by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
It's often commented that Copper State Models' recent 1:48 injection-moulded kits are like miniature Wingnut Wings models in their quality and attention to detail, so there was understandable excitement when it was announced that Copper State Models were planning to move up to 1:32 like WNW themselves. To add to the excitement, the subject chosen was one that modellers had been requesting for years, but which hadn't made it into the WNW range - the Nieuport 17.
So, the wait is over and the kit has been released to an overwhelmingly positive response among WWI aviation enthusiasts.
The kit arrives in classic Copper State Models' style with the parts packed securely in a very solid white flip-top box with a very attractive outer sleeve over it. For me this is pretty much the ideal style of packaging, because the plain corrugated cardboard box is much stronger than most printed boxes that are used by kit manufacturers, and the flip-top design is very handy for storing parts during construction.
Lifting the lid, the first thing that greets you is a rather stylish instruction booklet, deigned to look like a vintage technical manual. (See below for more detail on the instructions.) Beneath that the sprues and accessories are all bagged individually and everything arrived perfectly intact in the sample kit.
The model comprises:
119 x pale grey styrene parts
7 x etched brass parts
1 x acetate film (plus spare)
Decals for 4 x colour schemes
The immediate impression is that this is a real gem of a kit. The moulding is excellent, with just a hint of light flash here and there. Sprue attachments are small and many are positioned on gluing surfaces to avoid marring the visible area of the part. Injection pin marks are light and tucked away unobtrusively, while there's no problem with sink marks in the sample kit.
The exterior finish is beautiful, with possibly the most delicate ribs and stitching effect I've yet seen in a kit, along with crisply defined raised eyelets and strengthening plates.
The design of the main airframe parts is both a little unusual and very logical, promising trouble-free construction that shouldn't prove daunting even for modellers without much experience with biplanes.
The core of the model is a one-piece lower wing and forward-fuselage floor, setting the dihedral firmly as a firm foundation for what follows. Onto this sits a very detailed forward fuselage interior framework with integral front cabane struts (to ensure easy line-up for the upper wing), which is then encased with side and top panels. The rear fuselage is a totally separate unit, attaching behind the cockpit.
The top wing is produced as three parts, and the way they join is quite inspired; the outer panels are moulded with hollow roots that accept large locating tabs on the centre section. I've never seen it done like this before on a biplane, but it looks set to provide a strong and foolproof way of joining the parts that minimises tricky filling.
A Few DetailsCopper State Models provide a beautifully detailed cockpit interior, with over 40 styrene parts plus a 5-part etched brass seat harness. The cockpit should look superb using only the parts provided, but the instructions also include a comprehensive guide to the many bracing wires and control cables. Copper State Models recommend various diameters of wire, but modellers may equally choose to use stretched sprue, fishing line or elastic thread such as Ez Line (and, of course, if you don’t fancy the extra work, you can omit the wires entirely and still end up with an intricate "office" that you can be proud of).
The side panels feature an intricate "slatted" effect on their inner faces, reminiscent of the interior of a Pfalz fuselage.
The 13-part Le Rhône engine is made of front and rear halves, plus separate cylinder heads. The cooling fins are lightly depicted, but should pop-out neatly with a wash. Spark-plugs are moulded integrally on the cylinders, while the induction pipes and pushrods are moulded together as one piece. The completed engine attaches to a nicely detailed firewall, complete with an oil tank, pump and magneto.
The fuselage-mounted Vickers machine gun is moulded with the cooling jacket in two halves to avoid inviting sinkage on what would be quite a thick part if it were solid. It comes with chutes for the empty cartridges and ammo belt, plus a charging handle that runs back over the windscreen to where the pilot could reach it.
The windscreen is another innovation, being clear film sandwiched in a styrene frame. The film is die-cut (as against simply printed) and a spare is provided in case of mishaps.
There's a choice of top wing centre-sections to allow for two styles of mounting for the neatly moulded Lewis machine guns (one for each style of mounting). One point of caution: I did notice the guns looked as though they are prone to being stressed on the sprue, so you might want to snip off the sprue attachment at the end of the barrels as soon as you've got the kit to avoid the parts being distorted or broken during handling.
The undercarriage and interplane struts look well detailed and sturdy. The wheels are moulded with separate outer covers to allow the spokes to be moulded inside. The tail skid is quite an elaborate 4-part affair (6 parts if you include the interior supports).
Two cowlings are included, but only one is needed for this boxing. The difference lies primarily in the position of the exterior strengthening ribs. The instructions indicate that a tiny modification is required to remove the rear ends of the ribs. Finally, the propeller is neatly moulded with a separate rear hub (it might have been nice to have a separate front hub too to facilitate painting).
Instructions & DecalsThe instructions fully match the rest of the kit in their quality and attention to detail. The cover of the A4 22-page booklet is designed to look like a vintage technical manual - a neat touch of style, but of course it's what's inside that counts, and Copper State Models certainly don't disappoint. Construction is broken down into 70 stages, each clearly illustrated with shaded diagrams and helpful English-language notes. 70 stages sounds a bit daunting, but some entail installing just one or two parts to keep everything manageable. Along with the main stages, there are often illustrations showing the sub-assemblies from other angles. This is particularly handy for the interior where there's a classic cat's-cradle of rigging wires and control cables that you can add.
Very detailed colour call-outs are included at each stage, keyed to a generic chart. No model paints are listed, but the colours needed should be available in any of the well-known brands around the world.
Decals are included for a quartet of French machines, all finished in aluminium and sporting a nice selection of personal insignia:
1. Nieuport XVII, s/n N 1895, flown by Lieutenant Charles Nungesser, N.65 Escadrille, November 1916
2. Nieuport XVII, s/n N 2054, “Dedette III”, flown by Sous-lieutenant Fernand Chevillon, N.15 Escadrille, spring/summer 1917
3. Nieuport XVII, s/n N 1681, “Zigomar 3”, flown by Adjutant Paul Tarascon, N.62 Escadrille, August 1916
4. Nieuport XVII, s/n unknown, flown by Lieutenant André Herbelin, N.102 Escadrille, autumn 1916
The painting guides are presented as very high quality profiles and plan views. One small point of confusion is that “Dedette III” is shown with a Moreau Lewis Gun mounting in its plan view, but it’s absent in the accompanying profile.
The decals are printed by Cartograf to their usual impeccable standard. Excess carrier film is almost non-existent on most items, and what their is is thin and crystal clear. The registration is faultless and the definition is such that tiny items like the makers logos for the struts are pin-sharp with legible text under a magnifier.
ConclusionI love it when a new kit is released that changes all your plans for future builds in an instant! Copper State Models' Nieuport 17 is just such a kit - superb on every level, beautifully designed and presented - and simply begging to be built. It's quite a complex model, so it's not really suitable for beginners, but the quality of the design and moulding should ensure a highly enjoyable build for anyone with a few WWI kits under their belt.
The move up to 1:32 represents a bold move as it inevitably invites comparison with WNW kits and Copper State Models have pulled it off brilliantly. The Nieuport deserves to be a huge success and will easily sit alongside the best in the WNW range. The exciting thing is that it complements rather than competes with WNW, plugging a yawning gap in the ranks with a state of the art kit of one of the most important fighters of WWI.
After a debut like this in 1:32, WWI modellers will be itching with impatience to see what Copper State Models have planned next in this scale. I recommend it without hesitation for modellers with a bit of experience.
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