The Pup is a classic Great War design, popular for its gentle, vice-less flying characteristics, and I suspect also because it helped redress the balance of air superiority that the Germans were enjoying with the Albatros fighters. In this regard it was really the underdog, having only half the engine power and half the firepower of its Albatros opponents. Normally this would be a telling disadvantage but the Pup had a relatively large wing area and light weight giving it a lower wing loading. James McCudden wrote “at 16,000 feet the Albatros scout began to find its ceiling just where the Pup was still speedy and controllable”. “I realised that the Sopwith could outmanoeuvre any Albatros, no matter how good the pilot was . . when it came to manoeuvring, the Sopwith Scout would turn twice to an Albatros’ once”.
Its fighting career in France commenced in September 1916 and the first RFC squadron to be equipped, 54 Squadron, arrived on Christmas Eve 1916. It was withdrawn from service in the Western Front a year later, at which time production of the Pup was only just reaching its maximum and continued almost right up to the Armistice. Most of the late production Pups served in training units.
Although RFC Pups outnumbered RNAS Pups by a factor of 6:1, in Navy hands it became famous for the first trials with deck flying from warships. The Admiralty 9901a Type was a variant of the Pup designed for anti-Zeppelin operations with an opening in the centre section of the top wing through which a tripod-mounted Lewis gun could be fired. It also had provision for emergency flotation gear.
As Ray Rimell notes in the Pup Datafile Special, there are no entirely genuine surviving Pups in the world. The Shuttleworth Collection’s airworthy Pup is a post-war conversion from a two-seat Sopwith Dove and the Pup in the RAF Museum is a reconstruction using components from several original Pups.
The Sopwith Pup has always been a favourite with modellers and this is the first time it has been kitted in 1/32 scale as far as I can tell. Note: the kit is due for release in mid-March - this model is an advanced review sample kindly provided by Wingnut Wings. Wingnut Wings have released the Pup in two versions, RFC (#32013) and RNAS (#32016). The only difference as far as parts are concerned is an additional sprue in the RNAS kit providing parts for the Shipboard Pup Type 9901a used in anti-Zeppelin operations (a Lewis machine gun with 9 magazines and magazine holders, triangular machine gun mount and different fuselage). Curiously there are five parts provided that are not used by either of the current versions, including a second Vickers machine gun. I expect that a Special Edition Pup will be coming using the extra parts. The sprues, decals and instructions are separately bagged for protection.
•Lavish production qualities, A4 sized, full colour throughout its 22 pages.
•Crisp clear historical photos
•Useful close-up photos of various reconstructed and reproduction Pups plus a Le Rhone 9c engine
•Full rigging diagram
including guidance on the scale thickness of the control and flying wires. However the instructions do not provide any guidance concerning rigging methods or materials. This might be an area where Wingnut Wings could provide more information for modellers who are new to WWI, for whom rigging can be a stumbling block. Richard Alexander (who heads up Wingnut Wings) prefers to use are 'Knit in Elastic - Pyjama Cord' for RAF streamline wires (as seen on the Japanese Pup) and fine EZ Line for the rest (both are stretchy elastic). Other modellers use monofilament nylon line or thin stainless steel wire. Wingnut Wings have some photo etched rigging wires under development for RAF streamlined wire, as well as turnbuckles.
•There is a guide on the Wingnut Wings website about painting realistic wood grain effects – useful for doing the struts, propeller and cockpit decking on the Pup.
•There is little information provided about the particular aircraft featured in the kit. For example it would have been interesting to note that the Japanese aircraft in the RFC kitset (Option E) was one of 50 Pups acquired by Japan in 1919 and Lieutenant Kawaida set a record for the most consecutive loops flying this particular aircraft, 456 of them, in May 1921. In the RNAS version, the instructions note that Option F is the aircraft in which S/Cdr Dunning made history with successful deck takeoffs and landings, however the instructions do not mention that it was not the Pup in which he was tragically drowned (that was the following day in Pup N6452).
•Paint colours are shown for Tamiya, Humbrol and Misterkit (a specialist WWI paint manufacturer). I know that Wingnut Wings don’t treat this section lightly, quite a bit of time has gone into providing modellers with accurate paint recommendations. The RFC kit specifies separate PC10 ‘early’ and ‘late’ colours, and the RNAS kit includes recommendations for ‘Proprietary Khaki’ (which happens to be the same paints as for ‘early PC10’).
•The colour profile art is by Ronny Bar who will be well known to WWI aviation enthusiasts. Beautifully done!
As with the earlier releases the Pup decals are manufactured by Cartograf in Italy who have a fine reputation for quality. Within the confines of RFC/RNAS policies the two kits each provide a range of interesting markings options.
•RFC kit has five options: three from 46 Squadron, one from 54 Squadron and a post-war Japanese aircraft. RNAS kit has six: two from RNAS bases in the UK (one from Manston and one on anti-Gotha duties), two from Naval 3 Squadron, one from Naval 4 Squadron and a famous ship-board Pup (based on HMS Furious and HMS Repulse).
•The cockades are pre-cut for applying to the ailerons. These are provided in two versions in the RNAS kitset for cockades that are in either inboard or outboard positions. The RFC cockades are all in outboard positions.
•‘Palmer Cord Aero Tyre’ decals for the tyres 700 x 75. In this scale these are a worthwhile addition.
•Manufacturers decals for the propeller (RNAS: 3 different types, RFC: 2) and the interplane struts (RNAS: 3 different types, RFC: 2). All of these are little jewels which will make the model come alive.
•Detailed faces for the instrument gauges, placards, ‘Lift Here’ markings and numerous manufacturers stencils for applying to the wings, tailplane and fuselage are provided.
•Options for ‘Julia’ and ‘Betty’ markings in red or black lettering.
The kit was designed by Mark Miller, a well known WWI aviation artist specialising in 3D design. With 110 parts, including 5 not used in these versions and a further 9 that are optional, this kit is simpler than other Wingnuts kits (136 for the SE5a, 151 for the Albatros DV). Overall there is no flash and none of the parts are marred by inconveniently placed ejector marks.
•Both upper and lower wings are moulded as single pieces to ensure there will be no problems with setting the correct dihedral.
•Fitting of the top wing has been simplified by providing good sized tabs and holes for attaching the interplane struts. Likewise the centre section struts come moulded integrally with the cockpit side walls at the correct angle for fitting the top wing.
•The Le Rhone 9c engine consists of 17 pieces and is crisply moulded. A wiring diagram is provided for the spark plug leads (which not included but would be easily made from wire or heat-stretched sprue).
• Nice subtle depiction of rib tapes and stitching
•The photo etched seat belts are very detailed but, oddly, they don’t attach to the fuselage framing anywhere, they just ‘drape over’ the seat, same as on the LVG kit.
•Aileron pulleys are moulded in to the wings (unlike some other manufacturers) with clear plastic ‘windows’.
•Rigging holes are pre-drilled making it very clear where the rigging is to be fitted.
•Lots of little details have been carefully captured like the stitching thread going around the cockpit’s leather padding; the seat with its depiction of creasing around the buttons on the cushion; and the control horns which have the tiniest little holes for the control wires.
•The cowling will benefit from a little thinning around the cooling slots - well within the capabilities of most modellers.
•A wealth of optional parts are provided to depict different manufacturers and versions. Alternative parts for the tail fin (fixed and adjustable), two propellers, two cowlings, two types of side cowl hatches, two types of padding for the Vickers machine gun butt, four different types of windscreen.
•The low parts count and straightforward construction would make the Pup especially suitable for less experienced modellers or those having a go at WWI aircraft modelling for the first time.
The kit’s instructions contain plenty of reference information enabling modellers to complete a detailed accurate model. For those who are more detail-afflicted, the Windsock Datafile Special for the Sopwith Pup is an excellent reference source for modellers and is still available from Albatros Productions for £12.95. The latest Windsock International (Vol 26 #1) features full build articles for these two Pup kits and the two new Albatros kits, and it includes numerous colour detail photos of replica aircraft.
“The Sopwith Pup” by J.M. Bruce, Gordon Page and Ray Sturtivant, published by Air Britain 2002. This is probably the best single historical work on the Pup.
“Sopwith Pup Aces of World War I” by Norman Franks, published by Osprey in 2005. This has some evocative accounts of the Pup and its pilots in action plus excellent colour profiles by Harry Dempsey.
Air Enthusiast #4 Pp.187-207.
Cross & Cockade Int. Vol. 19, #1, Pp. 1-25 Esp. Pp. 4 ,14, 16 &19. 1987
Cross & Cockade Int. Vol. 23, #1, Pp. 34-41. 1991
Cross & Cockade USA Vol. 23, #3, Pp.193-214. 1984.
Profile #13, The Sopwith Pup by J.M.Bruce. 1965
Quarterly Review Pp. 4-12 "Sopwith Pup...First Carrier Fighter." by R. Hucker, date unknown.
Royal Flying Corp in WWI by R. Rimell, Osprey Vintage Warbirds series #1, 1985..
Sopwith Fighters in WWI by J.M.Bruce, Osprey Vintage Warbirds series. #3, 1986.
Windsock Datafile #2 , Albatros Pub.Ltd.
Price and ordering
All Wingnut Wings kits are available only direct from Wingnut Wings via their website: http://www.wingnutwings.com/ww/
They have a secure online shopping cart but if modellers prefer, snail mail ordering is also available. Price is US$59 per kit and the special offer of free international shipping has been extended to include all four new kit releases. Payment is by Paypal or credit card.
Also please mention the Aeroscale review when contacting Wingnut Wings