalls, a forward engine bay firewall, and a couple of framed to the rear; one of which incorporates the visible face of the main fuel tank. In the Alley Cat kit, this tank was a complete unit, as it can be seen extending through the holes in the cockpit framework.








The cockpit is superbly detailed, and one of the best I've seen, outside of Wingnut Wings. A highlight for me is the great looking cockpit floor. A real pity you'll not see most of this through the small coaming aperture. Instrument panels in the M.1C are spread around the pilot, and include a couple of forward facing instruments and other which are situated on a side console. All of these finely moulded parts have blank faces for you to insert the instrument decals which are supplied. Rudder pedal bar, control stick, fuel pressurisation pump all look very good, with perhaps just a little extra plumbing needed to compliment everything. A number of other semi-formers etc are included, and what appears to be a carburettor, but if so, this should have longer tubes which meet up with those on the exterior fuselage. An easy fix.






A resin seat is included, and we'll look at that soon. A number of cockpit parts will be included from the PE sheet, and again, that will be in a few moments.


You will need to rig the cockpit, but this is very easy as the cables connection can be hidden in the area outside of the cockpit tub, between this and the side walls. A drawing is supplied showing rigging, and you'll be pleased to know that PE turnbuckles are also supplied for the purpose.


Oddly enough, another set of pushrods are included here, and slated for use. I can't understand why those exist on the previous sprue. Other parts to be found here are the tail skid, undercarriage V struts and the 2 spreader bars and axle.


Plastic Summary.
There isn't really anything I can fault here. Yes, there's a little flash and a few seams, but that's to be expected with short-run kits. Detail is generally superb, and there is plenty of it too. I can't see any defects anywhere, such as sink marks, and there are only two ejector pin marks which may need a little removal. There is a little mould release agent visible on some of the parts across a couple of sprues, so if you get this, it would be prudent to wash the sprues in mild detergent before you do any work.








Just two resin parts are included here, and one of these is for the pilot's wicker seat. I'm pleased Special Hobby took this approach as the seat is the one part you're really guaranteed to see in the cockpit. This simply couldn't have been replicated by injection moulding. You'll need to take care to remove this pale grey part from the casting block, but that block has been designed to be easy to remove. The other resin part is a finely cast propeller for what is either a wind generated turbine or a wind-driven fuel pressure pump.





This small PE fret contains MANY parts! There are those cockpit items, as well as a framework for the acetate windscreen, and also seatbelts and control horns etc. The real work here are the many, tiny turnbuckles, both single and double-ended. Quality is also very good, and small connector points mean the parts will be easy to remove.









Both decal sheets are printed in the Czech Republic, by Aviprint, and in all, they appear to be very good. Printing is thin, colour is solid, and there is minimal carrier film. Everything is also in perfect register. The largest sheet contains the national markings as well as personal machine emblems etc. The stripes for the spinner and cowl (one machine) are supplied here too, as are a few stencils and those instrument decals. I don't particularly like the instrument decals here, as they look crude. I would replace these with some from the Airscale range. Roundels have holes in them to locate rigging points, and the aileron portions are separate too.






That second decal sheet is far more entertaining though, as it contains the ENTIRE checker pattern for the fuselage! No mean feat! Stripes are also included for the tail plane.

There are FOUR schemes included. These are:

  • Bristol M.1C, C4995, No.2 Fighting School, Marske Airbase, 1918
  • Bristol M.1C, C4994, No.2 Fighting School, Marske Airbase, 1918
  • Bristol M.1C, C5017, No.1 School of Aerial Fighting, Turnberry Airbase, 1918
  • Bristol M.1C, C5017, South Eastern Area Flying Instructors School, Shoreham Airbase, 1918










This is quite an attractive, glossy 16 page A5 booklet, with superbly clear drawings for assembly. Parts are also shown in coloured ink, with Gunze paint codes supplied. Where a PE or resin part is required, all is easy to reference. You should have no problems here. Colour profiles are supplied in the rear of the book, for each scheme, plus of course, that rigging drawing. Ignore the title on the front of the manual, where is says 'Wartime Colours', instead of the 'Checkers and Stripes' which is this release.


In all, a very attractive and highly detailed package which will produce a beautiful replica of this mostly-forgotten about machine. Whilst the PE turnbuckles might tie you in knots, there's nothing here which can really be criticised. How often do you see those included in a kit? Exactly! Price-wise, this is also hard to beat, and gives us a WW1 model that many beginners to the genre can now build.


Highly recommended


My sincere thanks to Special Hobby for this review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.

James H




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