Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Plucky Little Belgium (2) A few steps forward, and a few back

More on my forray into the Belgian Airforce in WW1

As the war wore on it became clear the Belgians needed new aircraft

Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter. Belgium was in dire need of some more modern planes, and received "spare" Strutters from both England and France. This is one of the English sourced ones which were 2 seaters, the French supplied versions (licence built) tended to be single seaters with the weight saved allocated to bombs. The pics of the original show the RFC roundel was hastily overpainted and I have tried for that effect here. Yet another Shapeways model.

Next the RE8. This is an "official" Wings of War model, and the cause of much heartache. The RE8 was supplied to Belgium by Britain as a replacement for the ageing collection of F40s, GIVs etc. The RE8 was at best an obsolete design when it entered British service, by the time it arrived in Belgian hands it had a reputation as an easy kill. The reasons are pretty simple. The British "Higher Ups" thought that an airplane should be stable and easy to fly so that the crew could get on with the important stuff like leaning over the side taking photographs. They built the RE series to do just that, and ended up with slow flying planes that could not evade any enemy that came looking for them. Even worse the RE8 turned out to be flimsy and a bit of a handful to fly, being prone to stalls and badly balanced so that there was a warning on the side that said something like "It is dangerous to try to take off WITHOUT an observer or counterweight in the rear cockpit". The Belgians did try and fix this by replacing the engine with a more powerful Hispano-Suiza. This helped boost speed a bit, and made them far less dangerous to fly. The problem is that Wings of War produced the RE8 in Belgian colours they decided that rather than remodelling the front end with teh Hispano engine they would leave it the same as the RFC version, but remove the prominent exhaust stacks. This leaves the model as a bit of a deadloss - if they had left the stacks you could still use it as an unmodified RE8, but as it is it looks nothing like the Hispano engined Belgian RE8 and also looks wrong as an original. Oh Well.

Luckily Shapeways do an Hispano engined RE8 so I'm hoping to pick one up to show as a comparison.

Next - Fighters!

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