Wingnut Wings 1/32 SE.5a 'Hisso'

KIT #: 32003
PRICE: $69.00
DECALS: Five options


The Royal Aircraft Factory Scout Experimental 5a eventually became the favorite mount of many of the British Empire’s leading aces from its introduction in 1917.  It was sturdy, fast, good in a dive, forgiving to novice pilots and a match for the Fokker DVII.  The 5 wasn’t as maneuverable as the Camel, the armament configuration left something to be desired (although it wasn’t much of an issue due to the bugs in the synchronization gear) and the original engine proved to be temperamental, but ceased being a problem with the mating of the Worsley Viper engine to the SE5a airframe.


More detailed information on the type can be found elsewhere on Modeling Madness.


No. 6 Squadron RAAF (from Wikipedia)

No. 6 Squadron was formed at Parkhouse, England, on 15 June 1917 as a flying training unit of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC). The unit was initially designated No. 30 (Australian Training) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and its role was to train fighter pilots for service with No. 2 Squadron of the AFC (which was designated No. 68 (Australian) Squadron RFC at the time) on the Western Front.


The squadron moved to Shawbury the day after it was formed and then to Ternhill on 29 June. On 1 September it became part of the 1st Training Wing when that unit was established to command the four AFC training squadrons in England (the others being No. 5, No. 7 and No. 8 Squadrons). In January 1918 the squadron was redesignated No. 6 Squadron AFC; the other AFC units were also renamed at this time. No. 6 Squadron moved to Minchinhampton on 25 February. The squadron used several different types of aircraft to train pilots, including the Bristol Scout D, Sopwith 1½ Strutter, Sopwith Pup, Avro 504, Airco DH.5, Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 and Sopwith Camel.  While most of these aircraft types were outdated and suitable only for elementary flight training, the S.E.5s, Sopwith Pups and Sopwith Camels were up to date and in service with combat units in France.


Like the other units of the 1st Training Wing, No. 6 Squadron continued to train pilots after the end of the war. This was undertaken to keep personnel occupied while they awaited transport back to Australia as well as to strengthen the AFC. No. 6 Squadron was disbanded in March 1919, and its personnel left Minchinhampton to return to Australia on 6 May that year.


In 1939 it would be reformed when No. 4 squadron, a patrol squadron, was redesignated No.6.  “Six” would serve in World War 2 flying Ansons, Hudsons and Beauforts while conducting anti-submarine patrols and air strikes on naval and land targets in the South Pacific.  “Six” would be disbanded again after WW2.


In 1953, No. 23 Squadron was redesignated as No. 6 Squadron and became the RAAF bomber conversion unit during the Cold War.  It flew Lincolns, Canberras, F-4 Phantoms, and F-111C Aardvarks before transitioning to the F/A-18F in 2011 and eventually the ultra expensive F-35 Lightning IIs whenever the increasingly expensive bugs are ironed out.



See Tom Cleaver’s review of the kit for the details.



Wingnut Wings produced another winner here.  Follow the instructions using the build order is recommended except the engine as I didn’t want to pose the engine cover off.  Most of the parts were painted according to the paint guide prior to assembly.  Most of the cockpit details were hand painted while I passed on adding extra detail to the interior as it most it would be hidden inside the tiny cockpit.


The most difficult part in assembly was the Vickers machine gun which involved some delicate PE, especially the gunsight.


Gluing the fuselage together was a snap.  I did not add the fuselage struts or the Vickers machine gun.  I then left the plane alone for a couple of weeks for the glue to cure so that I reduce the chance of getting a phantom seam.


There was some sanding and filling to do on the center seams on the top of the fuselage and the underside.  I used CA glue and Tamiya’s version of Mr Surfacer for

the filling.  Once the seams were done to my satisfaction, the various holes were taped off or stuff with wet tissues in preparation for painting.


I first did the tedious task of masking all the areas between the wing, elevator and aileron frames.  I had a roll of 1/4” painters tape which I used for masking.  On my previous WNW build (a Sopwith Pup) I did this freehand, but it did not look very good.  It took an hour to carefully cut tap and mask the wings before they were painted flat white.


Unlike most of my previous builds I opted not to pre shade the fuselage and went straight to painting the plane.  The Tamiya XF-55 Deck Tan was used as the underside doped linen color.  It was sprayed in thin coats just enough to cover the white.  Afterwards, I sprayed on a very thin coat of Tamiya XF-60 Dark Yellow to add a slight yellow tinge.  I let the underside dry for a while as I painted various other parts.


Once the underside was dry enough, I then masked off the underside of the wings except the leading edges and them painted the entire plane along with the under carriage and wheels with Polyscale PC-10.  I used extra thin coats on the topside of the wings, elevators and ailerons to allow the flat white to show through because sometimes Polyscale paints look like they don’t cover when wet, but dry opaque.  It didn’t turn out as well as I hoped.


The rudder was painted gloss white just in case the white on the tail decals wasn’t opaque enough.


Next I masked off one side of each wheel and painted it Tamiya XF-75 Kure Grey to represent the wheel rubber.  The Vickers and Lewis machine guns were painted gunmetal.  The interior interplane struts were painted PC10 while the outer ones (and the four bladed prop) were painted desert yellow.  Lastly, the exhausts were sprayed with a combination of desert yellow, red brown and flat black.


Once the paint was cured and dry, I sprayed on three thin coats of Future gloss to prepare the surface for the decals.  It took a couple of days for the Future to cure (ie: not smell.)


I selected the markings of the 6th Training Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps because it was the most colorful of the bunch.  The decals were added using some MicroSet without any issues.


I did not weather the plane because I wanted to show it as almost brand new.


The plane was wiped down with a wet rag to remove the excess decal solution and then was sprayed with a thin coat of Future.



When the paint was dry on the interplane struts and prop, I dry brushed them with Model Master Acryl Burnt Sienna to simulate the wood grain.  Once the burnt sienna was dry, I used a flat wide brush to paint on a coat of Tamiya Clear Yellow.  I then added a coat of Tamiya Clear Red to the prop to simulate the mahogany color.  After all that was dry, I painted the metal supports on the interplane struts black and the prop hub metallic grey.


The engine was assembled and painted.  I didn’t really care about the seams except the cylinder blocks because most of the engine would be hidden.  It was painted using the color guide.  I followed Tom’s advice in his review of the kit and cut off the mounting pegs for the engine cylinder blocks before gluing the prepainted engine cover on.


I’ve built the Roden 1/48 SE5a.  It’s not a bad kit, but it is light years behind the larger scale WW version especially in regards to the interplane struts.  It seemed that with a lot of kits in the smaller 1/48 scale, the holes for the interplane struts were just holes so you were forced to make do with you best guess which often times led to frustration and wonky alignment.  With the WNW kits, the struts are keyed so they are aligned correctly unless you willingly screw up the alignment.


I glued in the fuselage window (used Elmer’s white) and then added the Vickers machine gun, telescopic gunsight and the gun cover to the fuselage.


The upper wing was added without issue.  Next the wheels were assembled and the entire undercarriage assembly was added without a problem.


One thing I forgot to add was the parts to help mount the elevators on the wings.  These were painted and added just before I added the elevators, ailerons and the tail.


Lastly I added the rigging.  I don’t mind rigging most biplanes, but I really hated rigging the SE5a.  It’s not the fault of the model itself, but rather the layout of the SE5a because of how it was rigged in real life.  I used RB production 1/32 scale PE RAF flying wires to rig the model.  The interior rigging was done first and then I gradually moved outwards.  However, the interior rigging and the rigging that connects from the middle of the upper wing to lower wing just before the fuselage proved to be a frustrating headache.  I’m glad that I never rigged the 1/48 Roden version because I think I would have gone mad if I did.  It took several tedious frustrating days to get all the rigging done.  All the rigging was glued on with Elmer’s white glue.



The Wingnut Wings SE5a is an excellent kit for builders of almost all skill levels (except beginners.)  I have to agree with Tom Cleaver that 1/32 is a very good scale for WW1 fighters.  Despite its relatively high price, the kit is worth the money as it provides everything you need except the rigging.  It might not be the best kit for those who want to build their first WW1 biplane because of the rigging which I found to be a pain.


On a sad note, I was going to show a comparison of the 1/48 Roden version with this one in a photograph, but when I gently grabbed the 1/48 model, the struts and upper wing crumpled in my hands to my dismay.  It was permanently “retired.”

Dan Lee

February 2013

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