Author Topic: Kovozávody Prostějov 1/72 scale Sopwith Dolphin  (Read 701 times)

Offline Brad Cancian

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Kovozávody Prostějov 1/72 scale Sopwith Dolphin
« on: April 30, 2022, 04:05:12 PM »
Kovozávody Prostějov (KP) 1/72 Sopwith Dolphin “Special Markings” and “In Polish Service”
Reviewed by Brad Cancian



Item: KPM0274 and KPM0275 (KPM0273 is also available as an RFC Dolphin)
scale: 1/72
Price: 14.20 Euros each, direct from Kovozávody Prostějov


Review kit kindly provided by KP Models at https://www.kovozavody.cz/

The Sopwith Dolphin

In early 1917, the Sopwith began designing a new fighter powered by the geared 200 hp Hispano-Suiza 8B. The resulting Dolphin was a two-bay, single-seat biplane, with the upper wings attached to an open steel cabane frame above the cockpit. The Dolphin had a characteristic back stagger to both maintain centre of gravity, and facilitate pilot visibility (the pilot’s head sat between the centre section main frame. The first Dolphin prototype flew in May 1917. The aircraft was fast, manoeuvrable, and easy to fly, though a sharp stall was noted. The aircraft could mount up to four machine guns; two fixed Vickers and two upward firing Lewis guns.

On 28 June 1917, the Ministry of Munitions placed an order for 200 Dolphins. Shortly afterwards, the Ministry ordered a further 700 aircraft. Series production commenced in October 1917, with 121 Dolphins delivered by the end of the year.

The Dolphin became operational with Nos. 19 and 79 Squadrons in February 1918 and Nos. 87 and 23 Squadrons in March. The Dolphin's debut was marred by several incidents in which British and Belgian pilots attacked the new aircraft, mistaking it for a German type. For the next few weeks, Dolphin pilots accordingly exercised caution near other Allied aircraft. In his memoir Sagittarius Rising, Cecil Lewis described a mock dogfight between his S.E.5 and a Dolphin: "The Dolphin had a better performance than I realised. He was up in a climbing turn and on my tail in a flash. I half rolled out of the way, he was still there. I sat in a tight climbing spiral, he sat in a tighter one. I tried to climb above him, he climbed faster. Every dodge I have ever learned I tried on him; but he just sat there on my tail, for all the world as if I had just been towing him behind me."

When functioning properly, the Dolphin's Hispano-Suiza engine afforded excellent performance at high altitude. Four Royal Air Force squadrons operated the Dolphin as their primary equipment, while other squadrons used it in small numbers. Dolphins were operated by the RAF, Canada, Poland, and the Ukraine after the war. The Polish Air Force operated 10 Dolphins during the Polish-Soviet War. From August 1920, these aircraft were primarily used for ground attack duties in the Battle of Warsaw and other actions. They were soon grounded due to lack of spare parts. In October 1920, two Polish Dolphins were loaned to the Ukrainian Air Force for use against the Soviets. Both aircraft were returned to the Poles in February 1921.

The Bits and Bobs

The Dolphin has seen a little bit of love in this scale since the early 1980s, having seen kits from Pegasus in injection moulded plastic (out of production and hard to come by), and CMR and Choroszy Modelbud in resin. A new mainstream release of the Dolphin in plastic is a welcome addition to KPs quickly expanding 1/72 WW1 range.
Released in 2021, KP have produced three boxings of this kit; the two versions examined here, and a third (KPM0723), which contains further RFC markings. The kit consists of a single sprue of grey plastic, constituting just 43 parts, a decal sheet, and a small instruction leaflet. There is no etch, resin, nor any clear parts included. The plastic parts are the same for all three kits.



The kit is nicely detailed and has some quite nice features. Again, KP do a good job with the representation of wing ribs and the small sub-ribs. The cockpit contains enough to keep things looking busy; included is a floor, seat, fuel tank, instrument board, control column, and rudder. Seat belts are represented by decals. Struts are sturdy, but the location holes could benefit from a little bit of deepening. The wheels are quite nice (reminiscent of the wheels from the Roden Camel).





There are a couple of minor downsides. The plastic is slightly rough; we have seen this with other KP efforts. This is likely a result of lower pressure injection moulding and it is reminiscent of early Roden kits. It should clean up reasonably easily with a light sanding. There is also a little bit of flash on a number of parts. Again, these problems can be easily solved with a little sandpaper. Lastly, there’s quite a large ejector pin in the cockpit, which will need to be taken care of. This is a shame, as it will mean that the sidewall detail for the interior will have to be rebuilt.



That being said, the Dolphin cockpit is quite viewable, so the detail-inclined will be able to go to town on the interior anyways. Those also inclined may also want to consider replacing the Vickers and Lewis guns with crisper after-market items.  That being said, the kit provides all of the essentials needed to build a lovely looking kit.

Instructions

The instructions are the same for both kits. They are printed in a nice little folded A4 sized leaflet, and are printed in colour. The instructions contain a description of the aircraft’s history, some specs, a parts breakdown, and construction sequence. Unfortunately there is no rigging diagram. Paint callouts are clear and concise, and Humbrol paint references are used throughout.





Colour schemes for three machines are provided in this boxing. Colours and decal placement are called out on the rear of the box. We get a nice mix of visually interesting aircraft (albeit all in standard PC10 green, by and large):

KPM0274:
•   Sopwith Dolphin F.7085, 1 Squadron, Canadian Air Force, France 1918
•   Sopwith Dolphin C3942, 141 night fighter Squadron RAF, Biggin Hill, 1918
•   Sopwith Dolphin C3785, RNAS, Dover 1918


KPM0275:
•   Sopwith Dolphin 21.9, 19 Fighter Squadron, August 1920
•   Sopwith Dolphin 21.5, 19 Fighter Squadron, 1920
•   Sopwith Dolphin 21.2, 19 Fighter Squadron, 1920


Decals

The decals are very nicely printed with solid colour and excellent register. The decal film looks nice and thin. These should go down nicely. 



Accuracy and Buildability

The general shape and broad dimensions accord with the information I could find online. The tailplane and wingtips look perhaps a little too rounded, but this is not noticeable unless you really look hard.

The kit should present an easy enough build for those who have a couple of WW1 kits under their belt. The top wing is thankfully a single piece, but care will need to be taken to ensure nothing it bent or broken during clean up. Lower wings are pinned, so again, care will be needed here to get the correct angles. The 12 wing struts are sturdy, but care will be needed when assembling everything; measuring twice and deepening some of those strut location holes will reap rewards here.

Conclusions

KP are to be applauded for tackling the Dolphin. They have done a great job in job in providing a kit that is generally accurate in shape and outline, whilst keeping a modest parts count. Though the kit has some minor vices, and by the Dolphin’s nature may prove a little tricky to construct, the challenges are more than made up for in the solid basis that this kit provides. The kit forms a fantastic basis for a detailing project for those so inclined. The multiple boxings of this kit provide many different and interesting colour schemes. I intend on enjoying building these in due course. Highly recommended for those fans of the slightly lesser well known yet important kites from the Great War.

Our very sincere thanks to KP for the review sample! Help support the manufacturers that support the forum!