|NOTES:||Includes photo etch|
A single seat biplane of two bay construction, the Snipe hardly saw action in WWI, coming into squadron service only a few months before the armistice in 1918.
While it was not especially fast, it did have a high rate of climb and very good manoeuvrability, so the RAF used it as their postwar fighter until 1926.
Designed to replace the Camel, it was at first a single bay biplane, smaller than the Camel, and powered by a similar engine. The pilot sat higher than in the Camel and the centre of the upper wing was uncovered, giving a better view. The second prototype had a more powerful Bentley engine of 230hp.
It was then rebuilt with longer span two bay wings which allowed it to compete as a high altitude single-seat fighter. This specification required a speed of at least 135mph at 15,000 ft, a ceiling of at least 25,000 ft while carrying an armament of two fixed and one swivelling machine gun. An oxygen supply and heated clothing were provided for the pilot.
The Snipe was tested against three other fighter prototypes, also powered by the Bentley engine: the Austin Osprey, the Boulton Paul Bobolink and the Nieuport BN 1. There was little difference in performance between the aircraft, but the Sopwith was selected because it was cheaper, and orders for 1,700 Snipes placed in March 1918.
The Snipe was heavier but stronger than earlier Sopwiths. Although not a fast aircraft for 1918, it was very manoeuverable, and easier to handle than the Camel, with a better view, forwards and upwards. Its fixed armament was two 0.303 machine guns, and it was also able to carry up to four 25lb bombs for ground attack. The design allowed for a single Lewis gun on the centre section, similar to the Dolphin, though this was never fitted. Production ended in 1919, with 500 built, the rest being cancelled. An armoured version for trench fighting was the Sopwith Salamander.
In 1919, the Snipe took part on the side of the White Russians during the Civil War against the Bolsheviks, with 12 of them used by the RAF mission in north Russia. At least one of was captured and used by the Bolsheviks.
The last Snipes were retired from service in 1926.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Then the lower wing is fixed to the fuselage, and the struts addressed. They are all painted grey, which certainly saves time by not having to give them a wood effect. They also fit well into their locating holes at exactly the right angle. I started with the cabanes, mounted the top wing on those, then snap fitted the rest of the struts into place, after placing some glue in each mounting hole with a toothpick. It now looks like an aircraft.
Then the undercarriage was fitted. Something I have noted before about Wingnut Wing models is that they wobble on their wheels in an alarming manner when nudged. In fact they are not fragile, because the undercarriage mounting tabs are very long and fit deep inside the fuselage, making for a strong set up. It is just that the plastic is soft and bendy. Hence the wobble. And the answer to that is: don't nudge them. The wheels come with separate hub caps, which is always a useful idea and means you can get clear demarcation between hub and tyre. I wish that all wheels came like this in 1/72.
Enough ink has already been spilled about how good these kits are, and certainly it is all justified. I would say that even a beginner would turn out a very creditable model. Had I known that the decals were going to play up, I would have chosen a different set of markings, perhaps the one in Soviet markings, which is olive drab and has the name Nelly on it. Which doesn't sound very Russian, but was perhaps left over from some previous love-lorn western front pilot.
The most heartening thing is that Wingnut seem to be moving out of WWI and into the early 20s with this kit. I wonder if this points toward a wider range in the future. I certainly hope so because the 20s and 30s are poorly covered by mainstream kit makers. A Siskin or a Bulldog or a Grebe would be very welcome. As would anything civilian. It was after all the Golden Age of aviation, but it is not nearly celebrated enough.
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