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1:32 Felixstowe F.2a Late

James H

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1:32 Felixstowe F.2a Late
Wingnut Wings
Catalogue # 32066
Available from Wingnut Wings for $269.00 with FREE Worldwide shipping





Without a doubt, the Felixstowe F.2a series of flying boats were some of the largest aircraft to be used operationally during the Great War. First flown in 1916, and becoming operational in 1917, this rather imposing looking aircraft was actually a joint Anglo-American project which saw a new hull, designed by John Cyril Porte, being mated to the flying surfaces of the American Curtiss H-12. The hull itself was a large, deep V-shaped format which was constructed from diagonally-laid planking, and formed the basis of sea-going planes for many years to come. This hull itself was also derived from the smaller Felixstowe F.1 series.


Powered by two 375hp Rolls Royce Eagle VIII engines, the Felixstowe F.2a was designed to be a maritime reconnaissance, and anti-submarine/convoy machine, capable of carrying an explosive payload of 460lbs on external stores below the wings. It also had a duration of around 10 hours, which was quite remarkable for the time. The Late version machines had a reworked upper fuselage decking which did away with the closed cabin of the earlier version, and the rear fuselage was also sheeted in plywood, instead of being frame and canvas. Balanced ailerons were also introduced to the machine at the same time. Typically, the F.2a flew with a crew of five, and was defensively armed with five .303 Lewis guns. The 'Felixstowe' name itself was derived from the RNAS Seaplane Experimental Station, based at Felixstowe, in Suffolk, England. Around 175 F.2 machines were built, of which about 100 were the F.2a version.


Felixstowe F.2a, from 'Rise of Flight' simulator.


Well, I'm absolutely, totally and truly gobsmacked. I know Wingnut Wings like to throw surprises at us, but this surprise is in a totally different league. The box is of course bigger than the Gotha G.IV which we have seen, and the wingspan of this is almost 1 metre long! You will need some serious display cabinet space for this. These kits are rightfully described by WNW as being their largest yet, which could open up all sorts of possibilities if they are to tackle other subjects too (Staaken, HP O/400, anyone?). We have had the privilege of taking receipt of both Early and Late versions. Today, I will look at the Late release, while Jeroen Peters will soon publish his look at the 'Early' kit. I still have to say it....er, WOW!!!


Wingnut Wings' own press-shot gives this summary of this specific kit:

  1. 92cm wingspan!
  2. Removable wings for easier storage.
  3. 392 high quality injection moulded plastic parts.
  4. 2 highly detailed Rolls Royce Eagle VIII engines.
  5. Late production or converted open cabins, optional fin tops, rear hull sides and balanced & unbalanced ailerons.
  6. Beaching dolly and trestles for diorama display.
  7. 47 photo-etched metal detail parts.
  8. 36 page fully illustrated instruction manual.
  9. High quality Cartograf decals with markings for 5 spectacular aircraft.

As I have just said, this is a very large box, and if you have a plastic habit, then what you'll see here should provide you with a seriously long-lasting fix. You don't usually associate British aircraft with colourful schemes. It's true to say that we were rather staid, in comparison to the Germans, for instance. However, this box art dispels that notion totally. Some of the larger, and more vulnerable aircraft had disruptive camouflage applied to them, much in the same manner that a number of ships of the time had. Steve Anderson has created a stunning image of a machine operating in a red and white disruptive scheme, having just engaged and destroyed a Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 (which we recently reviewed HERE). Without a doubt, the most imposing release we've yet seen from Fortress Wingnut. Now my hands have stopped shaking, let's look at this release a little more closely.


There are ELEVEN, individually bagged sprues moulded in light grey styrene, and ONE small, clear sprue in this release. Some of those sprues are also VERY large, and with almost 400 parts, you are certainly going to have your work cut out with this project in more ways than one. This kit also contains a single photo-etch fret, and 3 decal sheets of varying sizes. This time though, you will be expected to mask and airbrush those elaborate stripy markings, unlike the decals which were supplied for bands/stripes in the smaller, fighter kit releases. It just isn't realistic to provide them for a bird this size, and it would have pushed the price up further. Having said that, masking the model will be pretty simple, as these schemes aren't at all awkward to realise. Definitely no more difficult than a regular camouflage scheme.


WNW's largest instruction manual is also included here too. We'll look at that more closely in the later stage of this article.






In keeping with previous releases, this sprue contains a good number of internal parts, concerting the rather large cockpit and crew areas of this behemoth. All parts on this sprue are also slated for use with this 'Late' version. We all know that building WW1-era models means that you have to employ a few new tricks to your techniques arsenal, and here you will need to make serious use of whichever method you use for wood-graining. The complicated-looking side wall frames, and the duckboard style crew area floors are the main candidates for this, and impressive they are too. Those sidewalls are provided in halves, such is their size. Other wood grain recipients are the bulkheads, detailed instrument board, sub-deck for fuel tank mounting, alleyway decking which connects the forward crew areas to the rear, and also numerous other structures such as the wireless reel pole and rear spar/engineers instrument board etc.










I've always said that for me personally, the cockpit it probably the most fun and challenging part of a build, and this particular one very much excites me. By no means are all the internal parts moulded on this sprue. The sheer internal detail prevents this.


On this sprue, you will find such parts as the wireless cabinet (with moulded-on waterproof tarpaulin), multipart crew seats, fuel tank stirrup pump (assuming it's not for the bilge), engineers ladder, engine control quadrant, control column ensemble for the dual wheels, fuel pipe runs etc. You will also find the exterior centre section duel strut part, but for this Late version, you will need to cut away some plastic which runs between the struts, leaving only the fuel pipes as the interconnecting detail. Please be careful here, as this part will be very vulnerable until you come to fix it to the model. The frameworks for the wind-driven petrol pumps, and the tail skid are also to be found here.










Detail is outstanding. The floor planking. The instrument board detail (to be supplemented with instrument decals). The side walls. Basically everything. Ejection pin marks are either thoughtfully placed on the rear of the parts, or on small tags which you will snip from the various finer frames etc.


I can tell you that when it comes to internal rigging, this model has plenty. Make sure you stock up on your turnbuckles for this. You will need to rig three separate entities here: engine control cables, ailerons/elevators & rudder cables, and also the structural bracing. To get an idea of just how amazing this interior is, check out this build from Zdenko Bugan. Surely an example of some of the most beautiful internal wooden work I've ever seen.












As you will have read from my introduction, the Late machines had a plywood sheathed rear fuselage. That was a generalisation, and some machines operated with the regular doped linen panels. One of the schemes in this kit will use that particular format, but the others will indeed use the plywood sheathed fuse. WNW has designed this kit to utilise the same basic fuselage main parts, and these rear panels are separate pieces which are included on this sprue. There isn't too much detail here, by design, and again, all ejector pin marks on these large pieces are inside the model, and well out of sight. What raised external detail there is will need to be sanded away.







The other float-shaped parts are actually part of the hull. These form the fine which run along the upper face of the v-shaped hull which is slightly wider than the overall fuse width. There are two options here which have different numbers of timber baton strakes, and one of these will need a baton sanding away too.


If your machine wasn't yet fitted with the balanced ailerons (Schemes A & B, then the unbalanced ones are to be found here. These large pieces have excellent rib and fabric cover representation, and nice clean holes for the rigging levers/horns.


There is only one other part included on this sprue, and that is for the axle on the beaching trolley.





This small sprue contains just FOUR parts. These are for the two windshields that replaced the main canopy of the 'Early' type. Two options are supplied here for either rounded or square windshields. Clarity is excellent, and of course, very little to mask when it comes to painting.


SPRUE D (x2)




These sprues contain a multitude of parts, both external and internal. Within the interior, you will find the petrol tanks and their respective plumbing, ammunition bins and drums as well as the Lewis guns themselves and their mounts, steering wheels, rudder pedals etc. Whilst the various interior areas have quite a reasonable parts count, it isn't too cluttered, and you will be able to see many interior areas and equipment through the various hull openings.










A number of parts here are associated with the Rolls Royce engines, and these are the water cooling plumbing which sits below the engine chassis, elegant four blade propellers, radiators and shutters (superbly moulded open louvre work), oil tanks, and also the inter-wing strut/engine mounting frameworks. I have to single out the design of these as being exceptional. Essentially, they are moulded as port and starboard side which are glued together, along with the oil tank assembly and a spreader bar. The engine simply then sits in this framework, and then the radiators etc. are installed. This is a very clean solution to what could have been a complicated problem. Once installed, the exhaust and water pipes can then be fitted, before the whole assembly is transferred to the model. At this point, it's seriously important that the secondary lower struts from Sprue A are added, to create a sturdy platform for both engines.










Other parts you will see here are the beautifully detailed two part wing tip floats, general wing struts, vertical wing stabiliser, aileron control cable pulleys, Lewis gun scarff ring, bombs and racks and trestle parts for both the aft hull and wingtip floats.


This is a pretty busy sprue which will see personal service throughout the build of the Felixstowe.









SPRUE E (x2)




Two engines means two sprues, and here you will find all parts associated with the common 12-cylinder Rolls Royce Eagle. This engine is a mini-masterpiece with some of the finest detail I've yet seen on a WNW kit. Each cylinder bank is supplied as halves, and these fit to a three part crank case and sump assembly. Those cylinder banks are fitted with separate rocker heads, water pipes and carburettor intake pipes. The latter will connect to the Claudel-Hobson carburettor which fits to both front and rear of the engine.








The Watford magnetos are moulded with their wiring detail, and this will correctly locate to the sockets which fits in between the magnetos. In total, there are around 30 parts to each engine, not including the supplementary fittings which will installed specifically for the Felixstowe.











Another large sprue, but one that contains one of the big events of this kit; the fuselage/hull. You still can't even begin to grasp the sheer size of this model, even with this, as the wings are disproportionately longer than the fuselage/hull of this model. Externally, you can see the rear fuselage recesses into which your preferred choice of plywood or fabric panel will fit, and of course the V-shaped hull and the protruding fin which sits atop it. Upper hull detail is sparse due to the nature of the plywood skinning, but the lower sailing hull exhibits the diagonal planking which was used to construct the vessel. Also note the side openings through which the Lewis gun will protrude. Detail within the hull is sparse due to this being the almost exclusive remit of the cockpit and internals tub that you will insert within. Note the lower wing shoulders that are moulded onto the exterior. This provides a solid and accurate base for this work.










One part on here forms the internal floor area for the bow of the hull. This would've been difficult to achieve any other way, and of course provides a much simpler way of painting and finishing this area. There are two external bow sections to choose from, dependent on scheme, and one of them is included here, again with timber planked external finish. This section is for the converted early production machine.










A monster-sized seaplane needs a monster-sized beaching trolley, and the main components are to be found here. The framework consists of sturdy looking timber frameworks with massive bolt-heads holding the sections together, and also two large duckboard style plates upon which the hull will sit. Again, detail is excellent, and this will look great with some dark weathering and perhaps a little green algae effect paint applied.













For such a large aircraft, the wings had a remarkably narrow chord. Here we see both outer, upper wing panels. At this point it's worth telling you that WNW has designed this model so that both upper and lower panels can be detached, complete with rigging. This of course aids storage and transporation. Rib and fabric representation is very authentic, and strut attachment points are quite deep. As all struts are identical, there's no need to employ the various-shaped holes that we've seen on some WNW releases. To use the balanced aileron option, you will have to slightly shorten the outboard tip slightly. This is clearly seen in the manual.












Other parts on this sprue are for the numerous stabiliser struts.







Now it's the turn of the lower wings. Here we see them moulded with the same finesse as those on Sprue G. Attachment to the hull wing shoulder is via a very solid tab. Those wing shoulder parts are also moulded here. These parts, as well as the centre-upper wing section are moulded as solid, two-piece items for which the only hollow areas are to insert those tabs.















Although not for use, the intriguing thing about this sprue is the single four blade propeller. Perhaps it won't be long before we find out. This sprue mostly concerns itself with the sizeable tail plane. The fin is moulded as a single part, onto which the upper, full span stabiliser slots and is supported by a rigid tab assembly. Each underside wing panel is then glued into position, as well as the rudder. Surface detail is excellent, and this looks to be a straightforward area of assembly.








Two sliding doors are provided for the hull waist gunner positions. Nice to keep you shielded from any inclement sea weather and spray. These have neat internal structural detail.


Lastly, raised sections of the lower hull underside are separately moulded here. I feel these were the reinforced sections that the beaching dolly needed to sit against.











This last plastic sprue contains a large number of key external parts. Firstly, if you choose to model your Felixstowe with balanced ailerons, then you will find them here. On the other hand, if you wish to depict the fabric rear fuselage of the earlier machines, then this insert part is included here too, complete with a subtle fabric weave effect.












A key difference between the early and late machines was the change to the upper fuselage/hull. This sprue supplies both the converted early upper decks which were more or less changed to late production style, and also the actual late production type. These decks were stringer with fabric covering and this is nicely depicted here. Internally, that stringering, along with the frames, is neatly moulded, and ready for your neatest painting attention!


For the late production machine, a new bow is supplied, with subtle changes over the early machine part. For this part, a Lewis gun mounting ring is also supplied. A sliding door for the rear, upper opening is moulded here, applicable to the late production machines. No such luxury for the early converted machine.








Plastic summary
Just perfect. No visible sink marks or other flaw can be seen, and seams are virtually impossible to see. Ejector pin marks are either totally hidden or are situated on small tags which you will snip off the parts. The tiniest bit of flash can just be seen on the odd louvre etc, but nothing too much.






As with all Wingnut Wings kits, metal belts are included for all crew positions, and also the addition of a backrest for the second pilot. This is a bird with a lot of rigging, and some cables pass though the same point. For this, cable brackets are included, helping to keep everything neat and tidy. Other parts on this fret include parts for the Lewis gun mounts, lick plates for the crew steps, gun sight reticules, etc. Production is excellent, as always.







One large and two smaller sheets include all the national markings and machine specific serials that you will need, as well as a full suite of stencils, cockpit instrument decals and various placards etc. Numerous decals for fuel piping are supplied too. Decals are also included for the rudder, although on a machine of this size, I feel quite tempted to actually airbrush this.












Printing is by Cartograf, and is solid, of authentic colour, and has minimal carrier film. They are also nice and thin, as well as having perfect register. As I said earlier, the disruptive camo bars etc. will have to be masked and airbrushed by the builder. There are FIVE schemes supplied, and they are:

  • Felixstowe F.2a N4296, Saunders built, Felixstowe, late 1918.
  • Felixstowe F.2a N4297, Saunders built, Felixstowe, November 1918.
  • Felixstowe F.2a N4545, AMC/May, Harden & May built, 230 Sqn RAF, Felixstowe, August 1918.
  • Felixstowe F.2a N4099, Saunders built, Felixstowe, late 1918.
  • Felixstowe F.2a N4465, Saunders built, Killingholme, late 1918.













Without a doubt, the thickest WNW instruction manual so far, containing 34 pages, printed in high quality on satin paper, and A4 in size. Starting with a little history of the Felixstowe, and then a map of the parts, all constructional sequences are then illustrated in WNW's usual style of quasi-drawn and shaded images which are ultra-easy to follow, and use blue ink to denote newly added parts. Sections are then illustrated in full colour, for your painting reference. Paint codes are supplied for Tamiya and Hunbrol paints, and FS codes are also supplied. For rigging, numerous drawings are provided, showing the various cable runs in different coloured ink. WNW don't supply any turnbuckles, so you will have to provide your own, should you wish touse any.






To help with reference, a good selection of period photographs are also dispersed throughout the manual.

The latter pages are taken over with Ronny Bar's fantastic colour scheme profiles, annotated for decal placement. Historical and colour notation is also supplied.


I'm still in absolute awe of this release. Such an amazingly detailed and graceful looking model which will surely dwarf anything you already have in your collection, perhaps with the exception of an HK Models B-17!! This kit really has it all, and despite hearing a few criticisms of the price when it was announced, I think that in comparison with many current kits, this is very reasonable in its cost. The Felixstowe is certainly a longer term project than any other kit they've released to date, perhaps with the exception of the Gotha. Kudos to WNW too. Who would ever have thought we would see a Felixstowe F.2a in 1:32? Never in a million years........until now!




Unbelievably highly recommended. Just WOW!!!


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


James H




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Question. How are the removable wings supposed to work when there are bracing wires running from the outer wings to the nose?


I'd perhaps do this with a long wire turnbuckle, such as those from Bob von Buckle. Just don't use too much tension to hold it in, and slightly bend the wire when you plug it to the nose.

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