Omega 1/72 Kasyanenko No. 5 (Kasjanenko)
Review by Matt Bittner
Early in the war, aircraft designers were looking for ideas to mount the gun in front of the pilot, prior to the invention of the interrupter gear. Everyone has seen SPAD's answer to the dilemma, the A series. The Kasyanenko brothers thought of another - mounting the engine in the middle of the fuselage with a shaft running through the rear of the fuselage powering a three-bladed propeller just aft of the tail.Very ingenious, in my opinion.
Since the prop was in the tail, a tall tailskid was needed to keep the prop off the ground, and a ventral fin was also added. According to the best source on WW1 Russian designs - Russian Aeroplanes 1914-1918 by Mikhail Maslov - the aircraft actually was taxied hoping for flight. Unfortunately the plane did a ground hop, and when it landed back down it landed hard enough to snap the tailskid and ventral fin off, resulting in damage to the prop and the rest of the tail.
Unfortunately that's where the history on the aircraft ends with nothing else known about the design. One thing that might have happened if the design actually flourished was cooling the engine (and this is entirely my speculation). SPAD had problems with its "pulpit" designs and actually designed extra vents and channels in the front nacelle to help cool the engine. The Kasyanenko No. 5 appears to not have these extra vents and channels and only some "screen" placed over the opening in the fuselage where the engine was placed. A definite lack of adequate cooling air.
There is an excellent site on the history of the Kasyanenko Number 5 along with a color profile (which I don't agree with at all) plus some scale drawings - which I consider a must to complete any model of the Kasyanenko #5. Thanks to Erik Pilawskii, I have also included an English translation of the aforementioned site.
The Omega kit of the Kasyanenko No. 5 consists of 23 cream colored resin parts, two frets of photoetch consisting of a total of 16 parts, two rubber "wheels" (to be used with the photoetch spokes) and two lengths of thick, steel wire.
Decals appear very nicely printed and consist of only Russian roundels for the typical six positions.
Air bubbles are very minimal and the parts are very nicely cast. While it has been a few years since I've seen an Omega kit, those few years have been good for advancement in Omega's quality. The flying surfaces are nicely thin and the overall quality is extremely nice. Instructions just consist of an exploded diagram showing - in general - where the parts are to go.
Also included with the instructions is a set of 1/72nd plans that should help - and is much needed - in placing parts. Placing the tail pieces as well as the one attachment point for the center wing struts aren't marked on the fuselage at all, so that's where the plans come in handy.
The fuselage is split in three pieces - aft of the engine is one solid piece of resin, while forward of the engine the fuselage is split in two horizontally which should help with cockpit detailing. Speaking of the cockpit, the only items provided are the seat, and a rudimentary rudder bar and control stick. The bottom of the fuselage half is relatively solid which helps with floor placement, but also makes for possibly a heavy fuselage. It will be interesting to see once it's all assembled. In fact, with the solid rear fuselage, as well as the solid, lower, forward fuselage half, I think I'm going to replace the resin landing gear struts with brass Strutz as well as replace the photoetch tailskid struts with actual brass rod. I'm worried about all that weight on these fragile parts.
Assembly - minus one major area - couldn't be easier. Once the cockpit is detailed to your liking (there are no photos showing the interior of this aircraft) and the forward upper and lower fuselage halves assembled, then construction comes down to adding the painted up engine between the forward and rear fuselage pieces (using a piece of the steel wire provided). After that is accomplished then the tailpieces can be glued on once their position is figured out.
The horizontal tailpieces need to be "corrected" in that the horizontal tail was an all-moving surface (no stabilizers) with the pivot point being directly in the middle of each horizontal tailpiece. So, some brass rod/wire is needed to attach these correctly to the fuselage.
In keeping with the tail area, looking at the photos provided in Maslov's book, it appears Omega doesn't quite have the propeller blades the right size or shape. I can't really express what the right size or shape is, without supplying a scan of the photo in Maslov's book. Image used with Icarus Press' permission.
The one area that will be difficult is attaching the wing assembly to the fuselage. Assembling the wings to each other prior to gluing them to the fuselage is a must.
As an aside, I really like how Omega handles the interplane struts. They supply photoetch "wraps" that form the airfoil section by "wrapping" the photoetch around a piece of wire. Omega provides this wire in the kit as steel, but seeing how steel is difficult to work with I'm going to substitute brass for the steel. Very ingenious.
To get back to the construction of the wings, both to each other and then to the fuselage, you definitely want to glue the wings together prior to adding them to the fuselage. None of the wings actually touch the fuselage with the struts so getting it all lined up will be interesting. Only the "center portion" of the central struts is the area that touches the fuselage, which is why gluing the wings together - I feel - is a must prior to adding to the fuselage.
In addition, leave the undercarriage off until the very last moment so the wings can be slipped "over" the nose and then glued into place. This is where the plans are also necessary, as Omega doesn't provide any marks/indentations showing where the central struts are to glue to the forward fuselage. In fact, neither the photos nor the drawings show this to good advantage at all so the "good 'ol Mk.I Eyeball" is put to good use - just be sure to line up where these struts will go, side-to-side, and top-to-bottom.
While Omega has a list of paints (in the AGAMA and Humbrol range) needed for this aircraft, they don't really explain where the colors go. This is where the very nicely done box top artwork comes in handy. The aircraft was left "all natural" which means that the flying surfaces were Clear Doped Linen (CDL) and the fuselage and struts were wood. However, the one area that could be difficult to replicate is the joints on the fuselage where the wood was partitioned out. Both the box top artwork and the cover to Maslov's book show these joints, but I can't make head or tails of them via the photos.
All in all this will build into quite the conversation piece. Place it next to a SPAD A.2/4 to show different thinking into the problem of putting a gun in front of the pilot. This will generate plenty of discussion, especially amongst your friends that don't quite understand WW1 aviation.
Aside from adding the wings to the fuselage, assembly could be a breeze. Aside from wing placement, there is also the problem of tailpiece placement since there is no indication at all on the fuselage where these pieces go. However, use the plans, take your time and you'll have an unusual addition to your model collection.
My thanks to Roll Models for the review kit.
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