Jonathan Harrison, UK

Sopwith Camel F1 build 1_8 scale

I started building model aeroplanes when I was about 8 and stopped when I was about 18, finding girls and cars and drinking more fun. I briefly re-found my passion in 93 when I made a 1:72 scale Zero as a birthday present for one of my Japanese friends. That sparked a 2year campaign to build loads of 1:72 scales WW2 aircraft, but I soon stopped with the pressures of work. On my 50th birthday, my wife and sons bought me the Airfix 1:24 scale Mossie, my most favourite aeroplane. Naturally I research and built to my hearts content and realised there was so much more I could do today. A 1:24 Fw190, SE5a and Hawker Typhoon later, I now embarked on the now rare 1980s 1:8th scale Hasegawa Museum Serious Sopwith Camel F1.

This kit has so many flaws and inaccuracies as would have been expected of a model of that age, making it an interesting challenge to make with so many missing parts or badly made or wrong. Which I love. I love to research and try and make/correct what I can. I start by looking at other’s examples and work, and then the real thing. In this case I started by making a straightforward Camel, but then reading about William “Billy” Barker and his special Camel and how it was based in Italy too, my wife is Italian and from the same area, I had to dedicate the model to him, hence late (sadly) in the build I moved things around, like the pilot tube and added some distinctive parts, like the little devil (9mm tall in scale) and the tail art. Made difficult due to having completed the bracing already.

Other changes:
These are some of the very many changes I made:
I added brass turnbuckles/bottle screws to all bracing wires, many are working fully. This also facilitated adding a nut and bolt to fasten the turnbuckle to the frame, and in most cases adding a brass mounting. This is a major bit of work as there are about 300!
Also missing from the bracing was a small disc of leather to stop the two cross bracing wires rubbing against each other and snapping in flight and of course there is a need for bracing across the fuselage, not just the outer sides, top and bottom. And replaced the cord bracing wire with 7 strand twisted wire of 0.3mm D.
The main fuel tank needed a complete revision of its mounting, with a strap and turnbuckles and brass mountings.
The tail in the kit is all wood and heavy, the real one is light metal frame so both tail plain and stabiliser/rudder are scratch built.

Not too bad, but:
Training edges of wings are meant to be metal, and that facilitated a whole new design and whilst doing that I decided that building the main spars in parts, as per the kit was wrong, so I made them in one piece, that then meant that the ribs had to be made in sections like the real thing, but made it harder to fit together.

These are very wrong and not nice at all; so I plan to scratch build them… Still in the experimental stage.

I cut off the switches and ceramic mount to the two switches and used styrene tube for the ceramic and found belaying pins, cut down make nice switches and a twisted pair of wires out the back, but hung down slightly as they often did, so just visible.
Made wooden spacers to raise the main instruments, which is not present in the kit, they are flat on the dash.
All nuts changed to brass

A study of the complex pipework made interesting additions and changes, and the addition of rubber connecting hoses with jubilee clips
I added a cable for the guns from joystick to guns and fastened with brass nuts n bolts and also added the interrupter gear, and replaced the spring mechanism with a real spring and rod.
Gun site was made from brass tubing painted and a brass rod insert with a nut to represent the adjuster.
All glass fuel tubes, e.g. pulsometer were re made with clear plastic and stained with clear orange, as was the pitch and roll spirit level…
And it needed a seat belt.
Bindings on the joystick and replaced the column with brass tubing
Changed the mounting/fittings of the 6 cables on the rudder peddle, which were wrong, as were a number of other cable attachments, all now with a turnbuckle, nuts and bolts…
FYI wicker seat and leather cushion painted using artist oils.
The leather cockpit surround had corroded so I had to make from scratch. I found a leather strap and modified it and attached it to a cut down styrene I section, and after painting (artist oils and enamel silver) I added the cut down tops of brass pins to simulate the fixings.
Scratch build fuel filter and mixture control (Bloctube/fine adjustment valve/Tampier), mountings, etc. and throttle control lever/system – a lot of help from Pierre of PJVision without whom I’d not have a clue how to get these right. He sent me so much info…

Wood effect where needed was down by spray painting the surface in beige (any old paint from car shop) and then applying increasing darker coats of artist oil browns using a stiff brush and an unsteady hand.
The wood was also stained with antique pine and also rubbed with Briwax, trying to build it up in corners to give it an old look – just in parts.

Engine: 130 hp Clerget 9B
This is how she should sound:
I am building two. The one fitted and then another for display next to the model. Changes to the kit were correcting the pushrods to tube and rod and adding the adjustment nuts. And the valve springs which everyone gets wrong. The exhaust spring is in two rows and quite complex. The kit is the correct shape (much to the incorrect corrections of most modellers) but it looks rubbish and should double back.


Additional mods to the second engine will be a better paint job, better wire springs, replacing all the moulded nuts and bolts with real brass ones, making spark plugs – 18 of them

That’s some of the mods, scratch off the top of my head, there were many more...

William “Billy” Barker

Sources of additional materials;
Model Motorcars , obviously for cowling wing nuts, control rods and nuts and bolts, etc.
Model boats suppliers, Cornwall Model Boats
Model Dockyard
Eduard for the seat belts – I have loads now, as they’d only make a run of them for me. Upscale from the 1:32.
Prime Miniatures
Albion Alloys….