Spitfire Mk. VII Weekend Edition
The Spitfire is perhaps one of the most famous fighters to emerge from World War II, combining performance, development potential, versatility, and beauty in one airframe. I cannot imagine a modeler who does not know the basic history of the type, so I won’t repeat it here. The Mk. VIII represented by this kit was an upgrade from earlier models, which gave improved performance. Developed from the Mk. VII, the Mk. VIII featured a 1710 HP Merlin 63 or 66 engine, and all were fitted with the Vokes tropical filter. While most had the standard elliptical wingtips, some had the extended wingtips for high altitude use. A few were also equipped with “bubble” canopies. Most Mk. VIIIs were used in the Middle East or with the RAAF in the Far East against the Japanese, where they were superior to every Japanese fighter encountered.
There are many references available dealing with all versions of the Spitfire. Also, the type is well covered online.
The kit instructions consist of 12 pages of detailed material, beginning with a very useful sprue diagram, which shows 103 useable parts and 93 non-useable ones. A color guide is also provided, but it only gives Gunze colors, although the names are similar to RAF shades. They also include the usual lawyers’ warnings about allowing children access to the model. Pages 2 through 9 provide detailed assembly instructions, giving part numbers and colors, and the order in which parts need to be assembled. Eduard kits are complex to the point that if you do not follow instructions, you will probably find that you will reach a point where the whole thing needs to be broken apart and started over. So, follow directions, and avoid this problem. Two pages show color four-views of the two aircraft depicted in the decal sheet, and a further drawing shows placement of stenciling on both aircraft. One thing missing from the instructions was a basic history of the type. This would have been helpful, especially to those who are not really familiar with the various marks of the Spitfire. Some history is given in the color drawings, but not enough to really do the job.
The kit consists of 103 parts to be used in either of the two aircraft possible. Molding is done in soft grey styrene plastic, and there is almost no flash or molding defects. Surface detail is recessed, and looks really realistic on the completed model. Parts are easily separated from the sprue with clippers or an X-Acto knife, and the sprue marks are easy to trim off.
Assembly is quite straightforward if you follow directions. The cockpit is VERY detailed, so follow the instructions carefully. Once the seat, floor, control column, and instrument panel are prepared, they can be assembled. The side panels also have considerable detail, and those parts need to be added. The cockpit enclosure is completed when the side panels and glued to the floor, and these are supposed to fit snugly in between the fuselage halves. This was the only problem I had with the assembly, as the completed cockpit assembly was slightly too wide to fit inside the fuselage halves. This may have been my fault, so I’ll watch for this on my next Eduard Spitfire, and there will be more, I assure you. I corrected for this by trimming the upper halves of the wing roots, allowing the wing to assume the proper dihedral angle. The tail units fit perfectly, and very little putty was required to fill in the seams. Once the exterior was painted, the small parts, including the landing gear, prop, exhaust stacks, tailwheel, etc. can be installed.
Decals are provided for two aircraft. First is an RAAF Mk. VII flown by W/C Bobby Gibbes, CO of No. 80 Wing, Mototai, in April, 1945. The aircraft carries two tone grey and green over pale grey, and features a sharkmouth. RAAF roundels are included for this aircraft. The second selection is a Mk. VIII flown by AVM Harry Broadhurst, CO of the Desert Air Force in January, 1943. This aircraft has pointed wingtips, and carries standard RAF desert camouflage, consisting of Middle Stone and Dark Earth over Azure Blue. The aircraft carries white codes, “HB”, Broadhurst’s initials, as CO he was entitled to use on his aircraft. It makes for a very colorful aircraft, and since I already had an RAAF Spitfire in my collection, I chose to do the desert model, since I didn’t have one of those.
The decals are thin, and do not require trimming. They go on without decal softening agents, but should be applied over some kind of gloss coating, followed by a matte clear coating for realism.
One problem I should mention is that in this kit, both decal sheets were missing. I contacted Eduard by email, and within five days, received a replacement set in the mail. The people at Eduard were particularly helpful, and I was very impressed with their handling of the situation. These people are really first class.
Painting and Finishing
Once the basic airframe is assembled, it should be painted and masked. There were no problems in this stage. The recess panel lines show up well after a coat of enamel.
This is a first class kit in all respects, and although calling it a weekend edition may be a little presumptive (I took about a week, but not all day every day) I suspect that if you started early Saturday morning, you could have it finished by Sunday evening. It certainly LOOKS like a Spitfire, and stands out when sitting next to Spitfires from other manufacturers. Eduard has produced some very good kits over the years, and I really enjoyed building this one. Get several, as you will probably want to do both aircraft. Don’t miss out on this one.
Thanks to Eduard and to Dave Morrissette for the review sample.