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War Above the Trenches: Salmson-Moineau S.M.1

The Aircraft

The S.M.1 was developed from 1915 by aircraft designer René Moineau for the Salmson-Moineau company, to meet the French military A3 specification, which called for a three-seat long range reconnaissance aircraft with strong defensive armament.

The S.M.1 was unconventional, powered by a single liquid-cooled radial engine mounted in the fuselage powering two airscrews mounted between the wings, and with a system of gears and drive shafts. This layout was chosen by Moineau to minimise drag. The twin airscrew layout allowed a wide field of fire for the two gunner-observers, one seated in the nose and one behind the pilot.

The undercarriage included a nose wheel, intended solely to prevent the aircraft nosing over, and a tail skid.

The aircraft was tested in early 1916 and was sufficiently successful for Salmson-Moineau to receive an order for 100 aircraft, although the performance was inferior to the Sopwith 1½ Strutter.

In service the S.M.1 was not successful. The nose-wheel undercarriage would collapse if misused and this caused many accidents. The complicated transmission system was difficult to service in the field and the performance of the aircraft was poor. It appears that around 155 S.M.1s were built in total. The type was largely withdrawn from service in 1917 but a small number of aircraft remained in use until late 1918. Some S.M.1s were supplied to the Imperial Russian Air Service, but they were no better liked in Russia.

The Model

This is Copper State Models’ resin kit of the S.M.1 in 1/48, with additional PE. There are designated profile markings for two machines, No. 12 of F58, and No. 125 of Sop43. There is a third set of markings with a cockerel fuselage motif and an “SM 32” designation, but there’s no information as to its service link and there’s no profile as with the other two. The finishes are variously doped linen, metal, and light grey.

This is CSM’s information listing for the product launch in early 2014.

“We are pleased to announce the launch of our new 1/48 multimedia resin kit Salmson Moineau S.M.1(Cat. No. K1024). The kit comprises 43 resin parts, separate SALMSON A2 resin engine set, accessory sets CSM A48-144, CSM A48-145 and CSM A48-146, 3 decal options and an assembly jig developed by Rowan Broadbent from Pheon Decals and printed by Fantasy Printshop. The whole edition is limited by 350 copies.”

The model has been listed as “sold out” for a long time, but recently CSM made a few units available again, in an even smaller edition than the original. The box content appears to differ a little from the original edition. Two of the accessory sets, the PE gauges and Lewis guns, are not included now, and the ‘146’ set isn’t there either and isn’t listed on their website as an accessory so I can’t even say what it is that’s not included. The cardboard jig is also no longer available. There is however a nicely detailed, large-ish PE fret which includes a wide range of interesting additions.

There are no instructions for the model, in the usual sense. There are scale drawings in plan and elevation views, but without specific mention of parts’ placement. There is a separate listing of PE items by general description. A few of the resin items, struts, specifically, have numbers on the casting blocks, but the numbers don’t appear anywhere on the plans, so it’s a matter of test-fitting, trial-and-error and educated guesses. There are very few archive images available of this aircraft, so a like-for-like reference exercise for parts’ placement is limited.

For armament I used GasPatch Models’ Lewis gun set (Darne Lewis Halfsinks). Rigging tubes and eyelets are from Bob’s Buckles, with Reflo Power 0.05mm line.

This is a very challenging, albeit beautiful and complex model. As there’s so little available in respect of modelling this specific kit, I ran a WiP thread for the project here.

https://imodeler.com/groups/work-in-progress-aircraft/forum/topic/salmson-moineau-s-m-1/?topic_page=1&num=15

14 additional images. Click to enlarge.


36 responses to War Above the Trenches: Salmson-Moineau S.M.1

  1. Beautifully captures the Heath Robinson nature of those early aircraft – lovely build Rob – wonderful fabric effect.
    Congratulations to Copper State for bringing out such a rare aircraft – and to you for working out the puzzle the kit presented!

  2. The WIP was brilliant, and this article compliments it perfectly, Rob. The photos really do the build justice too. It is another museum quality piece of work – just wonderful.

  3. Rob I went back and read your work-in-progress, and all I can say is you have more patience than I ever could muster. That model looks great considering all the challenges you had to conquer. Well done, I really like it even though it’s a rather ugly looking aircraft.

  4. Another fine, museum-quality build, Rob. I agree with Tom; it’s an ugly aircraft but I think it’s a cool one. Well done, my friend!

    • Well, this was only ten years or so from the Wright Bros first flight. I think we should “cut them some slack” with the technical and design issues. There are a lot of dead ends in aviation design, and many of these in more modern times.

  5. Just flat-out awesome on a challenging build. A true work of skill and art! Interesting subject also…never saw this plane before, or model.

  6. What can I say? You da man..!! 🙂

  7. Wow, wow, wow! What a subject and a beautiful model too! Did you hire a spider for the rigging? Awesome work!

  8. Hey Rob, Looks about as “fiddly” to fly her as to build her. Very nice job!

  9. Rob – just another beautiful effort from your skill hands my friend! And I appreciate your WIP threads so we get to see behind the curtain all you have to do to make these kits conform to your will. Love it!

  10. Wow, an airplane I never heard of before. Truly fuuuuunky – in the best way. Great work on this.

  11. Rob @robbo, as I expected from your efforts, this turned out beautiful. Very well done!

  12. Now that’s something we don’t see everyday. Well done, Rob.

  13. Rob, I really like this. Something different and very interesting to look at ! Well done !
    I’m guessing those things on each side of the nose gunner position is some sort of wooden bullet protection ?

  14. This is a stunning build Rob. It looks magnificent and your rigging skills are second to none. I followed you during the build journal and this was not a build for an apprentice or for the faint of heart.

    You my friend are a master.

    Well done. I love this one !!!!

  15. You can tell by the calibre of the comments and contributors that this is a special build. Huge respect on a beautiful job, Rob.

  16. Rob, Outstanding and inspiring build. Looking forward to seeing what you do next.

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