Le Rhone 110 Hp Rotary Engine Limited Edition

Published on
January 11, 2012
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Hasegawa - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Hobbico
Box Art

The rotary engine (the engine itself rotates while the crankshaft remains stationary) was first developed by Felix Millett as a five-cylinder engine that was mounted in a bicycle wheel, and was displayed at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris (his design having been patented in 1888). In 1889, Lawrence Hargrave designed a rotary engine intended for use in an aircraft, and in the United States, Stephen Balzer worked on rotary engines in the 1890s. Back in Europe, De Dion-Bouton developed a rotary engine in 1899, but this was never fitted to an aircraft, and in the United States, Adams-Farwell developed a rotary engine for use in automobiles in 1901. Gnome, a French company run by brothers Louis, Laurent and Augustin Seguin, developed the world's first production rotary engine, the 7-cylinder, 50 hp “Omega”, which was shown at the 1908 Paris automobile show. Societe des Moteurs Le Rhone preceded Gnome et Rhone, who continued the development of the rotary engine during World War I.

In Germany, Oberursel built an engine similar to the Le Rhone, and engines were also made in Austria, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Aircraft that mounted the various engines include the Airco DH.5, Avro 504, Bristol M.1, Bristol Scout, Caudron G.3, Caudron G.4, Hanriot HD.1, La Cierva C-6, autogyro, 1924 Macchi M.14, Morane-Saulnier N, Nieuport 11 "Bebe", Nieuport 17, Nieuport 27, Sopwith Camel, Sopwith Pup, Standard E-1, Thomas-Morse S-4C, Fokker Dr.I, and Mosca MB 2 bis. Although the German Oberursel Ur.II was a direct copy of the Le Rhone, the Le Rhone was preferred for use, when they could be obtained.

This new release from Hasegawa in 1/8 scale coincides with the re-release of their 1/8 scale museum model of the Fokker Dr. I, and although not noted on the box, this is a Limited Edition release. The box is rather unique, I thought, as it done in a tan with black print and black and white photographs of the completed kit with several of the components being identified (in English). On opening the box, the builder will find some eighty-two parts spread out on five grey sprues and one black sprue, as well as a small bag that contains nine brass rods. There is a single adhesive-backed “decal” (the placard for a stand that sits next to the motor), and eight pages of directions on a single sheet of paper. In addition to the Japanese text, there is also English text on the instruction sheet that includes a history of the engine, as well as the identification of each step, and colors that are called out. Although it may look intimidating at first, the kit actually builds up very nicely, and is not very difficult to construct. Hasegawa calls for mixing paints for the engine cylinders and intake pipes, but I opted to use single colors for this, as I will elaborate on later.

Construction begins with the assembly of the cylinders, followed by the crankcase, intake pipes, mounting plate, crank shaft, and then the “display panel” and stand. I built the subassemblies, but painted them separately before putting them together to form the engine. There were some seam lines, but these were limited to the crankshaft parts (shaft and end magnet), and elimination was easily accomplished with Mr. Surfacer 500 and some wet sanding. To clean the individual cylinders, I used a tapered diamond burr in a Dremel tool, and then touched up using a small file (this was probably the most time-consuming part of the build for me as each of the cylinders requires cleaning of the fins on two “sides”). Fit of the parts was very good throughout the build, and the intake pipes actually stayed in place without glue as I placed all of them in their locations prior to gluing them in place. I looked at several web sites for research while I built this kit to come up with the colors, and also to determine what the ignition wires should look like. In the end, I decided to use a fine copper wire (I am not positive, but believe that it is 30 gauge wire), and this worked well for me.

In building my engine, I used Model Master Metalizer Steel, Hawkeye SNJ Copper, Floquil Copper, Italeri Flat Steel, Niche RLM 76, and Model Master Acryl Aircraft Interior Black, and Gloss White. The display panel with the engine information is painted Alclad II Lacquer Gloss Black Base, where the stand received the same Black base followed by Chrome paint by the same company. The crankcase, cylinders, crankshaft, and mounting plate (along with its parts) were airbrushed with the Metalizer Steel, and the intake manifolds were airbrushed with the Hawkeye SNJ Copper. I used the Floquil Copper to brush-paint the attachment points for the intake manifolds and collector ring, and the Italeri Flat Steel to brush-paint bolts and electrical contact points on the spark plugs and collector ring. The insulators on the spark plugs were painted with the gloss white, again using a brush.

As far as my hits of this kit are concerned, the level of detail and ease of assembly get very high marks from me, and there was no flash needing to be removed from any of the parts. Overall fit was very good and, as I mentioned, there was not too much clean-up required, and the cylinder clean-up was expected. The placard with a stand (the display panel) is a nice touch, and mounting the engine to the display stand is easily accomplished in this kit. The brass push rods are also a nice addition and look far more convincing than if plastic ones were used. I do not have any real misses concerning this kit, as it was a pleasure to build, and I would only have liked to have seen the ignition wires included in the kit, but most modelers should be able to remedy this.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend this kit to fans of World War I aircraft, or those interested in aircraft engines themselves. The kit does not require a lot of experience to make a good looking engine, and experienced builders will be able to weather the engine to represent the heat seen by the cylinders and intake manifolds, if they so desire.

I would like to thank the folks at Hobbico/Hasegawa USA for providing this kit to IPMS/USA for review, to Steve Collins, who runs the review corps, for selecting me to do the build, and to you for taking the time to read my comments.


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