In-Box Review
Sopwith Snipe Early
The ultimate Sopwith rotary powered bird
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by: Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]


As a private venture two prototypes were begun as a modification of the Sopwith Camel to use the heavier 150hp AR.1. The first prototype Snipe single bay wings (later became B9962), powered by a Bentley AR.1 (Admiralty Rotary type 1) later just known as BR.1 was completed in October 1917. The second prototype (later became B9963) was completed with a rounded fuselage and the new, more powerful Bentley rotary, which gave 230 horsepower (170 kW) on 23 November 1917. Initially it had single bay wings but, later modified to dual bay wings. At that time these still employed the unbalanced ailerons.

When the Admiralty became interested in the private venture they issued contract A.S. 316688/17 in April 1917 it included six prototypes B9962-9967. Three of these were ordered to use the 230hp B.R. 2. One further variation of the prototypes was B9967 had a Dragonfly radial as a power plant.

The third prototype B9965 had lengthened wings, with a wider centre-section and a smaller cut-out for the pilot, while the fuselage had a fully circular section, rather than the slab-sided one of the first prototype, and the tail was smaller. It was officially tested in December 1917, reaching a speed of 119 mph (192 km/h), and was then rebuilt with longer-span (30 ft (9.14 m)) two-bay wings (compared with the early 25 ft 9 in (7.85 m) single bay wings. This allowed the Snipe to compete for Air Board Specification A.1(a) for a high-altitude single seat fighter. This specification required a speed of at least 135 mph (225 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,573 m) and a ceiling of at least 25,000 ft (7,620 m) while carrying an armament of two fixed and one swiveling machine gun. An oxygen supply and heated clothing were to be provided for the pilot to aid operations at higher altitude. Tail units were modified from the original design progressively to enlarge their overall areas. Ultimately these were similar to the contemporary Sopwith Dolphin tail units in profile.

Kit Contents

The kit comes in a typical Wingnut Wings two part open top box. Artwork on the box and the comprehensive instruction monograph is their usual high grade. The cost is $69.00 with free shipping.
114 plastic parts
12 PE parts
24 page instruction monograph
05 aircraft profiles

The build

Step 1, Cockpit build begins with the petrol tank & floor boards (PP A 19 & 36), rudder bar (PP A 6) stabilizer board (PP A 13). The fuselage structure (PP A 17) and fuel tank pressurizing pump (PP A 14). Next is the control column (PP A 22). The instrument board / ammunition storage facade (PP A 27) has a series of instruments & gauges moulded to the front and the their faces are represented by decals. Their placements are detailed here, along with the choice of tachometer (PP A 9 or 10). Next is the pilot’s left fuselage interior (PP A 18) and you add the throttle & petrol (PP A 8) unit. The pilot’s seat is depicted as wicker (PP A 25) with the typical leather wraps and a cushion (PP A 30). The only issue here is that the wicker does not open at the back face of the seat. The solid band can be trimmed away for an scale effect, as shown on in the Hints & Tips on WNW's website. Yet when it comes to the structural sidewalls (PP A 17 & 18) impressively come as one whole mouldings.

Step 2, Cockpit continued detailed the rear gun mounts & adjustable tail lever (PP A 15), additional rib structures (PP D 3 X 2), compass (PP A 3). Air speed indicator (PP A 2) and the firewall (PP A 28). Next is the Vickers machine guns (PP D 15 & 16 X 2 , PE 1 & 3 X 2) next add the ammunition feed (PP A 26) and the empty link chutes (PP D 10 X 2).

Page 5, Cockpit painting & rigging guide is next. This of course should be thoroughly referenced early in the build.

Page 6, Colour shots of TVAL modern reproduction gives you a good perspective of the finished 1:1 build.

Step 3, Fuselage (interior) & painting and add the facades for the carburetor intakes.

Step 4, upper decking & lower wings Note here the upper decking interior (PP F 2) is both metal & wood ply. The support former (PP A 11) is shown as plywood coloured. Note the placement of the Sutton Farm shoulder straps (PE 8 X 2) to the support former (PP A 11). Note you should drill the recommended holes in the lower wing (PP B 4) roots for the cooper bomb racks if you intend on installing it later.

Step 5, 230hp Bentley B.R.2 Engine (PP E 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8). “The initial variant of the B.R.2 developed 230 horsepower (170 kW), with nine cylinders measuring 5.5 by 7.1 inches (140 mm × 180 mm) for a total displacement of 1,522 cubic inches (24.9 L). It weighed 490 pounds (220 kg), only 93 pounds (42 kg) more than the B.R.1. . .” The B.R.2 at the 245hp rating appears to be the pinnacle of rotary engine development for the British. The wiring diagram is a bit small for modelers and I recommend the use of an “Optivisor”.

Step 6, Cabane & interplane struts come as individuals and I recommend a “Lego” block jig to align them for the addition of the top wing panels to come next. There is also a ring and bead sight (PE 2 & 4) scrap view.

Step 7, Top wing (PP B 3) attachments include a fillet (PP A 7) or “Aldis” sight bracket (PP A 34). I would recommend adding the “Aldis” sight (PP A 31) next and not as the instructions state in step 9. Set the lower wing ailerons (PP B 2 X 2 & D 5 X2) next. I would pin them in place with brass rod / wire.

Step 8, Undercarriage parts are assembled here. The setup is typical for Sopwith aircraft of the time. The undercarriage legs (PP A 35 & 38) spreader bar / axle (PP A 16), wheels (PP D 7 X 2), retainer rings (PP D 6 X 2) and wheel covers (PP D 11 X 2).

Step 9, Final assembly brings the propeller (PP A A 41 & F 3), bomb carriage (PP A 23 & 24), Cooper bombs (PP D 13 X 4, D 14 X 4), Upper wing ailerons (PP G 4 X 2 & D 5 X 2) together. Then the tail unit adds the control, horns (PP D 4 X 4), vertical fin (PP G 1) and rudder (PP G 2 & A 1).

Page 14 Rigging diagram notes the two sizes of simulated cables required.

Page 15, Profile A Sopwith Snipe E7992, South Eastern Area Flying Instructors School 1918-19.
Page 15, Profile B Sopwith Snipe E8015, E Mulcair, A Flight 43 Sqn, Oct – November 1918.
Page 15, Profile C Sopwith Snipe E8057, “1-4”, B Flight 70 Sqn, 1919
Page 15, Profile D Sopwith Snipe E8069, “2” T.C.R. Baker, 4 AFC Sqn, October 1918.
Page 15, Profile E Sopwith Snipe E8132 “D”, A Flight 208 Sqn, November 1918.
Page 20, Is a full page side image of E8132 with decal placement notes
Page 21, Is a full page rear quarter image of E8044.
Page 22, Is an image of an nosed in / inverted Snipe of 70 Sqn with usual bio notes on development team. In aviation, any landing where the wheels were up and the top wing down was called a "lady’s landing".

Serial numbers

Sopwith on the Thames; B9962-9967, E7987 - E8286, F2333 - 2532, H4865 - H5064.
Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. J3917 - J3991.
Boulton & Paul Ltd; E6167-E6536, J451 - J550.
British Caudron Co. Ltd. J651 - J680, J2392 - J2541.
Coventry Ordinance Works Ltd. E6537-6686, F9846 - F9995.
Gloucester Aircraft Co Ltd. J3042 - J3341.
Grahame - White Aviation Co Ltd. J2542 - J3041.
Kingsbury Aviation Co. Ltd. J6493 - J6522.
March, Jones & Cribb Ltd. J301 - J400, J401 - J730.
D. Napier & Son Co; E6687-9636.
National Aircraft Factory #3 J4092 - J4591.
Portholme Aerodrome; E8307- E8406, H8663 - H8762.
Ruston, Proctor Co. Ltd. E7337 - E7336, H351 - H650.
Note: there were other allocations of serial blocks but most of these were switched to other Sopwith types that developed after the Snipe’s production began.


A brief photo essay on the Sopwith Snipe 7F.1 by G.H.Williams, Over the Front, Vol. 1, #4, Pp.327-330. 1986.
British Aeroplanes 1914–18 by Bruce, J.M. London: Putnam, 1957.
Dolphin and Snipe Aircraft of the Aces of World War 1 #48 by Norman Franks, Osprey 2002.
Honours Two more VCs Flight Magazine 5 December 1918, Vol X No 49. p.1369.
On Silver Wings: Part 1 by Lumsden, Alec Aeroplane Monthly, October 1990, Vol 18 No 10. pp. 586–592.
Sopwith Aircraft by Davis, Mick.The Crowood Press, 1999.
Sopwith Snipe by J.M Bruce Windsock Datafile 46, 1994.
Sopwith Snipe...the RAF's first fighter: Part 1 by Bruce, J.M. Air Enthusiast Intl. April 1974, Vol 6 No 4. Pp. 190–195, 206–207.
Sopwith Snipe...the RAF's first fighter: Part 2 by Bruce, J.M. Air Enthusiast International, June 1974, Vol 6 No 6. Pp. 289–299.
Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe by Bruce, profile Publications 1965.
Sopwith–The Man and His Aircraft by Robertson, Bruce. Letchworth, UK: Air Review, 1970.
The Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing) by Bruce, J.M London: Putnam, 1982.
The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force by Halley, James J.. Tonbrige, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians), 1980.
Thetford, Owen. "On Silver Wings: Part 2". Aeroplane Monthly, November 1990, Vol.18 No 11. London:IPC. pp. 664–670.

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Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: The usual High quality we have come to expect from WNW. Great subject matter. Finely engraved details.
Lows: Weighted tires and trailing edge wing alignment jigs would be a good improvement. Barker's markings for E8102 would have been an advantage.
Verdict: Good kit. Well worth the price.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: #32020
  Suggested Retail: $69.00
  Related Link: website
  PUBLISHED: Feb 24, 2013
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash)

I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


In aviation, any landing where the wheels were up and the top wing down was called a "lady's landing" I'll have you know that no aircraft I have ever landed has ever ended up in that ridiculous predicament. The men who coined that phrase have no idea how ladies actually land. It's at once nice and disappointing to see that perhaps the most famous Snipe of all has been passed over in favour of other aircraft. It's nice to be reminded that other people than Barker flew it, yet disappointing for those with a yearning to build Barker's aircraft.
FEB 25, 2013 - 03:47 PM
I bow to your knowledge in this area.
FEB 25, 2013 - 05:02 PM
NIce Review as always Stephen – looks like another fantastic release from WNW. Im starting to loose count on how many kits they've released lately. Think this one will be added to the lineup at some point. I do agree its a bit odd that Barker's mount is not included – if given the choice, that would be the one I'd model... BTW – Wonder if there will be a Camel in the future despite what has been said. The Camel is not one of my favorites either, but if a WNW version came... well, I think it would be a "must have". Mikael
FEB 25, 2013 - 09:09 PM
HGW follows on the heels of the WNW release with their PE lap harness set.
MAR 29, 2013 - 04:50 PM
Just FYI, I want to do Barker's Snipe as well and a look at the decal sheet shows me that the serial numbers are there to do it. One would have to paint/decal the fuselage stripes oneself, but I'm betting that anyone willing to have a crack at this kit could pull that off. No comment on the landings issue except to point out that I don't want to mess with Jess.
MAR 31, 2013 - 12:40 PM
I invite you to consider the name of the person who does this.
MAR 31, 2013 - 01:14 PM
Regarding Barker's Snipe, don't worry, be happy! Rowan at Pheon is taking pre-orders for a Sheet thats aimed at "The Canadian Fokkers" (Captured DVII's flown by the newly formed Canadian Airforce immediate Post War) and after some world class whining and pestering by three of us from Canada has added the Barker Snipe to the sheet.(32044) There are also markings included for two Aussie Snipes including Bo King's. Due for release in March so should be available real soon. I can't find Rowan's new Email address but believe the old one will be active for a while; [email protected] Cheers, Lance
APR 03, 2013 - 01:22 AM
Lance, While I in no way wish to denigrate Rowan's decals (they are great!) I don't see myself getting this one. I really had to scrape to get the Snipe kit and don't know what I'd do with the Fokker decals, and his prices aren't cheap, especially if I'm only doing one of the offerings. Again, I don't blame him! He deserves to make some profit off his superb work. I just can't afford it under the circumstances. On the other hand, if someone gets the sheet for the Fokkers and wants to unload the Snipe decals, let me know! Michael
MAY 24, 2013 - 01:44 PM

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