Supermarine Spitfire Mk XII
The Spitfire certainly needs no introduction; it’s quite simply one of the most versatile and beautiful propeller driven fighters of all time. Because of that fact there has been no shortage of kit manufactures willing to produce any number of variations of this venerable design. Enter Airfix a name long associated with British aircraft models. This time we get a new release of the Spitfire Mk XII in 1/48 scale. In brief, the Mk XII was powered by the Rolls Royce Griffin engine and as a result sports some cowling bumps and a big prop spinner not seen on other variants. Couple the Griffith engine with clipped wings and you get a Spit designed to fly fast at low altitudes to counter low flying Luftwaffe fight bombers and later, V-1 buzz bombs, but enough of the history, lets have a look.
This kit is packed in the nicely illustrated top open box. Inside you find sprues of nicely produced parts molded in grey plastic. The canopy parts allow for open or closed options. The instructions are a booklet and the painting guide is printed in full color on a separate sheet. A decals sheet with two marking options is provided.
- Squadron Leader R.H. Harries, No 91 (Nigeria) Squadron, Royal Air Force Hawkinge, Kent, England, May 1943
- Flight Lieutenant Donald Smith (RAAF) No 41 Squadron, Royal Air Force Tangmere, Sussex, England, October 1943.
The parts are all very nice with engraved panel lines that match the kits scale. There are some mold ejection marks on the underside of the ailerons and inside the cockpit door. The open version of the canopy is rather clever in that it is molded as if the canopy hood is open over the rear canopy section. It took a minute figure out how it would get painted, but it does work once you mask it. Don’t think you can use separate parts to produce the same effect, I test fitted it and it won’t work that way. You get several options including dropped flaps, open/closed cockpit door and different tail wheel configurations. All control surfaces are separate parts but in a scale-accurate way, not the old Airfix workable type.
You have to make some choices up front because minor surgery is needed. Three examples are the open canopy option that requires cutting down the area behind the cockpit, the tail wheel section which has two options and the cockpit side door that cuts out and is replaced by a new part. I chose to open and drop everything to check the fit and so you see what’s possible. The cutting is facilitated by recesses on the backside of the parts that you drop your knife into. Starting with what else, the cockpit, you find a nice collection of bulkheads and other bits to busy up the cockpit. The instrument panel has blank dials recessed into the part. I painted it black and etched some needles etc topped off with future. A decal would have been nice here. The only thing missing is a harness set but Airfix offsets that by providing a pilot figure so I used it. My only criticism here would be the blocky nature of some of the parts like the throttle quadrant, but frankly it’s hard to see once every thing is closed up. Assembly goes rather quickly after that. Strong tabs on the airframe parts ensure good alignment. I especially liked the cannon barrels that plug tightly into holes in the wings that self-align and are easy to remove mold marks from.
There are two marking options included, but the paint colors are the same. I choose the mount of Lieutenant Smith. Color call outs are in the Humbrol range for which conversion charts are available on the Internet. The color print-out shows Ocean Grey as a green color but its obvious what’s intended. I used model master colors Sky Type S, Ocean Grey, RAF Dark Green, and Medium Sea Grey. I preshaded panel lines with dark grey and painted the underside color first. After masking the underside I applied the grey first then masked the camouflage pattern and finished with the green. The yellow leading edge stripes were masked then brush painted with yellow over a white base. Back to the canopy I mentioned earlier, Airfix has made this easy in that all the masking edges are raised and easily show through tape. Since you see the first coat through the backside you have to paint the exterior color on the inside, then the interior color over that. The end result is convincing. Once this was done I painted the landing gear wells and inside of flaps RAF interior green. Several coats of future readied the surface for decals.
These are typical Airfix in that they appear thick on the sheet but once applied to the model lay down well. I used solvaset to settle them into the panel lines and it worked perfectly. Nice touches included wing walk stripes made to length that assist in locating the wing roundels and serial numbers with gaps for Sky type S band so you can’t put them in the wrong place. I had a little silvering but it was my fault for not applying enough gloss coats underneath.
With the decals on, it was time to dull down the gloss with some Testors flat lacquer. The landing gear has separate hubs for painting ease. All the other goodies antennas, pitot tube etc. went on fine.
This is a new age for Airfix models and they are making kits that stand up against the best out there. I liked everything about this kit. Like many of us, I started modeling when Airfix kits came in bags and its good to see an old name still alive and making great products. The skill level (2) on the package is appropriate considering the minor surgery required for some of the parts. This kit is ripe for a good aftermarket cockpit set but what comes in the box is quite respectable. In spite of the minor issues I would give this kit 10 out of 10 mainly because no one else has boxed this variant. You had better get yours soon as I suspect these will fly off the shelves. Thanks to IMPS and Airfix for a jolly good model of a classic warbird!