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Comparing Hobbycraft's 1/32 scale
Sopwith Camels

by Burl Burlingame



Hobbycraft's 1/32 scale Sopwith Camel is available online from Squadron




The lads at Canada's HobbyCraft have been busily beavering away, all the while keeping their light under a basket. Quietly, the molds for their 1/32 Sopwith Camel kit were modified and recut, resulting in a much-improved product.

Now, the old 1/32 Camel was okay. Nothing spectacular, but it captured the shape of the Camel in reasonable fashion. The individual details were often suspect or just plain odd - what was with those needle-sharp control arms, or the bizarre cross-hatching inside the Vickers "hump"? - but the main hit on the bird was the overemphasized wing ribbing, which even extended to the lower surfaces. A lot of sandpaper was expended on this kit to make it semi-accurate.



Comparing Camels


The new kit comes in one of those marvelous super-stout boxes HobbyCraft is currently using, with color details printed on the bottom bin. It is slightly larger than the original kit box, and comes in two flavors, Clerget and LeRhone. Each comes with a rather uninspired, fuzzy, pixelish rendering of a flying Camel splashed across the lid.

Inside is a treat - we discover that the kit has been completely redesigned and engineered. After checking, it seems that no part has escaped reshaping, and each sprue tree comes separately bagged to prevent scratching.



The basic construction sequence and parts layout remain roughly the same. The Clerget and LeRhone editions are catered with different engine parts and cowls. The hills and valleys of the original wings and control surfaces have been replaced with neat ribbing tapes, which feature a slightly different texture than the rest of the fabric.

The engines are somewhat more detailed, while the Vickers guns are about the same as the originals. A rudimentary cockpit interior gives a bare bones effect, and the instrument panel is undersized. Most disappointing is the absence of the fuselage fuel tank, which is not only highly visible behind the seat, it is what the seatbelts are attached to. There are no ammunition boxes either, but to be fair, despite it being an open cockpit, the Camel interior is rather hard to see into.



A detailist will find himself adding to, rather than modifying the kit parts, while the average builder will be satisfied. One clever touch is the addition of wood-grain decals for the cockpit walls.

The firewall is substantially modified, now incorporating the correct basin-shaped cutout in the forward fuselage. The tail skid no longer features the weird hoof-like appendage of the original Camel.



The fin and rudder are completely reshaped, as are the wingtips. The instructions, curiously, give a diagram for reshaping the wing attachment point so that it fits better and opens up the cheek exhaust panels. The instructions do provide rigging diagrams as well.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The decals, which have become one of HobbyCraft's strong points, are well-printed but unispired - the Clerget kit gives Brown's and Barker's aircraft, while the LeRhone gives an anonymous nightfighter and MacLaren's and Partridge's birds.





HobbyCraft has quietly made a great leap with this model, and it is very good value for the money, generally retailing for about $20. The primary problem, as usual, is the complete dearth of aftermarket products for it. Tom's Modelworks is designing an etched-brass sheet that addresses the missing detail problems, but there are no decals available at all, much less accurate PC10 or Clear Doped Linen colors in a spraycan (you listening, Tamiya?) HobbyCraft's 1/32 Nieuport could use the same refinement and accurizing, particularly in the forward fuselage. With a big-budget Hollywood movie about the Lafayette Escadrille currently in production, more accurate Great War aeroplane models will gain a more viable market niche in the next couple of years.


Sopwith Triplane Aces of World War 1
(Aircraft of the Aces 62)
Visit Osprey Publishing
  Author:  Norman Franks
Illustrator: Harry Dempsey
US Price: $19.95
UK Price: 12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: June 24, 2004
Details: 96 pages; ISBN: 184176728X
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Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Text and Images Copyright 2005 by Burl Burlingame
Page Created 28 September, 2005
Last Updated 27 September, 2005

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