The last few models I've built, including the Macchi M.5 I'm currently working on, have all proved to be a challenge in one way or another.
So while I'm waiting for decals to arrive, I thought I'd start on what will effectively be an 'out of the box' (OOB) build, mainly due to there being no information available on this one-off prototype.
The aircraft is the very small Port Victoria P.V.7 'Grain Kitten', a resin kit from 'Planet Models'.
In an attempt to break the stalemate on the Western Front, the German Imperial Navy commenced air raids on England, first against military then later civilian targets.
The first attack came on the night of 19th January 1915 when the German Zeppelin L3 attacked and bombed Great Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast, resulting in the death of two civilians.
That same night another Zeppelin attacked Kings Lynn and two more people died.
Public outrage provoked the government to introduce measures to counter the Zeppelin air raids, however anti-aircraft guns proved ineffective, as the airships flew too high and were able to shut down their engines and glide, making detection from the ground extremely difficult.
The Admiralty put forward the idea that aircraft, launched from decks on ships or from floating and towed pontoons, could intercept and destroy the airships over the sea, preventing the wreckage falling over land and causing more damage and casualties.
This prompted designs for lightweight fighters that were capable of being ‘sea’ launched.
The Port Victoria P.V.7 ‘Grain Kitten’ was a prototype fighter designed and built by the Port Victoria Marine Experimental Aircraft Depot on the Isle of Grain.
The aircraft was a very small and light weight tractor biplane, intended to fulfil the Admiralty requirements and was designed by W.H. Sayers.
The wings were of the ‘sesquiplane’ configuration, the lower wing being much smaller than the upper wing.
The wings featured the same high-lift section as used in previous Port Victoria aircraft and were fitted with ailerons only on the upper wing.
It was intended to use a 45 hp (34 kW) geared ABC Gnat two-cylinder air-cooled engine and the armament was a single Lewis gun mounted above the upper wing.
The P.V.7 first flew on 22 June 1917, powered by a 35 hp (26 kW) ABC Gnat engine, as the intended engine was not available.
The official trials took place on the 6th of October 1917 but the P.V.7 proved to be tail heavy in the air and difficult to handle on the ground and the sesquiplane layout and high lift wings were c onsidered not to be suitable for such a small aircraft.
In addition, the Gnat engine proved to be extremely unreliable, with test flights being forced to remain within gliding distance of an airfield, in case of engine failure.
The P.V.7 was rebuilt with new wings of conventional aerofoil section, a modified tail and a new undercarriage to eliminate some of the problems found in testing.
However, the low power and unreliability of the Gnat engine prevented the P.V.7 being suitable for its intended use and the P.V.7 was never flown again after it was rebuilt.
In June 1917 the German military stopped using Zeppelins for bombing raids over Britain.
Although a tremendous psychological weapon, they had actually caused little damage to the war effort.
Of 115 Zeppelins built, 77 had either been shot down or otherwise totally disabled.
Instead, air raids continued but using aircraft, such as the Gotha.
Length: 14 ft 11 in (4.55 m)
Upper wingspan: 18 ft 0 in (5.49 m)
Lower wingspan: 12 ft 7 in (3.84 m)
Height: 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)
Wing area: 85 sq ft (7.9 m2)
Empty weight: 284 lb (129 kg)
Gross weight: 491 lb (223 kg)
Engine: ABC ‘Gnat’ air cooled two-cylinder horizontally-opposed piston engine, 35 hp (26 kW)
Maximum speed: 85 mph (137 km/h, 74 kn) at 6,500 ft (2,000 m)
Service ceiling: 11,900 ft (3,600 m)
Time to altitude: 22 min to 10,000 ft (3,000 m)
A single .303 inch Lewis machine gun, located above upper wing.