Supermarine Spitfire Mk. VII
No modeler of World War II fighter aircraft can possibly be unaware of the background of the Spitfire, so no discussion will be provided. Over 30 different Marks and variants of the Spitfire were produced before, during, and after World War II, and nearly all of them have appeared as 1/72 scale kits at one time or another. Of the long-wing Mk. VII, injection molded kits have been issued by Hasegawa, Jay’s Models, and a resin kit from CMR. Italeri’s kit, issued in 2012, is a welcome addition. I have built the Hasegawa kit and it is excellent, and the Italeri kit will be interesting competition. I have not seen the other two, but I understand from reviews that they both are very good kits.
The Spitfire Mk. VII was an offshoot of the Mk. VIII, which was, in itself, an improvement of the Mk. IX, which preceded all of them (this is why Spitfires are confusing). In 1940-1941, the need for an extremely high altitude Spitfire interceptor was realized, and for this role the Mk. VI was developed. It was basically a rebuilt Mk. Vb, with long, pointed wingtips, a 1,415 hp. Merlin 47, a four-bladed prop, and a pressurized cockpit. The airplane was not particularly successful, and wasn’t able to reach its intended victims, high-flying German Junkers JU-86P reconnaissance planes, so subsequently the Mk. VII was developed. This was a more refined airplane, with a two-stage 1,710 hp. Merlin driving a four-bladed prop, long, pointed wings, enlarged tail surfaces, and no cockpit pressurization. A total of 140 were produced, and they were used successfully by nine squadrons in England and the Middle East.
The Italeri kit provides decals for four Spitfire VII’s: a camouflaged aircraft of No. 616 Sqdn. from RAF Kenley, UK, June 1944, with partial invasion stripes; a high-altitude camouflaged aircraft of No. 602 Sqdn., Orkney Islands, Scotland, 1944; an aircraft from No. 131 Sqdn., RAF Colerne, UK, 1943/44; and a high-altitude camouflaged No. 124 Sqdn. aircraft from RAF Bradwell, UK, June 1944, complete with full invasion stripes. Each of these will make into a colorful model, and the decals for the most part, are excellent. More on this later. The instructions are clear and complete, and the average model should have no problem following them.
The sprue attachment points are well-designed, with little outside surface trimming required. The cockpit interior is well done, although there is no side wall detail. The rear fuselage needs some tricky trimming, as this model has a retractable tailwheel, and since this kit is based on the Mk. IX which has a fixed tailwheel, some trimming is needed to allow for the new tailwheel and the doors. The prop is made in pieces, with four blades, a hub, and a spinner, and this will require careful assembly to get it lined up properly. Myself, I prefer one piece props, but, of course, I’m lazy. The wheel wells are a bit shallow, but this is not a serious issue. The lower wing section is similar to that of Italeri’s Mk. V kit, but there are differences. There are no locater pins inside the wing structure, so be careful and line things up properly here. The engine cowling can be quite a problem, as it is intended to be a three-piece assembly. I assume that one version of the kit has the Vokes filter, so the bottom panel goes on after the two sides are joined. This creates some fit problems, as the whole thing has to line up with the forward section of the fuselage, which is, in itself, somewhat of a problem to line up properly. Do a lot of test fitting here to get it right, as the fuselage attachment joint is not too good. There is a belly scoop that goes on this model. It is the big one, but it is not shown in some of the assembly drawings, so make sure you use the right one. I’d suggest using photographs from sources rather than the instructions here. The extended wingtips attach separately, and these line up very well. In fact, I traced their outline, and used used that to scratchbuild tips for a Mk. VI that I did at the same time, from an Airfix Mk. Vb. The canopy comes in three pieces, so the cockpit can remain open. Even the little side door is provided. The small rear window is a pretty difficult fit, but there’s hope for it.
Painting and Finishing
Unless you’re doing the No. 616 Sqdn. Aircraft with full camouflage, this is a relatively simple model to paint. PRU Blue on the bottom, and Medium Sea Grey on top does it, although the No. 124 Sqdn. aircraft has full invasion stripes. For the invasion stripes, I painted the stripe areas white before painting anything else. I then masked them off and painted the PRU Blue and Medium Sea Grey. After suitable preparation, I decided to try to use the invasion stripe decals, and although the model looks presentable, I would not do it again. I think it is easier to just mask the stripes and paint them on, without using the decals. The problem is that the D-Day stripe decals just plainly do not fit, especially on the rear fuselage. On the wings, they aren’t quite the correct shape, and some black trimming is needed, especially on the wings’ leading edges. Otherwise, the decals are fine, although I don’t know what problems will ensue when doing the No. 616 Sqdn. airplane with the lower stripes only.
This is a good little kit, and I enjoyed building it. It is probably as accurate as the Hasegawa kit, although I think that the Hasegawa kit is probably a bit better in the engineering department. Still, it is a worthwhile kit, and is well worth getting a couple, especially if you like Spitfires as much as I do. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Italeri and MRC and Steve Collins for the review sample.