SMER 1/72 Spitfire Mk.V Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||December 2007||Manufacturer||SMER|
|Kit Number||SR871 (168)||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Neat popular Supermarine Spit version||Cons||USAAF marks on decal not illustrated on instructions|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$9.98|
The British Supermarine Spitfire was one of the finest fighter aircraft of it’s time. Unlike its counterpart, the Hawker Hurricane, it appeared to have immense room for further improvement. This would lead to 24 marks of Spitfires being produced throughout the Second World War in continuing efforts to keep up with the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force requirements.
The Spitfires used 5 different wing types, designated “A” through “E”, which overall had the same dimensions but different internal arrangements of armament and fuel tanks.
The Mk.V variant (subject of this kit) was the most numerous type of Spitfire. Over 6,000 were built. The Mk.V was nothing more than a Mk.II with the newer Merlin 45 series engine. This engine delivered slightly more takeoff power at 1,440 hp, but greatly increased the power available at higher altitudes due to a new single-speed, single-stage supercharger design. The new engine also allowed the Spitfire to move into zero gravity maneuvers without any problems with fuel flow. This was a welcome new feature to the RAF pilots, who had a new nasty surprise for their German enemies. Additionally, the aircraft could reach a top speed of 375 mph at 13,000 ft. It could climb to 20,000 ft in 7.5 minutes and its range was 470 miles on internal fuel alone and 1,135 miles on internal and external fuel. While it was no Mk.IV, the Mk.V was able to hold its own with the Bf-109F’s it was meeting.
The Mk.V had metal ailerons, where previous versions had fabric covered ailerons. This made it easier to maneuver the aircraft as less force was required to move the new ailerons. Because they were the same size and shape as the old ailerons, they were retrofitted to a number of Mk.II’s. Douglas Bader (the British leg-less ace) had the Mk.II’s of his wing fitted with the new ailerons after contacting the factory directly without making an official RAF request. Since his airfield was so close to the factory, he simply arranged for the fighters to fly to the factory and be refitted one at a time.
Timing played an important part, as over the winter a serious problem appeared in the tail structure of the Friedrich, and all production was halted. The problem wasn’t solved until the early spring, by which time the Mk.V had already stated deliveries.
About 250 Mk.Vc Spitfires were shipped to Australia to be used by No. 1 Wing, RAAF, based in Darwin from early 1943 onwards. Mk.Vc’s had a new ability to carry different armament fits of either the eight 0.303 gun setup, the “B” type setup of two 20 mm cannon with four 0.303 guns or the new “C” type armament of four 20 mm cannon. The new “C” type wing fitted to the Mk.Vc (thus the “C” suffix after the variant name) also could accommodate 120 rounds per belt-fed cannon. This was unlike the “B” type wing which could only hold 60 rounds per cannon due to it’s barrel-fed cannon which would jam less due to the barrel feed system. These Mk.Vc’s were employed as interceptors against Japanese air raids.
The Mk.Vc versions received by the RAAF proved unreliable and – initially at least – had a relatively high loss rate. This was due to several factors, including pilot inexperience, engine overspeed due to the loss of oil from the propeller speed reduction unit (a problem solved by the use of a heavier grade of oil) and the practice of draining glycol coolant before shipment, resulting in internal corrosion. As moisture, sand and other foreign objects found more in tropical and hot desert climates found their way in. In total, production was 94 of the eight-gun Mk.Va, 3,923 cannon-armed Mk.Vb’s and 2,447 of the Mk.Vc.
SMER is a company that is based in Prague, Czechoslovakia that re-popped a lot of other companies products. I don’t happen to know if this Spitfire Mk.V kit is one of those.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a flight of two Mk.V’s with the fuselage code of K (roundel) DU on the one in the foreground and serial number W3249 (this marking offered on the kit’s decal sheet)
The aircraft behind it carries the fuselage code Z (roundel) DU, serial number not legible (this marking not on the decal)
A side panel shows a profile of a Spitfire with the fuselage code RY(roundel)S and the serial no. EP644 (on decal sheet)
Another side panel shows a Spitfire in Yugoslavian markings, with the fuselage letter “M” and the serial no. JK544 (on decal sheet)
There are two USAAF blue circles with white stars on them on the decal sheet, but no info as how to use those.
The kit contains a cello bag with four chalk white parts trees in it (the most trees seen in SMER kits of this size model)and the usual two part clear desk stand that SMER sticks in all their 1/72nd scale kits.
There is a small stapled cello bag with the clear cockpit transparency parts in it. This is Scotch-taped to the side of the other cello. This is a practice that runs through all SMER kits too with the cockpit transparency parts.
The decal sheet (with a nice tissue covering the face) and the instructions complete the kit’s contents.
The instructions are also the usual layout of all SMER’s instructions in their kits.
It is a single sheet, folded in the center into 4 pages.
Page one begins with a color repeat of the box art. This is followed by a history of the Spitfire Mk.Vb in Czech only.
The left side of page two has a blow by blow description of how to proceed building the model, again, only in Czech.
The right side of page two and the left side of page three have 11 assembly step drawings. In step no. 1 you can opt for a large or small propeller spinner. In step no. 8 you can opt for a tropicalized chin intake. In step no. 11 you can opt for pointed or clipped wings.
The right side of page three has a listing of the names of all the kit parts, again…only in Czech. Wish SMER would put some English in their kits.
Page 4 has some tech info about the Spitfire, in Czech and 3 side views of the schemes already mentioned above, plus illustrations of the top and bottoms of Spits. all in full color.
The first chalk white parts tree holds the fuselage halves.
The second chalk white parts tree holds: the upper wing halves, pilot seat, joystick, radio mast, radio, main landing gear legs and wheels, propeller retaining washers, rear view mirror and the pitot tube (14 parts).
The third chalk white parts tree holds: the lower wing half (full span), the horizontal tail surfaces, the exhaust pipes, the cockpit floor and pilot’s back armor plate and the under-wing air intake screen (8 parts)
The fourth, and last, chalk white parts tree holds: the two alternate propeller spinners, the alternate wing tip pieces, the optional tropical chin air intake, the propeller, the landing gear doors, the propeller back round plate and two 20 mm cannon barrels (16 parts)
The wing & tail flaps and the rudder are all molded solid. Detail is of the raised panel line variety. There is no pilot figure in the kit, and…quite frankly…SMER’s are usual inhuman looking anyways. So, he is not missed. Except for a missing dashboard, this kit has quite a bit of cockpit stuff. Usually, in closed cockpit type aircraft of SMER’s this area is poorly provided for.
The next tree of parts is the clear cockpit transparencies. You get the windscreen, center and rear sections, so this could be posed open or shut.
The two part clear desk stand and the decal sheet (already described above) complete what’s in the kit.
I got this kit, years ago from a pen pal in Krakow. However, it has been re-released a few time and SMER now numbers it as kit no. SR847 and a different boxart than the earlier kit I have by them. There is a SMER kit of the Spitfire Mk.Vc as SR871 and SMER is listed as having a metal kit of the Mk.Vb, with the same boxart as my kit, as kit no. 887. It is supposed to have Super Decals in it too. Don’t know “what” is metal in it. If it is the whole model or just parts??
This is a nice older model. There are tons of Spitfire models available in scales from 1/144th on up to 1/24th with tons of aftermarket stuff to go on them. The Mk.V seems to dominate these offerings. A very popular subject amongst kit and aftermarket manufacturers and modelers it seems. Highly recommended.