Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

 Aeroclub's 1/72 scale
Short 184

by James Fahey


Short 184

HyperScale is proudly supported by Squadron




The Plane

The Short 184 takes its official name from the serial number of the prototype but in the RNAS it was also called the Short 225 (derived from the horsepower rating of the first engine, a Sunbeam Mohawk, and retained even when more powerful engines were subsequently fitted).

Two successful torpedo launches were carried out in August 1915 in the Gallipoli campaign, but they highlighted the shortcomings of the seaplanes. The 184 could not carry a full fuel load with the torpedo, nor an observer. The take-off run was in the order of two miles and it could only get off in calm sea conditions. Maximum ceiling was about 1500 feet with the torpedo and flights were limited to about 45 minutes.

Basically the Short was underpowered for torpedo carrying but it went on to serve widely with the RNAS in reconnaissance and bombing roles. Against U-Boats it was found that the Short was too slow to get within bombing range before the submarines could crash dive below the surface and get away. The patrols were still somewhat effective in terms of limiting the U-Boats surface time and therefore their effective range.


It served from Spring 1915 until after the war finished in late 1918 (324 were in commission in December 1918) – a remarkable achievement for the time.

Flight Commander A H Sandwell liked the Short 184 enough to describe it as:

“ . . . the pilot’s dream for putting in hours – docile, stable, obedient, and thoroughly deserving its affectionate nickname ‘Home from Home’.”

The Kit

Aeroclub’s Short 184 is an injection moulded kit with over 30 parts, plus a variety of nicely cast white metal detail items including choice of two props, a large box radiator, control wheel, seats, interplane and float struts, Lewis gun, Scarf ring, and wingtip floats.

The decal sheet provides for four different aircraft, two in clear doped linen with red/white RNAS roundels (the original 184 and the historic 842 which carried out the first successful air-launched torpedo attack), two with red/white/blue roundels - one in clear doped linen (the famous 8359 from the Battle of Jutland) and one in PC10 khaki finish.

The detail on the pieces is well done with commendably thin trailing edges and restrained ribs. The kit measures up well against the scale plans in the Windsock Datafile.

No torpedo is included. I really wanted to model a Short with torpedo and found one produced by Flightpath. Although it is based on a later prototype, it looks close enough for the 14” used on the Short. It is a lovely kit in its own right, featuring a resin body, white metal warhead and photo-etched brass fins and propeller blades. It also has PE bits to build the trolley, but I didn’t use these. The torpedo has a surprising amount of detail and is much better than I could have built from scratch.


The best reference for a WWI aircraft is the Datafile from Albatros Productions. Not cheap, but the quality is fantastic with plenty of detail shots, colour plates, plans in 1/72 and 1/48 and a full history and markings section.

Although long out of print, Profile Publications produced a monograph on the Short 184 many years ago, and these are still readily available on ebay or via internet book search engines like http://used.addall.com/. Its not as good as the Datafile however.



Some modifications to the kit can be made to improve the accuracy:

The fin should not touch the fuselage continuously along its length, just in those places where a vertical post is present. Modellers should carve away a small gap in between these posts.

The horizontal stabilisers and elevators should be moved back on the fuselage – modellers should consult plans to get this right.



If you plan to build the prototype 184 you will need to fill in the hingeline for the lower aileron because it was only fitted with ailerons on the upper wing.

I added control horns on the wings and elevators made from left-over brass PE sets. These were fitted at unusual angles to the wing surfaces – again check photographs to get this right.

The two sprues of metal wing struts ARE different lengths and you have to look very hard to find the tiny F and R scratches (Front & Rear).

There is an unusual strut which sticks out horizontally from each side of the rear fuselage - I believe this was to brace the wings when they were folded. I used some thin brass rod for this but care is necessary to ensure it is fitted symmetrically on both sides.

The radiator is a white metal casting with the same ribbed effect on all four sides. After studying the Datafile I took the view that the left and right sides should be smooth not ribbed and I sanded the detail away. The original was made up of metal plates running fore/aft which the pilot could almost see through if his head was correctly aligned.

Another feature that needs to be represented is the lifting cables on the top of the centre section of the top wing. In the Datafile you can clearly see the cables 'sat up' like a pyramid, with a metal loop at the apex.

The engraved panel lines were filled in on the fabric sections of the fuselage.

I scratchbuilt two cradles for the torpedo from brass strip and fitted these to the horizontal float struts.



I also scratched the attachment wires for the torpedo, made up from some fine copper wire and some PE WWI turnbuckles.

Instrument gauges came from a set of decals by Mike Grant.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The pilot is a resin figure from PJ Productions. It comes with separate arms that are posable for getting the hands to ‘hold’ the steering wheel.


Painting and Markings

I handbrushed WWI German Naval Clear Doped Linen (CDL) from Misterkit. The Misterkit range features an enormous number of WWI colours from all the major powers. German Naval CDL is a paler finish than some other 184 models I have seen on the Internet but it is based on a watercolour painted at Imbros in 1915 by Norman L Wilkinson titled 'Seaplanes at Kephalo' which I found in Alan Moorehead's book "Gallipoli". Curiously it shows the floats in grey not varnished ply.


All the photos in the Datafile show prominent dark ribs both on upper and lower surfaces. After pondering the best way to represent these I used salmon-pink German rib tapes from Eagle Strike with a further coat of the Misterkit German Naval CDL over the top to soften the contrast a little. There are 312 separate rib tape decals fitted to the wings, stabilisers and elevators.

Weathering is a wash of grey enamel heavily thinned with turpentine.


I use 0.005” stainless steel wire from Smallparts.com. This stuff has revolutionized my WWI aero modelling! I don’t like drilling holes in my model and it isn’t necessary when using this wire. Its very hard and must be cut on a solid surface – I use a ceramic tile and a scalpel. I pre-colour the wire using a black permanent marker, but I am now experimenting with a grey coloured permanent marker which might give more prototypical results. Each length is measured using dividers and attached using white PVA woodworking glue. The glue will shrink and dry clear and should be touched up with matt clear finish to make the glue really invisible. I fitted 175 separate rigging and control wires to the model.

A careful study of photographs is necessary to get the rigging correctly reproduced, especially the outer bay of the wings which were quite distinctive, in order that the rigging would not get fouled with the tailplane when the wings were folded back.

Water Effects

The sea base uses slightly crumpled kitchen foil, painted blue, then coated with 2-3 heavy coats of an acrylic medium called Mod Podge (craft shops stock it for things like decoupage). It goes down white but dries completely clear, and softens the sharp edges of the aluminium foil. I made two rectangular holes in the foil where the floats would fit in.

Next time I would try for a darker blue, but I rationalise the current colour by saying it is meant to be the brilliant blue of the Greek isles (Gallipoli).


My inspiration for the wake effects came from this really brilliant seaborne AFV diorama:


I used the same sort of white abrasive pad from a kitchen scrubber that is made with two materials (the other material in the scrubber is ordinary plastic foam which I threw away). I cut the white material into strips and pulled it apart a bit with my fingers, then used CA glue to attach it to the base.

The key step is then to paint the wake material with more Mod Podge. It dries rock hard.


Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005 by James Fahey
Page Created 22 December, 2005
Last Updated 21 December, 2005

Back to HyperScale Main Page