|Building Temeks Morane-Saulnier Type I
By Matt Bittner
The Morane-Saulnier Type I was a result of trying to increase performance of the Type N. While most Type N's were fitted with deflectors on the propeller to ensure the airscrew would not be shot off by the Hotchkiss gun, the Type I used an interrupter gear on a Vickers gun. The Type I was "up-engined" with the 110hp Le Rhone, and the wing area was also increased.
The similarities between the Type N and Type I are most evident in the original designation of the Type I: Type Nbis. While the Type I saw very limited - if any - service with the French and British, it was widely used by the Imperial Russian Aviation Service. A major contributing factor for the lack of use - and quick demise - of the Morane-Saulnier single-seat monoplanes in both the French and British services was the introduction of the excellent Nieuport 11.
Although the Temeks Morane-Saulnier Type I can be built out of the box, it can benefit from certain refinements, corrections and additions. This article explains those refinements, corrections and additions.
First order of business was thinning the cockpit sides. This was needed primarily because the kit was molded with "slots" for the wings to sit in, so the plastic where these slots are is quite thick. A lot can be removed without worrying about "cutting through" the slot. Once this thick area of plastic was removed, then detail may be added to the rest of the cockpit.
The kit comes with no cockpit whatsoever. No seat. No pilot. Nothing. Everything will have to be fabricated. I used thin plastic rod for the fuselage stringers and plastic strip and sheet was used to make up the rest of the cockpit structure. Since the seam on the bottom of the fuselage was horrid, a false "floor" was added from plastic sheet. The seat and control column were scratch-built, while the rudder pedals and engine "blip switch" came from the Toms Modelworks French photoetch set.
Once the cockpit was complete, the fuselage halves were glued together and any seams dealt with appropriately. The Temeks kit comes with a "panel line" (which is supposed to represent stitching) molded into the port fuselage half. I could only find photos of one or two machines with this stitching - which were Type Ns and not Type Is - so this "panel line" was filled in. The forward area of the cockpit - which is the most distinguishing feature of the Type I - was re-worked. Temeks has you glue their gun "halves" together "trapping" the forward fuselage area between the two gun halves. On the real airplane, this area was "hollow" and "see through" so the gun passed through this area "complete". Using knives and files, this area was "hollowed" out. The cowl also received attention, thinning it considerably and correcting its outline.
Construction moved to the wings, which were thinned. A lot of plastic was removed to bring them more into scale. Once the thinning was finished, the "rib tapes" were added using plastic strip which was sanded down in scale after all were glued on. Once all that was accomplished, the wings were glued to the fuselage and the small seams were fixed.
Next up were the tail surfaces. The horizontal tail was thinned considerably, the outline was corrected, and "scallops" were added to the trailing edge. The vertical tail was thinned, outline was corrected, and the rudder was separated from the fin. Control horns for both surfaces come from the Toms Modelworks French photoetch set. The tail skid struts were also dealt with, thinning the kits "vee" portion while replacing the "legs" with real metal guitar strings.
The rear of the fuselage was now corrected. Temeks has you mount the horizontal tail like other kits, by sliding a peg into a matching hole. However, the Morane-Saulnier Type I (as well as the Type N and Type V) had a unique tail arrangement where each side of the horizontal tail was connected through the fuselage by a central rod. This rod was external and noticeable and was where the control horns were mounted. The kits fuselage was cut and sanded to the correct configuration, and each piece of the horizontal tail was drilled to accept a guitar string "rod" which passed through the fuselage. Each horizontal tail piece was now connected to this rod. The fin was added and seams were dealt with.
At this point I decided to correct the landing gear struts. My initial thinking when starting this model was to utilize as many kit parts as possible, but the landing gear struts were just "too wrong" to accept. I scratchbuilt two sets of landing gear struts (each set consisting of four struts) and I sent one pair to Rosemont Hobby Shop to resin cast. Once I received a set of the resin struts, I built these struts according to the instructions - which included brass rod for the axle and wire for the supporting "rods" - and glued the landing gear onto the fuselage. I also decided to replace the fuselage underside "vee strut" which was used for the wing-warp wires. This was replaced with Strutz! metal strut material for strength, and a piece of guitar string was glued on for the horizontal rod.
The French Clear Doped Linen (CDL) of the period had a range of off-white to a yellow-tan. Polly Scale Ger. RLM 69 Lt. Tan was used for the CDL, while Polly Scale "Concrete" was used for the metal areas. Before the gloss was applied prior to adding the decals, the model was weathered using watercolor pencils. This was the first time I used these pencils for weathering, and it wont be the last. One of the biggest advantages with watercolor pencils is being able to feather the colors together. A darker tan was used in the "crevices" of the fuselage fabric, while a more yellow color was used for the highlights. Once they were penciled in, then a damp brush (with most of the water gone) was lightly brushed over the model, blending the colors in. The same process was used on the wings, with the darker color being applied on the sides of the rib tapes, while the lighter color was used on the tapes themselves.
The French cockades are from Americal/Gryphon, and the rudder serials and stencils decals were generated from an ALPS printer applied over painted on rudder stripes. Rigging is carbon steel wire from Sopwith Hobbies, the engine is an Aeroclub item, the propeller a modified Aeroclub item and the Vickers gun is from Rosemont.
Datafile #59, Morane-Saulnier Type N, I, V, Albatros Publications
French Aircraft of the First World War, Flying Machines Press