Wingnut Wings 1/32 LVG C.VI

KIT #: 32002
PRICE: $79.00 SRP (kit is now sold out)
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Otis Goodin
NOTES: Great kit, makes a beautiful model

HISTORY

Several years ago I built a Blue Max 1/48 scale LVG CVI and wrote an article about it for Modeling Madness. Later, Wingnut Wings appeared and among their initial kits was a 1/32 scale LVG. I ordered one and got it within a week from New Zealand, and they didnít even charge for shipping. When I finally got around to building it the experience was like night and day compared to the Blue Max kit. As many of you know by now, Wingnut Wings is the New Zealand company formed with the backing and input of Sir Peter Jackson, the movie maker (of Lord of the Rings fame) who is also a WWI aviation buff. To quote from their website, ďWingnut Wings' passion is to provide accurate, highly detailed, large scale models that are as enjoyable to build for both the experienced and novice modeler alike.Ē I have built several Wingnut Wingsí kits, and based on my experience, they have more than succeeded.

The LVG CVI was a successful upgrade to the CV version that LVG developed in 1917. Prior to that LVG mainly produced other companiesí designs under license, such as the Albatros DII and CIII, as well as the famous Gotha GIV bomber. The CVI version was a more streamlined version of the CV and was characterized by good maneuverability, speed and rate of climb. It served in the role of reconnaissance, artillery spotting and general troop harassment. The LVG CVI also had extensive use after the war in Latvia, Austria, Hungary, Belgium and Poland. A few examples survive today. The most famous is probably the Shuttleworth example, now housed in the RAF Museum in London.


THE KIT

The Wingnut Wings kit of the LVG is easily the best model of an LVG ever produced and the only example that I know of in 1/32 scale.  To me, 1/32 is the best scale for WWI subjects because of the relatively small size of the airplanes compared to more modern aircraft. The larger scale allows for more detail, makes rigging easier, and just makes it easier to see. The LVG, however, was a fairly large airplane with very long wings so the model is pretty big, measuring 16 inches from wingtip to wingtip. The kit is injection molded in light gray plastic and the 166 parts are first rate. No flash, all mold injection pins are well hidden, and the pieces fit like they are supposed to. The kit is engineered to be relatively simple to build and it is. You are provided with lozenge decals, including the rib tapes, decals for seven versions, photo etch seatbelts, and a 26 page instruction book complete with detailed, in focus pictures of real LVGs from WWI. Boxtop art is done by Steve Anderson, one of the best aviation artists around. I opted to do the LVG depicted on the box top, LVG CVI 4891/18.

CONSTRUCTION

Like most kits, construction begins in the cockpit. Beginning with the seat, it consists of four parts that are then assembled to the fuel tank. This is then attached to the floorboard along with the control column, rudder pedals and three bulkheads. Be sure to install the photo etch seat belts at this stage. I did a little rigging on the interior but most of it is not really visible. Next I installed the sidewalls, onto which there will be glued a bench seat for the observer, who also gets a set of seat belts. I installed the wireless set to the right fuselage half and glued this to the fuselage floor. There is no need to guess about where to put things as the instructions are clear. I then glued the other fuselage half to the floorboard and the other fuselage half. I used a little putty at this point along with some Mr. Surfacer 500 to fill the small gaps. Following this, I installed the completed cockpit assembly into the fuselage along with the engine bearers. You are also instructed to install the cabane struts. I really like the way Wingnut Wings has engineered their struts and attachment points. They are sturdy and secure making the installation of the top wing later a much less daunting task.

The next step was the construction of the engine. Iíll admit Iíve never been much of an engine builder, preferring to get it out of the way so I could move on to more interesting things like wings, wheels and propellers. But these Wingnut Wings engines are so well done they are models in themselves. Wingnut provides enough detail so you donít feel like you have to add to it to have a realistic engine, but they also provide some great photos so you can super detail them if you wish. Wingnut recommends that you leave the engine compartment open to show off the engine, but there are cowling covers if you prefer. I chose to leave mine open.

Once the engine is installed itís time to add the top deck to the cockpit/observer area. Again, I used just a little Mr. Surfacer to fill in any small gaps, although Iím not sure there were any. You can also add the forward shooting Spandau machine gun at this point. There is no photo etch cooling jacket which I found a little strange considering all the other detail, but with some effective painting itís not too noticeable. At this point a few details are added like engine hatches all along the fuselage, and the container on the side of the fuselage for the hand thrown bombs.

Next are added the tailplane and stabilizer. I used a little Mr. Surfacer for the stabilizer but nothing for the tailplane as it was actually a separate structure attached to the fuselage so I wanted it to have some minor separation. Again the fit is so good this is not a problem. I then added the center section of the top wing (to the cabane struts) which is basically the radiator in a wooden structure to which the right and left wings are added. There is some piping from the engine up to the radiator so be sure to connect this before moving on to the wings. Following this control horns are added to the stabilizer flap which is then installed onto the stabilizer. Wingnut recommends, and I concur, that you secure this piece by drilling holes into the flap and stabilizer and then install thin bits of wire into the stabilizer before gluing the flap into place. This gives the flap something more to hang onto than just gluing it to the stabilizer. The same is true for the ailerons and the rudder.

The instructions call for you to add the landing gear assembly next but I chose to delay this till the end. My next step was to install the wings which I did by gluing the bottom wings into the fuselage and the top wings into the center section installed earlier. Wingnut provides generous connection tabs so that the wings fit securely into their assigned locations. (No ďbutt jointsĒ here!) In fact, the bottom wings are designed to fit so that the correct dihedral is achieved. Once the wings have set up some you can begin to add the interplane struts. It matters which struts are installed where so pay attention to the numbers indicated in the instructions. I find it best to work from the inside out, installing both front and rear wing struts before moving on to the next ones. Install the anemometer where indicated depending on the version chosen.

Once the wings were installed I added the landing gear. Wingnut provides some detailed pieces including the axle wing, support bar, struts, and even the bungee cord shock absorbers. The struts have long locating tabs that fit into deep openings on the fuselage so the landing gear fits securely once dry. This adds a lot of structural strength to the model and thatís a good thing because the LVG is big and heavy. Once the struts had set up I added the large wheels and wheel covers.

Having completed most of the construction it was time for rigging. This is probably the part of WWI aircraft construction that discourages more from trying it than anything else. However, once again, Wingnut Wings has done its part to make it easier than itís ever been. Besides providing really good rigging diagrams, Wingnut also provides pre-drilled holes into which to place the rigging including in the wings, in the fuselage, strut turnbuckles, and in the control horns. For the past few years I have been using EZ Line for rigging material. It comes in two sizes, basically thick and thin, and I find the thin works best for most of the rigging I do. EZ Line is a stretchy material that keeps the rigging from getting slack over time. It doesnít add structural strength like invisible thread does, but on Wingnut kits you really donít need to add strength anyway. I didnít do it on this kit, but you can add turnbuckles from Bobís and still use the EZ Line. You can also make turnbuckles from glue or thick paint once the rigging sets up. I simply thread the EZ Line into the hole into which Iíve already put some super glue, and allow it to set up.  EZ Line is a little tricky in that itís very flexible and it sticks to the super glue immediately so you have to be careful or it will go places you donít want it to. But if it does, you can easily pull it away and start over (with a new piece of EZ Line). Once the glue has set up (just about a minute) I can stretch the EZ Line to (or through) the other connecting point and glue it in place. I usually hold this end with a pair of locking tweezers or clamps to keep the line stretched until the glue sets up. Then I trim off the excess and itís done. This is essentially the technique I use whether Iím rigging the wings, struts, control horns, etc. When rigging the wings I usually attach the EZ Line to the underside of the top wing first, and then pass it through a hole in the bottom wing which I have drilled all the way through. I pull the EZ Line tight, glue it with a drop or two of super glue, and let it set up while stretched with the tweezers. Once done, I trim it off and treat the hole to make it less noticeable. This usually involves a little more super glue to fill the hole, sanding it smooth, and then painting over it to match the bottom of the wing. With lozenge decals itís even easier to hide the touched up spot.

Once the rigging was done I added the machine gun mount to the observer opening and then attached the machine gun. Finally I added the large exhaust and the propeller. This version used a Wolff prop, but an Axial version is also included. WWI props, being made of wood, were replaced fairly frequently and a plane could have a Wolff one time, an Axial the next, and maybe even a Garuda or a Niendorff.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Most of the significant painting on this model involved the wood grain fuselage and interior. My basic method for wood grain is to paint a base coat of Model Master Tan and then use artist oils to apply a darker wood grain coat. I use Griffinís Alkyds (usually Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna or Yellow Ochre) which are fast drying oil paints made by Winsor & Newton. Traditional oil paints can take several days to dry, but Griffinís dries within 24 hours. Griffinís has an alkyd base to which the pigment is added while traditional oils are usually linseed or safflower oil. To me the key to making an accurate wood grain is to realize that you are working in a small scale so the level of wood grain visible will not be that great. Even so, you need to vary the direction and grain. Particularly on planes such as these, the wooden fuselage was made up of various panels of plywood, usually installed at 90 degree angles to each other for extra strength. For the LVG, most of the interior was wood including the instrument panel, bulkheads, floorboard, etc. I varied the wood by making some pieces darker and lighter.

The metal parts of the interior were generally painted in RLM Gray or black. (All paints are Model Master Acryl unless otherwise noted). I painted the fuel tank on which the seat rests in Polly Scale Copper (which looks like brass), although many were painted black. The ammo can for the forward Spandau was painted Aluminum. I painted the seat belts Leather, weathered with Griffinís Burnt Umber and highlighted with Tamiya Buff to represent wear. The dial faces on the instrument panel were painted Silver before applying the instrument dial decals. Wingnut provides excellent instrument panel detail. The pilotís seat was painted Leather, again weathered with Burnt Umber and Buff. The observerís area had various ammo drums that were painted Gun Metal and highlighted with a little Metallic Gray. The wireless radio was mounted on a wood painted panel and painted Silver, Black and RLM Gray per the instructions.

The engine was painted a combination of Aluminum with Gun Metal cylinders. I use Model Master Gun Metal because it has that true blue steel look as opposed to the grayish tone some brands have. I also painted various parts Metallic Gray, Burnt Iron (Gunze), and Brass. Detailed painting instructions are provided. The engine was weathered with Griffinís Burnt Umber and some pastels. I painted all the struts and exterior hatches Neutral Gray, as well as the center section of the top wing. The many strut brackets throughout were painted Black. The top section of the radiator was painted Aluminum and weathered with Burnt Umber. The radiator shutters on the underside of the center section were painted RLM Gray. The pipes leading to and from the radiator were painted Aluminum. The large exhaust stack was finished in Jet Exhaust, drybrushed with Burnt Iron and Rust.

Wingnut provides the beautiful five color lozenge decals used to cover the wings and tailplane, along with the rib tapes. Applying lozenge is not difficult, just tedious and time consuming. These Cartograf decals donít require the usual amounts of decal solvent to make the decals fit well, but I did use some in spots even though Wingnut tells you not to. Where I could I used MicroSet instead of MicroSol, but in a few places MicroSol was required. For the wings, I first painted them Neutral Gray, then coated them in Future until a slick surface was achieved. I applied the underside lozenge first, completely covering the underside of the top wings, but not covering the sections of the bottom wing where the rigging would emerge until after it was applied and cleaned up. I then applied lozenge in these areas which completely covered the repair job. I had applied the topside lozenge as well, and generally had all the lozenge areas covered before assembling the wings to the fuselage, except for the areas that would need repair after the rigging. You are given three sets of rib tapes to choose from, blue, pink and a neutral buff or off white. It appears that most LVGs used the neutral color so that is what I went with. The ailerons and flaps were covered in lozenge that ran perpendicular to the direction that the wings and tailplane were covered. Finally, I covered the edges of the wings and tailplane in strips of lozenge that I cut from the larger lozenge sheet. These strips ďsealedĒ the edges all the way around. I used more decal solvent here than anywhere else.

I applied the fuselage, rudder and wing crosses with no problems, and added the many smaller LVG markings and stencils to the various struts and panels. There are quite a few of them. I sealed the decals at various stages using Future, then later sprayed everything with Model Master Satin to tone down the glass. The lozenge was given an extra shot of Satin as these were generally finished with a coat of flat lacquer in the factory.

CONCLUSIONS

After about a month my LVG was finished and I was very pleased with the result. The biggest problem was where to put it as it is quite large. It occupies its own shelf in my glass enclosed cabinet. Wingnut Wings has done a fabulous job on this kit both in terms of quality and subject matter. I never thought I would ever see a 1/32 scale LVG, especially one as user friendly to build. Of course, they have ventured places no model makers have ever gone before, including a 1/32 Gotha bomber and a Junkers J.1. If you have never built WWI before, I highly recommend the whole line of Wingnut kits, although I might start with a Pfalz D III first.

REFERENCES

Wingnut Wings kit instructions

Classic Aircraft of WWI, Melvyn Hiscock, Osprey Aerospace, 1994.

Windsock Datafile, LVG CVI, Albatros Productions.

 Otis Goodin

November 2012

Review kit courtesy of my kit collection.

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