Friday, August 14

Construction Review Pt.I: Wingnut Wings Sopwith Pup “Gnome” in 32nd scale

It was with sad tidings we have now apparently heard the last from Wingnut Wings. However we still have the models - and Andy Moore has finished his Sopwith Pup “Gnome” to an excellent standard, and today he gives us the first part of his build of the kit.

Construction Review: Wingnut Wings Sopwith Pup “Gnome”
Manufacturer – Wingnut Wings
Kit Number - 32055
Scale - 1/32nd
Price (This kit is still available) for £89, ¥11,664, US$117, €98 from Hobby Link Japan
Original Product Link on the Wingnut Wings Website
A daunting prospect...
When I was first asked if I'd like to do a build review of Wingnut Wings new Gnome engined Sopwith Pup release, I was initially a little hesitant. I've seen some amazing builds of WnW kits over the years, but the thought of all that rigging, and a build that was way out of my comfort zone had always put me off attempting one – something that I'm sure quite a few modellers who'd love to try one of these kits can relate to.

In the end, that was exactly what convinced me to say yes to this build – if I could do it, with my zero experience with biplanes and rigging, anyone else could too – at least, that's the plan.

I should also point out, before we get going, that this build was started before the whole COVID situation hit and the subsequent sad news of Wingnut Wings closure. Hopefully, there will be a brighter future for those involved in the company and we'll see these kits become readily available again.
The "Pup"
The Sopwith Pup was a British single-seat fighter built by the Sopwith Aviation Company. First entering service with the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service in 1916, the aircraft proved very successful, displaying pleasant flying characteristics and good manoeuvrability. The Pup was eventually outclassed by newer German fighters, but remained in use on the Western Front until the end of 1917, after which it was relegated to home defence and training duties.
The Kit
First Impressions are good, with the kit coming in the familiar, classy box design used by Wingnut Wings, featuring great artwork by Steve Anderson. 
On opening the box, you'll find two large sprues and four smaller ones in a mid-grey styrene, plus one additional sprue in clear and a small photo-etch sheet. Rounding out the contents are a large and very well printed decal sheet and the instruction manual.
The Build
Unsurprisingly, the build starts off with the cockpit. With a WnW kit, this is a little more involved than an average aircraft build though due to the open framework construction, and the fact that the cockpit forms a focal point on the finished model. The main assembly is formed from a floor panel and the left and right side frames. The frame sections are quite delicate but, fortunately, the parts are so well moulded that virtually no clean-up is required.
Most of the cockpit components will require painting separately before being assembled, but first, the side frames will need drilling to take the rigging. To do this, I simply drilled through the frame at an angle to leave a hole in each internal corner of the frame sections. I've no idea if this is the accustomed or best way of going about this, but it was the most obvious method to me and seemed to work well enough.
While I'd got the drill out, I also opened up the ends of the tubular sections that form the hand grip on the control column. It's only a small addition, but it is noticeable on the finished model due to the open cockpit.
The floor needs to be painted in a clear doped linen finish and, while I've seen some very creative builds that replicate the effect of sunlight passing through the fabric, I stuck with a simpler option. The main colour was a pale cream mixed from AK Real Color shades. A slightly darker tone was sprayed around the edges of the panel to add some subtle shading, although little of this is visible on the finished model.
The side frames require a little more work as they need woodgrain effects to be applied. To begin with, I laid down a light tan base coat, again using AK lacquer paints before switching to acrylics to apply the grain pattern. I know a lot of people use oil paints for this kind of work but I've been cutting down on my use of oils in recent years as the extended drying time leaves the paint delicate and sticky for too long. The grain here was achieved with a dark brown acrylic mixed with glaze medium, which was then painted quite thickly along the frame sections. A small piece of torn sponge was then dragged along the frames, lifting some of the paint and leaving a streaked grain patten.
The frames got a coat of Tamiya clear orange to leave a warm, varnished look to the wood, then a dark brown acrylic was used to add some shading around the joints in the frame, giving a little more definition and sharpness to the sections.
For the framework rigging, I used EZ Line elastic thread, gluing one end into one of the holes I drilled earlier. The thread was then stretched across to the opposite hole and secured with cyanoacrylate which also acted as a filler to plug the drilled hole. The excess thread was then trimmed off, and the paint touched up on the top edge of the frame.
The seat was dealt with next, and this is a very nice moulding featuring a very posh looking buttoned cushion. The two wide harness belts are supplied on the photo-etch fret, and will need to be carefully bent to sit naturally over the seatback.
The easiest way to do this is to anneal the brass by heating the parts in a flame, then allowing them to cool. This process softens the brass allowing the belts to conform the required shape more easily. After shaping over the seat, the belts were removed to be painted separately.
The seat was first painted in a steel colour using Alclad lacquers, then given a coat of chipping fluid before being painted black. After the chipping was carried out, the seat cushion was painted in a dark leather tone, and given some washes and dry brushing to bring out the moulded detail. The harness straps were sprayed in a fabric colour, then the leather and metal sections were picked out by brush. Again, some washes helped highlight the detail.
All the cockpit components painted and laid out ready for final assembly. The instrument panel was painted and wood grained in the same manner as the side frames and finished off with the excellent Cartograf printed decals. The quality of these really is remarkable with the letters and numbers on the dials clearly legible – well, at least if you've got a good magnifying glass.
At this point you can, if you wish, add the control cables that run along the cockpit floor. The instruction manual does provide a diagram showing the arrangement of the cables but, to be honest, it's not all that clear, and the attachment points for them are minuscule. Given that this area of the floor isn't that visible once the seat and control column are installed, I decided not to bother with the cables as the whole process looked way too fiddly for my sausage fingers.
Despite the spindly nature of many of the components, the cockpit goes together very easily so long as you scrape any excess paint off the mating surfaces. There are some alternate parts used in the cockpit, depending on which of the five marking options you choose, so you'll need to pick the particular aircraft you're modelling quite early in the build.
Before installing the cockpit, the inner walls of the fuselage will need painting. I base coated these with the same linen mix I'd previously used for the cockpit floor, then added a wash of Citadel Sepia to highlight the raised wooden ribs. The ribs themselves were then picked out in a wood tone.
With the cockpit installed, the fuselage halves can be closed up and the deck panel that surrounds the cockpit dropped into place. The engineering here was excellent, with everything fitting perfectly and no filler required at any point. Despite the relatively narrow opening around the cockpit, the interior is still quite visible so all your hard work won't be wasted. You can see here that I've already laid down an initial base coat for the wooden deck.
The deck area then had the woodgrain effects applied, again using acrylics mixed with glaze medium as before. Another light coat of Tamiya Clear Orange sealed the paint and gave it the appropriate varnished look, after which the padded surround was brush painted in leather colour.
So, with the cockpit installed and the fuselage closed up, we'll wrap up part one of the build. Coming up in part two, we'll get the build finished and experience the joys of masking (lots and lots of masking). Link for part II.

Andy Moore

Wingnut Wings sent us this kit - so thanks to them for letting us build this up for you to show you more about them. Sales of their kits are now no longer directly from their website as they have closed indefinitely.
You can still purchase these at Hobbylink Japan as well as several other websites
AK Interactive colours and information on their paint can be found on their website