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ICM 1/48 Spitfire Mk.VIII Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2006 Manufacturer ICM
Subject Spitfire Mk.VIII Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48065 Primary Media Styrene
Pros The nicest Spitfire Mk.VIII in this scale Cons Small sink marks still in the wings
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $23.00

First Look

Spitfire Mk.VIII
Spitfire Mk.VIII
Spitfire Mk.VIII
Spitfire Mk.VIII
Spitfire Mk.VIII
Spitfire Mk.VIII
Spitfire Mk.VIII

The history of the Supermarine Spitfire and its contribution to the defense of Britain and the air war in general is well documented in articles and reviews on the subject. The Spitfire Mk.V was initially intended to be an interim design while waiting for the parts/resources for the Mark III. The Mark V was essentially a Mark I/II airframe with a Merlin 45 engine replacing the Merlin XX.

To intercept the high-flying intruders, the Spitfire Mk.VI was developed with a pressurized cockpit, but the canopy had to be bolted shut to help seal the interior. This replaced with the Spitfire Mk.VII and incorporated a number of improvements including the return of the sliding canopy and reduced span ailerons.

The Mk.VIII was produced in parallel with the Mk.VII and shares the same features except one - the Mk.VIII was unpressurized. Since the Mk.VII and Mk.VIII entered production after the Mk.IX, many of the improvements put into the mid-production Mk.IXs were also applied to the high-flyers as well. These included the updated horizontal stabilizers and taller rudder.

I remember too many years ago (I believe it was eight), I was at one of the hobby trade shows and ran into the ICM booth. There on display was this new 1/48 scale Spitfire Mk.VIII as well as the Mk.IX. The build-up kit was quite nice, and then there were all of those details! I'm happy to see the ICM Spitfires are coming back into circulation, this time imported through Testors. The molds are clearly still in good shape.

The kit is molded in a white styrene (with a hint of purple) and presented on six parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. This kit is still my favorite Spitfire, and according to comparisons I did several years ago, this kit scaled out spot-on while the Tamiya and Hasegawa fuselages were a bit short.

What you get in the box is the Swiss Army Knife of Spitfires. The parts trees contain everything you'll need to do just about every variation of the Mk.VIII and Mk.IX including:

  • Early and late rudder
  • Early and late horizontal stabs/elevators
  • Detailed Merlin engine visible under a removable hood
  • Removable gun access panels to reveal the gun bays
  • Guns and access panels for the C and E wing versions, plus even the large teardrop panels of the early Mk.VIII
  • Normal, clipped, and extended wingtips
  • Parts for open or closed canopy
  • Ventral auxiliary fuel tank
  • Bomb or rocket underwing armament
  • Removable top and bottom engine access panels

The kit cockpit is very nicely detailed and one of the best I've seen in this scale which wasn't made from resin. The engine compartment is also quite detailed, but I remember that all of that detail won't fit inside the cowling and still have the upper and lower access panels close. Not a problem if you're posing the aircraft with the cowlings unbuttoned.

One of the molding 'bugs' that have been seen in the kit is still there, small sink marks in the wing just ahead of the ailerons. This is due to shrinkage at cooling due to a structural ridge molded inside each upper wing part. This is no biggie as it took me a little cyano years ago and now a quick treatment with Mr. Putty now to remove these slight blemishes.

If you note the extended wingtips on the tree, they have a wraparound to the trailing edge of the wing. This corresponds to the narrower span ailerons used on the type and you have to snip the outer sections of the ailerons to fit.

As I am reminded, I built one of these kits not long after seeing it the first time at the hobby show. In that case, I opted to build the Mk.VIII version which is released with additional parts in another release. The fit of the model was really not bad, though it needs a little more attention with dry-fitting than your Tamiyagawa-type kits. I ran into a snag that I didn't even see until AFTER I completed the model - the firewall and/or instrument panel was a hair too wide and forced the fuselage sides to flare out slightly wider. When the wings were installed, there was no gap in the fuselage/wing joint, but there wasn't any dihedral left in those wings either! When I do this one again, I just need to dry fit the engine and cockpit assemblies into the fuselage and make adjustments to ensure a tight fit at the wing/fuselage joint without creating a flat Hurricane-type wing in the process. Live and learn...

This release has markings for two examples:

  • Spitfire Mk.VIII, HL-K, 308 FS/31 FG, Castel Volyurno, Italy, Feb 1944
  • Spitfire Mk.VIII, CM-M, CO 31 FG, Castel Volyurno, Italy, Jan 1944

This Spitfire Mk.VIII is a nice kit straight out of the box. No other kit offers as much detail, variant options, and scale accuracy all in one box. It doesn't build as easily as a Tamiyagawa-type kit, but they require aftermarket details to achieve some of the same detailing. If you factor the low retail cost of this kit, you have a clear winner.

My sincere thanks to Testors for this review sample!