by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Roden's quarterscale DH4 has been available for a couple of months now, but due to the slightly patchy distribution in the UK, it's only just appeared in my local hobby shop.
The kit arrives tightly packed in a tough little top-opening box that immediately gets the creative juices flowing by being absolutely stuffed with sprues! The kit comprises:
208 x beige styrene parts (plus a few unused)
A sheet of film for windscreens and clear panels
Decals for 3 x versions
Unpacking the parts, the first point I noticed was that one of the wingtips had been slightly damaged. Whether it happened in transit or was packed that way is unclear, but it brings to mind the stories of similar damage on Roden's 1/32 scale Pfalz. Luckily, the damage is minor and should be easy to repair.
The parts are quite cleanly moulded, but there is a touch of flash here and there, plus some sink-marks (particularly noticeable on the front fuselage sides where there's detail moulded on the inside). On the plus side, ejector-pin marks are few and far between and kept pretty much out of sight. Generally, there's little to worry experienced modellers and clean-up should be quite straightforward.
Some exterior surfaces have a slightly "textured" feel. Detail consists of some engraved lines, raised items like louvres and subtle lacing on the fuselage and lightly depicted fabric effect on the flying surfaces. Wing ribs are slightly raised on upper surfaces and recessed on the undersides (as though the fabric has sagged under gravity a little. There are no rib tapes depicted, so some modellers may wish to add these as appropriate.
A full test fit is impractical because, if nothing else, this kit is all about options. It can be built in three different configurations and this means a choice of fuselage tops and nose panels, meaning the fuselage has little rigidity until the various sub-assemblies are fitted for real. Nevertheless, taping the fuselage parts together is encouraging and they fit snugly on the lower wing.
The kit features a nicely kitted-out cockpit - although the inclusion of some etched details such as seat harness and gunsights would have been a nice touch to complete this fine kit. Continuing the theme of options, there's a choice of three styles of propellers and undercarriage, for the different colour schemes. There’s a selection of machine guns, with single, or twin forward-firing guns and a three types of bombs.
As may be becoming clear, this kit isn't suitable for beginners - and probably wouldn't really make a good choice for a first biplane kit for modellers with a little experience either. While the overall construction isn't particularly complex, the two-bay wings will require careful alignment and there have been no concessions in the name of easy assembly - all the struts are separate and using a simple jig is probably a good idea to keep everything lined up straight and true.
Instructions & DecalsThe instructions are well drawn, but warrant careful study on account of the number of options offered. They include a helpful rigging diagram, but be careful - it doesn't show the double-wires visible in the boxtop painting. Colour matches for Model Master paints are keyed to most details.
Markngs are provided for three aircraft:
1. DH4 N6000, 5 Sqn. RNAS, February 1918.
2. DH4 N5997, 2 Sqn. RNAS, February 1918
3. DH4 A7422, 57 Sqn. RFC, December 1917
The decals look good quality and the items are thin and glossy. The printing is sharp and the roundel centres are separate to ensure correct line-up. Sadly the register for the blue rings on their white background is a tad off on my sheet - it's a shame these couldn't have been separate too.
Conclusion Roden's DH4 is quite a complex kit, but it should build into a very impressive model and it's great to see such an important aircraft released as such a fine mainstream kit at last. Less experienced modellers would be wise to get a few biplanes safely under their belts before tackling this one, but skilled WW1 enthusiasts will definitely relish the challenge it offers. Recommended.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.