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Williams Brothers 1/4 Scale Spandau Machine Gun

May 02, 2015

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Williams Brothers 1:4 Scale Spandau Machine Gun

Williams Brothers 1/4 Scale Spandau Machine Gun

Manufacturer Williams Brothers
Scale 1/4
Building hours ~15

Airfield Models ( Williams Brothers 1/4 Scale Spandau Machine Gun

There are some things I just don't understand.  The lack of choices of kits of some subjects is one of them.  World War I aviation is a popular modeling subject and quarter-scale flying model aircraft are also popular.  For whatever reason, items such as wheels, guns, pilot figures, covering, etc. are either non-existent or available from only one or two manufacturers.  When items are available they are often low quality, not very close to scale or very expensive.

Williams Brothers has marketed WWI items since before I entered this hobby.  It doesn't appear as if any of the items they carry have ever been updated during that time (note that their website indicates that some items are being updated).

While their kits aren't horrible they aren't great either.  Mold quality is far below what current technology can produce and parts fit is only fair.  The instructions are difficult to follow as they are printed on the back of card the kit bag is stapled to and the text and drawings aren't very sharp.  I have kits that were produced by the original Williams Brothers company.  The company was sold in 2004 and these issues may have been addressed in their current kits.

The kits do build into nice replicas and they aren't particularly difficult to assemble.  My problem was that I couldn't locate good reference photos and it was difficult to tell from the included instructions how some parts are attached.  I think I got it right but I wouldn't bet the house on it.

This article covers two kits of the same model.  I built the first one for the SR Batteries Eindecker EI I built for my friend Mike.  The second one was built for another person building the same Eindecker.  The Spandau kit is sold by SR Batteries as an accessory.

According to the Squadron/Signal publication, Aircraft #158, Fokker Eindecker in Action, the EI and EII both had the 08 7.92 mm Standard Maxim LMG.  The Eindecker wasn't converted to the Spandau until the EIII model.  This information is found on page 12.

According to Wikipedia the EI does have a Spandau.  However when you click that last link you find that the Spandau was almost an exact copy of the Maxim.  I'm guessing the Squadron/Signal publication is right and Wikipedia is wrong.  All photos in the publication show the Eindecker having a gun with a rectangular forward sight.  The Wikipedia link shows Max Immelman's Eindecker having a round sight.

What it comes down to is you scale fanatics are going to have to do more research to figure out what gun to use if you want to put the right one on your particular Eindecker.


Building Williams Brothers 1/4 Scale Spandau Machine Gun

Williams Brothers 1/4 scale Spandau machine gun kit.The kit comes on a single sprue and includes a vinyl ammo belt as a separate piece.  I began as I always do by reading over the instructions which in this case wasn't real helpful.  I then washed the parts using Tri-Sodium Phosphate as a degreaser.  The sprue was placed in a dish drying rack to air dry.

The entire gun was assembled using Model Master liquid cement except as noted.

I removed the gun halves and did normal clean-up work on them to remove excess sprue.  I also sanded the edges that join using a sanding block.  Sanding removes the alignment pins but alignment pins are almost always worthless so I never make a special effort to save them.

After the dust was removed I airbrushed the inside of the cooling jacket halves, the forward cooling jacket piece and the gun barrel using Testor's Model Master magnesium metalizer.  When that was dry I sanded the joining edges lightly to remove paint.  The sliding parts of the cocking mechanism were glued into the right half of the gun and made non-functional.

The first gun I built had a nylon bolt built in.  The head had a flat cut on one side so that it would fit inside the gun.  The bolt was then glued in place before the gun halves were joined using thin cyanoacrylate (CA) and micro-balloons.

The second gun was joined and some of the lower breech was cut away.  A hardwood block was glued inside the gun.

After the halves were joined I spent a good amount of time filling the seam on the cooling jacket using medium CA as a filler.  There isn't much holding the gun together along the jacket and the join failed in several areas while I was working on the seam.  After being re-glued several times the gun stayed together.  The seam was filled and sanded until it was smooth.

The outside of the cooling jacket was sprayed using the same magnesium metalizer as the inside.

I hollowed the gun barrel approximately 3/16" deep using a drill bit smaller than the finished hole.  The hole was enlarged using a round burr bit in a Dremel tool.  The inside of the hollowed gun barrel was painted with flat black enamel.   The gun and forward cooling jacket piece were glued on at the same time and allowed to dry.

The cooling jacket was masked off and the rest of the gun was assembled.  Everything but the cooling jacket was sprayed with 80% gray.  The knob on the handle was brushed using a dark brown.  I have no idea what material the knob is or what color it should be.  I assumed it was made of wood.

After the gun was completely painted I allowed it a week to dry.  I then applied a black wash overall and allowed it another week to dry.  The dark gray areas of the gun were dry-brushed using lighter shades of gray oil paint followed with a very light white dry-brush application to just hit the highlights.

The metalizer didn't dry-brush well using light grays and I ended up using a fairly heavy application of white before the edges stood out.

The forward gun sight was then glued into a notch I cut before joining the gun halves.  The sight was brushed with the same dark gray and then dry-brushed.

The ammo belt was sprayed with Model Master leather enamel.  The casings were brushed with Model Master brass metalizer.  The rounds were painted with Model Master aluminum metalizer.  The belt was allowed to dry for a week and then clear coated using Klass Kote clear epoxy and satin hardener.

The belt was given a black wash.  When the wash was dry the belt and brass were dry-brushed using a yellow ochre.

I normally would have clear-coated the gun about a week after the last of the paint was applied but I had other items I was building that weren't ready so the clear coat was actually applied about a month after the gun was complete.  The gun and ammo belt were cleared with satin Klass Kote.



Spandau rear gun sight.The rear gun sight is molded "closed."  I drilled several small holes around the inside perimeter and then joined the holes with careful use of a sharp razor knife.  A small tapered flat file was used to clean up the opening.

I trimmed of the pins and drilled out the swinging breech cover so it could be added after the rest of the gun was assembled.  This allowed me to work inside the breech in case I need to do anything to modify the mounting system.  The cover was glued in place and painted with the rest of the gun. A wire pin was inserted through the drilled hole.

In every photo I've seen of the Eindecker EI there is no flash suppressor on the gun.  The kit comes with one but you can put it in your spare parts box.  The forward gun sight is rectangular in every photo I've seen up until I went to the Wiki site while writing this article.  Their article shows an Eindecker with a round forward sight.  I have no idea if it's right or not but the Signal/Squadron Fokker Eindecker book shows the rectangular sight.

Spandau machine gun forward gun sight.Fabricating the sight isn't difficult but even at 1/4 scale it's fairly small.  I used magnifying glasses as needed.  There are probably several ways to make the sight.  Probably the easiest is to slice off a piece of rectangular metal tubing that is close to the correct dimensions.  Drill a hole centered on each side to pull a small wire through.

Small diameter copper or brass wire works well and is available at most hardware stores.  Pull the wire taut and solder it in place.  Avoid getting solder build-up inside the sight.  Clip off the excess wire and file it flush with the outside of the sight.  Add a mount to the bottom of the sight and it's done.

I didn't have any square tubing even close to the correct size so I bent the sight from left-over pieces of photo-etch constantina wire for my M998 HMMWV.  The photo etch is nickel or stainless steel which was more difficult to work with than brass which is what most photo etch parts are made from.

Detailed photos of the sight fabrication are in the gallery.

The first gun I built was intended to be bolted into the Eindecker using a bolt I built into the breech of the gun.  It didn't work out in the end because I had to remove more of the lower part of the gun which exposed the bolt where it had glue in the threads that wouldn't let go.  That glue would have interfered with the nut so I ended up drilling holes for the bolt in the Eindecker's hatch but the gun was glued in place with silicone.  The bolt just keys the gun in place.

The second gun is being sent to the builder so to make his life easier I glued a hardwood block inside the breech and he can do whatever he wants with it.  For example, he can just glue the gun in place, he can thread studs into the block, drill matching holes in the hatch and use nuts or he can just bolt through the hatch into the hardwood block.



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Copyright 2007 Paul K. Johnson