Spitfire Mk.1 (Early)

Published on
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Kotare Models - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Kotare Models - Website: Visit Site
Kotare Spitfire Mk.1 Early

Kotare are a new New Zealand-based modelling company, born from the ashes of the Wingnut Wings concern. Like their ancestor, Kotare are determined to offer high-quality 1/32 aircraft kits, but instead of concentrating solely on WWI subjects, Kotare are focusing on the more popular WWII, starting with a range of early mark Spitfires.

This ‘kitset,’ as the Kiwis call a model kit, comprises 155 plastic parts on six runners, including a clear runner. Each runner is marked with a letter and the parts are laid out logically to aid in finding them. For this kitset boxing, parts specific to the very early Spitfires are included on a separate runner and include a 2-blade propeller, open & closed “ring-pull” cockpit doors, ring & bead sights, pole-type aerial mast, gun flash eliminators, anti-spin parachute guard, external camera gun, dual tube pitot head, early style exhaust manifolds and early instrument panel. A new clear runner contains the flat canopy hood and unarmoured windscreen. It should be noted that Kotare have resisted the option of including PE, resin or 3D printed parts, though these are not at all missed to be honest – the quality and detail of the plastic is outstanding.

Also included is a large decal sheet, printed by Cartograf, that has a complete set of national markings and stenciling, along with individual markings, for three options. These are:

  1. Spitfire Mk.I K9795, “White 19”, 19 Sqn, October 1938;
  2. Spitfire Mk.I K9798, WZ-L, 19 Sqn, May 1939;
  3. Spitfire Mk.Ia, L1065, PR-E, 609 Sqn, August 1940.

Each option has two pages devoted to it inside the comprehensive 28-page instruction manual, which covers construction over 14 steps, and features many period photos of each airframe, plus close-up detail shots of other period Spitfires. Those familiar with Wingnut Wings instruction manuals will recognize the style, which has very clear and heavily illustrated build instructions – these should be carefully read and digested by the modeller before starting work as there are many potential ‘gotchas’ for the unwary and many optional parts for each version. I opted for the first choice, the pre-War 19 Sqn machine that featured heavily in period aeronautical magazines.

External detailing is excellent – a mix of fine, raised, rivets and panel lines, that are often lapped and some of the panels, such as the gun bay covers, are subtly raised. The breakdown of the fuselage parts is along panel lines, with the spine being in one piece, thereby avoiding an awkward seam. Fit of the parts is excellent and very little filler was needed during construction – just a smidge of two in a couple of spots.

Kotare calls attention to the following points: early Spitfires had the flush riveting on the front of the wings and fuselage puttied and smoothed to improve performance – hence there are no rivets in those areas on the kit. Also, these early Spitfires were essentially hand-built and so many of the removable panels didn’t fit perfectly. Modelers should expect some gaps along panel lines that are perfectly prototypical. Something for contest judges to bear in mind as well! The kit also has some subtle ‘oil-canning’ on some of the panels. Again, perfectly prototypical. Kotare really have paid great attention to the surface detail with this kit and the modeler will have his patience rewarded with a fine replica.

Construction starts with the cockpit tub. Interestingly, early Spitfires had their interiors painted mainly with Supermarine’s own interior green, which is brighter than the ‘standard’ RAF interior grey green that we are used to seeing. Kotare label this as Supermarine Interior Green and it does make for a ‘different’ looking interior! Much of the interior detail has been pre-moulded into the cockpit sidewalls, but this is not a detraction from the kit – it is very finely done and certainly makes building up the interior a lot easier than, say, a Tamiya kit! No ‘realism’ is lost by this little trick. Two seats are included, with and without a moulded-in harness. No decal belts are included. The instrument panel – two are included for different options – is well-detailed and each instrument is covered by a separate decal. When complete, this looks very realistic. Once the tub has been created, it is attached to one fuselage half, then enclosed by the other.

The wings are next, and Kotare have made this very simple, with a one-piece lower, two uppers, a full-length wing spar and separate wing-fuselage fillets. All these fit well together, with the usual proviso that all paint should be removed from mating surfaces to ensure the very best fit. The undercarriage slots easily and firmly into position and the wheels have flats to ensure correct alignment.

Amongst other features, the kit has options for propellers, exhausts and canopies, which varied over the course of Mk.1 production – be sure to carefully study the instruction manual to ensure you get the correct ones for your chosen option, or refer to good references such as the exceptional Wingleader Spitfire I/II book for alternatives. It should be noted that the instruction manual itself is an excellent resource for building any early Spitfire Mk.1, as it contains over fifty period (i.e. not of warbirds or restorations) photos of the type inserted during the construction process and illustrating each option.

Painting was a doddle, using some of the last of my late lamented Model Master acrylics and Testors Metalizer. The decals were applied with few issues, though care needs to be taken when applying them over the rear fuselage rivets – some softening solution was needed here. As the model depicts a nearly new airframe, weathering was limited and restrained.

Building the model was pure pleasure. I cannot think of a single issue I had with building the kit. That’s extremely unusual. The amount of detail is excellent, but it doesn’t overwhelm, due to Kotare’s thoughtful design. This isn’t one of those uber-over-engineered kits with hundreds of parts. The fit is superb. Compared to photos of the real thing, the completed model just looks right.

I am not usually one for excessive superlatives, but this kit is fully deserving of the praise that I, and others, have heaped on it. It is truly an outstanding kit and one that I can thoroughly and heartily recommend. The level of detail and the buildability of the kit are splendid – this is by far the best early Spitfire in 1/32 ever produced. Everything that the modeler needs is in the box. There is no need for aftermarket parts. From the notations on the runners, it is clear that Kotare will be offering other early Spitfires, including the Mk.V, in the future. I am really looking forward to those! My sincere thanks to Kotare for the review sample.


Add new comment

All comments are moderated to prevent spam

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.