Gotha IV

Published: February 11th, 2011     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: Rod Lees - IPMS# 10821
Scale: 1/32
Price: $139.00
Product / Stock #: 32005
Product provided by: Wingnut Wings, Ltd

First comment: Thanks to Richard at Wingnut wings for sending IPMS USA a review copy of this magnificent kit. Did I say it was "Magnificent"? You better believe it!

Crammed into a sturdy double-corrugated lower, full-color wraparound upper box is undoubtedly one of the most complex, yet simple-to-build, WWI kits I have ever encountered. Box art is excellent, showing two aircraft flying through flak and dropping bombs... Given the reputation of this still-young company, you don't have to worry. There has been a bit of engineering involved here (duh) to provide excellent fit and, as our British friends say, "Value for Money".

I started with the full color instructions; they were essential in making sure everything is constructed in proper order. Included is an abbreviated history to include markings issues, parts tree layouts, and step-by-step color assembly instructions. There were a few miss-numbered parts in the drawings, but reviewing the parts trees and taking your time will confirm what goes where. (A40 is listed as R40, A27 is listed as A21, D37 is listed as D20, P7 is listed as P8, and B5 is listed as B1) The team at WNW is aware of these and is working on corrections which should be loaded onto their website by the time you read this.

You can build one of two basic Gotha; four from the Gotha Company itself in daylight bomber light blue, and one in night bomber markings, which is a very colorful dark lavender and medium dark blue camo version built by LGV. I opted for this version; all colors were used straight from Tamiya's paint line per the instructions, including mixing colors for the Lavender. I'm sold on Tamiya paint...

Construction begins with the cockpit. WNW have thoughtfully provided some "how to" information on their website where painting wood is concerned. The LGV C.VI kit has a tutorial page where the modeler who built the kit used Tamiya wood deck tan as a basis, with Burnt Sienna oil paint with a sponge to provide wood effect. A wide dry-brush method is used afterwards; I used this to good effect on the parts after partially assembling them. The reason is that I use liquid cement, which tends to mar pre-painted parts. In the end, I was extremely satisfied with the outcome

Finished cockpit area

Top view completed forward fuselage with center wing and engines

Decals for the instruments are readable under magnification; and seat belts are included. I gave a light wash after they had been installed to highlight the details. One nice thing about WNW kits is they have rigging diagrams; I used some fly-tying monofilament that I had purchased in the UK to add the interior rigging. One note here; I recommend you drill holes through the parts and rig them that way so they don't stand off from the sides; even though these lines are miniscule, I had super-glued them on the outside of the assembly for simplicity which made it a bit difficult to close up what were otherwise perfectly engineered fuselage halves when that time came.

The interior includes the plywood "gun tunnel" in the tail, a novel feature that allowed the rear gunner to train his weapon downward THROUGH the fuselage from his perch on top.

Completed forward fuselage underside

I don't think I'd be comfortable doing that (nothing like gunning your own tail off) but I can see how it would work with a disciplined gunner; which few are under the stress of combat.

Port engine

The wing lower center section and engine nacelles contain excellent representations of the Daimler-Mercedes D.VIa six-cylinder engines.

Take your time here and you will have excellent interior details within the nacelles to show off by leaving off a side panel or two, which I did. It adds visual interest. There is a bit of rigging here as well; I didn't go overboard on it, just installed some representative wiring. Note please that there are two types of nacelle panels, one with more cooling vent louvers (LGV) or Gotha which are relatively plain and smooth with minimal vents.

During this part of construction, take extra care to carefully align the lower panels (part A34 and D43, upper and lower bottom wing mounts and fuel tanks). I recommend you use the lower wing panels to dry-fit them in place; they are a tight fit by design, and if you make a mistake here you may not be able to insert the lower wings when that time comes. These set the dihedral, which supports the upper wing. As it was for me, I had to use a lot of force and tube cement as a lubricant, because I almost royally screwed up and made the opening too small due to glue melting the mounting posts. When you do yours, you'll see what I mean. Install the upper tank and mount FIRST, let dry, then offer up the lower wing, then tack glue the lower landing gear and wing mounts to the assembly. Remove the lower wing, and then permanently glue everything in place. It is obvious now to me, but at the time I didn't catch this subtle engineering fit. Forewarned you are! Double-sided struts are installed in the nacelles; again, take your time and they fit perfectly.

Tail empennage with skid

Then next step is installation of the tail feathers; they lock into place, after which the control surfaces and control horns are installed. Simple and effective! The tail skid is also installed now; a bit of painting the natural wood effect adds a lot to the finished product, and the shock-absorbing bungee cord wrapped around the wood part finishes the effect.

Main landing gear

Landing gear is next; there are two types of axle, one with fairings, and one without. The bungee shock absorbers are simple details, and the whole assembly fits extremely well in place. Install four struts and axle assemblies, then set the whole thing on a table to make sure they all are square (i.e. all wheels will touch the ground. There are weighted and un-weighted tire assemblies; I used the weighted as they are subtle and look great when complete.

I must confess to a bit of problem here; the attachment rods for the landing gear debris deflectors are to scale and very fragile. I broke off several during my ham-handed efforts to get the model moved around on the workbench. I made new rods from brass rod, and super-glued them to the deflector paddles. They are much more robust than the original plastic versions, but I still managed to plink one off during the photo session. It's somewhere in the workshop; I'll find it when the snow melts and I take down my plastic sheeting that keeps the temperatures reasonable in the work area.

The next step is to install the propeller guards; these are combination photoetch and plastic items which kept the gunner from sticking an arm into a rotating propeller.

Completed forward section with engines, port side

I opted to leave these for installation at the last step of the build. When cemented in place they add immeasurably to the final appearance; a delicate visual affect not normally seen on aircraft. There are three types of guards included, so pay attention here. The scarf ring for the front gun is added at this point, along with bombsight and gun support mounts. The ring is extremely well done, to include locking points for the mount in the etch detail. VERY nice.

Installing control cables on the side of the fuselage is next. The standoffs for the cables are on the Gotha manufactured aircraft are molded integrally; if you go LGV, you must cut them off, drill holes and install new cable standoffs per the photographs. These parts are extremely small and can be found on parts tree " L".

The instructions would have you next install the bomb racks. This is where I deviated from the instructions, and installed the top wing, inter-plane struts, and rigged the aircraft. (I had painted the fuselage and wings separately, to make it easier on me; the camo pattern was complete at this point) As much as I knew I would be handling the model, this made more sense to me. I used .012 monofilament fishing line, dragged over an indelible sharpie black marker to make them black, to make my rigging lines. When complete, this results in a strong assembly that can be picked up by all the wings, top or bottom.

On rigging flying wires, my technique is simple: Having pre-drilled most of the rigging holes before painting (they are dimpled on the underside of each wing) I run the monofilament through the top wing, then the bottom wing. I use a cigarette lighter to carefully melt a blob on the bottom end (BE REALLY CAREFUL HERE), wait for it to cool, and then I touch it with thick superglue. Carefully pull it taught from the top wing, wait for the glue to set, then run it back a bit after placing a drop of superglue on the line. Pull it back out and taught, hit with accelerator (a SMALL amount or you'll mess up the paint job) the clip it off when set. It's usually tight and you can use the punk method if it needs to be sprung tighter. Do this along the front and back of both wings, and when complete, use a sharp #11 blade to trim off the blob from the bottom and top. Contest players will fill the slight indentation on the top of the wing, and re-paint but I leave it as I'm a "move the model guy" and don't care to re-string rigging. A bit of touch up paint is all that is required. I've done fabric work on real aircraft, and it looks ok to me.

Back to the bomb racks; There are two types; simple single bomb affairs, and multiple bomb racks that will try your patience as you attempt to line up approximately six rods to the fore and aft mounts. Take your time and you will succeed; "YOU CAN DO IT!" I only chose one configuration, with fore/aft single mounts for 50 KG bombs, and a triple-mount for three 100 KG bombs. These are two-part bombs, with twisted fins per the originals. Paint blue, brass/copper fuse assemblies, drag through pastels for weathering, and install. The vintage photos in the instructions once again show how these were not pretty little bombs, but casings dragged through the dirt to get to the airplane.

Ailerons, external over-wing tanks (I painted them separately to show they were not part of the original camo) and propellers complete assembly. I dry-brush painted the propellers, which came out better than if I had tried to pain the laminations. I installed the Parabellum guns last; they were the most likely to be destroyed in the build otherwise.

Nose gunner/bomb aimer station

PE cooling jackets are included in the kit: I was stupid and over-annealed two of the three, Fortunately WNW provide full weapons without PE for those who don't feel comfortable with using PE. The front weapon has the PE and PE gun sight; the aft weapon is an all-styrene version with PE. I hear there are aftermarket barrels for these weapons; I personally can't see the need. WNW breeches with micro barrels is ok for contest work, but the kit items with their drum ammo feeds carefully painted look great in my book!

The instructions have comprehensive painting and decal guides; you can't mess this up unless this is your first kit. The rigging diagram is basic; there are plenty of period photographs for reference to install rigging. I did not acquire micro turnbuckles for this build, but certainly these are out there. I like the kit as I built it. Simple, enjoyable, and yet another model added to the collection that few can claim to have attempted, or even finished.

Completed model, view from port front quarter

Completed model, view from port aft quarter

Final tally: Wingnut wings hits this one out of the ballpark..a 15 out of 10. It's that good. We are blessed with the team at WNW and their efforts; (is an HP400 in the offing?) Thanks again to Richard Alexander for his helpful comments, Bryan Wall as the product designer, and Ronny Bar for the profile art, and Steve Anderson, an ASAA Fellow (artist) who developed the box art.

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