Tuesday, July 11

Preview: A Sopwith 1½ Strutter & a Ludewig "Aero" - Roden's two new releases of August...

Roden have two new interesting kits for sale next month that hark back to the earlier days of last century. a WWI-era Strutter in 32nd & a military version of the beautiful Opel Blitzbus Ludewig "Aero". See more about them and the kits in our preview...

Preview: A  Sopwith 1½ Strutter & a Ludewig "Aero" - Roden's two new releases of August...

Roden have sent news of two of their new releases, Kit #823 - the Opel Blitzbus Ludewig "Aero" in 1/35th scale and the #637 Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter Comic Fighter in 1/32nd scale. We have a look at them both in our preview...

Opel Blitzbus Ludewig "Aero"
From Roden
Kit No #823
1/35th Scale
At the beginning of the 1930's Germany gradually recovered after the protracted economic depression caused by the aftermath of WWI and the stormy political events of the Twenties. The rise of Adolf Hitler, who set out the goal of renewing the political role and importance of Germany, which it had had before the Great War, became the spur for a rapid growth in diverse sectors of industry, including the automobile industry. However, Germany, although the motherland of the automobile as such, had allowed other countries to take up the leadership of the motor industry during the early years of the 20th Century; first of all France and England, and these countries had become the trendsetters in motor vehicle development.
The elegant contours of the VW Beetle inspired a real boom among German auto designers. Cars of previous years had a body of distinct and separate forms, amongst which were distinguished a hood, rear body, boot, etc. Now a preference was given to the construction of cutting edge aerodynamic forms, and soon these new features were widespread not only on automobiles but also on trucks, buses and even passenger-trains.
The small truck body workshop of Ludewig Brothers in the German city of Essen had been installing bodies of their own design on the chassis base of trucks from the leading German motor manufacturers for some years. In the 1930's the Ludewig firm cooperated especially closely with the Opel business concern. After the appearance of the Opel Blitz three ton truck the Ludewig Brothers workshop developed a few new conceptual bodies for this vehicle. One of them was a bus with a new body of streamlined and rounded form.
The style of the radiator grille was unusual - the Ludewig studio designers deviated from the traditional Opel shape, as generally seen on trucks and other buses, and created a new, rounded form for the front of the body. The engine cowling was rather elegantly combined with the rounded-off wings over the forward wheels. In the rear part of the body there was an aerodynamic crest reminiscent of the fin of a huge fish.
The salon also differed from the studio's previous seating configuration - in the first salon, the passenger chairs were arranged at an angle of 45 degrees to the windows for the best view; and the second salon's passengers sat on sofa-like chairs like those found in the receptions of establishments. This bus was made by the Ludewig studio in individual units, because mass production was rather expensive, even in those times. However, after the beginning of the Second World War at least one of these cars was mobilized in the ranks of the Wehrmacht, repainted in military 'panzergrau' color, and it took part in the fighting of the early years of the conflict as an officers' transport.
After the beginning of the Second World War at least one such car was requisitioned by the army and was used on the Eastern Front as a transport for Wehrmacht officers.

Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter Comic Fighter,
From Roden
Kit No #637
1/32nd scale
The Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter Comic Fighter - night fighter-interceptor, converted from the standard two-seat 11/2 Strutter. A very limited number of this version served in the British Home Defence units, fighting against German raiders (Gotha bombers and R-planes) during late 1917 - early 1918. The reason for early withdrawal of this type from service was poor performance.
Since September 1917 German bomber aviation had revised its plan of air campaign against the British Isles: after eight daylight raids the losses of important strategic bombers were too high, therefore, the decision was made to conduct all forthcoming raids only at night. At that point the newly created British Home Defence did not have a dedicated type of fighter interceptor. The majority of planes serving in Home Defence were fighters retired from the front line - a few two-seater Sopwith 1½ Strutter fighters among them.
Captain F.W. Honnett, Flight Commander of "A" Flight No. 78 Sqn (HD) RFC, suggested a modification of one of the 1½ Strutters by moving the pilot's seat and all the controls into the observer's position, his argument being poor visibility from the regular pilot's seat. The original pilot's position was faired over, and the plane was equipped with a night searchlight.
The first three 1½ Strutters modified to the new standard by the Southern Aircraft Repair Depot joined 78 Sqn in September 1917. During the night raid over London on the night of October 31st/November 1st 1917 they opposed twenty-two enemy Gothas. 78 Sqn pilots dubbed this unusual plane the 'Comic fighter'. Initially the armament of this aircraft consisted of only a single course Vickers gun; later Comics were equipped with a Lewis gun on a flexible Foster mounting. It should be also mentioned that at least one aircraft, namely B762, had two Lewis guns on a special fixed mounting and could fire at a 70° angle.
1½ Strutter Comics were intensively used by 78 Sqn until February 1918, flying night intercept missions against Gothas and Giant R-planes. Due to the poor performance of this type, it was never put into series production. At the beginning of 1918 the night fighter version of the famous Sopwith Camel (which ironically received the official name Sopwith Comic) replaced the 1½ Strutter Comic and other obsolete night-fighters in many Home Defence units.
You can find out more about Roden's kits on their website