HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE
WORLD WAR 1 AIRCRAFT IN 1:48 SCALE

FRENCH SALMSON 2.A2 OF THE USAS 91st AERO SQUADRON, 1918

by George Grasse

GASPATCH 1:48 SCALE PLASTIC INJECTION MOLDED KIT GP4001 OF THE SALMSON 2.A2

SALMSON 2.A2 3-VIEW DRAWINGS

This 3-view drawing is credited to J. D. Carrick or F. Yeoman and appeared in Reconnaissance & Bomber Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War compiled by W. M. Lamberton and published by Harleyford Publications Limited.  The French-designed Salmson 2.A2 two-seat reconnaissance airplane equipped five U. S. Air Service observation squadrons during America's active participation on the Western Front from April to November 1918.  During that period, six USAS Salmson squadrons were active: the 1st,  12th,  24th,  88th, 90th, and 91st.  The 99th and 258th became active in the last stages of the war and served into the post-war period.





CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 1
28 June 2014
    
FUSELAGE BEGINNINGS: The kit contains a great number of detail parts for the fuselage interior as evidenced by my first "pass" at interior assembly.   Most of the work shown has to do with the formers, some flooring. and a few pieces of equipment. 

 

CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 2
7 July 2014
COCKPIT DETAILS - PART 1: Cockpit interior surfaces are painted as follows: linen is Misterkit MKFR04 French CDL; formers are Vallejo VC0877; miscellaneous wood components (for contrast) are VC0914 Green Ochre; aluminum is Vallejo VC0864 Natural Steel; and equipment items in a Vallejo mix of flat and gloss black.  A wash will be applied when all of the components for the interior are in place.  Components shown but not yet painted in the photo are the gas tank and control stick parts.   The internal bracing wires are made from .007 music wire. 
 
  
 

CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 3
10 July 2014

COCKPIT DETAILS - PART 2: The images above now show the fuselage halves joined - the fit was quite good.  I chose not to install the pilots seat and the round front cowling because additional work in the form of internal bracing wires (.007 music wire) and some additional equipment (camera, ammunition, etc) need to be installed.  Curiously, the Gaspatch manual is missing or incorrect on painting of some of the cockpit items, some of which still need to be re-painted.   I consulted my Wingnut Wings 1:32 scale Salmson 2.A2 "USAS" kit manual and found color references for my 1:48 model.  Here's a list of the colors I used on the interior.  Note that the Wingnut color guide calls out for light and dark horizon blue for most metal components:  

 Linen:
 Formers:
Misc Wood:
 
Aluminum:
Equipment (fuel tank, etc.):
Equipment (other):
  Misterkit MKFR04 French CDL
  Vallejo VC0877 Golden Brown
  Vallejo VC0914 Green Ochre
  Vallejo VC0856 Natural Steel
  Andrea ANAC54 Union Blue (light horizon blue)
  ANAC54 + Andrea ANAC21 (dark horizon blue)
 
  
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 4
18 July 2014
    
FUSELAGE INTERIOR COMPLETED: Added, from left to right: the firewall, pilot's seat, and at the rear, the support structure for the ammunition tray.  The cockpit framework fits perfectly into place.  All of the top decking from front to rear will be covered by two parts that will hide seam lines.

  
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 5
28 July 2014
    
FUSELAGE BUTTONED UP: I have to say that this Gaspatch kit has more interior detail than any previously built aircraft by me.  It would be interesting to see such a kit with either the left or right fuselage side finished in clear plastic so the myriad of details can be viewed.  The final pieces to close the fuselage up are the front-end cowling and the pilot's cockpit decking.  The fit of all of these parts has been quite good with hardly any gaps or misalignment. 


CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 6
28 July 2014
WING CONSTRUCTION: I thought I would take a moment to say a feature not included in many kits, and that has to do with gluing wings into position.  The photo above shows the Gaspatch template and easily assembled cardboard jigs to assist in the gluing of the lower wings.
   

CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 7
28 July 2014
    
BOTTOM WING AND REAR DEC: The attachment of the lower wing went well.  I had previously added two small diameter brass rods to each wing root for strength.  I then used plastic cement to glue each wing into place.  The model was then set on the template, the cardboard jigs adjusted to fit the drawing, and let the glue set overnight.  Next day, I added just a few drops of super glue into the wing root seams. 

CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 8
28 July 2014
    
FUSELAGE DETAILS:  The USAS versions of the Salmson 2.A2 had an external fuselage-mounted generator and the kit's parts for this were used.  However, I removed the two plastic support legs and substituted thin brass rod which were aligned to fit into the two fuselage holes as shown above.  With both top decking parts now glued in place, I added putty to fill a few spots where a small gaps existed.

 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS Nos. 9a and 9b
6 August 2014
 
TAIL UNIT:  The kit's horizontal tail unit (stabilizers and elevators) are one piece joined by a fragile bit of plastic which I broke.  However, the main join for each half is along the sides of the fuselage with some support at the rear where the tail unit was broken.  With a lot of patience and make-shift supports, I glued the horizontal tail parts to the fuselage and let them dry overnight.  I next glued the rudder in position and allowed it to dry a few hours. 

The kit supplies small diameter support struts which did not seem appropriate because they offered no additional support to the tail unit.  Instead, I used small diameter brass rod.  I drilled out the holes in the fuselage but the other location points were okay.  The rudder support was first and by trial and trimming, I got a good fit and super glued the strut in place.  The other support struts went the same way by trial and trimming and using super glue to secure them in place. 

The kit's tailskid was likewise too weak.  I cut off the stem and used a slightly flattened piece of brass tubing.  I passed a solid brass rod through it and attached the end of the kit's tail skid onto the rod.  This little sub-assembly was then passed up into the rear fuselage and through the locating lugs therein.

 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 10
18 August 2014
    
BEGINNING TO PAINT:  All of the French 5-Color camouflage paints used were from the Misterkit range except black which was Andrea.  These colors are a close match to a color chart prepared by Alan Toelle in 2001.  His research into the coloring of French/American Ww1 aircraft is, to me, ground-breaking and I accept his work as the closest to the actual colors to date.  The "French 1918 Camouflage Colors - Typical Palette" is a chart and for each color sample is presented the equivalent CMYK and RGB color coordinates which means anyone can reproduce these colors on their computer.  Not counting the rudder and the small tan patch next to it, the colors are, left to right, brown, dark green, light green, and, on the wing, beige.

Gaspatch painting guides in their instruction manual were passed up and I used the Wingnut Wings 1:32 scale kit's painting guide instead.  The photo above shows the initial work of camouflage application by brush using Misterkit paints.  At first, I was skeptical of the Misterkit paints which weren't as colorful as I thought they should be but the Toelle palette confirmed the shades.

With the exception of black, the other four colors are shown on the model above.  Fabric covered areas were painted in an Acellos formula which included the addition of aluminum powder that was 42% of the dry pigment total.  Metal surfaces were painted in a Ripolin formula which did not include the aluminum powder but did include pigments and solvents to match the Acellos colors.  The names of these industry-adopted paints, Acellos and Ripolin, shared similar tonal values but were distinguishable by the eye at a fair distance.  Over time, the Acellos colors faded but the Ripolin colors maintained their color fairly well.  When painting a model, the builder/artist has to consider the two versions.  In general, to my eye, the Ripolin colors are slightly deeper and richer than the Acellos colors. 

To differentiate between Acellos and Ripolin, I used the same Misterkit colors out-of-the-bottle for the Acellos fabric shades.  For Ripolin (metal surfaces, panels, engine covers, etc.), I mixed added colors to only two of the shades, Light Green and Chestnut Brown.  The two cover most of front of the aircraft:  to Chestnut Brown was added Andrea ANAC42 Red Leather and for Light Green was added Vallejo VC0967 Olive Green.  There are, of course, a number of small access panels on different parts of the aircraft but at this stage I haven't done that painting yet.

One further note: French Ecru translates to "plain" or "blank", and means the same, for our purposes, as clear doped linen (CDL) which is dope without a colored pigment.  French CDL gives off a soft pale yellowish beige but becomes darker over time.  For those who are interested in computer color information, the following chart is provided.



FRENCH 1918 CAMOUFLAGE COLORS - TYPICAL PALETTE BY ALAN D. TOELLE
Misterkit Color Misterkit # Acellos CMYK Acellos RGB Ripolin CMYK Ripolin RGB
C M Y K R G B C M Y K R G B
Chestnut Brown MKFC05 6 15 32 56 105 93 70 6 32 39 56 104 74 57
Dark Green a MKFC11 32 12 30 55 78 88 73 ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
Light Green MKFC12 10 0 30 35 150 159 115 16 0 14 36 137 152 94
Beige MKFC10 0 12 50 40 153 135 72 0 15 40 34 167 143 93
CDL (Ecru) b MKFC04 0 7.5 20 17 211 196 163 0 6 26 30 179 189 129

            a Toelle's chart did not include Ripolin coordinates for dark green

            b Toelle's chart did not include coordinates for Acellos CDL but I used coordinates from his French 1916 Nieuport Bebe Colors chart

CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 11

28 July 2014

    

LANDING GEAR:  As usual, I discarded the kit's landing gear parts for being too flimsy.  I made a copy of the profile drawing appearing in Windsock Datafile 109 Salmson 2.A2 to use as a template for soldering the landing gear struts together.  After determining the correct lengths for two sets of three struts, I cut them from a long piece of Albion Alloys Brass Tube MBT18 1.8mm OD.  For each strut, I inserted a brass rod and gently pounded the tube into an oval cross-section.  The rods were removed and the three pieces for the first landing gear strut assembly were laid out on the template and soldered together.  The same was done for the second strut assembly.  Next, rods were re-inserted leaving about 5/16" protruding to act as locating and anchoring pins.  The corresponding holes on the bottom of the fuselage were drilled out and the struts inserted and super glued in place.  A brass rod was used to make the axle.  It was glued in place and wrapped a couple of times with fine copper wire to hold it.  When dry, the kits axle fairing had its axle groove filed down to the brass rod would fit into place.   



CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 12

23 September 2014

    

FUSELAGE DETAILS, LEFT FRONT:  Resuming work, I decided to remove the wings so I could get to the front end details of the fuselage.  Following, not in any particular order, are the details added to the left front.  The Vickers .303 machine gun is the kit's gun with the kit's PE muzzle added and painted in a mix of Vallejo semi-gloss black, gray metal, with a dash of blue metal.  Barely visible are the cockpit windscreens nicely done in clear plastic and painted in Misterkit French Light Green.  All of the panel lines, louvre slots, and other small openings were painted with a dark brown-black Vallejo mix.  Note the landing gear rigging.  I took ordinary .005 monofilament thread and painted it using Andrea's Union Blue.  I did not like the idea of having to use an already stained EZ-Line product which will probably sag over time.   Note the slight difference in the shades of the camouflage brown on the fuselage (Ripolin) and metal engine covers (Acellos).



CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 13

23 September 2014

    

FUSELAGE DETAILS, RIGHT FRONT:  For this side of the front fuselage, the generator was painted Vallejo Natural Steel with an Andrea-painted dark brown propeller.  The mounting frame was painted in French horizon blue - I used Andrea's Union Blue for nearly all of the metal components.  To the right of the Vickers .303 machine gun, is the radiator tank with a piece of thin solder wire as the tubular connection.  To the right of that is the pilot's gun sight taken from the kit's PE sheet.  Panel lines, etc., are painted.  The pilot's headrest pad is Andrea Red Leather.  Note the difference in the light green of the fabric covering versus the same color with added Vallejo Olive Green for the metal covers.  This is the difference between the Ripolin paints which have aluminum powder for fabric protection and the Acellos paints used on metal and wood surfaces.



CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 14 and 15

23 September 2014

    

FUSELAGE DETAILS FROM ABOVE: Nothing much to add here except a better view of the details described above. 



CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 16

6 October 2014

PRE-WING RIGGING:  Rigging wire is charcoal .005 monofilament thread painted French Horizon Blue (Andrea ANAC54 Union Blue).  A long length of thread was dragged through a pool of paint held down by a brush and then hung to dry.  It was easier than first thought.  Some of the rigging "stations" are double lines and Gaspatch conveniently "pre-drilled" all of them.  I applied two coats of Misterkit MKFC04 French CDL and then re-drilled all of the holes to remove paint.  Judging by the photo above, it took some time to get all of the "wires" in place with super glue.



CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 17

7 October 2014

WING RIGGING PROCESS:  I started rigging with the interplane struts without the use of turnbuckles.  Each length of thread was passed through its corresponding hole in the bottom wing, fixed with a bit of super glue, clipped (see above right), and then suspended so the weight of the clips keeps the thread taut.  In the case of the cabane struts, I had to use turnbuckles because I did not want to pass the thread through the top wing.  I used Gaspatch 48015 Turnbuckles Type One End 1/48 Scale.  The kit's PE turnbuckles would have worked if I did not paint the thread (French Horizon Blue).  The photo above shows the beginning of the flying and landing wires.


 

CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 18

9 October 2014

WING RIGGING CONTINUED:  The left set of wings have now been rigged.  In some places, the French Horizon Blue paint on the rigging has scratched off mostly on those strands that had to pass through the Gaspatch turnbuckles.  One more side to do.


 

CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 19

11 October 2014

WING RIGGING COMPLETED:  All of the rigging is now complete including the cabane area, wings, aileron cables, and elevators.  o.



CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 20

11 October 2014

TWIN LEWIS MACHINE GUNS:  The guns are made from kit parts (plastic & PE) plus monofilament thread.  Building the guns turned out to be a delicate operation.   Note the pilot's Vickers gun sight up front.


 
FINISHED PHOTO GALLERY

FINISHED PHOTO No. 21

 


FINISHED PHOTO No. 22


FINISHED PHOTOS No. 23 (Left) and No. 24 (Right)


FINISHED PHOTO No. 25


FINISHED PHOTO No. 26



-------------------------------  FINIS ------------------------------
 
  

Bibliography:

Alexander, Richard.  Wingnut Wings Salmson 2.A2 'USAS' Construction Manual.  Wellington, New Zealand, 2014.

Maurer, Maurer, editor. The U.S. Air Service in World War I, four volumes.  U. S. Government Printing Office, 1979.

Gutman, Jon.  Salmson 2.A2, Windsock Datafile 109.  Berkhamsted. Hertfordshire, UK, 2005.

Lamberton, W. M., Compiler, and E. F. Cheesman, Editor.  Reconnaissance & Bomber Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War.   Los Angeles, CA: Aero Publishers, 1962.

Toelle, Alan D. "French 1918 Camouflage Colors - Typical Palette, 2001.

 

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