Roseplane 1/72 Siemens Schuckert DDr.1
As you can gather from the pictures of this model, the SSW DDr.I was a somewhat unusual aeroplane, highly experimental in design. Built in October 1917, the 'Flying Egg' was powered by two 100hp Siemens Halske Sh .1 rotary engines. The aeroplane's first and only flight occurred on November 27, 1917. It crashed and was not rebuilt. I could find but two pictures of this aeroplane, one before the crash and one after (Windsock 018).
The kit is a 'Multimedia' kit, comprising a vacuform sheet with wings; and resin fuselage, tail surfaces, wheels, guns and propeller. The rest, as they say, is up to you (or me). At the outset I strongly suspected that building a boomed push-me-pull-you triplane vacuform would have its own special problems; I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was challenged to the limit of my abilities and patience. That is not a criticism of the kit, whose components are well constructed but the nature of the aeroplane is bound to make for a tricky build.
The Fuselage and Cockpit
The fuselage comes in two resin pieces; a lower part and a smaller top that goes on after the cockpit interior is built up. The information on the cockpit interior is a little sparse so I used a diagram and picture of a Siemens Schuckert D.III as a rough guide. I painted the interior of the fuselage sand colour and glued some formers to the insides made from plastic strips. I fashioned a control stick from plastic rod with some triggers at the top. I added a few instrument dials on the sides of the interior, there being no instrument panel. I used the kit seat glued to a piece of plastic card that was dry brushed to look like wood, and added a foot rudder from the spares box. I added some seat belts made from sticky paper tape painted grey and silver at the tips to represent buckles.
Once the interior was complete, the top of the fuselage was glued shut using super-glue. The literature said that the flying surfaces were CDL, and that the fuselage, wheel covers and struts were either white or pale blue. I went with the pale blue idea, stuffed some Kleenex tissue paper into the cockpit opening and sprayed the fuselage Polyscale Light Blue.
Undercarriage and Wings
The next issue was to construct the three wings and because the undercarriage was set into the leading edge of the lower wing, the wing and undercarriage had to be planned in combination.
My first task was to cut the parts from the vacuform sheet; a straightforward task because the only vacuform parts are the wings. After cutting roughly around the parts, I used a Dremel to shape the scalloped trailing edge and a sheet of sandpaper taped to a large piece of Plexiglas for the straight leading edge. I then simulated the underside ribbing by scoring two close parallel lines for each rib. I sprayed each wing with a mixture of Gunze-Sangyo White and just a small amount of Sail and Yellow paint and Future floor enamel.
When I had sprayed the paint, I covered the surface with Future to protect it. I found the Gunze-Sangyo paint to be fragile and was easily scratched and removed by my clumsiness. Perhaps these paints are fine if the painted parts are already assembled, however, it was difficult to not damage the paint job while actually working with the parts. I used a Burnt Yellow Ochre watercolour pencil to highlight the ribs on the under and upper flying surfaces.
My next problem was to decide which wing to attach first. The instructions say to construct the lower set of wings first, however, I thought it would be easier to align everything if I began with the middle wings. I attempted to insert thin copper wire to strengthen the fuselage-wing joint but the vacuform wings were too thin. I glued the wings onto the fuselage using super glue and then used five-minute two-part epoxy to strengthen the joint.
The lower wing was next. I cut slots into the leading edge for the forward legs of the undercarriage and glued that into position using epoxy. The interplane struts were made from .035" plastic rod sanded to an aerofoil shape and cut to length. I started by gluing the inner most struts and worked my way outwards on each wing, trying to keep all the struts parallel and straight.
The top wing was more difficult. My first attempt to fit the struts resulted in a noticeable kink in the two sets of interplane struts as viewed from the front. I had to pull apart the top wing, fill the holes, sand and re-paint it. It took me three tries to get the entire thing fitted and straight. I had initially thought that most of the interplane struts would be able to go straight through the middle wing but they are not meant to be quite straight. Viewed from the side, there is supposed to be a noticeable kink forward of the top interplane struts. It took a long time for me to get to this point but once this was completed, I had hoped that the rest would be clear sailing. I was incorrect.
The Boom and Tail Parts
I used the jig enclosed in the kit to construct the tail boom. The boom parts were made from .030" rod and the cross pieces from the same rod sanded to aerofoil shape. The entire structure was painted Light Blue. The tail parts are beautifully made from thin resin. When I attempted to fit the boom structure to the trailing edge of the top and lower wings, I realized I had made the interplane gaps too wide. The vertical height of the boom widens as it is further from the tail parts. I simply lengthened the tail boom until it was wide enough to accommodate the wing structure; the model is, therefore, inaccurate in this regard.
As I had spent considerable time on this model, I was, to put it mildly, somewhat disappointed at this discovery. I could not face what essentially would have been an entire re-build of the wing section so I left it. I thought it looked presentable as a model and inaccurate it would have to remain. I painted the propellers a base coat of enamel sand colour and then carefully painted Leather Brown stripes to represent the laminated wood effect.
Decals and Rigging
I found some decals from the Pegasus Austro-Hungarian Crowns and Crosses sheet. None of the crosses were small enough for the tail parts so I cut them down to size. I then drilled small holes in the tail parts to accommodate the control horns. The rigging is complicated by the interplane pattern, which is similar to the Sopwith Triplane; it is difficult to prevent it from looking kinked. Using .005" stainless steel wire from Small Parts Inc. glued with Elmers white glue, I gradually built up the rigging.
The rigging diagram indicated control horns for the vertical tail parts but I also added ones for the horizontal tail; I had to guess as to the rigging points for these and some of the other rigging. Aeroplanes that have a bay for their 'Push' propeller usually do not have any rigging in that part of the bay, for example the Farman F-40 and the Airco D.H.2, for the obvious reason that the propeller would hit the rigging. The rigging diagram showed some cross rigging in that bay that I omitted because I thought it would look odd on my model, possibly because I had made the boom too long.
Once the entire kit was complete, I sprayed it with a coat of Testors Flat, which is not actually that 'flat'.
The vacuform sheet is well done with crisp, clean wing impressions; the resin fuselage and smaller resin parts are also excellent. This is, however, a difficult kit. References are few and far between and it is difficult to work out some of the important details. For example, the precise location where the wing struts met the wings’ surface. Even if the vacuform mold indicated this, one would have to be extremely precise in cutting out the vacuform parts to avoid any kinked appearance of the two interplane wing bays’ struts. None of these are faults of the manufacturer rather this is, in my view, a difficult model to build and I recommend it for those who have had some experience building biplanes.
Windsock International Plans Service, Number 18
Thanks to Dennis Ugulano and Matt Bittner for helpful advice and references, and especially Dennis for constructing an excellent scratch built SSW DDr.1 from which I received considerable guidance by looking at it on his website.
My thanks to Bob Pearson for sending me the kit. Also, thanks to Barry Stettler at Rosemont Hobbies for sending the kit to him.