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1/32 Felixstowe F.2a early


JeroenPeters
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1:32 Felixstowe F.2a Early

Wingnut Wings

 

Catalogue # 32050

Available from Wingnut Wings for $269.00 with FREE Worldwide shipping

 

 

felixstowe0.jpg

 

(I had a hard time trying to fit the huge box in one shot. Let alone fitting the sprues in my Photo Booth!)

 

 

Introduction

In this review I would like to focus on the differences between the Felixstowe F.2a early vs. late. For some reason the majority of modelers I know tend to opt for the late version with it’s open cockpit and more streamlined upper deck. A somewhat un-orthodox development, since many planes from this era showed cockpits closing more around the pilot as the years progressed. On the other hand the closed glazed cockpit as featured on the first Curtiss ‘America’ plane (designed to cross the Atlantic) will have lost it’s purpose for protection against the elements with the new role the F.2a got during the war: battling other seaplanes (as the W12 Brandenburg), ships and U-boats.

 

Other modifications between the early and late versions include wooden (ply) or diagonally applied ‘Consuta’ planks at the rear fuselage sides (instead of linen) and balanced ailerons on the later type.

 

What is not included in any version of the early or late is the gunners position on the top wing, between the engines.

 

Some figures between the early and late types:

Wingspan Early: 29,13 meters

Wingspan Late: 29,13 meters or 29,51 meters (longer wing variant)

 

Length of both: 14,1 meters

 

Weight of both: 5216 kg

 

Max speed of both: 156 kph

 

Engines of both: 2x375hp Rolls Royce Eagle VIII

 

Ceiling: 3048 meters

 

So basically the most important / significant reason to either choose for an early or late example is the open or closed cockpit alongside a scheme that appeals to you.

 

Step by step

Following the instructions I’ll make a comparison between the early and late version.

There won’t be many differences between the types, but I would just like to give the modeler some hand-holds in choosing his kit. Especially since the chance of buying more than one of these kits is not likely.

 

Step 1 (Front Cockpit)

The late version offers a seat for the nose gunner. Early does not.

The instrument panel on both early and late are identical. The instruction manual shows a photograph from the RAF technical notes showing an early panel. This photograph is printed in both the early and late instructions. It does state that configurations vary largely between different productions.

 

Step 2 (Rear cockpit)

I could not find any differences here.  The petrol tanks have the same set up on both versions.

 

Step 3 (Hull frames)

This page starts with the assembly of the side armament: Lewis gun. No differences here. The same goes for the hull frames. The text on the bottom of this pages states that there was a remarkable lack of conformity amongst the various F.2a constructors. The large amount of field modifications didn’t add to this.

 

Step 4 (interior)

This is where we spot some differences. The late version offers the 1st pilot a proper seat, whereas the early version only gives the 1st and 2nd pilot a cushion with seatbelts. Other than that: no differences.

 

The next two pages show a painting guide as well as a rigging guide: No differences.

 

Step 5 (Hull)

This is a tricky part. Offcourse the first most obvious difference is the fact that the early version had linen rear fuselage side panels. This can be seen in the painting guide. Internal rigging is the same for both versions. A photo of the inside of a F3 fuselage is shown in both instructions, for lack of F2a reference, but differences would not have been great. It does give the modeler a good idea of the busy rigging inside.

 

It looks like every scheme / production had different placing of the foot and hand holds alongside the forward fuselage. Three different options on the early version. Four in the late.

 

Step 6 (Hull details)

Construction starts with the tip of the nose. No differences here.

The entire coaming of the fuselage is quite different between the early and late version. One higher set coaming is offered on the early version. Ensuring a more streamlined  and higher connection from the glazed enclosed canopy to the back. The late version offers two different lower, flat coamings. One has a round opening for the wireless operator and the other… has not!

 

The underside of the hull is similar between the two versions.

 

Step 7 (Tail planes)

The main parts (rudder, ailerons, control levers) are the same on both versions. The only difference is one of 5 options in the early kit that only has one supporting strut on each side, instead of 2. This is option D. One of 10 built by Harden & May.

 

Step 8 + 9 (Engines)

Absolutely NO differences on the first page of the engine construction, since both version had the same 375hp Rolls Royce Eagle VIII engines.

On the second page of the engine construction, again, photo’s are used for reference of the Felixstowe F3.

 

Step 10 + 11 (Engine bearers & Cabane struts – Centre section)

These two pages / steps are similar for both types. I can really see some added detail for the Bomb racks and engines here brought to us by HGW in the near future.

 

Step 12 (Wings)

Now this is the part I was most intrigued by. The wingspan of this beast is so large, it will be next to impossible to store or transport it properly. So what WNW did was make the outer wings detachable. This means that the attachment point for the rigging between these sections should not overlap. The rigging in the centre section between the engines starts at the next page. Otherwise it would be impossible to properly reach the rigging points in the center.

 

The parts that differ between the early and late version are the smaller balanced ailerons for the late version, and the larger unbalanced ones’ in the early version.

 

Wing floats, navigation lights, control pulleys, stabilizers and struts are all the same between the two versions.

 

Step 13 and 14 (Armament)

The number of Vickers guns is the same between the two version. One double gunned nose position, one central position and one aft.

The instructions for the late version spread this step over two pages. Mainly caused by reference photo’s.

 

Step 15 (Accessories) >> Step 16 for ‘Late Version’

Naturally this section, containing the trestles and trolley show no differences. Next steps are the props. Make sure to put the clockwise propeller starboard side and the counter clockwise propeller port side.

 

One sentence that caught my eye, was WNW warning: “Wings will settle to correct 1 degree dihedral after 7 days!” I guess this is caused by the sheer weight of the wings.

 

Rigging guide

The last and probably most daunting step is the rigging consisting out of control cables, bracing and thicker bracing. The control cables run along the centerline of the wings, over pulleys and are split from one to two cables by little buckles.

Again: I can see no differences in rigging between the two versions.

 

Inside the box:

The box is quite literally filled to the rim with plastic and it’s heavy! I just can’t get over the way Wingnut Wings manages to fill their boxes so efficiently. The pieces that stand out most are the fuselage sides and massive wings. Even when parted in three main sections, these wings are humongous. Ejector pin marks are almost not present or visible and as always hidden in invisible places once the model is finished. Cleanup is kept to a minimum too with no flash or sink marks to be found. The first place I look at for sink marks are the props, but with Wingnut Wings you can just assume there aren’t any. 

 

Hull sprue:

 

felixstowe1.jpg

 

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Upper deck:

 

felixstowe7.jpg

 

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Wing sprue:

 

felixstowe9.jpg

 

Check out the sheer size of the wings alone!!

 

felixstowe11.jpg

 

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felixstowe12.jpg

 

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felixstowe15.jpg

 

Tail plane sprue:

 

felixstowe16.jpg

 

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felixstowe17.jpg

 

Ailerons (very thin and almost translucent!) and hull parts:

 

felixstowe19.jpg

 

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felixstowe21.jpg

 

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Internals:

 

felixstowe27.jpg

 

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Transparent parts:

 

felixstowe33.jpg

 

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Engines:

 

felixstowe35.jpg

 

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felixstowe37.jpg

 

felixstowe38.jpg

 

The decals are of usual high quality. Printed by Cartograf. Perfectly registered. And after having dealt with these decals a couple of times, they settle real well, are thin as can be and provide that almost painted on look. I guess you could be tempted to use masks on a model like this, but you won’t have to do so for a great result.

 

felixstowe39.jpg

 

felixstowe41.jpg

 

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felixstowe44.jpg

 

 

Here are a few pages from the instructions that show a few apparent differences between the two types. Pilot seat, upper deck, cockpit glazing and rear hull:

 

instructions1.jpg

 

instructions2.jpg

 

instructions3.jpg

 

The photo-etch consists out of a single fret, containing the seatbelts, gun sight, cockpit details, gun-mount details and the control-cable splitters.

 

 

Schemes:

 

felixstowe_scheme1.jpg

 

A.

Felixstowe F.2a N4081 ‘C’, Saunders built, 240 Sqn RAF, Calshot, late 1918

This scheme (IMHO) is the most interesting, since it clearly shows the different materials that were used in the Early version. Linen and Ply wood. The contrast between the black hull and nose, really sets it off. One thing I like to avoid are the assumptions. The large letters C on the top wings are assumed to be there, since the C is also visible on the tail and standard painting norm was to repeat this letter on the top, but this is not back up by reference.

 

felixstowe_scheme2.jpg

 

B.

Felixstowe F.2a N4283 ‘2’, Saunders built, GE Livock & R Leckie, Great Yarmouth, April 1918

Again: the dazzle camo we see here is based on reference photo’s for the starboard side, but based on sketches (drawn from memory)  for the port side. What is interesting is that for this plane the pilots and crew is known and also a reported attack on a submarine on may 17th 1918.

 

felixstowe_scheme3.jpg

 

C1 and C1.

Felixstowe F.2a N4291, Saunders built, USNAS, Killingholme, July 1918

This plane started in British service and later served in the USNAS.

If you want to model the earlier service British version, you will have to mainly rely on the reference photo that is depicted on the bottom of the page. It has the lighter unmodified linen sides. The later service USNAS is pretty cool. Again: I would really do my research on this one. It carried spot lamps attached to the outer struts (which are not included as far as I can see and I also saw some discussion on the forum about the exact shade of color that was used for this plane.

 

felixstowe_scheme4.jpg

 

D1 and D2.

Felixstowe F.2a N4510, AMC/May, Harden & May built, RNAS, Felixstowe, March 1918

Another cool example of an early RAF scheme, showing of the natural materials. Ply wood and linen. The struts and floats are clear varnished, which gives you the opportunity to use wood decals and add some life! Also note that this plane had an unusual arrangement of the tail plane struts. The D2 version of this particular scheme has some differences in the nose (a pale area). Probably caused by a repair.

 

felixstowe_scheme5.jpg

 

E.

Felixstowe F.2a N4541, AMC/May, Harden & May built, 232 Sqn RAF, Felixstowe, August 1918

This is a later and rather lively scheme. In other words: you don’t have to go for the ‘Late’ version of the Felixstowe, in order to build a colorful scheme. The dark stripes in the dazzle camouflage are believed to be blue against white with dark green uppersides. Also it is not 100% clear whether the struts were varnished or painted.

 

Felixstowe in Dutch service

While browsing websites in search of information on the Early Felixstowe F.2a I stumbled upon a photo of a Felixstowe with large orange meatballs on the wings. I never knew the Marine Luchvaart Dienst (Dutch Royal Navy) ever flew with these planes! A dutch aviation modellers forum, run by K. W. Jonker has a full page dedicated to these planes. Felixstowe N.4551 and a Curtiss H12 #8689 flew in dutch service. One received dutch registration L1 and the other L2. They didn’t serve long. The Felixstowe (L1) entered service on 04-06-1918 and was decommissioned in December of the same year. It’s base was Mok, on the small Island Texel in the north of the Netherlands. Almost nothing is known of their service record!

 

The Felixstowe on it's ramp on the island Texel:

 

dutch6.jpg

 

dutch5.jpg

 

The (not so) colorful profile...

 

dutch3.png

 

 

Windsock Datafile 82

The final pages if the instruction booklet give us some nice reference photo’s of the Felixstowe. For reference I also have the Windsock datafile #82 by J. M. Bruce.

This gives you an extensive overview of the history of the Felixstowe. From the collaboration of John Cyril Porte with the American Curtiss company, to the Felixstowe F1 and F2a and c.  

 

It also offers scale drawings in 1/48th scale. The only real advantage of these drawings might be the frontal views of the rigging, since the beautifully rendered 3D drawings of Wingnut Wings sometimes confuse me.

 

Conclusion

I don’t think anyone saw this kit coming. When someone on a forum would scream for Wingnut Wings to do a Felixstowe, I thought: ‘Yeah right!’. With a wingspan of almost 1 meter I like that Wingnut Wings came up with detachable wings (even though I still can’t quite see exactly how that will work). The quality of the plastic, detail and huge bag of parts will make up for one EPIC build. The only nit pick I can think of with this subject is the assumption of some colors in the schemes, but this is not something that could have been prevented. Information on colors will always be tricky with WW1 subjects… To be quite honest: I don’t think I ever ‘wanted’ a Felixstowe, because frankly it just isn’t top of mind. This is really a curve ball being thrown at us (quite like the Salmson) that makes us modellers dive into a whole new subject and un-earth new reference material to our hobby. I mean: while reading up on the subject I discovered this plane flew in Dutch colors too. Who’d have thought? I simply can’t do anything else but rate this kit a 9 out of 10. If the schemes included were 100% certain of reference colors, it would have been a 10. But at the same time I know it will always be impossible to dig up lost WW1 knowledge that just doesn’t exist anymore.

 

The only details I know I will add (but I’m not saying it’s a need to have) are HGW seatbelts, Gaspatch guns (I mean just look at this…), Uschi wood decals and some of Bob’s buckles. Wooden props are not needed, since most of the props are painted grey.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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

 

Jeroen Peters

 

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