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Flashback's Sopwith "Navy" Pup

 

By Tom Cleaver

 

The Airplane

The Pup was the first thoroughly successful fighter from a company that has been making good ones ever since, first as the Sopwith Aeroplane Company, later as the Hawker Aircraft Co., and today as British Aerospace. Its reputation as the most delightful-to-fly World War One airplane has been confirmed by the many 1:1 replicas built over the years; it is so maneuverable and responsive that a pilot can turn either direction merely by sticking that arm out in the slipstream.

In 1916, the Royal Naval Air Service began investigating ways of taking airplanes aboard ships and operating them in combat. Eugene Ely had shown in 1911 that it was possible to land and take off from a suitably-modified ship. The airplane chosen for the British experiments was the Pup, primarily due to its extreme tractability. The first Royal Navy aircraft carrier was H.M.S. Furious, a modified battle cruiser which originally had a wooden deck forward; an airplane was supposed to fly alongside and - at the last moment - slip over and drop on the deck. Only the Pup could do that, and the event was actually accomplished by Squadron Commander E.H. Dunning in Pup 6454 on August 2, 1917. Dunning was later killed in continued experiments, when he ran into the slipstream created by the battlecruiser superstructure of "Furious." By 1918, Furious had been modified by addition of an actual deck with taxiways to either side of the cut-down superstructure. On April 15, 1918, Captain Gallehawk landed the skid-equipped Pup N6438 "Excuse Me!" aboard "Furious." The first carrier fighter had proven it could do the one essential thing - land and take off of a ship underway. Naval warfare would never be the same afterwards.

The Kit

As stated elsewhere, Flashback kits use plastic injection molded parts from earlier Eduard releases, with detail resin parts from AIRES, some photo-etch brass from Eduard, and Eduard decals. This release is the Pup - the last of the "old fashioned" Eduard kits, suitably modified to become either Cdr. Dunning's Pup 6454, or Capt. Gallehawk's N6488. The skids for N6438 are provided in resin, while 6454 would use the standard landing gear of the earlier release. The cockpit floor is resin, as is the instrument panel, while the rest is done with the photo-etch brass of the original kit. The decals are Propagteam, and well-printed.

Recommendation

The other World War I kits reviewed this issue are relatively simple to assemble and rig. This is not the case with the Pup, which is a serious step into the more extensively-rigged World War I airplanes that scare off many modelers. However, with the construction ease provided by Flashback, any modeler who has successfully built either the Nieuport 17 or the Albatros D.III will have acquired the necessary skill and confidence to attack this project successfully. Given the historic significance of the two aircraft that can be built from this kit, it should rank high for any modeler whose primary interest is naval aviation; these two were the first of the many. I have built two Pups previously, and recommend this kit without hesitation.




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Air Intelligence
1999 Modelers'
Reference Guides

1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00

Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.

TacAir Publications

PO Box 90933
Albuquerque NM
87199-0933
USA

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