Scratchbuilt 1/48th Nieuport 6H

By Claudio Kalicinski

Background

The Nieuport 6H was the military version of a long series of Nieuport floatplanes started with the Nieuport IV G in 1912.

When France entered the war the navy had two Nieuport floatplane escadrilles, one of these was equipped with six Nieuports VI G based at Saint-Raphael and the other was equipped with Nieuports VI H embarked at the seaplane carriers Foudre and Campinas operating on the Mediterranean. Some of these planes were lent to the British. These planes helped the French and British navies maintain dominance over the area, and later conducted some of the early reconnaissance flights over the Dardanelles. But by 1917, the Nieuports were replaced with F.B.A seaplanes and relegated to training duties. Some of these served with the Royal Naval Air Service for floatplane training at Lake Windermere in the UK. One of these planes is the one I chose to build.

Specifications

Engine: Gnôme Monosoupape B2 100hp rotary.
Max speed: 120 Km/h.
Ceiling: 2000 m.
Wing Span: 12.635
Endurance: 5 hours

The Model

I like scratchbuilding maybe because the challenge or maybe because I like rare planes or maybe because I´m masochistic.

I decided to scratch build this plane after seeing the scale drawings by Mike Fletcher in his web site. I sent an E-mail to him and he kindly sent me pictures and a larger plan. The first thing I noticed is how big the plane was. See the picture with the Dragon´s Fokker Dr.I.

Construction

I started the old fashioned way: building the fuselage right over the plans. The fuselage was made from 1 mm plasticard with internal bulkheads to achieve the necessary degree of sturdiness.

All its interior was scratchbuilt, using plasticard, heat stretched sprue and copper wire except for the seatbelts (they came from a Tom´s Modelworks etched set). Although some interior details are the result of guessing, most of the interior is based in drawings and a few (bad) pictures. The instruments (oil pressure gauge and compass) were made using Corel Draw and Copper State bezels. The seats were made with warped plasticard.

Wings were cut from 1.75mm plasticard and wrapped around a beer bottle (first I made good use of the contents) to achieve the relevant curvature. The whole complex was then dipped in hot water, so the shape set into the plastic parts. Then I covered the wings with a very thin plastic sheet, with ribs embossed from the inside using an old ball point pen.

The cowling and the tail float were thermoformed. First took a square piece of wood, I don´t know what you call it in your local stores, but it is the soft wood used for flying models (we call it Balsa wood). Then I cut the cowling drawing from the plans (side and front view) and glued to the square piece of wood, then I carved it to the proper form and size. The wood master was coated with a putty used for cars, sanded and polished. With the master finished I made the plastic cowling with a home built vacuum machine. The side bumps were made in the same way but using plastic for the master. The engine and the propeller were scratchbuilt. I added an etched boss from Fotocut to the propeller. The pitot tube was made with bended steel wire.

The floats were made with plasticard sheets. All the struts were made from Aeroclub airfoils struts with steel wire inside them. The round tubes struts were made with hypodermic needles and brass rods.

Painting and Markings

The machine I choosed to model had an unique finish, with French cockades in the wings and British on the fuselage. This was one of the planes lent by the French Navy to the RNAS. This machine originally had the French serial 341, which was still visible over and under the leading edge of the tailplane.

I used Testors paints: Sand (ANA616) for the clear doped linen. Highly polished aluminium and steel for the metal parts.

The markings were painted and the serial was made using Corel Draw and my ink jet printer.

The propeller, floats and upper canopy decking was painted with a wood tint over a coat of light tan It´s a complex process. I will try to explain it.

First, you have to know of what kind of wood was made the original parts. The wood in my Nieuport was cedar.

With the wood chosen, paint the different parts (propeller, floats, upper decking) with a light brown (or tan) color, only practice will tell you the right color. Let it dry for a day or two. Then apply several coats of an enamel (not acrylic) gloss varnish (I use Testors). Let it dry. Then buy a wood tint, they come in different shades for different kinds of woods which in my case was cedar. Apply to the models using the technique of "dry brush". Use a big flat brush for big surfaces and a small one to make the grains. But this is not an easy technique, you will need a lot of practice and patience.

Rigging

The rigging was accomplished with a very thin fishing line.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed my model how I ´ve enjoyed building it.

It was a long project! (it took me 8 months). But the old rule about scratchbuilding did it again, and as soon as I completed the project Copper State Models announced their 1/48 Nieuport VI H.!! What can I say... Murphy´s Law attacked again.

References

- Nieuport Pages http://mars.ark.com/~mdf/nieuport.html
- French Aircraft of the First World War, J. J. Davilla and A. M. Soltan.
- Les premiers Nieuports à flotteurs, Gerard Hartmann.
- Hardgrave the pioneers http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/images/nieuport
- Windsock Datafile 68 Nieuport 10/12, JM Bruce.

 

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