Wingnut Wings Sopwith Pup Build Report 3: Engine, Cowl and Main Assembly

With the rather involved cockpit buildup complete, it’s time to move on to the engine and Black Arrow’s distinctive black cowl.

Le Rhone

The Pup was powered by a lawnmower engine 80hp Le Rhone rotary engine. While not as cool and crazy as the inline  and “V” engines that powered many WWI fighters, Wingnut Wings did a solid job representing the little rotary that could.

To kick things off, I sprayed the engine, its various bits, and the cowl pieces with decanted Tamiya Bare Metal Silver. This rattlecan paint airbrushes wonderfully, and creates a pretty decent metal effect. It’s also tough as hell, making it perfect as a primer.

From here, I brush-painted the various bits of the engine. The cylinders were first painted with Model Master Dark Anodonic Gray Metalizer. The effect wasn’t bad, but wasn’t stark enough, either, so I ran some thinned Metallic Black into the cooling fins.

At this point, I came up against a frustration. In casting the engine parts, Wingnut Wings elected to mold the crankcase and the cylinder intake pipes as one piece. This is frustrating because they are two of the most prominent elements of the engine, and are different colors, with the crankcase cover being silver, and the intake pipes a dirty copperish tone. Typically, I’d use Alclad II’s Exhaust Manifold to replicate that color, but the casting of the part forced me to brush paint. I can’t recall the exact combination I used, but it involved brass, some dark metallic, and I believe rust.

The various engine parts were now assembled, and hit with liberal washes of raw umber artist oil paint to dirty it up. Wiring was added with ultra wire, but is largely invisible as the wiring is all aft of the engine.

Once the wash was allowed to dry, I dusted the engine, inside of the cowl, and firewall with Alclad II Transparent Smoke to add a bit more griminess. It should be noted that Alclad’s Transparent Smoke has a very different look than Tamiya Smoke. Where the latter is somewhat shiny, Alclad’s is very much not, and it displays distinctly bluer tones, as well.

Of course, after putting the time into the engine, I found that it was slightly too big for the cowl to fit over it…and had to trim off the tops of the cylinder heads in order to fit everything. It doesn’t show at all with the cowl in place, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.

The Cowl

The cowl is the focal point for many of the Pups that can be built out of the Wingnut Wings kit. Some feature silver cowls, others red. But “Black Arrow” sported a black cowl succumbing to excessive paint chipping.

My original intention was to paint the cowl pieces with Tamiya Bare Metal Silver, then mask with rubber cement and spray the black on top. The rubber cement would then be rubbed away to reveal the chipped look.

Yeah. It didn’t work out that way. The rubber cement chipping method just looked like silver dots. I then tried sanding the black away to reveal the silver beneath, but wasn’t happy with that either. I finally settled on painting a base layer of black, then dabbing and drybrushing with Rub-n-Buff silver leaf, and am quite happy with the effect.


With the cowl painted, I moved on to masking and painting the wood framing on the inside of the fuselage halves and glued everything together. Fit was pretty good all around…the fit of the cockpit deck to the fuselage was especially tight as it locked around the aft cabane struts.

The lower wing was a bit of a bear, as the fuselage really didn’t want to sit down level with the wing. I got around this by tacking the wing bottom to the fuselage first, fore and aft of the wing, and then using brute force to push the fuselage sides down flush with the wings. This area was then welded with Tenax applied through a Touch-n-Flow.

Thoughts So Far

The Wingnut Wings kit seems a lot scarier than it actually is. Yes, it’s involved, and yes, it’s important to go slow. But I’ve found that, time and again, parts fit better as other parts are attached beneath them, so the somewhat fussy test-fittings are definitely misleading.

That’s a very reassuring thing, since a good chunk of this plane will have to be painted, decaled and weathered BEFORE it’s fully assembled.

Watch for painting in the next Pupdate…

2 Comments Add yours

  1. M Edwards says:

    Fine looking string-bag!
    explain if you would the tech. used to replicate the leather of the cockpit coaming.

    1. Doogs says:


      I’m still perfecting the leather technique, but basically, I start off painting the coaming with Vallejo leather brown, then drybrush with Model Master dunkelgrau to pop a few of the details. Then I applied dots of artist oil with the end of an old airbrush needle (raw umber, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and transparent white) and blended them in with a brush. After that I went back with more, mostly raw umber and burnt sienna, and repeated.

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