July 2014

Sopwith 1½ Strutter

German D-Day Bunker

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Selected WW2 70th Anniversaries this month:

Between 2009 and 2015, I have set myself a general modelling theme based on selected 70th Anniversaries from WW2.

3rd July 1944 - Soviet forces liberate the city of Minsk.

9 Jul - After bitter battles, British & Canadian troops capture the city of Caen.

18 Jul - US Forces capture St Lo.  The British & Canadians launch Operation Goodwood in an attempt to break out of Caen. After 2 days no significant progress has been made and the offensive is halted.

20 Jul - Adolf Hitler survives an assassination attempt by senior German Army Officers.

21 Jul - US Forces land in Guam. Fighting will continue until 10th August.

100th Anniversary of the Royal Naval Air Service

Sopwith Type 9400

Land Clerget Tractor  1½ Strutter

3 Wing, Royal Naval Air Service, Nancy-Ochey, France, October 1916

Eastern Express (Toko) 1/72

On 1 July 1914 the former Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps was established as the Royal Naval Air Service, an integral part of the Military Branch of the Royal Navy.

By the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, the RNAS possessed 93 aircraft, six airships, two balloons and 727 personnel. The RN maintained twelve airship stations around the coast of Britain.  In addition to operating seaplanes, carrier-borne aircraft and other maritime aircraft, land-based RNAS fighter squadrons on the Western Front, along with an independent naval strategic bombing force with large purpose built strategic bombers such as the Handley Page 0/100 and its development, the 0/400.

Toko’s 1½ Strutter kit is very finely moulded with excellent detail. Produced more recently by Eastern Express, it is available in many versions, from the basic two-seat fighter I have used here, through bomber versions and the heavily armed anti-Zeppelin single-seat “comic” fighters.

This version of the kit comes with decals for two RNAS aircraft.  The decals are slightly fragile, but well printed.  Building is straightforward, with good location points for the struts and fit overall is reasonable, although the underfuselage joint is slightly rough.  Rigging is a little “challenging” but not as difficult as I found my Sopwith Triplane to be!   

Perhaps the most impressive part of this kit though is its commendably thin wings, especially the trailing edges. I haven’t seen one on sale for a while, but when I do I fully hope to grab hold of one of the other versions.

Have a look at my "RN Props" pages for details of my other WW1 Naval aircraft models

Type 506/612 FestungPak Field Gun Emplacement

Atlantik Wall, Normandy June 1944.

Amera 1/72

This is a final hangover from last month’s D-Day builds, one that I didn’t quite finish in time.  Abandoned German Bunkers remain a common sight on the beaches of Northern Europe.

Amera Moulding produce this vac-formed generic 1/72 bunker which seems to be modelled on a Pak field gun emplacement although I can’t decide if it is a Type 506 or a Type 612 - or indeed something else altogether.  Nevertheless, it features a typical large rear door to allow fast entry and egress of the field gun, plus a curtain wall to one side of the gun opening.  

Bunkers such as these were placed on the flanks of defended beaches, with the curtain wall providing protection from the opposite side to that covered by the bunker.   Guns used in these bunkers could be 37mm, 75mm or 88mm; I have used a spare 88mm barrel from a long discarded kit!

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Background Image: A ship-based Sopwith 1½ Strutter is launched from a gun turret platform onboard HMAS Australia

For much of the war, the Sopwith aircraft company were contracted to supply the RNAS exclusively. However, Sopwith’s products were so successful, that aircraft were regularly transferred from RNAS stocks to to the Royal Flying Corps.  RNAS fighter squadrons deployed the innovative Sopwith Pup many months before the RFC, then replaced them with the revolutionary Sopwith Triplane (which was not operated by the RFC, but a captured example inspired the famous Fokker Triplane) and then the famous Sopwith Camel.

On 1 April 1918 the RNAS was merged with the RFC to form the Royal Air Force.  Former RNAS squadrons can be identified by their 200 series Squadron numbers (e.g. Naval 8 Sqn became 208 Sqn RAF).

At the time of the merger, the Royal Naval Air Service had 55,066 officers and men, 2,949 aircraft, 103 airships and 126 coastal air stations.  Amongst its numbers, the service included many famous airmen who went on to play a crucial role within the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth Air Forces.

The Sopwith Type 9400 was an innovative two-seat fighter, the first British fighter to be fitted with interruptor gear to allow its gun to fire through the propellor arc.  Powered by a 110 Horsepower Clerget rotary engine, it was widely known as the 1 ½ Strutter because of its short W shaped cabane struts.

The first aircraft reached No 5 Wing RNAS in France in April 1916, with the RFC’s 70 Sqn forming on transferred naval aircraft in July 1916. As well as service as a fighter on the Western Front, RNAS 1½ Strutters also saw service as bombers at sea and in the Aegean and Mediterranean theatres.   

Over 1,500 were built for the RNAS and RFC, but ultimately, the largest user of the 1½ Strutter was the French Air Force, with over 4,500 built.

The aircraft depicted by this model is that flown by Flight Sub-Lieutenant Raymond Collishaw RN as a bomber escort within 3 Naval Wing on the Western Front. Collishaw was a Canadian who became the RNAS’ most successful ace, with over 60 official victories recorded.  However, it is believed that as many as 81 unofficial kills have been attributed to him, which would place him at the top of First World War flying aces, ahead of the "Red Baron" and top official British Empire ace and fellow Canadian, Billy Bishop.