Airfix 1/72 Spitfire Mk.Vc Kit First Look
By Michael J. Gething
|Date of Review||December 2020||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Kit Number||A02108||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Excellent detail||Cons||Some delicate parts|
|Skill Level||Moderate||MSRP (GBP)||£9.99|
Most readers will know the basic story of the Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire was designed by R. J. Mitchell in the late 1930s, with the prototype flying on 5 March 1936. Following Mitchell’s premature death in June 1937, Joseph (Joe) Smith was appointed in his place and oversaw the development of the Spitfire. The Mk.Vc first flew in October 1941, fitted with Type-C ‘universal’ wing to accept variations in armament, with large bulged fairings to accept the ammunition feeds for two 20mm Hispano cannon, plus revised undercarriage. It was powered, initially, by a Rolls-Royce Merlin 45, rated at 1,515 hp (1,130 kW) at 3,000, driving a standard de Havilland three-bladed propeller and, later, by more-powerful models (Merlin 46 / 50-series) with wide-blade Rotol props and pointed spinner. In all, some 2,467 Mk.Vc were built, deployed mainly in the Mediterranean theatre by the RAF, although 300 Mk.Vc (trop), with the Volkes air filter under the nose, were shipped to Australia.
Let me begin by warning the reader not to be confused with the company’s 2007 M.Vc kit (A02040), which was a re-boxed version of the 1970s-vintage Mk.Vb with an extra sprue and new decals. This model depicts the Mk.Vc (trop), fitted with the Volkes air filter and is a new tooling. As such, it lives up to the standard we are now seeing Airfix deliver. It comprises four grey plastic sprues, plus a fifth in transparent plastic for the canopy, offering a single closed unit or the three individual components, allowing the model to be depicted with the canopy slid back. All the mouldings are crisp and flash-free, with recessed panel lines, and raised detail where required. The pilot figure is the only element that does not come up to the current standard – I suspect this part may have been ‘cut-and-pasted’ from an earlier moulding.
The excellent decal sheet (by Cartograf) offers two versions: a US Army Air Force (with a shark-mouth nose) flown by the 307th Fighter Squadron of the 12th Air Force in Algeria in November/December 1942; or a subtly later model (with the wide-blade Rotol props) flown by 2 Sqn, South African Air Force, from Gioia del Colle, Italy in October 1943. Be advised that the USAAF version (with two cannon) is alternative A and the SAAF version is alternative B (with four cannon) – it is not obvious in the instructions, which are otherwise excellent with multi-lingual codings. However, the only clue to the alternative versions being found in the colour three-view drawings at the end of the assembly process. Both versions are in the same dark earth/mid stone/azure blue colour scheme. Note to Airfix – please highlight the alternative identities at the start of the build process instructions, not the end, as it is far from obvious!
The build process includes a much improved method of assembling the cockpit area, using two inner walls to locate the various bulkheads and other internal details. Apart from making it easier to locate when mating the fuselage halves, it should be easier to paint the details. The undercarriage bay walls have to be fitted into the lower wing and, also, should the slipper fuel tank (an optional extra) be required, the locating holes need to be drilled-out where indicated.
As well as the alternative propellers and spinners, take care to use the correct exhaust manifolds for the appropriate propeller. Another good point is the adoption of an improved method of fixing the propeller, which allows this to be fixed-on after the main model is assembled, painted and decaled. (How many of you find the prop gets in the way while painting?)
This kit has much to offer and I give it a 9 out of 10 rating. The pedants may criticise the lack of much riveting detail, the failure to supply bomb carriage and a pure RAF decal option (available from after-market products). These are minor points. I look forward to building my kit (gifted at Christmas by my daughter) ... and in the future don’t be surprised to see a re-issue with a revised decal scheme and, perchance, the Mk.Vb version to replace that 1970s offering.