When I purchased this kit I was expecting an old molding, and hoping for new quality decals, but I was pleasantly surprised with the MkI/MkIIa offering from Airfix. The packaging came in Airfix’s latest ‘red box’ style, wrapped in cellophane, with three sprues in a sealed plastic bag.
Always welcome, another bag contained the clear parts sprue helping protect the clear parts from scratches. The decals are loose in the box, and look to have good color density and registry. The instructions have color guides for two aircraft, No 19 Squadron, Royal Air Force Duxford, UK August 1938 and No. 118 Squadron, A Flight, Royal Air Force Ivesley, UK, May 1941.
Moldings are light grey soft plastic, very clean, no sink holes or flash on my example. Fine recessed panel lines and a separate rudder control. The clear parts look a little thick, but this is often an issue with clear parts in 1/72 scale.
The cockpit is highly detailed for 1/72 scale, including the pilots seat and frame mounting, joystick, foot pedals and control rods. The instruments panel is represented with a decal and there are two oxygen cylinders to mount behind the pilot that will almost certainly not been seen on the finished model.
I started by paining the interior parts with interior green. I decided to include the pilot, who was not too bad a representation of an RAF pilot of the era, so I painted him too.
I decided to open the pilot’s door using an etched brass saw, but more on this later.
After I was satisfied with the interior color and wear simulation, I dry fitted the fuselage half’s with the floor, seat and pilot sandwiched in between. I had a gap that was especially large near the cockpit opening, this main culprit was the instrument panel, so I set about shaving and sanding this down.
Once I was happy with the fit, the oxygen cylinders were glued into the left fuselage along with the pilot, seat, floor and instrument unit. I glued the two fuselage halves together, adjusted the pilot’s unit and bound the fuselage with rubber bands.
The wing upper interior was painted with interior green for the wheel wells, and black for the gun cartridge ejectors that are open on the kit. I don’t think the black is necessary considering the small size of the cartridge holes, and I painted too far over my interior green for the wheel wells, creating extra painting when I test fitted the wings halves. The upper wings were glued onto the single lower wing and clamped.
Once dry, the wings were glued to the fuselage. The fit was good and no filler was needed, and the dihedral of the wings looked correct for a spitfire. The tail control surfaces were glued into place, with a little rudder offset for added realism suggesting a pilot with his feet on the pedals. The air scoops and radiator coolers were glued onto the lower wing, but I left off the center line scoop to aid the black and white paint scheme.
As I was making the pre-war model, with the equally divided black and white under surfaces, I started brushing on a white acrylic. After a few coats I was satisfied with the coverage and I sprayed on a gloss varnish.
Then using sticky tape to mask the center line for the white, I used acrylic black to paint the other wing, fuselage half and tail plane. Again, once the coverage of black was complete, I sprayed on another coat of gloss varnish.
Decals were placed according to instructions, the asymmetrical national roundel is not a mistake, just the white side and upper left wing get them.
Two coats of flat varnish were used to lock down the decals. Then I used a sharp pointed H2 pencil, to trace panel lines and powder stains caused by the guns, I painted the lower control surfaces with silver paint, and then a second coat of flat varnish was applied to lock down the pencil graphite.
A similar approach was used for the upper surfaces, they were painted in dark green and earth brown. Gloss varnish was applied, then once the varnish dried, the extensive upper decals were added before being locked down with flat varnish. The panel lines were traced with an H2 pencil and a final coat of flat varnish was applied.
Finishing. The lower control surfaces were painted silver. The exhaust was painted brown and dry brushed with black to simulate rust and exhaust soot. The undercarriage, and tail wheel were painted and glued int place. The aerial mast was glued in place, and Nylon thread glued from the aerial to the tail. The pilot door was thinned down and glued to the fuselage.