Spitfire Mk. XVI Bubbletop, Profipak Edition
The Spitfire is probably one of the most famous fighters to emerge from the World War II era, combining performance, beauty, and reliability in one exceptional airframe. Its story has been told repeatedly over the years, so I won’t retell it here. The Mk. XVI was a development of the Mk. IX, a Merlin-powered variant, and the basic difference between the Mk. IX and the Mk. XVI was the American build Packard-Rolls Royce Merlin used in the later mark. Most Mk. XVI’s had “bubble” type canopies, although a few of the first had the standard Spitfire faired in type. Over 1,000 were built during the last year of the war, and the type was used by the tactical Air Force as well as Fighter Command. Many served postwar until replacement by jet fighters.
Nearly every reference work on fighter aircraft of the World war II era has extensive coverage of the Spitfire. Squadron has a good series, and the “Walk Around” series provides good detail photo coverage. There is certainly no shortage of information available on the Spitfire.
The kit instructions consist of 16 pages, including a historical sketch, a sprue diagram, a color guide, 8 pages of excellent exploded assembly drawings, 5 pages of four view drawings providing color and marking details for the five aircraft depicted, and one page of four views showing stenciling locations. The instructions are very good, easy to read, and provide all the necessary information. One peculiar thing, however, is that the historical sketch at the beginning gives a detailed account of the development of the Mk. V and Mk. IX Spitfires, with only two sentences at the end dealing with the Mk. XVI. There is, however, more historical information accompanying the color four views for each aircraft.
Like the previously reviewed Eduard Spitfire Mk. VIII, the Mk. XVI kit has 106 parts designated as “for use” but quite a few of them are really extras. It also includes a PE sheet and a very useful mask sheet. Molded in light grey styrene plastic, there is negligible flash, and the parts trim off easily with clippers or an Xacto knife. Surface detail is recessed, and is of the highest quality.
The only previous issue of this aircraft was from Heller. There is no indication of date of issue on the Heller kit, but the one I have in my cabinet is dated 2002, so the kit has been around for quite a while. The Heller kit has 37 pieces, and only includes the clipped wingtips. It is, however, a perfectly good kit.
The key to building a model of this sort is to follow the instruction sheet precisely. Trim the parts off of the sprues carefully, and only as they are required for painting or assembly. There are a lot of small parts in this kit, and if you have too many loose parts on your desktop, you’re sure to lose something in the construction process. The same goes for the photo etch parts. I would suggest some kind of magnification, as some of these pieces are EXTREMELY small. The cockpit interior consists of a number of pieces, and the whole thing has to be assembled in such a way as to fit inside the fuselage halves. The side panels glue tightly against the fuselage sidewalls, so it is a tight fit. It does fit, however, and the end result is a very impressive cockpit interior, although you won’t be able to see a lot from the outside unless you leave the canopy slid back.
The wings require some careful assembly, as the wheel well interiors are included. These should be painted interior green before the wing tops and bottoms are assembled. The radiators also require some careful attention, but they end up looking very nice, especially with the PE radiator faces. Once the fuselage and wing are joined, the tail unit fits right into place, and lines up perfectly.
The landing gear is a bit tricky, but although the gear legs need some smoothing, the units fit nicely into the little mounting holes, and they are easy to line up properly. The instructions say to attach the landing gear covers before attaching the gear assemblies to the airframe, but it works either way. The wheels are made up of four parts for each wheel, and the hubs just press into the tire assembly. I used a spot of superglue to secure them in place. The prop is very nicely done, and it is easy to paint, as the prop, spinner, and mounting parts are all separate.
The kit includes parts for both the standard wing and clipped wing versions, and one clipped wingtip part is done in clear plastic so that you could paint the wingtip in red or green for navigation lights, and then attach the clear plastic wingtip and mask it. I didn’t do this, but it has potential. I just painted the light areas red or green. After major assembly, only a small amount of putty was required to fill in the cracks, and the end result was very impressive.
There are decals enough for five airplanes, all postwar types, although two planes have WWII type camouflage. Since the type did see action in the ETO towards the end of the war with the 2nd Tactical Air Force and Fighter Command, I was surprised that they did not offer several aircraft in wartime livery. Well over 1,000 were delivered before the end of the war. But there are some colorful examples.
The decals are of very high quality, and do not need trimming. I had some problems with a couple of the long black line decals, which did not seem to want to cooperate in lining up, but the others went on very well.
Painting and Finishing
The color diagrams show the typical RAF two tone upper surface camouflage, with light grey underneath. In the drawings, it was difficult for me to determine the color separation lines, but there are plenty of RAF camouflage diagrams around, so you might need to refer to any of these. With the model basically finished, you might want to include the VHP whip antenna on the rear fuselage spine, but there is not a lot you can add to this model, although they provide some bomb racks which could be installed.
This is a very nice little kit, in keeping with Eduard’s recent issues over the past several years. This company has achieved a lot in its lifetime, and their products are equal in all respects to any 1/72 scale plastic kits on the market today. Their subject selection has been excellent, and my experience with the two Spitfires, Mk. VIII and Mk. XVI, and their Avia B.534 issues, has been many hours of rewarding modeling experience. These kits are highly recommended. Get as many as you can.
Thanks to Eduard and Dave Morrissette for the review copy.