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Wingnut Wings Sopwith 5F.1 Dolphin

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/32 scale kit
RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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While its stablemate, the Camel, fought at lower altitudes, the Sopwith Dolphin ruled the upper air — at least until it was pressed into service delivering small bombs to the trenches, along with many other Royal Flying Corps aircraft. With reverse-stagger wings, the Dolphin had a distinctive shape to go along with its superior performance.

Wingnut Wings’ Dolphin comes in a trim 154-part kit that includes optional armament, propellers, and even night-flying equipment. There are five decal options with numerous painting notes for each. Look closely at the many photos in the instructions for the locations of stencil decals not mentioned in the profiles.

There’s also a rigging diagram; pay attention, because cables for the radiator controls and the optional wing-mounted Lewis guns are easy to miss.

Typical of Wingnuts, the cockpit is a tour de force. The center section cabane struts are molded to the side walls along with numerous piping runs for the radiators, making alignment and assembly easy.

Careful painting according to the instructions will yield a busy cockpit. After annealing the photo-etched (PE) seat belts with a blowtorch, I added them to the seat before painting. (This prevented the scratches and glue dots I always seem to add to the interior otherwise.)

The sturdy cockpit easily supports the detailed 200-horsepower Hispano-Suiza engine. I left the upper-wing support structure off until painting and decaling was complete.

With the interior done, assembly moved quickly.

There’s no easy way to install the extremely fragile tail skid after painting, so I protected it with tape during assembly.

I added the lower wings but left off the horizontal stabilizer and delicate rudder for painting and decals. Shallow ejector-pin marks marred the inside of the radiators.

I painted the Dolphin with Tamiya acrylics.

The beautifully printed decals went on without problems, but be careful as the roundels can tear if moved too much.

Adding the wings after paint and decals demonstrated Wingnut Wings’ outstanding engineering. All the struts clicked into place, and they supported the upper wing without glue.
 
After attaching the rudder and stabilizer, I rigged the model with EZ Line. The rigging is mostly straightforward. But there a few lines that are easily missed in the diagram, such as the one that parallels the wing support in front of the cockpit.

Finally, I added small details like the gunsight, exhausts, and weapons. Flash interfered with the fit of the Vickers machine guns’ cooling jackets; a quick, internal trim of jackets fixed the problem.

The Dolphin is another winner from Wingnut Wings. Despite its complicated appearance, it is simple to build and easy to rig; I spent 34 hours on mine. I’m happy to have this lesser-known Sopwith in my collection.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2018 issue.

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