Hansa-Brandenburg W.29

Published: May 31st, 2011     
Box Art
Box Art
Reviewed by: Jim Stratton - IPMS# 20703
Scale: 1/32
Price: $89.00
Product / Stock #: 32010
Product provided by: Wingnut Wings, Ltd

History

This is another superb kit from the guys at Wingnut Wings. According to the detailed history on the instruction booklet, the Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 was allegedly designed by Ernst Heinkel on the back of a cabaret wine list and was basically a W.12 biplane with the top wing removed. This advanced monoplane had markedly improved performance due to the reduction of drag afforded by the loss of the upper wing as well as the lack of guy wires. The solid construction was achieved because of the rigid strut arrangement for the floats. Three prototypes were constructed in January 1917 and each was powered by a different engine for the comparison purposes. When production began in April of 1917 it was decided to use the 150hp Benz Bz. III. A total of 199 W.29s were produced in two versions. 156 planes were built with 3 machine guns (C3MG) and another 43 were built with 2 machine guns (C2MGHFT) and a wireless radio. The advanced design of this aircraft was such that it saw extensive post war service and was licensed built in Denmark and Japan.

The Kit

When opening the box the modeler finds the box filled with sprues of parts. Each sprue is individually wrapped in a poly bag. The large decal sheets (3 total) are sealed in their own poly bag and secured under the instruction booklet ensuring no shipping damage. There are marking options for 5 aircraft. Also sealed in its own poly bag is the metal wing spar and PE sheet. The instruction booklet is clearly written and full of period detail photos to aid in the builder's research. However, the instructions need to be studied carefully before construction begins. As good as the instruction booklet is there are still some things that could be dealt with a little better. I will point out what I mean as we progress through the build.

Cockpit

As usual, construction starts with the highly detailed interior. I started by painting all the wood grain first. I based all wooden parts with Tamiya Dark Yellow then added the wood grain with Burnt Umber oil paint. The pilot's seat cushion was base painted in Andrea leather and then painted with burnt umber oil paint. The instrument panel was base painted and once the oils were dry the instrument faces were added and small detail painting accomplished. The pilots and observers seat belts were heat treated by heating to a bright red and then left to air cool. This helps in making the belts much easier to bend into shape. Once the correct bends were obtained, I reheated the belts to a bright red and then plunged them in cool water, stiffening the belts back up. The pilots control column was assembled using the PE front, which is added before the control wheel. I pre-drilled all the holes in the control column for the rigging. There are molded holes for the control wire rigging in the rear cockpit bulkhead (part A24) and the observer's rear bulkhead (part A26). The control wires pass through the pilot's bulkhead then through pulleys attached to part D5, which is attached to the rear of the pilot's bulkhead. Once drilled out, the holes in the pilot's bulkhead (part A24) do not line up with the pulleys (D5). I added part D5 to part A24 first, and then drilled out the holes from the pulleys to the pilot's bulkhead. This made sure the holes for the control wires were lined up properly.

The instructions were a little confusing when it came to the control wire rigging. The path over the wing spar is not clear and the control wire bends up and over the wing spar. The when the rudder control wires pass through the observer's cockpit it needs to pass outboard of the horizontal tubular guard and the elevator wires pass behind the box on either side of the observer's cockpit. Fortunately, this cannot be seen once the cockpit is closed up. Once all the interior details are completed the cockpit assembly is placed in the left fuselage half and the fuselage closed up. The fit was so good; no glue was needed to keep the assembled cockpit in place.

Fuselage

Once the fuselage was closed up some minor sink marks on the bottom of the fuselage were sanded out without the need for filler. This is where I ran into a small snag while assembling this model. There is an assembly sequence laid out in the instruction manual that has you add parts F11 and F12 first. Once these are added to the fuselage, the aft turtle decks parts F18/F19 and the cockpit enclosure part F9 are added rear to front. Looking at the instruction manual in step 5 parts F11 & F12 appear to sit proud of the fuselage side. However in subsequent detail drawings, the parts do not appear to be proud of the fuselage sides. I had closed up the fuselage half's and set it aside to dry and set up. Later, I thought I would quickly close up the rest of the fuselage. That's where I made my first mistake. I mistakenly added the rear turtle deck first, followed by the cockpit enclosure, and then I tried to add parts F11 & F12 out of sequence. They didn't fit properly. It took some persuasion and sanding to get them to fit. Once placed into position I noticed they were proud of the fuselage. So I took them off and sanded the rear of the parts until they sat flush with the fuselage. Of course, once I added the engine cowling panels it was rather obvious that the 2 parts were supposed to sit proud of the fuselage. At the end, the panels sitting in too close to the fuselage caused the Spandau machine guns to splay outward slightly. So bottom line, do not add these parts out of sequence and be sure that the machine gun mounts (parts F11 & F12) sit proud of the fuselage sides. Step 5 is also where the instruction manual is missing a small step. The deletion is pointed out in the tips section on the Wingnut web site. Part A26 between parts F11 and F12 and then is attached to part A6 which is shown in the manual in step 5.

Engine

The kit comes with a 150hp Benz BZ.III that is very nicely detailed. The right cylinder half (part E4) has the lifter arms molded in place. Part E7 is blued out in the parts layout indicating not to be used. Unfortunately, I didn't discover until it was too late, that part E7 was the right cylinder half without the molded lifter arms. In addition part E15, the top engine block as well as parts E3 (X6) the rocker arms are molded with placement holes in them for new lifter arms. Using the right cylinder half (part E7) without the molded lifter arms would allow you to make separate lifter arms from .015" wire. As well as the instruction booklet is, it was never pointed out that there was this option which, I certainly would have taken advantage of had I paid more attention to the available parts. However, once painted the molded lifter arms looked good and made the engine assembly quicker. There is plenty of room for improvement of the engine if one wants to add the wiring harness and spark plug wires. I chose to not add the wiring because the harness lays beneath the lifter arms. With the molded lifter arms it would be a major job to add the harness. Of course this would have been much easier had I used the cylinder half without the molded lifters.

The kit comes with three different prop options. The aircraft I was building uses the Niendorf Propeller and is detailed very nicely. I painted with a base of Tamiya Dark Yellow then wood grain using Burnt Umber oils. The brass tip was painted with Vallejo Brass and the prop hub Tamiya Steel.

Wings

The very large wings come in two parts and were joined. The seam between the upper and lower half at the wing tip is located on the bottom of the wing, between the first and second wing ribs. The join was not the best and a small amount of filler was needed to close up the seam. Be sure to cove the wing ribs with something to protect them when sanding out the filler. I waited for final assembly to add the control surfaces. Once the wings were assembled I added them to the wing spar and glued them to the fuselage. Fit was exceptional. The horizontal stabilizer was modified per the kit instructions for the aircraft I was building. The elevator is a one piece assembly that is very fragile and care needs to be used when handling the elevator. I also did not add the control horns until after the control surfaces were painted and decaled. I drilled out the control horns using a .013" bit before painting and assembling to the ailerons' and rudder. This makes rigging the control wires much easier. Be sure to drill out the control shrouds in the top and bottom of the wings as well as the rear fuselage to except the control wires before final painting.

After gluing the horizontal stabilizer to the fuselage I noticed a couple of sink marks on the upper surface. This required a small amount of filler to level them out. This surface is covered by the hex camo but I was afraid if left unfilled, the sink marks might be visible once the decals are in place. So rather than take a chance I filled them.

Floats

The floats were built as a single unit. All the struts are keyed and cannot be assembled incorrectly. I used .015" brass wire for the rigging. The rigging should be inserted into part H8 before the upright fuselage struts (parts I2 & I3) are glued into position. The 2 wing struts (parts I5 & I6) are not attached until after the float assembly is added to the fuselage. Once the float assembly is completed it can be painted in a semi-gloss black and set aside until the final assembly. It would be advisable to clean the paint off the fuselage attachment points as the fit is tight and attachment to the fuselage is much easier if the four attachment points are cleaned up before inserting into the fuselage slots.

Beaching Gear/Trestle

The beaching gear and trestles were assembled next. I wanted to paint a different wood tone to the beaching gear than that used for the wooden frames inside the fuselage. To achieve this I painted a base color of Tamiya Deck Tan. Then I used a Raw Umber oil to paint the wood grain. The result was a wood grain that had a sun bleached and weathered look.

Painting

I followed the instruction manual regarding the painting suggestions. I started by painting the fuselage underside with a 50/50 mix of Tamiya Flat White XF2 and Light Blue XF23. Once dry I masked the lower fuselage and painted the wings and control surfaces with PolyS Clear Doped Linen, both the upper and lower surfaces as well as all surfaces of the control surfaces. More masking and then I painted the Blue-Grey fuselage upper surfaces with Tamiya XF83. Then the entire assembly and all control surfaces were sprayed with a gloss in preparation for the decaling process.

Decals

At first the decaling process seems a bit frightening. Just looking at the massive decal sheets and all that hex camouflage could scare almost anyone away from this model. But don't fret. The guys at WNW did all the hard work for you. As pointed out in the instruction manual, when the real aircraft was covered in the hex camo, the workers were rather diligent in making sure all the hexagons were lined up properly. The decals are printed in a way that once started at the wing root, each subsequent decal lines up correctly with the first one. They are printed oversize so once placed on the wing; they overhang on the leading and trailing edges. I started by covering the ailerons and elevator. I covered the first aileron and while still wet I tried trimming the decal to fit. This was disastrous and I damaged several of the hexagons. For the second attempt, I covered the aileron and set it aside to dry for a little while. I then covered the elevator and set it aside to dry for a little while. I let the second aileron decal dry for only as long as it took me to cover the elevator. Then I took the second aileron and trimmed the decal to the edges by using a piece of 320 grit sandpaper and lightly sanded the edges in a downward motion, removing the extra decal. This worked very well and was the process I used for the rest of the hex camo application. The damaged hexagons on the first aileron were repaired using the individual hexagon decals supplied in the kit. It was real thoughtful of the guys at WNW to supply the individual hexagons. They made repair of any damaged hexagons very easy. It only took me one half of an hour to completely cover one wing surface and only a total of 4 hours to do all the decals for the entire airplane.

Conclusion

This is another fine release from Wingnut Wings. This is without a doubt the best kit available of this particular and interesting aircraft. You should do yourself a favor and build this kit. It is a perfect choice for a novice to build an early aircraft without having to deal with the rigging. It was a lot of fun to build and did not pose any problems at all. The detail is first rate, fit superb and the decals easier to apply than they appear. The kit has plenty for the OOB modeler and is a perfect base for those that feel the need to super detail. It is a wonderful kit and deserves to be built. The folks at Wingnut Wings should be proud of their accomplishment and deservedly so. Visit their website at Wingnutwings.com. This kit is highly recommended.

Thanks to Wingnut Wings for the review sample and thank you to IPMS/USA for allowing me to build this kit and write the review.

  • Portside finished model
    Portside finished model
  • Portside finished model nose section
    Portside finished model nose section
  • Top view finished model tail section
    Top view finished model tail section
  • Starboard finished model nose section
    Starboard finished model nose section
  • Nose section of finished model
    Nose section of finished model
  • Underside view of floats with dolleys installed
    Underside view of floats with dolleys installed
  • Top view center fuselage
    Top view center fuselage
  • Top view forward fuselage
    Top view forward fuselage

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