Omega 1/72 LWF Model V
KIT #: 72010
PRICE: 10 second hand
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Chris Peachment
NOTES: Resin kit

HISTORY

 The Lowe, Willard, and Fowler Company was established in 1915 in New York, and their first product was the Model V, a large, two seat training and observation biplane with the striking characteristic of a large gap between the wings. The upper wing sits  high, and makes an aircraft stable in flight, which would have made it ideal for observation and training. The  Army ordered 23 before the US entered WWI, and another 112 after.

It had a 135 hp. Thomas engine. Subsequent models included the V-1, with a 140hp Sturtevant, V-2 with a 165 Hall Scott with a radiator under the upper wing, and V-3 with a 200hp Sturtevant. One Model V-2 used to test the first 8 cylinder Liberty engine. The aircraft had a monocoque fuselage made of wood and fabric.

At the end of the war, a Czechoslovakian delegation came to the US to buy aircraft for their forces fighting with the  White Russians against the Communist Red Army. They ordered aircraft from LWF, and were expecting more modern types, but LWF shipped 28 old Model  Vs, which were duly assembled and used by the Czechs in their battles across Russia and Siberia in 1919-20. They all ending up in Vladivostok, and were then shipped back to Czechoslovakia.

One aircraft is currently displayed in the National Technical Museum in Prague, carrying US markings on the wings and Czech tail stripes. Good photos are on websites listed below.

THE KIT

I bought this from under the table of a dealer at a modelling show, mainly out of curiosity because I knew little of the  aircraft, and one of the reasons I make models is to learn about different types and their history. And it was cheap for a resin kit, which is always a bonus in these straitened times. The mouldings are clean and don't suffer from all the air holes I keep reading about. But the parts did need a lot of separating from their sprues and resin flash, and then much cleaning up by way of sanding seams. Once done, you will find the parts fit well, and the surfaces have a pleasing rough texture to them, which replicates fabric well.

CONSTRUCTION

This is only the second resin kit I have tried, and the previous one, a Vautour French bomber, was straightforward compared to this. What I don't like about them is having to use superglue, which is nasty stuff. It sets too quickly to get alignment right, and this makes life tricky for a two bay biplane with plenty of struts. And it glues your fingertips together, which is no aid to modelling though may enrich your doctor. Plenty of warm water and prising apart with a spoon handle is recommended, but you still end up with fingers like sanding sticks. I sanded down the tailplanes with fingertips alone, thus making a good saving on wet and dry paper.

The interior is bare apart from floor, seats and sticks, and rudimentary instrument panels. You might want to go to town here, as the rear cockpit is fairly visible. Once fuselage was set, it and the wings were painted all over in Vallejo Buff, which strikes me as close to clear doped linen.

You might note in the photos that the Prague machine is heavily weathered. I wondered whether to rub some dark brown powder all over the model, but then remembered that what I always end up with is a badly painted model and not a weathered one. So this one has just left the factory, which they all must have done at some time in their lives.

 The lower wings were glued in place, and here it is worth taking time, with a few jigs, to get alignment right, as all else flows from this. Get it wrong and you will have an aircraft that would have flown like a crab. The struts on the Prague aircraft seem to be darker wood than usual, so these were painted in dark earth from the Xtracrylix range from Hannants, and given a coat of flat clear orange. They were then gingerly glued onto the lower wings, with some attempt at getting the right forward stagger.

The cabanes proved a problem as they are moulded in one piece and the two vee-struts are set too close together, to fit over the fuselage. Dry fitting resulted in both snapping like dry wishbones. I soldiered on by re-gluing them at a wider angle, but would have done better to replace them with styrene strut. After that, the top wing fitted surprisingly well. I found it best to glue the two outer sets of struts in place, then gently spring the others into place. The outer pair of slanted struts can be added last.

Rigging was done by my usual method. Elastic thread, coloured silver from a  gel pen, then anchored with small drops of superglue from a sharpened toothpick. And that is a five second sentence describing two hours work. 

One distinctive feature are the exhaust pipes which emerge upwards from the engine cowl, then swoop down in an elegant curve through the cabanes. Again, the fit was surprisingly good and need little coaxing. They are gunmetal, with some dark rust here and there.

Another distinctive feature are those two beams on either side, flanking the engine. I cannot make out what they are. They seem to be in the wrong place to be engine bearers, and would hardly be uncovered if they were. Perhaps they are some bizarre frame strengthening which was found necessary after test flight. Anyway, they are gunmetal too, as is the front radiator.  

The fin marking should be applied now, and then the tailplanes. These are fragile and I lost count of the times I knocked them off while handling. It is best to get those support struts on as soon as possible to lend a little strength. But it is a problem endemic to resin kits held with superglue. They will explode like grenades at the slightest knock. And offer up their innards to the carpet monster and the cat. I don't have carpets, preferring varnished boards, but they still manage to feast on my lost struts which never reappear.

 The undercarriage, like the rest of the kit, fit very well, and while I don't have much experience of resin kits, this suggests that Omega are a superior manufacturer. Both the large wing tip skids managed to snap when being handled, so I replaced them with curved styrene rod.

 There are no control horns offered in the kit, but they are a prominent feature, and need to me made up from corner offcuts from plastic sheet. Paint them wood, glue them in place, and rig them with the same elastic thread. Get it right and it is the making of the aircraft. Finally, the prop was given a coat of dark earth, some clear orange, a silver hub and was mounted at ten to four.

CONCLUSIONS

Perhaps I will come to love resin, but, as St Augustine begged in his Confessions, 'make me good, Lord, but just not yet'. It is much cruder than polystyrene and its flaws are evident wherever I look.  True, like all my failings, it is nothing but my own fault for not having prepared each piece properly by scraping and sanding. But as the autumn of my years is now well set in, and winter approaches, so time becomes more precious. So many aircraft, so few models of them.

REFERENCES

 http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww1/o/1699/104/0

 http://www.abpic.co.uk/search.php?q=LWF%20Model%20V&u=type

 http://flyingmachines.ru/Site2/Crafts/Craft25892.htm

 http://www.airliners.net/photo/2172634/

 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thomas_Morse_LWF_Tractor_pic2.JPG

Chris Peachment

October 2014

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