Wingnut Wings 1/32 Hansa-Brandenburg W.29

KIT #: 320010
PRICE: $89.00 SRP, includes shipping
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


            The Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 is alleged to have been designed one night on the back of a cabaret wine list by Chief Designer Ernst Heinkel, and was essentially a monoplane redesign of the earlier Hansa‑Brandenburg W.12 biplane.  The wing had nearly the wing area of the biplane, though the advanced monoplane design had greatly improved performance due to the reduction in drag.  This was achieved because the highly rigid nature of the float and strut arrangement obviated the need for bracing wires.

             Three prototypes - numbers 2204,2205 and 2206 - were built in January 1918, each powered by a different engine for comparison purposes, 2204 had the 150hp Benz Bz.III, 2205 the  185hp BMW IIIa and 2206 the 160hp Daimler‑Mercedes D.III. The 150hp Benz Bz.III was chosen, most likely because of priority being given to land based fighter aircraft for the higher performance engines. When production began in April 1918, the W.29 was produced in 2 versions: 156 C3MG aircraft, equipped with 3 machine guns, and 43 C2MGHFT aircraft, with 2 machine guns and wireless equipment.  121 W.29s were powered by the 150hp Benz Bz.III, 66 with the 185hp Bz.IIIa and 11 with the 185hp BMW IIIa engine. An order for 30 160hp Daimler‑Mercedes D.III powered aircraft placed in September 1918 was canceled after the armistice.

             As perhaps the most advanced seaplane to be used during the Great War, the W.29 saw a lengthy post-war service with the Deutsche Luft‑Reederei (German Air Carrier) and in Norway.  Fifteen W.29s were license-built in Denmark, as the H.M.I, while something between 156 and 310 aircraft were produced in Japan, as the Hansa‑Shiki Suijo Teisatsuki ‑ Hansa Type Reconnaissance Seaplane - for the Imperial Japanese Navy.  The W.33, a slightly larger, more powerful version of the W.29, powered by a 260 h.p. Mercedes engine, was ordered in April 1918, but only seven were completed in Germany before the Armistice; post-war, 102 were license built in Finland as the IVL A.22, while 30 were built in Norway. The final IVL A.22 was not retired from Finnish service until 1936.

             Entering service beginning in April, 1918, the W.29s augmented the W.12 and W.19 seaplanes operating from Zeebrugge, Ostend, Borkum and Nordeney along the Channel and North Sea. Operating as fighters with a top speed of 110 m.p.h. and possessing excellent maneuverability, the W.29 was a dangerous adversary for the Short sea planes and Curtiss and Felixstowe flying boats.  The leading German pilot was Oberleutnant Friedrich Christiensen, a former member of the German Merchant Marine who was considerably older than the average Great War fighter pilot, being close to 40. 

             On July 6th, 1918, the British submarine C-25 was surprised on the surface by a formation of W.29s led by Christiansen. The submarine was old and not bullet proof.  In short order, its motors were out of action, while many of the crew, including the commander, were casualties. Eventually, C-25 was rescued and towed to Harwich, “leaking like a sieve,” with the damage all done by 7.62 mm machine‑gun fire.

             With its success, the Hansa‑Brandenburg monoplanes had a considerable influence on German seaplane design, with several similar types appearing in 1918 -  the Friedrichshafen FF 63, the Dornier Cs‑I, the Junkers J.11, and the L.F.G. Roland ME 8.  The influence of this aircraft can be seen in the design of the Arado Ar-196A, considered the most advanced shipboard floatplane used in the Second World War.


            I first became aware of the Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 about 50 odd years ago when I found the Harleyford “Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War” in the Denver Public Library.  The airplane was so different from everything else used during the war, it made quite an impact on me and I scratchbuilt a balsa model of it from the three-view drawing in the book.  Since then the W.29 has always been one of my favorite Great War airplanes.  It has appeared over the years in 1/72 scale, and Eduard released  a limited-run 1/48 kit back in 1998.  This kit by Wingnut Wings is the only one in 1/32 I am aware of, and is easily the best kit of this airplane available in any scale.

             The kit consists of 209 high quality injection molded parts in grey plastic, with optional parts for the 3-gun fighter and 2-gun radio- equipped aircraft, with tailplane parts for the prototype, early production and late production versions.  A highly-detailed Benz Bz.III 150hp engine is provided, along with beaching dollies and trestles to display the completed model.  The kit includes 13 photo‑etched metal detail parts and a metal wing spar, which gives excellent strength to the completed kit.  The fine in-scale rib tape detail on the wings and elevator is excellent.  Decals are provided for five different aircraft: the prototype, an early production and late production version, and one C2MG radio-equipped version.


            As with all Wingnut Wings kits, following the instructions as they are done in the instruction booklet will insure a successful outcome.  This kit does require some test-fitting of parts to insure accurate final assembly; this is particularly true with the cowling panels, where I found I had to do some filing of the fuselage area just ahead of the cockpit to get a nice easy fit of the parts with the machine gun mounts.  Pay close attention to which aileron is used on which wing, since the outer tip curves in a particular way for each.  It's also a good idea to pay attention to which wing insignia is called for on which wing, so that you get the proper-fitting insignia for the upper surface (I almost missed that myself).

             I began by pre-painting everything while still on the sprues.  While the varnished wood parts were drying, I took the opportunity to assemble the Bz.III engine and set it aside. 

             The cockpit interior is easy so long as you check out the instruction drawings carefully at the outset.  Once this was done and the photoetch seatbelts were installed, I installed the engine in place, and then installed the interior in the left fuselage half and closed up the fuselage halves.  I found I needed some green putty on the centerline of the observer's turtleback, and along the centerline of the fuselage upper and lower, and some putty on the upper surface of the horizontal stabilizer to deal with some sink marks.  None of this was difficult, and when the putty had set up I sanded everything smooth and then attached the cowling panels.

             I assembled the wings, keeping the ailerons separate, and then assembled the floats with their central braces.



             The fuselage and the bottom of the floats were painted overall with Tamiya XF-66 “Light Grey” with is close to RAF Ocean Grey; I added in some white and “blotched” it to give a feeling of wear from saltwater.  The lower surfaces of the wings and elevator were painted with Gunze-Sangyo “Sail Color,” and the floats and struts were painted with Tamiya “NATO Black.”  When that was finished, I gave the sub-assemblies an overall coat of Xtracrylix “Clear Gloss.”


            I started with the lozenge decals.  You need to cut these close and pre-fit them where they will be applied, to make sure they fit, as they are not exact fits.  I trimmed as necessary and applied the decals using copious amounts of Micro-Sol.  After setting up overnight, the decals were nice and tight overall.  I then attached the ailerons to the wings, and applied the national insignia and unit markings for the W.29 “2530", which is the most colorful option, carrying the markings of the Seastaffel Flanders II, operating from Zeebrugge in the summer of 1918.  These decals went in without problem under Micro-Sol.


            When the decals were set, I masked the engine cowling panels and the cockpit cowlings, so they would stay with a gloss finish, and applied a good coat of Xtracrylix “Clear Flat” to the rest of the fuselage, and the floats and struts.  The wings, the lozenge on the upper surfaces of the fuselage, stabilizer, and upper and lower surfaces of the elevator, were given a coat of Xtracrylix “Clear Satin.”

             While all that was setting up, I painted the beaching dolly and braces, then assembled them.  While that was setting up, I assembled the machine guns, using the photoetch cooling jackets for the twin Spandaus, and then assembled the observer's ring mount and his Parabellum gun.      

            I attached the Spandaus to the fuselage, and also attached the exhaust stacks for the engine at this point.  I then attached the floats to the fuselage with their central struts.  This was followed by sliding the wings onto the metal spar and attaching them, after which I attached the outer “N” struts for the floats.  I also attached the elevators and rudder, then finished off by attaching the air speed indicator to the left wing.

            I then did some “weathering” to the fuselage, with some oil smears and such around the engine and cockpit, and some wear on the wing walk, then attached the observer's gun ring and weapon.  Last but not least, the windshields and the prop were attached.  I used RB productions 2BA wire for the control wires and installed them per the kit instructions.


            As I said above, this is the best kit of this interesting airplane in any scale.  For those who are first venturing into the genre of Great War models, this is an excellent first choice, since there is no rigging to speak of other than the control wires.  The result is a distinctive-looking model for  any modeler who follows the instructions.  Those who want to detail the engine can have an even more-distinctive model.  Highly recommended.

Tom Cleaver

February 2011

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