The Bristol F.2 Fighter was a British two-seat biplane fighter and reconnaissance aircraft of the First World War flown by the Royal Flying Corps. It is often simply called the Bristol Fighter or popularly the "Brisfit" or "Biff". Despite being a two-seater, the F.2B proved to be an agile aircraft that was able to hold its own against opposing single-seat fighters. Having overcome a disastrous start to its career, the F.2B's solid design ensured that it remained in military service into the 1930s and surplus aircraft were popular in civil aviation.
Eduard's 1/48 scale Bristol F.2B Fighter is not a new kit. To my knowledge it came out around 2005, a couple of years after the Roden effort. While the latter was a little bit difficult to assemble it was also cheaper than the Eduard one. With this week-end edition, you have now the opportunity to purchase the model produced in the Czech Republic for a good price. Of course, such a reduced price also means that there will be less in the box than in a regular or "Profipack" boxing. In fact, this "Weekend" edition only has the plastic parts, one decal option and a smaller instruction booklet provided in the box. You won't find any photo etched parts, masks etc...
The new F.2B kit comes in Eduard's typical "Weekend" top opening cardboard box. The design of it is simplified but in this case, the aircraft is shown from the side on the top artwork, which is a very nice idea since the painting can be helpfull for the painting, the decalling and even the rigging of the model. On the side of the box, the aircraft is shown in left and right profiles as well.
The kit is composed of four sprues of plastic parts located within the same bag. This is unusual for Eduard and I must say that the delicate airspeed heads which are located on one of the wing struts were slightly damaged. They didn't broke off fortunately but care will be needed to bend them to their initial shape. Spues A and B are mainly composed of the kit's bigger components such as the fuselage halves, the wings and the controle surfaces. The other sprues (C and D) are composed of optional parts (propeller, landing gear struts, exhausts etc...) and detail parts (cockpit, armament, bomb load etc...).
Overall, I must say that I'm impressed by the quality of the plastic parts. The wings are very fine and the fabric effect is well rendered. I have read that it was a little too pronounced when comparing to the Roden kit but I think it is just fine and surely will look good under a coat of paint. You can compare the kit's fabric rendering with the one of the real aircraft by looking at Rowan Baylis' F.2B walkaround
which he shot at the RAF Museum in Hendon a couple of years ago. My opinion is that Eduard haven't exaggerated the effect. The fuselage halves have also been well done by Eduard with the typical lacing found on the real machine reproduced in a very subtle way. All control surfaces are separate, which means that you can display your model in a dynamic way without cutting any plastic part.
The smaller detail parts are also very well done. In some cases one wonders how it is possible that such delicate pieces of plastic don't get damaged in the manufacturing process. However, when examining the sprues it is possible to see how Eduard solved the problem: with a myriad of ejectors located on the plastic trees! Apart for some ejector pin marks in the inside of the fuselage (which don't affect the inner details in any way) there are none located on any of the parts of the kit. I wonder why other manufacturers still manage to place such annoying ejector marks in the most inappropriate places.
Out of the box, it is possible to build a very realistic and detailled replica of the F.2B. The cockpit for example will look reasonably busy when completed even if the seat is simplified and even if no seatbelts are provided. But you can scratch your own and modify the seat if you wish so. Again, the above mentionned Walkaround will be very usefull as it has a lot of photos of the inside of the aircraft.
Several parts will end up in the spare box such as the four blade propeller, the longer exhausts, a different horizontale tailplane, different landing gear struts etc...
The instructions are printed in black&white on two A4 sheets of paper and folded so to constitute an 8 pages A5 sized booklet. Compared to the instructions of the other kits made by Eduard, they are much smaller and simplified. However, they are surely good enough to build the kit. Only the rigging diagram will need further research. But this is often the case for such kits.
As usual within the "Weekend" edition boxes, there is only one decoration option:
- Bristol F.2B C-4619, No.62 Squadron RFC, 2/lt PR WE Staton and Lt HE Meritt, 25 1/2 confirmed victories, France, early 1918.
The aircraft wears an all Khaki Green upper color and Dopped Linen under color camouflage scheme with white fuselage stripes. To me this is the decoration which suits the F.2B best, but this is only my opinion. Others will probably think that the aircraft looks better in it's colorful "Crocodile"
About the decals, here is what Eduard wrote about them in their Newsletter from August 2009:
We also initiated the printing of decals, in a newly renovated print shop. It was pretty expensive, and features a new air conditioning unit, but it is looking as though it will have a very positive effect on our printing process. You will be able to judge for yourself on the sheets in the 1/72nd scale SPAD XIII and 1/48th scale Bristol Fighter, newly released this month.
Well, I must sadly report that the white is offset on my sheet and that the upper and fuselage roundels are thus unusable. On the accompanying review photos, I have altered the colors and the contrast so the problem is more visible. The rudder stripes will be fine but you will have to trim them at the edges a little. In the Spad XIII kit the decals are perfect though so I hope this will be a limited problem and that it won't affect the future kits. Eduard will have to take a closer look at their self printed decals the next time.
Being not an expert of WWI subject and only doing an early biplane model from time to time, I must say that I'm really impressed by Eduard's F.2B kit. It is a well detailed an interesting subject and for the price of the "Weekend" edition it's quite a bargain considering the result one can achieve out of the box. It's not an easy kit though and I only recommend it to modellers with some experience, the rigging being not the most simple I've seen.
The decals are a problem though. One would expect that for a kit with a single option the decals would have been flawless but sadly it was not the case in my sample. Maybe it would have been better to have separate white circles and cockades.
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