This build of the Roden Spad VII c1 will incorporate Pheon Models decal set depicting the Lafayette Escadrille. I will be displaying this model with the engine cowls on so I will not be constructing the engine during this build. A full Hispano Suiza engine detail build can be found here.
Many thanks to Rowan Broadbent and Richard Andrews for sending me this kit and the decal set, I hope to do both justice.
Upon opening the box the first thing I noticed was that all the sprues are placed inside a single plastic bag, individually wrapped sprues would certainly avoid any damage to parts during transit. The decal sheet and instruction booklet are inside their own separate sealed bag. Components of the kit are mounted on 6 light grey sprues and 1 clear sprue, 4 smaller ones for the engine, undercarriage and clear parts. The other 3 sprues hold all the fuselage and wing parts plus lots of other bits and pieces. The moulding of the kit is very good with nice sharp detail and crisp lines. There is evidence of flash and some injector marks but nothing major. The worst thing I picked up were two sink holes in the propeller close to the hub. A quick inspection revealed pretty good detail on most parts, there is no evidence of wing warp or deformation of any of the other components. The instruction booklet is a standard Roden publication, printed in black and white with no photo references, the instructions seem quite clear and easy to read. The decals provided with the kit cover 3 schemes but I have not included them here as I will be using Pheon Models decals. Some parts have been removed from the sprues which I presume are for the later model Spads, maybe Roden are planning on releasing a late version soon?.
These are the schemes available with the Pheon Models decal set for the Spad used with the Lafayette Escadrille. Pheon Models have produced a beautiful set of decals with well detailed prints. The full colour sheets included with the decal set are printed on photo paper and are of very high quality, also included is a booklet giving the history of the Lafayette and a full explanation of each of the available schemes. Pheon Models has not cut any corners in their production of these decals and have provided a very high quality, accurate decal set.
I started this build by firstly opening up all the vents around the engine section, there are a lot of them. I drilled three 0.65mm holes through each vent then cleaned out the remaining material using a very sharp scalpel blade, the sharp blade does a very clean cut so no sanding was required.
These are the two engine side panels and the bottom cowling with all the vents opened up. This whole process took about 3 hours, a little time consuming but well worth the effort. The plastic Roden has used is quite soft so it works very easily making it a very simple job.
This photo shows the top engine cowlings with the vents open out. I drill three 0.4mm holes at a 45 degree angle then cleaned out the slot using the drill bit as a file. I drilled all the rocker cover venting holes with a 0.4mm drill bit. Because the plastic is soft the drill bit had a tendency to wander so the rows are not perfectly straight.
I added the radiator bars by using 0.8mm and 0.5mm brass tube super glued together and to the cowling. The centre hole is 8mm x 8mm to match the centre hub in the radiator. To simulate the radiator I used a tea strainer, cut to size then glued to the plastic radiator. The mesh I used is a bit too coarse but for the purpose of the exercise it is adequate, I always like to do my detailing with bits and pieces I have lying around. I sprayed the mesh with Humbrol flat black then highlighted the mesh with Humbrol aluminium, the centre section is also Humbrol aluminium. These few simple additions will enhance the completed model, I hope.
These four photos show the tiny turnbuckles needed for inside the cockpit, they are used for the fuselage frame bracing and the control cables. Each one is made from 0.4mm brass tube which has been drilled out to 0.3mm then cut to a length of 2mm. The eyelets are 0.1mm wire twisted around a 0.2mm drill bit shank, they are then inserted into the brass tube and held with CA. How to make turnbuckles and eyelets can be found here. I have included two photos just to show a size comparison and a photo of 14 turnbuckles ready for use.
These two photos show work I have commenced on the cockpit interior. Timber flooring was base coated with Gunze acrylic then wood grained with oils. Seat edging is 0.65 soft brass wire and the cushion is made from Milliput, I still need to do a lot more work on the cushion. Metal plates on the floor are made from left over PE frets, these ones are 3mm wide. Rudder bar is timber grained with a metal edge where the pilot places his boots, this is done with Humbrol aluminium. Control cables from the rudder bar with turnbuckles will be added next as well as cables and turnbuckles from the control column. A small instrument will be fixed on the floor ahead of the control column.
This is the application of the small turnbuckles mentioned above. I used 0.1mm smoke coloured invisible thread (monofilament) and 0.4mm brass tube sleeves cut to 0.5mm in length. Photo on the right shows a size comparison, the turnbuckle fitment is a bit tricky due to their small size and my big fingers.
I was not happy with the kit supplied priming pump so I made a new one. Main pump body is 1.5mm brass tube with a 1mm brass tube slipped inside. The pipe is 0.65mm copper wire whilst the plunger shaft is 0.5mm brass tube. The wooden knob at the end is cut from the original kit supplied pump. A small piece of 0.8mm brass tube holds the wood knob to the shaft, CA was used on all parts. All length dimensions were taken from the original kit part.
These two photos are the same except one has all the explanations included. I made the compass and gimbal from bits and pieces of scrap brass. The primer pump construction is detailed above, it certainly looks better than the kit supplied pump, painted brass never really looks as good as the real thing. The rudder cables have turnbuckles added as does the aileron cables. I made a handle for the starting magneto simply by bending a piece of copper wire. The seat cushion is made from milliput and painted with oil paints.
Three more photos of the cockpit area showing some of the extra detailing that I have added, every little bit helps in creating a more realistic looking aeroplane.
I drilled out all the moulded instruments and replaced them with various size polished brass tube, they are fixed with CA. I then punched out some instrument faces from the decal sheet, I left the backing paper on, and fitted them inside each brass tube, putting a drop of CA at the back will hold them in place. When fitting the instrument face decal it is made easy by using a drill bit shank which slides neatly inside the brass tube, it keeps the decal nice and square in comparison with the tube. The second photo shows the parts now ready for assembly, I’m still waiting for the seat belt to arrive which I will fit before gluing the fuselage sides together.
This is a mock-
The interplane struts on the inner bay have a complicated rigging attachment setup as can be seen by the photo on the right. To try and replicate this is very difficult so what I did was to remove the bracing section between the fore and aft struts and replaced them with 1mm brass tube with 0.7mm plastic rod inserted in each end. I left the struts connected to the sprue so as to keep everything rigid and square, then I fitted the new section and fixed it to the struts with CA. I then drill three 0.3mm holes through the plastic rod and using 0.1mm wire I looped it through twice forming an eyelet on each side of the strut, a small drop of CA holds it very well. Very hard to see on the photos on the left but three of the eyelets are fitted to one side of the strut assembly and only one on the other side. This system will allow me to connect the double flying wires on the two outer eyelets and the single landing wire on the centre eyelet. Viewed from the front it will show the wires as being on the same plane but not passing through the strut. (I hope)
The seat belt finally arrived and has now been fitted. The belt is made from fabric and is enhanced with PE parts and very small decals. I “dirtied” the belt with a dark shade pastel then coated the entire belt assembly with matt clear after it was fitted to the seat.
The fuselage is now closed up, all parts went together very well. I have fixed all the engine cowlings plus the radiator, everything fitted really well with only a very small amount of filler needed around some of the cowling joints. As mentioned earlier, I did not fit the engine to this model, with all the cowlings on no part of the engine can be seen so I will build the engine and use it as a static display with my diorama. The only part of the engine I used was the prop shaft which I fastened to the radiator.
I have started adding some colour to the aeroplane. I will be using scheme No.10 from the Pheon Models decals depicting S3301 1 Lt George Turnure 103rd Aero Sqn, Bonne Maison. April 1918. We know that he scored a total of three victories but apart from that there is little known about him, that’s why I picked this scheme, I like to highlight the little known pilots, all the äces” and “heroes” have been done many times over, in my eyes, this pilot was as much a hero as any of the “famous” aviators. All the paints used are Humbrol enamels, masking was done using micro masking tape and once the paint was dry it was coated with Humbrol Matt Cote.
The struts are now completed and ready for installation. I painted them with Gunze acrylic and when dry wood grained them with artist oils. Two days in the heat box made sure everything was dry then I painted the metal rigging brackets with black printer ink, another day in the heat box then a coat of Humbrol Matt Cote. Each of the metal brackets have been drilled with a 0.2mm drill bit to allow connection of the rigging wires. Once the holes were drilled and before any painting, I inserted a piece of 0.2mm wire through each one, this stops any paint or clear coat from blocking the holes during painting, also doubles as a good handle when doing the painting.
Rowan (Pheon Models) pointed out to me that most French built Spads had blue metal brackets on the struts instead of black, so I have adjusted the colour to fall in line with what this particular model is supposed to look like.
The exhaust pipes and machine gun have been modified and are now ready for fitment
to the aircraft. The remainder of the plane has been painted and clear coated. Decals
will be applied to the fuselage sides then a final two coats of Humbrol Matt Cote
will be airbrushed to protect the decals. The underside of the top wing and tail
plane still need to be painted, once done the tail plane can be fixed in position.
All the colours shown are Humbrol enamels, they take at least 8 -
The kit supplied aileron linkage is out of scale and bulky so I have manufactured new ones using small diameter brass tubing and left over PE frets. This photo shows the initial stage of construction, still more work to do.
I glossed the fuselage sides with Humbrol gloss varnish, once dry I then applied the Pheon Models decals. The decals went on extremely well and adhered to the gloss surface perfectly, there was no silvering at all. When the decals had dried I sprayed two coats of Humbrol Matt Cote over the entire fuselage. My photography does not show the true brilliance of these decals.
This is one of the unpainted aileron linkages fitted to the wing. The rigging anchor point can be see as an eyelet at the end of the tube running from the wing and through the PE plate, I drilled a 0.5mm hole in the PE to allow a little bit of adjustment of the 0.4mm tube
Two photos of the model showing the rudder now fitted, the cabanes are fitted and the aileron linkages are fixed in position. The windscreen is also fixed as are the exhaust pipes.
Photos showing the completed tail section with painted colours on the rudder. Photo on the right shows the interplane struts fixed in position plus a turnbuckle fixed to the wing and an eyelet ready to accept the rigging.
The struts are now fitted. I have some of the rigging loosely fitted to the cabanes, I fitted these before the top wing goes on to make it a little easier due to the lack of space that will be available. I’m using 0.12mm mono with 0.4mm brass tube sleeves.
Roden did not supply a pitot tube assembly with the kit so I manufactured one using 0.25mm copper wire and left over fret material. I also made a new fuel pipe assembly which connects to the underside of the top wing. The kit supplied pipes are not bad but mine broke into 3 pieces when trying to remove them from the sprue.
Just like the fuselage the decals for the top wing went on extremely well, settled down very well and adhered to the gloss surface perfectly. Once the decals were dry I sprayed the wing with two coats of Humbrol Matt Cote.
These are the very easy to make turnbuckles for the rigging attachment. The turnbuckles are secured to the wing with a small drop of CA. Once dry, the turnbuckles can be bent to be in line with the rigging run.
Top wing is now fitted and the stagger wires are fitted to the struts (right side only). The cabane strut rigging is also complete plus the addition of four 0.4mm brass rods from the top wing down the the fuselage to act as wing bracing. The new fuel pipes are also fitted. The top wing went on very easy and all the struts lined up with their appropriate locating holes.
As described earlier, this is the connection for the rigging to the inboard interplane strut. Very hard to see but each wire is looped through a small eyelet in the strut then doubled back through a 0.4mm brass tube. There are six connections at this point plus the stagger wires, so being very small makes it a difficult job, CA holds it all together. This is only the front rigging of one wing.
The completed wing rigging. Connecting the rigging to the inboard interplane strut was a headache, took a long time and was very fiddly, keeping the struts straight was also a problem. I am quite pleased with the overall look and I think it was worth the extra work to make it look similar to the real plane. The photo on the right gives a better idea of what was involved. The undercarriage is the next stage.
I will be modifying the undercarriage to make it look like the photo of the original aircraft. You can see that the axle is hinged at it’s inner end and the bungee cord wraps around a rod which runs under the axle.
These two photos show what I have done so far, the hinged axle does operate. When drilling all holes make sure they are straight, the fairing is thin so the drill bits could quite easily pass through the thin sections.
This photo shows the undercarriage all assembled apart from the wheels. All the metal parts will be painted black along with the brackets on the undercarriage struts. 8 small eyelets have been fitted to take the undercarriage bracing wires. There is a small brass tube under the axle so the bungee cord can be wrapped around it and the axle. Undercarriage has been painted with CDL (clear doped linen) to match the under side of the aircraft and wings, it still needs a coat of matt clear.
This photo shows a trial fit of the undercarriage. The assembly has been painted and clear coated with Humbrol Matt Cote. The tyres are coloured with graphite dust and also coated with Matt Cote. I painted all the metal fittings black but proved too dark, I stripped the black and painted them a dark metallic colour.
Below are a series of photos showing the completed model. The kit went together without any major headaches, even though I added extra detailing, this kit built OOB would make up to be a very nice model. The Pheon Models decals are very good, well detailed and apply very easily, overall, a very enjoyable build.
Dark timber -
Light timber -
Light green -
Dark green -
Tail skid -
Cockpit padding -
Strut brackets -
Prop boss -
Undercarriage metal -
Clear finish -
Rigging line -
Brass tube -
To thin the Gunze acrylic paint I use a few drops of water
Airbrush cleaning -
I am not a lover of after market PE accessories and prefer to make the added detail from scrap material I have in my spares box. Even though the PE sets are brilliant I get more satisfaction from making the little bits and pieces myself.