Spitfire Mk IXc Late, Part 2
Like many aviation enthusiasts and modelers, I have always admired the beauty of Supermarine’s Spitfire design. I am admittedly no expert on the type, but when Eduard announced their 1/72 version of an already well received 1/48 family of this aircraft, I jumped at the chance to do a review build. I also asked for a couple of the supplemental accessories Eduard has issued for the kit. The aircraft’s history is well known and extensively documented, so let’s get on with impressions of this 1/72 scale plastic version.
This kit issue (#70-121) is a completely new mould tooling. This kit is significantly more detailed than nearly every other 1/72 Spitfire kit out there, and the resulting high parts count will take me some time to build. So, I’ll give you my initial impressions in case you’re considering a purchase sooner, rather than later.
Box cover art is Eduard’s usual artist’s impression of one of the kit’s marking options, the Spitfire LF Mk.IXc, MJ586, flown by Pierre Clostermann, No. 602 Squadron, Longues sur Mer airfield, July 7 1944. Side panels reveal that kit decals are included for six different aircraft; the aforementioned 602 Squadron example, Spitfire HF Mk.IXc, ML296, flown by F/Lt Otto Smik, No. 312 Squadron, North Weald AB, Late August 1944, Spitfire LF Mk.IXc, MH712, flown by W/O Henryk Dygala, No. 302 Squadron, Summer / Autumn 1944, Spitfire LF Mk.IXc, MJ250, No. 601 Squadron, Italy, Summer 1944 in an interesting bright silver overall with camouflaged engine cover panels, and two versions of Spitfire LF Mk.IXc, ML135, flown by Jerry Billing, No. 401 Squadron, while operating from Tangmere AB in June, 1944, and a slightly different marking as flown from France on July 1, 1944 with the “Dorothy” namesake artwork and a slightly different fuselage band configuration.
Upon opening the package, one is treated to five sprues of Eduard’s medium gray plastic in two sealed plastic pouches, and one circular clear sprue for windscreens, canopies and other clear parts in a separate plastic pouch. Also included is the well-printed markings decal sheet, a supplemental decal sheet of stencils, and Eduard’s clear, easy to follow pictorial 20-page instruction booklet. Excellent COLOR painting and decaling illustrations are included. Also included are a color photoetch parts sheet for cockpit detailing, and a pre-cut masking sheet for canopy and wheel painting.
Surface detail on the plastic is exquisitely rendered recessed engraving, and surprisingly more plentiful than expected in this scale, for a small, single-engine subject. A quick review of the individual sprues reveals crisp moldings and no flash. The sprues contain many extra parts that look to be a precursor of other Spitfire marks to come. I made some quick side by side comparisons to equivalent parts from a couple of other kit manufacturers, and I have no doubt that Eduard’s reasonably priced 1/72 Spitfires will quickly become the benchmark for this type in the one true scale.
Not realizing the level of additional goodies included in the Eduard “Profi-pak” boxing (the PE fret and pre-cut masks) until I opened the box, I had also requested Eduard’s Brassin cockpit detailing set, another supplemental PE set, and the photoetched flaps set, along with a second masking set that will come in handy after I screw up my first attempt.
So much for the initial impressions … I’m off to the hobby store for some stronger lenses for my Mag-eyes, and then on to the build.
I started work on the cockpit(s). I built the kit-supplied cockpit concurrently with the Brassin set I ordered. Both versions fit together well and build up beautifully (see photos). Kit and Brassin instructions are clear and detailed on assembly sequencing and color call outs.
Following cockpit assembly, I assembled the fuselage with the cockpit nestled in place, and worked on the plastic surgery of the wing areas to accommodate the photo-etched flaps. These little gems also went together well, albeit difficult for my big fumble fingers to handle. The instructions are clearly detailed as to the building sequence. I completed the folding and assembly of the individual parts, and when set, super-glued the upper wing and fuselage area in place. I left the delicate lowered flap assemblies and tiny actuators and upper-wing hatch doors for later final assembly on the kit.
The remainder of the kit was assembled per the instructions, and went together flawlessly. I opted for the open canopy and side door options to allow visibility of the beautiful cockpit assembly. Before proceeding with painting, I made the decision to depict the aircraft in scheme #4 - Spitfire LF Mk.IXc, MJ250, No. 601 Squadron, Italy, Summer 1944 in an interesting bright silver overall with replacement camouflaged engine cover panels.
After masking the windscreen with the kit supplied pre-cut masks, I sacrificed the closed sliding canopy/rear glass section as a temporary cover, and proceeded to prime the airframe with Vallejo Black Acrylic Primer. A couple of days later I shot a couple of very thin coats of Vallejo Acrylic Chrome Metallic over the entire airframe. After curing for a couple of more days, I masked the metal areas of the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and shot the flying surfaces with semi-gloss aluminum to simulate the pained fabric surfaces. Given a little time, I would recommend scraping the flying surfaces with a curved blade and sanding to render a bit more realism to the fabric areas. After a sealer coat of Pledge Future had cured, I masked the affected areas and applied the Ocean Gray/Dark Green camo pattern to represent the replacement cowling panels.
The kit’s markings decals and stencils performed perfectly, with a touch of Micro Sol to settle them into the unbelievably fine surface detailing. A final layer of Future to set things, and it was on to final assembly and detailing.
Pay attention to the handing of the landing gear parts, etc. The gear legs lock into position at the correct angles both from the front (90 degrees) and from the side (70 degrees from the horizontal), and set with a touch of liquid cement. I used the photo etch gear doors from the supplemental fret I ordered. These were the only parts I used from this set to replace the kit-supplied items. The scale thinness of the PE gear doors looks so much more realistic than the plastic kit parts (which are themselves very good) in this scale.
The lowered flaps and upper actuator doors were attached with CA glue, and final canopy and other airframe detailing was completed.
In conclusion, this is the best Spitfire kit I have ever built, by far. Factor in the very reasonable purchase price, and this is also the best value 1/72 Spitfire kit currently available. All of the additional PE and cockpit details I used aren’t really necessary to produce a contest-worthy effort, but do add some nice additional detail to an already beautiful kit. I see some stiff competition in the 1/72 Single Engine Prop and OOB categories at future contests with many of these kits on display.
Very, very highly recommended. Order several from the Eduard website (you are a Bunny Fighter Club member, aren’t you?) or your favorite hobby shop today. Thanks to the IPMS Reviewer Corps and Eduard for the opportunity to review these items.