Airfix and the Spitfire have been partners since the firm’s beginning, around 1954. Though the Spitfire was not the very first kit they ever produced (a farm tractor has that honour), a
Battle of Britain-eraMk.1 was a very early
release, followed by the classic Mk. IX in the late 60s, a Mk. V in the 80s,
and so forth. In 1:48th scale
Airfix has filled in many of the gaps of the available marks, their
super-accurate Mk. XIV due out soon filling a major hole – though many vocal
hobbyists bemoan any new Spitfire from Airfix as a missed opportunity to kit
something actually new.
Cockpit detail is entirely adequate, the canopy cannot be posed open and so little is visible it makes little difference – in this writer’s opinion – if one superdetails or not.
The cockpit was painted with MM Cryl British Interior Green, the the model was airbrushed overall with Tamiya Acrylics. The underside shade is a mix of Tamiya XF-21 Sky and XF-2 White at 1:1 (and it still feels a bit too green to my eye), the Earth Dark Brown is also mixed, XF-52 Flat Earth and XF-64 German Rotbraun at 1:1 (as their straight Flat Earth seems too drab), while the green is straight XF-81, one of the group of three especially accurised RAF colours released some years back. Microscale clearcoats followed, with the final finish being flat, though MS Flat is actually quite satin in lustre. I was uncertain about the general shades until the model was finished, but once it had the brilliancy of the decals in contrast to the paintwork, I was very happy.
The decals were pretty good but I found them rather inflexible and unwilling to conform to sharp curves – it took up to ten applications of Microscale setting solution to get the flank roundels to lie down close to the top curve of the fuselage, and at least as many to get the wing roundels to draw into the gun hatch detail, though still not by 100%. Note the red gun patches are absent, there was no way they would curl around the leading edge. If I find some decal material more willing to conform, I’ll add them at some point – I did not fancy backing up and painting them with the model essentially done.
The canopy was masked with the Eduard set, which behaved perfectly, plus Gunze masking fluid, and the camouflage was masked using the AML set for the type B+ scheme. Florey wash and MiG pigments provided the finishing suite. The antenna wire was rigged with EZ-Line, always the last job I do because it is typically frustrating in its delicacy, and so hard to line up accurately at this scale.
There’s not really enough weathering for a battle-used aircraft in the thick of it. The pigments don’t adhere well to a hard, bright surface, they are far better seen against flat where they can get a grip on the fine irregularity. The oil streaking on the underside is also very restrained – Merlins leaked oil notoriously and Spitfires became filthy beyond words on the underside during sustained action. However, I seem to have developed a great sensitivity to mineral spirits, as just enough to wet the brush and do the job in a few minutes left me with a cracking headache for the evening. I didn’t think the job was big enough to be worth pulling out the twin-cartridge respirator, but I was wrong! Okay, this plane was washed recently!
This is my first 1940, Battle of Britain-era RAF project since I did Airfix’s 1:24th scale
around 1976! I’ll certainly be doing some more subjects in these colours – they have a new tool Hurricane, the Boulton-Paul Defiant, and a couple of Curtis Tomahawks in 1940 RAF livery, all of which should looks very nice indeed (and are served by the excellent AML camouflage mask sets, which save a great deal of time and effort). Mk. Ia