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Friedrichshafen FF 33 L flugzeugbau

22 Mar
2012

Friedrichshafen FF 33 L flugzeugbau,scale model house kits

The FF.33L was the smaller fighter/scout version version of the earlier FF.33E reconnaissance aircraft. About 130 were built and one ended up in Poland – hence Ardpol’s kit. The kit consists of just over a hundred light grey resin parts, eight A5 sides of diagrams and a single decal sheet. The box art shows the two schemes provided and most of the history given is for the Polish version. The two versions options differ only in the tail fin and rudder parts and colour scheme. The parts are well cast and have to be removed from the casting blocks, but the smaller parts are very brittle so a lot of care is required. Once removed from these blocks there is only a small amount or flash to remove – also the casting blocks have numbers so you can group the identical parts, but you then have to visually decide which parts fit where as no clue is given to the numbers.

Construction  FF Friedrichshafen 

Friedrichshafen FF 33 L flugzeugbau,aircraft model shop

The construction diagrams begin with a series of sub-assemblies, for the cockpit, engine, and all the beaching trolleys and trestles – a nice touch as this is the first floatplane kit I’ve had that includes all this gear. I added a few lengths of chain and brass dowels to the rear trestle as this was adjustable for height. The cockpit is very basic and so I added some seat belts and other small details from foil and wire. The instrument panel does look good when the details are highlighted. The engine and cockpit are then enclosed in the fuselage halves and a little filler is required to tidy up the joint. At this point I also assembled the floats which come as two parts, but appear magically as one in the instructions. These come as two sections split lengthways and this was the most difficult joint to clean up, as there are ribs either side of the joint and but as each new strut was glued in place the whole assembly became more stable and robust.

Friedrichshafen FF 33 L flugzeugbau,how to build scale models

The instructions fit all the wings next, but I didn’t think this was the best way, so I fixed the lower wings and fuselage and added some brass dowels to make a secure fitting and drilled small indentations for all the inter-wing struts and float mounting struts. Next I assembled a jig to hold the fuselage and wings at the correct height above the floats and fixed the latter together with the two horizontal ties, replacing the kit parts with brass wire. Next the float-to-fuselage struts were superglued in place. Then the outer struts from the float to wing were added. Sounds simple? This actually was a Saturday afternoon of trial, error and heartache, cover detail on the top. Next the inter wing and fuselage struts were added and the upper wing fixed – the upper wing is two parts which magically appears as one in the instructions and does need some care, and on my example some shims to get the correct trail angle. Finally the rigging was added, using guesswork and a few Internet photographs, and the small details completed. I replaced the rear gun mount and radiator piping with wire. I also ended up with about a dozen parts that I had no clue what to do with, but some were useful when I broke struts.

Colour Options

The two schemes provided include a German Naval aircraft No. 1010 in overall sea blue with large white outlined black crosses. I could find no photograph of this aircraft, but the style was used on other FF.33 variants. The Polish version is more colourful and is the one example used in Poland from 1920 to 1921. The decals adhered well and had good colour depth and were all done in five minutes.

Conclusion

I’m pleased with the final result and the main dimensions are very accurate. But, I could only recommend this to the experienced resin builder who is prepared to make a few jigs during construction. The assembly of the floats to fuselage is the key to the construction. Having said that, this is the only FF.33L I’ve seen in 1/48 and as such is a valued addition to the WW1 shelf. The builder also needs to do some additional research as I found photographs a great help – but beware the FF.33 had several variants which varied in fuselage and wingspan and internet sources can be a bit vague about the versions.

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