This is my contribution to a vintage kit group build here at WWI Aircraft Models.
It is one of the oldest Great war kits in 1/72 scale, dating to 1958.
It has recently been re-issued again, and concealed within it is a decent model of the R.E. 8....
First order of business has been rectifying the fuselage.
It is too long and does not bend enough. The over-length is concentrated between the cockpits; the opening of the pilot's cockpit is much too long, and the opening of the observer's set too far back. To work more easily, I filled in the cockpit openings, and the 'notch' in the fuselage bottom, with plastic sheet as thick as the kit pieces.
I cut the fuselage pieces in half, using a photo-etch saw blade, with the cut made at the point where the pilot's cockpit opening should have ended (just aft of where the kit has a locator hole for the rear cabane strut). Four millimeters was then cut of the front of the rear portions, and the mating surfaces of the rear portions were then sanded to a slant that removed about a millimeter from the top of the pieces. The halves of each fuselage piece were then re-joined with CA gel.
These pictures show the altered pieces in comparison with pieces from another Airfix R.E. 8 kit, to highlight the differences.
In sanding this new seam down, a good deal of surface detail had to go, but there is more sanding required, as more subtle corrections are made. The kit gives a sort of 'tear-drop' shape to the fuselage in plan view: the very front (just before the 'pinch' to the engine) is a little bulbous, and the taper towards the tail begins in front of the observer's cockpit. This is incorrect; things should go back straight to about the middle of the observer's gun ring. I sanded down the sides till this was in order. The kit plastic is thick enough to take this, and the kit would build a bit wide here, it seems, too; I was ready to add shims at the mating surfaces of the fuselage halves if it became necessary, but it has not. It was necessary, though, to put the 'pinch' back in. All surface detail is gone, and will have to be restored as the build progresses (a shame, because some of, if a bit heavy, was not at all bad).
Next was some advance work on the rear top of the fuselage. Kicking the 'bend' up a bit gives the wrong slant to the top of the turtledeck, and in any case the kit turtledeck is too high, starts too low, and goes back too far. The gun ring also stands too high above the turtledeck. I sanded away the kit turtledeck, raised the sides with 1mm square rod (sanded down to the proper taper so it went straight back and met the rise of the rear fuselage). I put quarter millimeter sheet atop this on either piece. I have shaped a turtledeck piece from two millimeter sheet. It will be added once the fuselage is closed, but has been fitted pretty well already. The tail skid and lower fin have been removed, and a bit of reconstruction (with 1mm square rod) done at the stern-post. A bit of sanding at the top and bottom has been done, to bring the fuselage height in line with the drawings, and smooth out the contours.
The last of the basic fuselage preparation is sanding out the interior walls. This pretty much has to be done, as the rear cabane strut emerges from the pilot's cockpit, its attachment to the upper longeron plainly visible, and so some structural detail simply must be added to the cockpit walls. Sanding continued until the sides of the fuselage are somewhat flexible; I would guess they are a bit under a half millimeter wide at the thickest now, but in any case, it would no longer be safe to thin them further. In the photograph below, the measure of the thinning is the space of grey outside the white plugging the gun ring; this was flush with the side when the thinning started....
Next order of business was dealing with the wings. These are too long, much too thick, a bit too wide, and have the wrong rake to their tips. Surface detail and locator holes are incorrectly placed, but will not survive fixing the rest, and so this is of little importance. The lower wing root has no cut-out.
On the upper wing, some of the excess span is in the center section, which is about two and a half millimeters too wide. Because of the extreme dihedral, to fix this requires cutting the upper wing into three pieces. This was done after a preliminary sanding to remove the ribs and injector marks.
The wing pieces were then seriously sanded, both upper and under surfaces. The picture shows in-board ends of the upper wing panels, thinning complete on one, not begun on the other. In the process of sanding, occasional swipes at the leading and trailing edges brought the chord down right enough.
Once the pieces were thinned, the rake was corrected at the tips. This takes care of most of the remaining excess span; once the rake was right, about a millimeter and a half still needed removing from each panel. The edges of the cut-out in the center-section were re-done using billets of 2mm sheet. I removed a little too much from the ends of the center section, and replaced this with caps of 30 thousandths sheet. Then the upper wing was re-assembled using CA gel.
The lower wing panels were cut off their roots and bearer, and treated as were the upper wings. The lower wings are not quite so thick as the upper wing was, and so this went a bit quicker. Correcting the rake of the tips again took off most of the excess span. The slant from the join to the root had to be sanded a bit wider.
Here are the undersides of both upper and lower wing pieces.
Next order of business will be interior work in the cockpits....