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Bristol F.2b Fighter Kit

Wingnut Wings 1/32 Bristol F.2b Fighter Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2010 Manufacturer Wingnut Wings
Subject Bristol F.2b Fighter Scale 1/32
Kit Number 32004 Primary Media Styrene/Photo-Etch
Pros Best F.2b kit in any scale Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $79.00

First Look

Bristol F.2b Fighter Kit
Bristol F.2b Fighter Kit
Bristol F.2b Fighter Kit
Bristol F.2b Fighter Kit
Bristol F.2b Fighter Kit
Bristol F.2b Fighter Kit
Bristol F.2b Fighter Kit

The Bristol F.2 design started out as the R.2a reconnaissance aircraft for the Royal Flying Corps with a standard pilot and defense gunner placement for such a mission. When the Rolls Royce Falcon engine was mounted to the firewall however, the R.2a evolved into the F.2a, the Bristol Fighter.

The F.2a first equipped 48 Squadron who didn't think much of the design and considered the F.2a structurally weak. These first crews flew the aircraft with care and the Germans obligingly shot these stable targets down. Eventually crews began to realize that the aircraft was quite strong and began flying the F.2 as a fighter that still had a rear gunner to dissuade any Germans seeking to get a quick kill. Reportedly, in the right hands, the F.2 could turn faster than even the Fokker Dr.1 triplane which wound up being one of the favored targets of F.2 pilots.

The F.2b incorporated additional lessons learned from F.2a combat experience and started entering combat in April 1917. The F.2B retained the Rolls Royce Falcon engine, but could also be powered by the Hispano Suiza and the Sunbeam Arab engines as well. The F.2b was such a successful design that it would remain part of the RFC's fighter force as well of those of the Commonwealth, with the RNZAF being the last to retire the F.2b in 1936.

Wingnut Wings sprung into being a few years ago with a focus on 1/32nd scale aircraft from World War I. The company was founded and operates out of New Zealand and employs a stable of talented designers who develop their model patterns using the same kind of three-dimensional computer modeling capabilities that Boeing uses to design the 777 and the new Dreamliner. Wingnut Wings came on the scene with several kit offerings and these were so well received that the team has kept turning out new subjects. With roughly two years of production behind them, Wingnut Wings has turned out eight kits, impressive for a new hobby company.

While World War I aviation is not usually one of my focus areas, I was impressed with the Bristol F.2b on display at the Royal Air Force Museum (you can see a photo walk around of it here) and HobbyLink Japan was kind enough to send over a sample the F.2b which was Wingnut Wings' fourth release. This is the first time I've seen one of these kits in person. Let's take a look:

If box art can sell a kit, then it is understandable why Wingnut Wings has sold so many kits. Good box art is becoming rare and it is nice to see that this company worries about first impressions even before you open the box. Now when you do open the box, you'll find even more attention to detail as each of the parts trees is carefully packaged to ensure that your model arrives intact. Why is this different? Wingnut Wings sells primarily to the general public directly from their website and only a few retailers (like HobbyLink Japan) carry the product line. So these chaps knew from the beginning that their kits would be traveling globally through the mail and designed their packaging accordingly. Nice!

When you start fondling the plastic, you can see the level of detailing and the advanced molding technologies that go into these kits. Take the wings in the second image for example. Those wings aren't top and bottom halves, the detailing is present on both sides of those wing surfaces, right down to the stitching and rib tape. This is where art meets technology as these chaps have been able to replicate in molded styrene what used to take master modelers a considerable amount of time to produce out of older World War I kits.

According to the specs, this kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees, plus a small set of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched details. In all, there are 174 plastic and 14 photo-etched parts in the box which provide a number of options depending on which aircraft you're modeling.

When you get to the bottom of the box, you get to the instruction 26 page instruction book that uses the same CAD drawings used to design the kit in their step-by-step instructions on how to assemble this kit. These images are side-by-side with color and period black and white photographs of the aircraft in detail to help you see what the results are supposed to look like. Instruction books like this do add cost to a kit, but I wish more model companies would follow the example set by Wingnut Wings to make this hobby easier for newcomers as well as experienced modelers that don't want to squint at a poorly reproduced graphic that doesn't quite show you what you need to know.

There are five different aircraft depicted in this kit, and depending upon which one you choose will help you select the right options to assemble as you move through the project. Some of the features/options in this kit:

  • Incredible detail!
  • Early or late-styled landing gear
  • Optional bomblet racks
  • Separately molded and positionable ailerons
  • Separately molded and positionable elevators
  • Separately molded and positionable rudder
  • Super detailed Rolls Royce engine
  • Open or closed radiator shutters
  • Choice of two or four-bladed propeller
  • Detailed scarf ring with Lewis gun
  • Detailed rigging instructions!

As mentioned above, this kit comes with markings for five different subjects:

  • F.2b, B1112, 'F', 16 and 22 Sgn, 1918
  • F.2b, B1330, '2', 39 Sqn, 1918
  • F.2b, C4619, 'R', 62 Sqn, 1918
  • F.2b, C814, '12', 48 Sqn, 1918
  • F.2b, D8084, 'T', 34 Sqn, 1918

This is a very impressive model straight out of the box and you have some great options available to produce an exquisite model. The Skill Level is listed as experienced due to the photo-etched parts used for the crew restraints and other details, as well as due to the rigging work that many folks will want to perform. Overall, this is a very impressive kit and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this trend-setting company!

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!