After a shaky debut in the winter of 1916-17, when RFC crews flew the new Bristol F.2 in the sedate manner of previous 2-seaters and suffered accordingly, the “Biff” or “Brisfit” as it became popularly known blossomed into one of the most effective aircraft in service. Flown aggressively, the Bristol Fighter was more than capable of holding its own against enemy single-seaters.
Unlike so many of its contemporaries which vanished from the inventory soon after the end of WWI, the Brisfit remained in frontline service, with subsequent versions going on to operate around the world well into the 1930s. In the RAF it proved highly effective in helping police the British Empire, with tropicalised versions serving widely throughout the Middle East and Indian subcontinent.
Released late last year, Wingnut Wings’ new post-war Brisfit takes one of their earliest kits and gives it a fresh lease of life with additional parts and striking new colour schemes. Karl Althaus REVIEWED
the original version back in 2009, and it has continued to receive the highest acclaim ever since, so I was understandably excited to see the new boxing.
The kit arrives in typical WNW style, in a very attractive top-opening box with all the sprues and accessories bagged separately for protection in transit. The box is surprisingly compact compared with, for instance, the Ninak and everything survived the journey from New Zealand perfectly in the sample kit.
As you’d expect, the bulk of the kit is unchanged from the original release, but some of the old parts have replacements on a new sprue, and the etched fret is expanded. The new version of the Brisfit comprises:
208 x grey styrene parts (18 not used)
3 x clear styrene parts
15 x etched brass parts, plus a nameplate
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
The moulding is simply superb, with exquisitely rendered details inside and out. It’s amazing to think WNW’s F.2B is now around seven years old and, along with the rest of the series, it still sets a standard that other manufacturers have yet to surpass. There are a few mould lines to clean up, but no sign of flash, and there are no sink marks evident. The few visible ejector pin marks are very light and will be easy to deal with.
The fabric surfaces are beautifully depicted, with the taught look of a well-maintained airframe and subtle, yet distinct, rib tapes and stitching on the wings and tail, along with delicate lacing on the fuselage sides. On the metal cowls, slide-moulds are used to create open vents with commendably thin lips.
The additional sprue contains two new alternative types of exhausts, remodelled engine cowls, a much more modern instrument panel than its WWI predecessor, a supplementary radiator for tropically-equipped aircraft and, arguably most striking, a new balanced fin and rudder. Not used in this boxing are a spare wheel and a late-style tail skid, so WNW clearly have plans for further incarnations in due course.
A Few Details
Over 30 parts combine to produce a nicely detailed (but not wildly over-complicated) cockpit. The floor features an excellent woven effect for the covering in the gunner’s area, while the pilot’s wicker chair is very neatly depicted and builds up from four parts, augmented by etched seatbelts. The gunner gets a simple stool-type seat that slides on runners on the side-frames. The latter will repay careful painting for a wooden finish with metal fittings, and will really come to life if you add the extensive bracing shown in the instructions.
The new instrument panel is provided with Cartograf decals for the faces of the dials, plus data-plates. The rear of the cockpit features an etched brass part to represent the fabric screen that must be annealed and folded to produce stowage pockets for the gunner. It might prove easier to use this as a template to cut a piece from thin styrene sheet or paper for a natural “used” look.
Construction is a little unusual, in that the engine is left until almost the end of the assembly, while the rest of the airframe is built in the style of the original, ready to accept it. So, after fitting the engine bearers and preparing the undercarriage, the instructions move swiftly on to the lower wing with the undercarriage struts threaded through, followed by the tail surfaces.
There’s a nicely detailed optional bomb-rack for 4 x 20lb bombs mounted above the undercarriage, along with details such as Holt flares for some of the decal options.
The interplane struts have good, solid, mounting holes, so (while the Brisfit certainly may not be an ideal beginner’s kit) WNW have made the 2-bay assembly as straightforward as possible without compromising accuracy. A simple jig may be advisable to keep everything square and true
It’s only with the wings on that attention finally turns to the Rolls-Royce Falcon. This is constructed from over 30 finely detailed parts, and careful painting and adding ignition wiring etc. need not be wasted, because the cowls are detachable, allowing the finished engine to be viewed from every angle. A real boon is the inclusion in the instructions of 8 high quality colour photos of a preserved Falcon.
New to this post-war Brisfit is an additional radiator slung under the nose for service in tropical parts of the British Empire. A remarkable one-piece moulding forms the bulk of the radiator, plus its hose and mounts.
The final additions are the gunner’s Scarff ring and a nicely detailed Lewis gun. The mount is a delicate mix of styrene and etched parts, plus a brass sling for the gunner.
Last, but certainly not least, comes the rigging. This is fairly complex, with a mix of plain and RAF streamlined wires. Wingnut Wings sell both types as elastic thread (available separately), while RB Productions offer photo-etched RAF wires.
Instructions & Decals
The construction guide is printed in English in WNW’s familiar and very attractive “retro” style. In full colour throughout and including numerous reference photos, what I really like is that the various parts are actually named, giving you a much better understanding of the original aircraft. The diagrams are good and clear, so non-English readers should still have few difficulties, and the suggested 14-stage sequence looks perfectly logical. Some modellers may be tempted to add the engine earlier, but I’ll be happy to trust the order shown.
Painting suggestions are keyed to each part, and a colour chart offers Tamiya, Humbrol and FS matches, so you should be able to find suitable paints wherever you’re based.
Decals are provided for five varied and attractive aircraft, offering a mix of silver-doped, camouflaged and even clear-doped-linen finishes.
A: Bristol F.2b Fighter Mk. II, s/n F4392, “B2”, Aboukir, Egypt, 1926
B: Bristol F.2b Fighter Mk. II, s/n F4435, 208 Sqn., Ismailia, Egypt, 1925
C: Bristol F.2b Fighter Mk. II, s/n J6647, “K”, Gerard Combe, 31 Sqn., Dardoni, India, 1923
D: Bristol F.2b Fighter Mk. II, “19”, Irish Free State Air Corps, 1925
E: Bristol F.2b Fighter Mk. III, s/n 7112, New Zealand Permanent Air Force, 1930s
The decals are custom printed by Cartograf, so top quality is virtually assured, and the sample sheet displays the company’s usual excellence, with the thin and glossy items printed in perfect register with virtually no excess carrier film.
WNW’s post war is a quite superb model and an absolute “must” for Golden Age enthusiasts. The inclusion of the Irish option is very nicely timed for the commemoration of the country’s route to independence, and the Brisfit is certain to turn heads in any collection, whichever option you go for. By its nature, it’s probably not an advisable kit for a first biplane build, but I can recommend it without hesitation to experienced modellers who will relish the challenge it offers.
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Anyone building the Bristol Fighter may find our 90 photo WALKAROUND
of the RAF Museum's preserved aircraft useful.