Red Star 1/72 Anatra Anadwa
KIT #: RS 201
PRICE: $About £5 each
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Chris Peachment
NOTES: Conversion using two kits



The Anatra DS or Anasal was a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Anatra D (or Anade), built in Odessa, part of the Russian Empire and flown first during WWI and later by both sides during the Civil War. The difference from the first model was the replacement of a small rotary engine by the much more powerful 150hp Salmson radial which improved performance.

What makes the Salmson unusual is that it was a water cooled radial engine, which common sense would suggest combines the disadvantages of both types in that it has a large frontal area along with the complexity and vulnerability of water cooling, while enjoying the benefits of neither type. Nonetheless it proved a good engine, with markedly increased power over most units. The aircraft took its unusual name, not from anything Russian, but from the names Anatra and Salmson.


The forward fuselage has a distinctive partial engine cowling, open at the bottom, with cooling holes, which make it look like something armoured.  It had a synchronised forward-firing machine gun in addition to the observer's weapon. The first orders came in 1917, and before the Soviet revolution in November 1917 some 60 to 70 had been manufactured, although there were many differences between individual aircraft.


The construction of the Anadwa used two Anatra fuselages, joined by a new set of wings. The aircraft's gunner was located in a nacelle attached to the centre of the upper wing providing an excellent defence. Test flights started on July 9, 1916, and were were very favourable, but aircraft did not go into production.




This conversion came about because one of the few model shops left in London at West Drayton, near Heathrow, was holding a closing down sale, and I noticed the two Anasals together, hanging on a hook, just like the old Airfix kits used to in my local newsagent 50 years ago. I bought them both, then, being truly afflicted, I started looking around on the internet for how I might alter them. By one of those happy serendipitous events which often happens in modeling life, there on a couple of Russian aviation sites was the Anatra Anadwa (don't ask me what the name means), a bomber and reconnaissance machine which used two of the Anasal fuselages joined together by long straight wings, with a machine gunners cockpit, attached like a pulpit to the upper wing. 



The basic construction of the fuselages followed the usual pattern.  I didn't bother with any extra stringer detail, as the pilot's cockpit is unseen beneath the wing, and the observers' two cockpits have enough furniture in them.  All that was necessary was to paint the inner walls a suitable primer colour. I chose a dark brown, reasoning that the exterior dark green would result in something like that. The seats were brown leather, and the observers' map tables wood.


Alas, the wings of the Anasla kits had to be sent to the spares box, as they are slightly swept back.  Any attempt to straighten them would have left the ribs canted at the wrong angle. So it was out with the plastic card and two long wings were constructed by my usual method. The lower skin was cut from 20 thou card and the scalloped rear edge cut carefully using a sharp scalpel. The upper wings were 10 thou card cut with a slightly larger chord. First, the leading edges were glued, and then a length of plastic rod was cut, slightly shorter than the span and glued to the lower wing about 1/3 of the way back from the leading edge. The upper skin is then folded over the rod and glued at the trailing edge, and tips. Once dry, the scallops can be repeated for the upper skin.


I followed my usual practice with biplanes of building and painting fuselage and wings separately. I couldn't find any information as to the Anadwa's colour, and the Red Star suggestion for the Anasal was either the usual doped linen or something called  “Bright Green”, with a box art rendition in a bilious, acid shade of green. I went with overall green and chose a colour from the Lifecolour range of acrylics which is LC40 or Matt Napoleonic Dragon Green. It is unusual, and has a nice irony to it, in that Napoleon met his doom when he ignored the First Rule on the First Page of the “Warfare Instruction Manual”, which goes: 1. Do not invade Russia.


I then married up the fuselages to the lower wing, marked where they should be with a pencil, and cut away the upper skin with a sharp scalpel. You are still going to have to cut away a lot from the mounting area in the lower fuselage, but once down they can be glued.


The struts in the kit look roughly like off-cuts from railway sleepers, but I decided to use them, rather than cut new ones since I find that when making 12 struts, then even the slightest difference in length with drive you insane when joining the upper wing. I thinned them as best I could, then drilled holes in the lower wing, using the plans and a small steel rule. Fix the cabanes first to the fuselages, then the wing struts to the lower wing. I joined the upper wing when the struts were almost dry but not quite set, so they were manoeuvrable. Alignment is everything here, so be prepared to jostle the struts a little with a cocktail stick. Leave overnight to dry, and sleep the sleep of the just, knowing that you are well over half way to making something rare.

One scale side view of the aircraft shows the gunner's gondola on the upper wing as a streamlined, rounded torpedo sort of shape. Close analysis of the photos however show a different story. It is in fact more like a flat bottomed boat, with vertical sides, a flat upper and lower deck, but all converging to a streamlined nose. This is in fact quite easy to put together from plastic card. Make the sidewalls and nose from one piece, traced from the plan, curve it around a brush handle to make the nose, then use it as a template to cut upper and lower decks from card, which can then be glued in place. You will need to cut into the mid section so that it will fit around the upper wing. And don't forget to cut out the cockpit for the gunner, leaving an edge. I gave him a little seat inside, though I suspect he would have to clear that out of the way when aiming for any marauding fighters.

The gondola is also supported by four diagonal struts, and I used the remaining ones from the kits, cut to size and nudged in with tweezers.


The frontal plans show a round object resting on the lower wing beneath the gondola, and I can only surmise that this was a fuel tank for long range. Alas, its length cannot be seen, in either plans not photos, so I took an old 1/48 torpedo from the spares box, and cut it to roughly 2/3 of the chord, added a couple of securing straps from thin card, and glued it between the gondola struts.


The tail planes are nothing like the Anasal's and it was but the work of a moment to cut them from card, score ribs and elevator on the horizontal planes, and ribs and rudders on the two vertical. The rear decking on the fuselages needs some fettling work with a heavy sanding stick to let them fit.


For markings, I used only the roundels from the kit, reasoning that so few ere built, they would not have been allotted serial or unit numbers. They went on fine. Mask off the noses, which you will have already painted a nice shiny silver, and give the whole thing a blast of matt or satin varnish


And now you can settle down to many evenings' work of rigging. I think I hear piteous sighs from readers, strong enough to power sailboats across the Atlantic. So I  will adopt a bracing tone and say that the only way you are going to get good at something is by doing it many times. It is all well and fine to want to be a Don Bradman or a Babe Ruth, but you are not going to be either of them just by sitting around and wishing. I don't know how much either of those heroic sportsmen practised, but I have been rigging for about 10 years now, and it has become not just a challenge but a pleasure. And done properly it can be the crowning glory of a biplane. I used elastic thread, coloured silver with a gel pen, glued in place by superglue gel, applied with a sharpened toothpick. I can't say more than that without drawing a diagram.


Once all was ship-shape, then the engines can be slid in place, painted black with a gunmetal wash. Two windscreen also slid in place using Clearfix glue. Two radiators made from plastic card, with scored slats, glued to the upper wing. A vee strut placed between them and a couple of rigging brace wires.  A mounting ring and machine gun from the spares box for upper gondola and a passing thought for the poor gunner who much have felt cold, lonely and vulnerable up there all on his own.

Mount the four undercarriage struts from the Anasals, but reverse them so they cant inwards. Shorten the axles appropriately, and then you are faced with the wheels, which are an abomination.

It is the only thing wrong with the kit, and they are clear plastic discs, with spokes on them. Fortunately the Anadwa had wheel covers, and so erase as much of the struts as possible by scalpel and sanding, then paint the covers green. And allow that some of the struts would have been visible though the covering linen anyway.


My finishing touch is always the propellers, and, once sanded, painted brown with a clear orange top coat, they can be glued in place and you can sit back with a happy sigh, a foolish grin, and a glass of Islay Single Malt to hand as a reward. 



I can find no reference on the internet which suggests that anyone else was sufficiently afflicted to have built this machine. And so I suspect that it might be unique. If you decide to build one for yourself, why not vary the markings a little, then yours can be unique too.


REFERENCES An excellent site for early aircraft, alas in Russian, but contains two photos and two sets of plans, one of which is crude, one of which isn't.

Chris Peachment

March 2014

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