Airfix 1/72 Spitfire Mk.Ia Kit First Look
|Date of Review||October 2010||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Kit Number||1071||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||New tooling, interior cockpit detail||Cons||Where are the seat belts? Only 1 decal option. Watch out for ejector pin marks|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$8.30|
Reginald Mitchell is forever associated with the Spitfire and yet it was the design team led by Joseph Smith which took over the design upon the death of Mitchell in 1937 from cancer. He went on to design the Spiteful, Seafang and Attacker before becoming a Director of Vickers Armstrong.
What can I say about the Spitfire, with over 22000 built and being one of the few allied aircraft in production throughout the Second World War, most people will have some idea of its history. It was a step up from the Hurricane, which sprang from the same original specification for a machine gun armed, single seat, monoplane fighter. The Hurricane still had a fabric covering on the rear fuselage and, in the early versions, fabric wing covering. The Spitfire was all metal monocoque construction only using fabric for the control surfaces. Like the Hurricane it had a Rolls Royce Merlin and 8 x .303 machine guns, unlike the Hurricane it had greater development potential thanks to its all metal construction.
During the Battle of Britain it shared fighter duties with the Hurricane concentrating on the fighter escort due to better performance. One problem the Merlin had, and therefore affected both aircraft, was the carburettor, in certain moves, like a nose over dive, it lost fuel feed to the engine, many a Bf 109 pilot was glad of this problem which the Daimler Benz engines didn't have thanks to their direct injection.
Herman Goering thought the Luftwaffe had wiped out Fighter Command, what he hadn't reckoned with was the repair organisation set up by Lord Beaverbrook which returned damaged aircraft to operational duty fairly rapidly. The Spitfire was not as easy to repair due to its more complicated construction but it could be repaired and was.
Have you ever fallen in love with a kit when opening the box? I have, and this is one such kit, it looks fantastic. Well thought out and detailed it brings Airfix 1/72 kits to a new level which I sincerely hope they can maintain.
Packaged in the now familiar Airfix Red box, this one is side opening, the picture on the front shows the kit subject in flight mixing it with Bf 109’s and He 111’s. One small point to the artist, the machine guns do not protrude from the leading edge. There is a 4 view colour illustration on the box back showing decal placement and colour scheme. The Instructions are folded A4 and paint references are for Humbrol, no surprise there then.
The kit is moulded in light grey plastic which looks smoother than previous releases. All the panels lines are engraved but a bit deeper than some would appreciate, they should look better under a few coats of paint. My first gripe with Airfix re this kit is the number of ejector pin marks which appear in the most awkward of places, but on the plus side I cannot find any sink marks. Sprue gates are on the heavy side and some placed in awkward places i.e. wing leading edge, no flash except probably a tad on the propeller trailing edge.
The rudder is a separate item, the only control surface that is. The tailplane fixing has been well thought out as they each fit into a recess enabling them to be fitted without the need for filler. The fishtail exhausts look fine; no doubt the aftermarket boys will be releasing replacements soon (Pavla I would guess).
All the panels look in the right place, the nose and gun covers have representation of their fastenings. Something that is not mentioned in the instructions but which has been picked up on discussion forums is the fact the undercarriage down indicators are moulded up on the wing upper surfaces showing the u/c down so if you want a flying model these need to be trimmed off.
The cockpit is much better than the recent Hurricane; the seat is the right shape without belts (my second gripe), the seat sides can do with thinning down, I suppose Airfix want you to put in the pilot who is the standard WWII version and who looks right for 1941. The instrument panel is flat with decal instruments, there are 3 ejector pin marks on it so I may just cut the decal sheet and glue this directly to the panel. Moulded on this panel are the compass housing and gun sight. There is an accurate looking joystick, sidewall detail including throttles, undercarriage selector, front and rear bulkheads and pneumatic tanks. The detail that makes it for me though is the floor; there isn’t one, which is dead right for the Spitfire. The canopy is a single piece and includes the prominent rear view mirror, is quite thick but does not include the knock out panel on the port side, this was there to allow the pilot to equalise pressure when at altitude.
The wings are moulded in 3 pieces, a single piece underside and 2 top wings. This arrangement gives a preset dihedral. Wheel well detail is there but seems to be missing the odd item. Undercarriage wheels and legs are well detailed, as usual they are moulded with the door. You have a choice of wheel covers, 1 for up and 1 for down. The instructions show the correct angles needed to get the sit right. The wheels are moulded with a flat bottom so make sure you position these right. The tailwheel locates into a full depth slot not a hole so the angle and length will be right and the join stronger. The underwing radiators fit into recesses on the wing and the larger one is moulded with the flap open. Another nice touch is the separately moulded front for the carburettor intake leaving it hollow.
The decals are printed in register, are matt and include most of the stencil markings as well as an instrument panel and red covers for the gun ports fitted after the guns were armed to help prevent icing up of the mechanism. There is only one option, P9495 DW-K of 610, County of Chester squadron, probably one of the most famous Spitfire 1’s as this was the subject of Revell’s original 1/32 release and the latest ‘heritage’ re-issue.
Paint numbers are quoted for Humbrol, the basic scheme being Dark Green/Dark Earth/Sky with Interior Green. The seat back and headrest are Leather/Tan with the pilot being RAF Blue with Leather helmet and Black boots.
Though it is not included in the kit the instructions show you where to drill out holes for a stand, do not drill the holes if you do not want to show a flying model.
What is my overall impression? A decent kit, quite simple, wonderfully detailed though some will think it is a bit heavy. The cockpit will look o.k. but unless you use a vacform replacement then it will look a bit fuzzy through the thick plastic. Ejector pins are a problem and I wonder if the locating pins will be an improvement on the Hurricane where some surgery was needed. One last question, where are the seat belts?