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1:32 Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 Early

James H

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1:32 Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 Early
Wingnut Wings
Catalogue # 32036
Available from Wingnut Wings for $99.00, with FREE worldwide delivery






Perhaps the Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 isn't a type you're familiar with. That's ok. We mostly tend to preoccupy ourselves with the Camels, Fokkers and Albatros aircraft of The Great War. That's quite a shame really, as taking that path of interest means that you'll miss uncovering some real gems, when it comes to specific aircraft types. Some of those are also quite significant. The W.12 is one such machine, designed by Ernst Heinkel as a fighter floatplane. Whilst looking relatively ungainly, the W.12 was a highly successful type, engaging enemy flying boats, and also airships. Carrying 2 crew and with an armament of 1 IMG08 'Spandau' (occasionally fitted with two), and a cupola-mounted LMG12 Parabellum for the rear observer/gunner, this 150hp Benz Bz.III powered machine was first flown in early 1917, and operated on the Western Front, based at Ostend and Zeebrugge.




Unusually for this a biplane, there was very little rigging. The float strut arrangement provided an immense amount of lower wing support, with only inter-strut brace wires being used. The tail was also inverted, allowing the gunner a pretty unrestricted field of fire. The later W.29 monoplane was designed to replace the W.12, but the W.12 stayed in service up until the Armistice. A W.12 which landed in neutral Netherlands, was licence built after the war, and continued in service with the Dutch until 1933


Well, it's that time of year again folks: the annual Wingnut Wings Christmas surprise! This time, I'm sure they will have really pleased a lot of modellers. Now that the Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 is sadly now out of production, we have the option of building its predecessor, the W.12. This is one of WNW's larger boxed kits, being from their $99.00 range. Looking at the superb Steve Anderson box art, you may be left wondering if WNW intend to follow this up some day with the Felixstowe flying boat too. That would indeed be a behemoth, and we will indeed get to see this in kit form due to an announce that's been seen online over this weekend. This deep box is crammed full of plastic. There are NINE grey styrene sprues in this release, TWO decal sheets. Lastly, a beautiful construction manual will guide you through the build.

So, generally, what does this kit offer? This is from the press shot that Wingnut Wings sent to me.

  • Early production W.12, featuring short fuselage, and top wing ailerons only
  • 216 high quality injection moulded parts
  • Highly detailed Benz Bz.III engine
  • Optional 2 & 3 gun armament, windscreens, exhaust manifolds and propellers
  • Optional small and large top wing centre section cut-outs
  • Beaching dollies and trestles for diorama display
  • 11 photo etch metal detail parts, including LMG14 Parabellum and IMG08 Spandau machine gun jackets
  • 28 page fully illustrated instruction manual
  • 2 high quality Cartograf decal sheets with naval hexagon camouflage and markings for FIVE aircraft.

Diving into those sprues....






Another tradition for WNW releases is that the first sprue tends to contain a majority of the cockpit and interior parts. This is no different. It's very common for WNW kits to have their cockpits built around a tub, consisting of side frames and bulkheads etc, and this is no different. The very nature of the best dictates that the cockpits of these early machines will sport timber frameworks, usually skinned over with a tautened fabric or plywood, and WNW really excel in their reproduction of this key, open area. Being a two seat machine, there is plenty of detail to play with here, including a floor with an integral tank which supports the pilot seat, camera, ammunition stowage, map board and map stowage cases, fuel pressurising pump, steering column with wheel grip etc. There don't appear to be as many parts within the interior, as I have seen on many of their kits, but that only looks like an engineering quirk, as the crew positions are superbly detailed, and will offer much to see on inspection. Those sidewall frames are exquisite, showing the characteristic hump which gave rise to the type's German nickname of 'Kamel'. In order to reduce the impact on ejector pin marks, a number of minor sprues are moulded between the frames, acting as the ejection point. You'll need to take care that you remove all of these and not mistakenly leave any behind. Aiding construction further, these frames are moulded with an angled strut to support the upper wing.










Of course, photo etch parts will supplement the interior, such as the two sets of seatbelts, and the bracket which holds the vertical control stick to the torsion bar. Rigging within this office isn't too difficult either, with just control wires needing adding. No frame bracing required. Along with the small amount of external rig, this kit just has to look attractive to someone who may want to build a bipe for the first time.


As this model can be fitted with either one or two forward firing Spandau guns, the ammunition bin will need to have one bin cut away, if you decide to use the single forward gun option.








There is an exhaust option on this sprue (one of two in the kit), and the outlet is moulded is a separate part, allowing a fully hollow end. I do suggest thinning the plastic even further here, despite how good the parts actually are.


Lastly, you will also fine the ailerons and single piece elevator on this sprue. These are so beautifully delicate looking, with very fine trailing edges and what appears to be strips similar to the bamboo on the Eindecker wings, which cap all of the ribs on these parts. This is refined moulding at its very best.














Just the wings here, but immaculately reproduced. Despite being quite broad in chord, the wings are also quite delicate in appearance, being relatively thin, with a graceful under-camber. Rib and fabric detail is excellent, with a nice thin, gently scalloped trailing edge, and subtle rib capping detail. Metal walkway plates exist on the lower inboard edges, as well as a lower wing compass which is superbly rendered. Underneath the lower wing panels, access plates are neatly moulded, and wing/float strut points are all very positive, as are the rigging points.












Whilst the lower wings are moulded as port and starboard, the upper wing is moulded in the same fashion, but without a centre section. The W.12 was known to have had the cutaway in the trailing edge, enlarged in some cases, and as WNW are depicting machines with regular cutaway and modified, this centre section provides those alternative parts.






This clear sprue contains EIGHT parts, including the observers lower fuse window and plate between the crew positions, panel lighting windows in fuselage side, two styles of windscreen, and the pilots lower view window panel. Clarity is excellent as you would imagine, with neat framing and fastener detail.



SPRUE D (x2)



Look carefully, and you'll notice this sprue is actually from the W.29 kit, as it contains a number of similar parts. Being a shared sprue, there are a number of parts here for the W.29, that simply won't be used on this release. There are no parts here which will fit to the airframe. Instead, we have beaching dollies with wheels, for the underside of the floats, two trestles for the front of the floats, and a larger, tall trestle to support the tail section. There is also what appears to be a flare rack, also included here.














Again, 'E' is for engine, and the rather dainty 150hp Benz Bz.III is what you'll find here, along with the propeller. There are actually 3 props to be found here, but only one for use with this aircraft. There are also a large number of other parts which aren't for use, including the rear gun mounting ring etc. These were parts which applied to the previous W.29 release.












The Benz B.III isn't as complicated an engine as the Mercedes, which was favoured for many fighters, and as a result, there aren't as many parts. Although one cylinder head part is shown as not for use, it provides an alternative for the modeller who doesn't want the part with moulded pushrods. Detail throughout is excellent, including the separate spring and rocker arm covers.






You really know you're dealing with a sea plane when you see this sprue. The real clue are the rather large and cumbersome-looking floats. Each float comprises a hull and an upper deck. The stepped hull has finely moulded strakes to aid steering and control whilst travelling along the surface of water, and the upper strakes/grips on the upper, as well as some cap detail.














The remainder of the parts are taken with the substantial struts and inter-struts which secure the floats to the fuselage, and also outwards to the underside of the wings. I have a feeling this will be a very robust construction when completed.


The strut system has been designed to have minimal parts, retaining a robust construction, with hefty and positive points which anchor to the floats. You really should have no worries with construction here.






This rather simple sprue concerns itself only with the Parabellum installation, and not all parts here are to be used. Out of the various weapons on here, only one Parabellum type is to be used, and you have the option of a moulded cooling jacket, or a gun where you can install the photo etch jacket. To help with the latter, you are supplied with a plastic former around which you'll wrap the PE parts, allowing you to achieve the correct diameter. Ammo drums and feeds are also included here.










This the first sprue I have seen which is specifically labelled as 'W.12 Early'. I imagine the instrument board is different on the later machines, as this is where you'll find that very part, complete with reverse detail and parts. Engine cowls are also found here too. The port side panel is integral to the fuselage, but the starboard panel is here, complete with the finest set of open louvres I think I've ever seen. Quite amazing. The forward cowl is moulded with the integral car-type radiator which sits atop the prop shaft (as per the Fokker D.VII). Mesh detail is very good, and I can't really see a need to replace it with aftermarket. For inside the engine bay, the engine bearer mount is moulded here too.








You can't help but notice the unusual tail arrangement on this bird, and this sprue contains the horizontal stabiliser, and the low-hanging rudder. Whilst the rudder contains the same detail and finesse as the other control surfaces, I'm sure the stabiliser was sheeted and as a result is plain, except for the elevator hinge detail.










In the spirit of choice, both Spandau cheek guns are supplied here, and in the regular 'simple' format, and in one which allows you to add the PE cooling jackets. These guns are pre-moulded to the fuselage cheeks, for easy installation. Other parts on this sprue are the inter-wing struts, and cockpit doors, alternative exhaust manifold, upper wing cabane V strut etc.






Both fuselage halves are moulded here, full length. It's now that you actually see what a relatively small aircraft the W.12 was, with a wingspan itself, around the same as that of a Spitfire. Those fuselage parts are beautiful to look at, with the plain, slab sides being punctuated with access ports, foot holds, control cable exit points and various small brackets and plates. Unlike some WNW kits, the upper deck is also moulded to the halves, and not supplied as a separate insert with the cockpit and rear gunner position/cupola. The pilot's position has a very convincing leather edging to the opening. The port side is moulded with its engine cowl in situ, and both halves also display some beautiful, filigree louvre detail.










Internally, there isn't really too much to see, as the detail relies on the internal cockpit tub. The engine bay does have a channel moulded into the cowl, allowing for correct alignment of the upper wing strut.

Lastly, there are two options here for the upper wing centre section, both incorporating a different size scallop cut-out. Both parts do contain a little of the underside, trailing edge detail, linking into the upper wing panel parts. I don't know how visible that lengthways seam will look. I have to believe that WNW's ingenuity means it will be pretty invisible.



Plastic summary
I can't pick bones in anything I've seen here. Moulding is first rate, with ejector pin marks either being located external to parts, or within areas which won't be seen. If there is any flash, it's virtually impossible to see, and seam lines are so minimal as not to be a problem. It goes without saying that there are also no other mould defects, such as sink marks.






A single PE fret is included, which contains both sets of seatbelts, the control column bracket and chain, machine gun cooling jackets and gun sight reticules. Etch is sharply and precisely manufactured, with nice, small tags to remove the parts.










This is another one for those of you who love lozenge decal. All upper surfaces displayed lozenge, whilst all lower surfaces were painted. The lozenge is of course of the hexagonal naval type, and looks very attractive. All wing and tail panels are supplied as one part, with holes cut out for the compass, struts, rigging points, and filler caps for the floats. There is so much lozenge decal that an entire sheet is taken up with it! There are some scrap colour panels too, which will help if you destroy any loz detail. A couple of maps are also supplied for the observer/gunner map table.










The second sheet contains the various national markings, serious, badges and stripes etc, as well as a full suite of stencils and also cockpit instrument dials too.

Decals are printed by Cartograf, and as you will imagine, they are thin, have minimal carrier film solid colours, and are in perfect register. You can want for nothing more, except for a few serious hours in which to add them all!

The FIVE schemes available here are:

  • Hansa-Brandenburg W.12, 1184, C3MG, Fl.Mt. Urban, Lt. Erhardt, C-Staffel, Zeebrugge, December 1917
  • Hansa-Brandenburg W.12, 1395, C2MG, C-Staffel, Zeebrugge, late 1917 to early 1918
  • Hansa-Brandenburg W.12, 1401, C2MG, Sylt, mid 1918
  • Hansa-Brandenburg W.12, 1407, C2MG, Norderney, July 1918
  • Hansa-Brandenburg W.12, 1410, C2MG, Zeebrugge, February 1918











WNW manuals are consistently high class, high standard and highly informative. This 28 page, glossy production shows all constructional images as being almost hand-drawn and shaded. Blue ink is used to signify newly attached parts, and full colour illustrations exist for completed areas. Colour paint codes are used throughout, giving reference to Tamiya and Humbrol, with FS codes thrown in for good measure.






You really can't go wrong with a WNW manual. They are easy to follow, and like others, this one has a selection of period images thrown in for good measure (and reference!). Internal rigging drawings are supplied, as are external drawings.


The rear of the manual is given over to the five beautiful Ronny Bar profiles, accompanied with a few technical notes and colour scheme remarks. I wish I could buy prints of some of this work.


Was this Christmas's surprise worth waiting for? In my opinion, that's a resounding YES. I think the floatplanes are very attractive and provide the modeller with type of model which isn't usually seen on the club stand or model show. They are certainly in a tiny minority. Wingnut Wings have carried this kit off with aplomb, and if you've never built a biplane before, I strongly feel that this is one you could tackle very easily. Special kudos needs to go to Darren Mildenhall for his technical expertise with this great kit. The design is robust and fool-proof, and rigging is very simple. With all that lozenge, these are going to look gorgeous when they begin to roll off the plastic production line.








VERY highly recommended


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

James H





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