The D.VII is my first go at a Wingnut Wings (WNW) kit, and I chose it for several reasons. The D.VII is one of the most recognizable aircraft used in World War I, perhaps even more so than the Dr. I. That having been said, the most significant feature that put this kit above the other WNW offerings for me was the sparse rigging that would be required. I don’t mind rigging per se, having tackled a number of 1/48th kits that are fully rigged, but I did not want to make my initial WNW project any more difficult or complex than it needed to be by adding rigging to the process.
I expected that the kit would present some challenges, especially since I am not a Master Modeler or anywhere near that level of skill. In fact, I consider myself to be a good modeler, but no more than just “good.” I’d seen a number of WNW kits and I had some concerns about my ability to complete the D.VII at a show or contest level, much less at a level at which I could display it in the War Room Display Case where, for all intents and purposes, I would be the only person to view it.
Suffice it to say that I accepted the challenge and began the project with optimism and a plan to be patient, practical, and pleasant, the 3P Principle. I cursed at the model only once and I quickly apologized to it…the issue was clearly my own fault.
In the end, I found that, as a mediocre to fair modeler, I was able to finish the D.VII to a level that I found pleasantly surprising, and that the project was very enjoyable and very satisfying.
Upon opening the box, one will instantly see that this is a high quality product with several options presented to the builder, not only in markings but also in the basic airframe itself. This is the OAW (Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke) version of the D.VII, and that differed from the variants constructed by other companies. OAW built an Early, Mid, and Late version and there were detail differences which the kit allows for.
The parts, of which there are 200+, are finely molded in a gray plastic. A single fret of PE includes seat belts and parts for two machine guns. The decal sheets are stunning and allow for a choice among 5 different aircraft.
Speaking of machine guns, the kit includes injection-molded guns for those who don’t wish to “roll their own.” Using the plastic machine guns, one could get armament that looks very realistic and attractive. I went with the PE machine guns. Rolling the cooler jacket took only about 1 min per gun, and assembling the few PE parts took about 15 minutes per gun, and most of that was letting the super glue set up fully before any additional work was done.
WNW products are among the best on the market in regard to the quality of the parts. The level of detail is very high and the parts can be separated from the sprues with ease. There is no concern about any of the ejection pin marks that one sees. Once the aircraft is assembled. none of these marks are visible.
If you are an experienced WNW kit builder, then by all means dig right in and jump to the Assembly Stage and get the project underway. But this kit represented my first effort at a WNW kit and I determined that my best course of action was actually to read the instructions all the way through, from front to back, before beginning construction. It sounds rather basic, but it is critical to begin on Page 1. Page 1 contains the call-out symbols for such things as:
Options (there are five options and you must decide which you will model prior to beginning any assembly or work).
The Option Call-Out symbol is a fat green arrow with the Option letter (A,B,C,D,E) printed within the arrow body. This Call-Out symbol will be your new, best friend when building this magnificent kit. Paying heed to it will ensure that the correct parts are selected for the variant that you are building, and trust me on this, it makes a huge difference.
A number of parts are included on the sprues, but are not going to be used. These parts are marked and identified on Page 2. Follow the hints given on Page 1 in regard to decal application. On Page 3, the five large decal sheets and two smaller sheets are shown, and like the unused parts, some of the decals are identified as “Not Used”.
The instructions are laid out in a logical and useful manner. Paying close attention to the Call-Out symbols, especially the Option Call-Out symbol, the modeler can progress from Step 1 to Step 13 without a serious mishap. I say “serious” because, even with my project based upon the 3P’s Principles (patient, practical, and pleasantness), I still managed to attach the wrong parts to the model on several occasions. Like I said, I’m mediocre and not a Master Modeler. No biggie, though; the wrong parts were removed with the proper ones put into place with no visible damage.
Using the instructions as the roadmap to a successful build, you will soon appreciate the thought and care that went into the design process of this model. Clearly, considerable work was done to create a logical and careful approach in the assembly sequence. I have never found a set of instructions so well designed, so thorough, and so complete as in this WNW kit. Included in the instruction booklet are black & white images which illustrate and enhance the instructions as one works on a specific area of the model.
A word about fit and assembly…the fit tolerances on this product are exact and allow for very little slop on the part of the modeler. Study the illustrations carefully, being sure to understand just how the parts are to fit together. Test fit everything. Remove paint from mating surfaces. Be as precise and careful when matching up two parts as you can manage. Any misalignment in the early stages of construction will be multiplied as one attempts to glue the fuselage halves together, or to get the wings to align when it comes time to glue the top wing onto the wing struts. I was a little sloppy in the early stages of construction simply because I had no notion of the very small tolerances and the end result of any slight misalignment.
The color chart on page 1 lists 21 colors, and includes 21 Tamiya matches, 17 Humbrol matches, and 2 Masterkit matches. The chart is clear and very easy to read. At the bottom of the chart is a hint which says, “See our website hints and tips for painting wood.” I followed this advice and was pleased with the laminated appearance that I was able to achieve on the prop. By the way, there are four props and I painted all four. Three were for practice and the final prop was attached to the prop shaft.
The decals are one of the high points of this project. As mentioned previously, there are five schemes from which to choose, and all are colorful and interesting. When applying decals, be thoughtful about the sequence in which the decals will be applied. Pay attention to the fact that you will be applying decals over other decals, so getting that sequence backwards will cause massive issues.
The decals are printed by Cartograf and are of the high quality that I have come to expect from Cartograf decal sheets. The decals are thin enough to lie down on the model and show every detail underneath, but at the same time thick enough to prevent the decal from tearing or falling apart while being applied.
You can consider the decals as another part to the model. The decals fit precisely on the wings, fuselage, and any surface to which they are applied. There is some serious engineering evident here, and you will quickly appreciate how well the decals cover the model surfaces. I used distilled water to loosen the decals, and found that a soak of 10 to 15 seconds was sufficient to loosen them. Micro Set was used to prep the model surface. While there wasn’t much time to nudge the decal into its proper place, I never felt rushed to get the alignment just right. I did, however, fudge a bit when applying the lozenge pattern to the wings. The decals were too large for me to handle. For example, the upper surface of the top wing is covered with a single lozenge decal. I decided to cut the decal into six smaller segments and was quite pleased with the ease with which each segment was applied to the model.
Perhaps it is just my finished model, but there is movement in the axle wing when the model is set down on the desk. The axle wing struts fit very well, but the weight of the model causes them to flex a bit when being handled. This does not affects the finished model in any negative way, but it does serve to warn the builder that the model should be mounted on a display base if it will travel to any show or contest.
This model is high recommended. Everything about this kit shouts “Quality.” The level of detail is stunning and accurate. The quality of the molding is unsurpassed. The decals are superior in every way. The project was a real challenge for a modeler of my skill level, but it was one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve taken on in many a year. With the experience gained on this project, the next WNW kit ought to be easier and even more enjoyable.
Thanks to Wingnut Wings for the review sample and thanks to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review this excellent kit.