KIT:

Roden 1/48 Sopwith 1.B1

KIT #

411

PRICE:

$19.98 (17.97 at Squadron)

DECALS:

two options

REVIEWER:

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

 

HISTORY


 
The Sopwith 1 Strutter appeared in the middle of 1916, and right after that the French Military Command became very interested in this new British development, since the French Air Force mostly had obsolete Farman and Breguet types in service. Agreement for license production of Sopwith 1 Strutter was quickly reached; however, due to the slow speed of development, the type was not appearing in great quantity, and in the beginning France purchased 1 Strutters produced in Great Britain.
By the end of 1916 the following companies were involved in production of the plane: Hanriot, Morane-Saulnier, Salmson, Nieuport and some others. In spite of the fact that all of these companies had developed similar aircraft of their own, they had to produce the 1 Strutter, which now had the type names Sopwith 1.B1 (one-seat version) and Sopwith 1.B2 (two-seat version). French manufacturers managed to build about four thousand aircraft of both versions in quite a short period of time (until autumn 1917)
There was almost no difference between the licensed Sopwith 1.B1 and its British counterpart except for the way bombs were loaded and fixed in the middle of the fuselage. The Le Rhone 9Jb engine was installed in the majority of these planes, while British-built aircraft had a Clerget 9Z engine.
At the moment of its fighting debut in the winter of 1916/1917 the plane was still competitive in fighting missions. This was proved by numerous missions bombing German industrial centers.
However, in spring 1917 French bombers stopped flying their missions without sufficient fighter cover. The appearance of the Breguet 14.B2, in the same class but superior to the 1 Strutter in every respect, proved the Sopwith 1.B1 and Sopwith 1.B2 to be obsolete, and they were taken out of service.
At that moment the Sopwith 1.B1 and Sopwith 1.B2 were very numerous, and it was impossible to stop their use straight away. Pilots did not like the type due to its low speed and lack of protective armament (the only machine gun was mounted under the wing - unlike the British type 9700 - and such a position did not allow its rearming in flight). Nevertheless, production of French 1 Strutters did not end until April 1918. All of the late-build machines were transferred to training units or sold to third countries.
 
Thanks to Roden for the historical background.

THE KIT

This is the fourth boxing of the Sopwith Strutter kit, this time concentrating on the French-built single seat bomber version. What is a bit different is that this kit does not have the clear fuselage and flight surfaces that previous kits have had. I imagine that Roden found it easier and less hassle to use regular plastic. The kit is well molded in a tanish grey plastic and is relatively free from sink marks and ejector pin marks in the wrong place. What I did find on my example is that the upper wings had a great deal of flash on them that nearly fused the two parts together. It isn't seen on the image above as I pinched that from the Roden website. Cleaning it up should be easy enough. Included is an excellent and very finely done etched brass fret as you can see from the image below.

The only real option is a choice of which upper wing will be used. Though there are additional upper fuselage sections and props, those are not meant for this particular boxing. Thanks to the W shaped cabane struts, these are in one piece, making the usual assembly of the upper wing a great deal easier than having to deal with many single struts. Since it is a single box biplane, it also means that rigging is not that difficult, making this a good choice for those WWI modelers who want something a bit more challenging.

As usual, the Roden instructions are superb, offering a well detailed construction sequence and giving color information throughout. Colors are in Humbrol or generic names. Basically, both markings options are in natural linen with aluminum metal panels. Decals re very well printed and quite glossy. Two aircraft are provided:

  1. Sopwith 1.B.1 of Escadrille SOP.107, French Air Force, 1917.
  2. Sopwith 1.B.1 of Escadrille SOP.111, French Air Force, June 1917. This is the box art plane with the red cowling.

CONCLUSIONS

Another super boxing of an interesting kit from Roden. If you have always wanted something a bit different from the usual fighters, then this one would be an excellent choice.

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