My wife occasionally sees an aeroplane that catches her attention. Some time ago, it was a biplane, a red biplane. I made a promise to build it for her and the following is the fulfilment of that promise.
Biplanes have always filled me with some level of trepedation; th rigging, the alignment, the open cockpit all lead to levels of detail and flat-out fiddliness that isn’t my forte. I like weathering and texture, biplanes are about fine detail and accurate assembly.
This particular biplane belonged to Lt. Duncan Grinnell-Milne of No. 16 Squadron RFC. He had an adventurous war which included scoring several kills before he was forced down behind the German lines and captured. He was listed as “missing” on 2 December 1915 eventually being reported a prisoner of war in early January 1916. Two years later he escaped, made his way back to England and saw action again in the latter half of 1918. “Scheinhund” was DGM’s SEa5 at the end of the war. According to his autobiography, there were three “Scheinhund” and I chose to model the third which was known to be painted red, though whether the “III” was present is unlikely – I chose some artistic license there.
Building a 1/32 Scale Biplane
The following pictorial is a visual storyboard of my build, if you are interested in reading the build as it unfolded, the full build diary is logged in the Britmodeller Aircraft WIP Section.
This is a very easy kit to assemble. I found the fit to be vey good, the engineering such that it lead to an intuitive build, and the resulting airframe to look the part. The engine is very detailed considering it can’t be seen in the finished model, but it is necessary nonetheless because the rocker covers are visible, and the exhausts attach to them.
I put a bit of effort into the cockpit as it’s quite open – or appeared to be. As it turned out, when everything was closed up there wasn’t much visible.
The colour scheme is a simple one; red fuselage, PC10 for the top sides of the wings (a green colour that elicites much debate as to its exact shade which can apparently run from a green-brown to olive green) and linen dope for the underside of the wings.
I put a bit of effort into painting the propeller and was very happy with how it came out.
The markings were derived form the kit instructions and the above photo. I designed the masks and cut on the Silhouette cutter.
It was at this point I learned that the PC10 wrapped around the wings so I needed to mask and paint that.
I used fine elasticated line for the rigging. Working methodically began with the tail and the attached all of the ing lines to the upper wing before attaching that to the struts. The top wing was then attached to the struts (which required a little pressure to align correctly) and then I methodically attached each line to its correct placement.
I used aftermarket scale shackles for the attachment but this actually incorrect for the SEa5 as it used profiled rigging wires which did not use tensioning shackles.
It wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be! I actually enjoyed this much more than I though I would. The rigging wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, and the overall result far exceeded my expectations. I wouldn’t call my self a convert to WW1 or biplanes, but I will build more, that’s for sure.
References and Sources
Aside from the included contemporary photo my only reference was the Wikipedia article linked below. I was also the beneficiary of some great advice and assistance from a few individuals on the forums at Britmodeller.com
If you are interested in following the build as it unfolded, the full build diary is logged in the Britmodeller Aircraft WIP Section.
This article, its text, and photos of the model is my original work and is protected by copyright in its entirety, except where noted. All research sources are listed in the References and Credits section above, including photos from official sources. All other images and quoted content were sourced from the internet and are used here under protection of fair-use. Any copyrighted content will be happily removed and/or credited forthwith upon request by its rightful owner.