Eduard Airco DH-2

Kit #8093                            Collectorís Market Value $41.00
Images and text Copyright © 2008 by Matt Swan

Developmental Background
        During the early years of the First World War the Germans held the advantage in the air with the infamous Fokker Scourge but in 1915 the tables began to turn due to the introduction of two aircraft; the F.E. 2b and the Airco DH-2. The Airco DH-2 was a development of Geoffrey de Havillandís DH-1 concept and was the first adequately armed British fighter to enter the war. The DH-2 was of a pusher design which allowed for the weapons to be mounted in front without concern for a propeller. This was quite important as the interrupter gear was not yet available to British aircraft designers. Armament consisted of a single Lewis gun that could be mounted on any one of three gun mounts. This meant the pilot would have to deal with moving the gun from mount to mount, firing the gun and flying the aircraft. It was not long before pilots fixed the gun in the center mount and simply aimed the aircraft.
        The early DH-2 was powered by a 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine which was soon upgraded to a 110 hp Le Rhone engine which would propel the aircraft along at a breathtaking top speed of 93 miles per hour. By mid February there were six squadrons of DH-2s operating out of France and performed quite well against the Fokker Eindeckers. The aircraft was very maneuverable and relatively easy to fly. By the end of 1916 the DH-2 was outclassed by newly developed German aircraft and was replaced by the Airco DH-5. It continued in service as an advanced trainer through 1918. Overall 453 DH-2s were manufactured by Airco. In 1970 Walter M. Redfern built a replica DH-2 with a Kinner 150 hp engine and sold plans to aircraft home builders. Today there are several replica DH-2s flying.

The Kit
        In 2005 Eduard gave us modelers a very nice 1/48 DH-2 in a basic kit version and a profit pack version with some photo etched material. The kits saw a very short production run then disappeared from their inventory very quickly and are now somewhat difficult to find. Here I am looking at the basic version of the kit without the PE fret. The kit is beautiful in appearance consisting of three sprues of light tan high pressure injection molded plastic. There are very few large parts here, the fuselage nose sections and wing panels then just lots of little tiny parts that can be very scary right out of the box. Both versions of the kit include a set of express masks.
        The wings show a nicely subdued fabric texture however the fuselage nose displays very flat side panels, none of the wrinkled fabric texture that I would expect to see is evident here. Inside the cockpit there is a pretty good level of detail but the construction process looks very delicate with the floor pan being connected to the front edges of the wing by two corners then the rest of the pod being assembled and attached. This does not look like something the average modeler will accomplish easily. The engine is well detailed and fairly straight forward. There are twelve different struts between the upper and lower wings, these will not be easy to line up and a jig would be helpful here. This is all the easy parts of building this kit, things really get tough in the back end first with four main booms that support the tail surfaces. These booms do not look like they are strong enough to support the structure and the associated rigging tension required. I think these would best be replaced with either carbon rod or brass tubes. Next is the rigging, Eduard gives a very well laid out rigging plan but lets be honest, there is a boatload of rigging and no matter how good you are this will take some serious time and patience to complete.
        I would speculate that the combination of the weak tail support structure and the complexity of rigging may be what was behind the ultimate cancellation of additional production runs by Eduard. Inventory wise we have ninety seven pieces of tan plastic and a single small sheet of express masks. There are no clear parts involved with this kit.


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Decals and Instructions
        Kit assembly instructions are provided as a small pamphlet of twelve pages. This opens with a very brief historical background of the type followed by a complete parts map and paint code chart. Nine pages deal with the basic assembly of the plastic parts and three pages are devoted to the complex rigging assembly. There are plenty of color call-outs throughout the instructions.
        Kit decals consist of a small sheet with markings for two aircraft. They include various individual instrument decals for the interior and lots of little tiny alignment markings for the various struts. The decals demonstrate good color density and print registry. They look to be nicely thin and based on previous experience with Eduard decals they will most likely behave well with common setting solutions. The kit includes a single full color sheet that gives the exterior painting instructions and decal placement for both aircraft options.

Conclusions
        This is a beautiful airplane that embodies a certain artistry. The original aircraft was of a somewhat complex design and while Eduard has done a fine job of engineering the kit it reflects that original complexity. The parts are individually very nice and do fit together well. Unfortunately once that delicate tail boom structure is scaled down it becomes even more delicate and will require great care during assembly or even replacement with more sturdy components. The plastic assembly looks to be very fiddly but the rigging appears to be the real challenge on this build. I think to build this kit successful one will need to use a jig to keep everything lined up. If you are successful in building this kit you will have a prize winner for sure. I give this kit a good recommendation for advanced modelers only.





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