Below is a full description on how I detailed the Liberty 400HP V12 aero engine. This engine is a model in it’s own right and would be very much at home sitting on a stand displayed along side the aircraft models. The detailing I fitted is all quite easy to do but adds a lot more realism to the engine, give it a go, it will be well worth it.


I started by removing the plastic between the cylinders, for this I used a razor saw carefully cutting from the bottom and working up, do not cut all the way which would separate the cylinders, I cleaned the cut sections with small strips of 1200 wet and dry paper. This brings the cylinders in line with original photos of the Liberty engine.

I sprayed the crankcase with Humbrol 27002 polished aluminium, when dry, about 20 minutes, I buffed it lightly with a soft brush. The cylinders are sprayed using Hobby Color No. H77 Tire Black, this is not as harsh as using a straight black. The rocker boxes are done with 27002, the rocker arms with Humbrol 27003 polished steel and the nuts and bolts with Mr Metal Color Dark Iron, once dry everything was lightly buffed. The base of the cylinders moulded into the crankcase have been painted using the tire black, this was brush painted. You will also notice the the spark plugs have been removed and the top of the cylinders hollowed out to fall in line with period photos, I will be making 24 new spark plugs.

These photos show the spark plugs I made, they are very small and take some time but once installed look better than the moulded plastic plugs. I drilled 0.6mm holes in the top of the cylinders to accept the plugs, two for each cylinder which is normal practice for aero engines. Once the plugs are fitted into the cylinder only a small amount of the 0.6mm brass tube is visible, then a very small drop of CA holds them in place. I will be using 0.1mm wire to simulate the ignition leads, these will be anchored to the small 0.2mm top section of the plug. Photo on the right shows one bank of plug fitted to the six cylinders (12 plugs). The insulator on each plug is painted with Gunze Matt White.

As per the original Liberty engine there were 12 small priming taps fitted to the top of the inlet manifold. Made these from 0.5mm brass tube cut to 2.0mm long, I then drill a 0.3mm hole through the tube to accept the lever which I made from 0.25mm copper wire cut to 2.0mm and bent in half at 90 degrees, these were then inserted into the holes and held with CA. A small drop off Mr Surfacer 1000 was applied to the end of each lever then painted brass. I removed the small moulded nob of plastic from the inlet manifold and drilled 12 x 0.5mm holes and inserted a priming tap in each hole, CA holds them in place, they will be left as natural brass. The inlet manifold has been painted with Humbrol 27002 polished aluminium and lightly buffed. These taps are small and hardly noticeable but they do add character to the engine.  

As per original photos I have added the 12 rubber connecting tubes to the pipes on the inlet manifold, I still need to add clamps. The rubber hose is from electrical wiring from electronic equipment, I removed the wire and cut the tube to 1/20 inch lengths. They were tight to fit the pipes so I slipped the tubes over a 0.8mm drill bit and put it in boiled water for a few minutes, once cooled the tubes stayed the 0.8mm size and fitted the pipes easily, CA holds them in place. The small bracket on the front of the crank case is from flattened 0.6mm brass tube and cut to 2.1mm long, a 0.5mm hole was then drilled in the centre and two 0.4mm holes drilled just near the centre hole. I drilled corresponding holes in the crank case and fitted two small bolt and nut sets into the two outside holes, CA holds them well. A length of 0.5mm brass tube fits into the centre hole, this will take the 0.3mm brass tube which will run up to the rocker boxes.  

I fitted the 24 hose clamps using 0.1mm coated copper wire and held them in place with a small drop of CA. The sections of pipe below the hose clamps which sits on the cylinders are painted tire black. The inlet manifolds are now fixed in position ready for some plumbing.

I’ve started to add the accessories on the back of the engine, the water pump has been painted with Humbrol Polished steel and buffed, the magneto drive shafts are done with Humbrol polished aluminium and Hobby Color tire black, the intake pipes are also tire black. The plumbing on the front of the engine is made with 0.25mm copper wire bent to shape and fitted into 0.3mm holes, they are held with CA. The pipe that runs from the two rocker boxes down to the connector on the crank case is one piece of copper wire. These photos show to good effect the intake manifold primer taps and the hose connectors with clamps, these little details add to the overall character of the engine and well worth the effort to make them.

I am not adding the propeller to this model so I made the prop mounting assembly and fitted it to the drive shaft. I cut the front and rear plates off the kit supplied propeller using a razor saw, I then sanded them down until they were only 0.4mm thick. I drilled all the appropriate holes through both plates with the 8 fixing bolt holes being 0.5mm. I cut 8 lengths of 0.5mm brass tube to 5.80mm long, these are the 8 bolts that connect the two plates. I assembled the unit and fixed it all with CA. The bolt heads and nuts were now fitted, 8 on the front and 8 on the rear plates, I used the smallest bolts from the MIG productions hexagonal bolt set No. MP35-500 and fixed each bolt with a very tiny drop of CA. The entire assembly was sprayed with Mr Metal Color Stainless then highly polished, the prop shaft was painted with Humbrol polished steel and buffed. Once everything was dry I fitted it to the prop shaft and glued it in place with CA.

Making the propeller mounting assembly using the kit supplied propeller front and rear plates and some brass tube, very simple.

I have reduced the wall thickness of the two intake pipes, it is more inline now with original photos, they will be painted black where I drilled them out. This photos shows the water piper hose connectors and the hose clamps, the clamps are made from 0.1mm coated copper wire stripped from electronic cables, a great source for small wire.

I have added more plumbing to the left side of the engine as per the photos in the Wingnuts instruction manual. The larger pipe is 0.5mm copper wire and the smaller pipe is 0.25mm copper wire. They are connected to a left over part from the RE.8 kit, it looks very similar to the photo so it fitted in well, the decal is also from the DH.9 kit. The brass fittings are 0.4mm brass tube fitted over the smaller pipe whilst the larger one is plastic tube painted brass, the drain at the bottom is a length of 0.4mm brass tube. Intake tubes are now painted.

Magnetos are fitted as are the 24 ignition leads. I used 0.13mm copper wire for the leads, once fitted they were painted with Humbrol No.94. The magnetos are painted with Humbrol No.133 satin brown and the black parts are done with Humbrol Satin Black. I made holding down brackets for the ignition lead tube by flattening 0.4mm brass tube and bending it over the pipe, CA holds it in place. The two small clamps around the ignition leads from the magnetos are made from left over PE fret material.The engine is now very close to being completed.

Because this engine is being depicted as a brand new engine, the exhaust has been painted to show it being new as well. I sprayed the exhaust with Gunze Burnt Iron. Once properly dry I will highlight some areas.

Engine now completed

I added rubber hose connectors to the pipe on top of the engine which connects to the radiator, I also fitted hose clamps, hose clamps have been fitted to the two pipes exiting from the water pump at the rear of the engine. This engine build is now complete, the extra detailing has added a lot of realism to the engine, much of it was very easy to do and at a minimal expense for materials. Wingnuts have done a superb job producing this engine and it would be perfectly alright built OOB.

Liberty V12 400hp Engine
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