KIT: Roden 1/72 Curtiss H-16 Flying Boat
KIT #: 0049
PRICE: $24.98 (19.96 at Squadron)
DECALS: options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken

At the end of 1917 the Royal Naval Air Service received the first production examples of the new Felixstowe F.2A flying boat. The performance of the new aircraft (in maneuverability, range and endurance) was so impressive that naval commanders immediately increased their orders several times. But these big new orders entailed some practical difficulty because building a big plane like the F.2A was a lengthy business. As a result many sub-contractors (Saunders; AMC; May, Harden & May) received additional orders for F.2A construction. Moreover, an additional license was issued for the US company Curtiss. The chief designer of the F.2A, John Porte, had co-operated with Glenn Curtiss for many years and Curtiss had great experience in designing and building flying boats.
The US-built F.2A received its own designation as the Curtiss H-16, but in fact this was the same aircraft with similar dimensions and performance figures. The principal difference was the installation of US-built Liberty V12 engines, while all British-built F.2As had Rolls Royce Eagle engines.

In the Spring of 1918 the first Curtiss H-16 boats were delivered to the RNAS. These boats were based together with F.2As in the same main naval bases and performed similar roles like coastal patrol and hunting for enemy submarines.

The Curtiss company received additional orders for the H-16 after the entry of the USA into World War One, but now for the US Navy's needs. Nevertheless, Great Britain was still the main customer for the H-16 - at the end of May 1918 the RNAS had at least 69 H-16s and 59 F.2As. The flying boats had a short life - salt water quickly destroyed the wooden hulls and their very intensive combat service left few opportunities for repairs and rebuilding. By early 1919 only a few examples of the H-16 as well as the F.2A were still in service with the RAF and soon they were declared obsolete and struck off charge. US Navy H-16s remained in service until the mid-1920s, when they were replaced by more modern flying boats.

Thanks toRoden for the historical background information


If you have seen the preview on the Felixstowe F.2A flying boats, then you pretty well know what to expect from this kit. There are few differences since the H-16 was a US built F.2A. In fact, just about the only visual difference is the rudder. Since Roden and others like to use multiple sprues, especially when there are a lot of duplicate parts as on multi-engine aircraft, you'll find two extra rudders! That makes this kit basically a decal change from the previous F.2A kit.

Just like the previous kit, there are a lot of very small parts and so this kit would be best tackled by someone who has had some experience in doing WWI aircraft. This is especially so as the rigging is quite extensive. Fortunately, Roden has taken that into account and has provided an excellent rigging diagram. The overall quality of the molded parts is excellent. Roden has done a lot of work to ensure that you won't be disappointed by the detail. It is up to the builder to make the best of what is provided.

Their instructions are quite comprehensive and very informative when it comes to some of the detail areas. You have color information provided with both generic names and current Humbrol paint references. Decals are well printed, though my copy had a bit of smearing of colors in a few instances, leaving rather ragged demarcation lines in a few areas. I have heard that Roden has improved the 'stick' of their decals so these should work well with various setting solutions. Only actually using them will tell. Markings are for four aircraft. The main colors on these aircraft are various shades of grey and in some cases, the wings are in natural linen. The lone British example is in browns. On the sheet are:

Curtiss H16, s/n N4892, based at Felixstowe, May 1918, Curtiss H16, K-29, based at Killingholme 1918,1, Curtiss H16, A-845, U.S. Navy, 1920s,  Curtiss H16, A-1032, Based at Lough Foyle, 1918.


Overall, this is an excellent looking kit. Because of all the detail, small parts and rigging, it would not be my first choice for a beginner, but those who are somewhat experienced with WWI aircraft will find this one to be a beauty when finished.

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