Sopwith Tabloid Conversion
By: Steve Perry
Converting the 1/72 Eduard Sopwith Schnieder to a Sopwith Tabloid
The Sopwith Tabloid land plane design was developed from a pre-war racing machine which was Sopwith's successful entry in the 1914 Schnieder Trophy race for floatplanes. The Schnieder was a military floatplane developed from the same racer. So the conversion is not a major one.
The Schnieder kit is a very typical early Eduard limited run kit. The plastic pieces are fairly thick with flash, huge mold gates and minimal surface detail. There is a lot of brass, three frets worth to be precise. While the parts cleanup may seem to be considerable work, it is still less work than cleaning up a typical vac kit.
There are four areas which need attention. The cowl needs a bottom piece and the brass piece at the very front from the Schnieder kit is not used. The cutout in the upper wing of the Schnieder needs to be filled in. The fuselage is about 1.5 mm too short when compared with the drawings in the Albatros Publications Mini Datafile on the Tabloid (mini DF #9). Finally the land plane landing gear will need to be scratchbuilt.
The cowl is converted by adding a bottom piece. I used 10 thou card. It is curved, so you cannot simply slap a piece across. To achieve the curve shown on drawings and in photos, you need to glue the piece of card across the front and let that set up. Then holding your finger inside the cowl to achieve the required curve, tack the sides and check the curve against the drawings.
When it is satisfactory, glue the sides down from the inside. Build up a respectable thickness of CA on the inside. Do this in several applications to avoid excess heat when the CA sets. This fillet of CA will allow you to sand and shape the edge where the added piece joins to the kit cowl. You can sand through the card and into the CA if necessary. The styrene and CA feather perfectly and such areas will be invisible under paint.
The cutout in the Schnieder's top wing is an easy fix. cut a piece of 5 thou card barely larger than the hole and glue it over the hole on the top surface. Now turn the wing over and fill the cavity formed with CA glue. Let this set several hours.
When set, sand away the 5 thou card. The CA "plug" will feather perfectly with the top wing surface. Sand the bottom side smooth. Fill in or sand away the aileron outlines on both wings as the tabloid I wanted to replicate was a wing warper. (Cmdr Gray's RNAS Zepplen shed raider.)
The fuselage length is corrected after the fuselage halves are joined. The Tabloid fuselage is covered on the sides all the way to the tailpost, but the area between the tailpost and the last horizontal member is open on the bottom. With the fuselage halves joined sand maybe a mm off the very end. Now take two pieces of 5 thou card and extend the sides to a point about 2 mm past the sanded off end of the kit fuselage. The card pieces should be about 4 - 5 mm long so they extend from the new tailpost point about 2mm behind the sanded off fuselage end forward about 2-3 mm along each fuselage side. Feather in the 5 thou card to the fuselage sides with a sanding stick. Glue a couple of 10 thou strips on the inside of the lower edges of the extension pieces to simulate the lower lngerons.
The undercarriage is scratched out of bamboo and styrene strip. The upturned ends of the skids are bent by warming the plastic (near a light bulb or candle) and making the bend with finger pressure. Best to put a bend in several oversize pieces and then pick two that match and cut them to the proper length as per the drawings. I traced the drawing onto some mylar from the datafile and built each side over the drawing. allow a hair more length than the drawing shows to the vertical legs to account for the angle at which the legs sit. I used brass seatbelt buckles & fasteners to simulate the reenforcement fittings on the LG and struts.
The brass interior is quite nice, but the brass frets are thinner than most and the brass itself in my example seemed more flexible, so great care is needed in working with it. I added rudder cables and a little bead of acrylic gel medium along the top edge of the seat. As with all early Eduard kits, it is best to hold off painting I detailing the inside of the fuselage until the cockpit tub is assembled, as some thinning down of the inner walls is needed to allow the brass to fit. Paint the rear fabric covered portions CDL and the front portions aluminum, then add painted strips and sprue to simulate the framework and interior bracing.
The engine is a nicely cast white metal aftermarket item from the spares box, possibly by Aeroclub. I used the case ring from the kit as well as the pushrods. These are real flimsy. They are longer than the cylinders with a thin spot. Carefully glue the end with the "foot" to the case and then bend the piece at 90 degrees over the top of the cylinder at the thin point. It is maybe a half mm above the head. Careful pressing of the piece down on top of the cylinder head will result in a raised peak at the bend that very nicely represents the rocker mechanisms. The thin spot on the pushrod makes it do this. Nice job Eduard!
I scratched the intake pipes out of rod. I used a pair of flat nose pliers to mash the tip to the flattened cross section of the pipe at the head. A series of pinches of decreasing pressure will contour the rod from flattened section to round. The flattened rod tip Can be bent 90 degrees without cracking with the flat plier. A little twist and bend in the rod and then trim it to fit with a sharp #11. I only did 4 cylinders because the cowling prevents more from being seen.
The brass struts are too flat in cross section and need to be built up with a few coats of white glue. Since they have nice fold over fittings, it is best to fix rather than replace the struts, although you could cut off the fittings and use them on scratch built bamboo struts if you wanted to. Carefully buff the surface of the brass fret with fine sandpaper to remove any oxidation or oils before attempting to paint white glue on them. Paint them on the fret.
After preparing the struts I found out too late that they are a bit long. Be careful to check the drawings for exact lengths
Assembly and rigging is pretty much as per the Eduard instructions.Strut locations are given by small dimples which need to be drilled out. Do this before sanding down the wings least you lose the locations.
Markings on Tabloids were minimal. A tail number in black on a white rectangle on the rudder below which is printed the Sopwith logo (kit decal). I chose to model Cmdr. Gray's aircraft which was used in bombing German Zeppelin sheds. This was a RNAS machine and likely had large Union Jacks painted on the underside of the lower wings.
The sheet metal work on the cowl and forward portions of the fuselage was natural aluminum that had been carefully turned to produce a riffled effect. I achieved this using Rub & Buff paste for a base. Before the paste dries, I do the turning with a small dowell inserted into the dremel mini tool, occasionally dipping the tip in fresh Rub & Buff paste. If you mess it up (you will) then lightly sand the affected area, reapply more paste and try again. Seal with a sprayed coat of Future.
Since the clear doped linen was translucent, some framework was evident under the fabric. Simulate this with lines from a watercolor pencil (raw siena) on a base coat of CDL. Blend the lines with a barely moist swab. Lightly and EVENLY mist CDL over the surfaces until the pencil markings just show through.