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ICM 1/48 Spitfire Mk.XVI Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2006 Manufacturer ICM
Subject Spitfire Mk.XVI Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48071 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easily the nicest Spitfire Mk.XVI in this scale Cons Small sink marks still in the wings
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $23.00

First Look

Spitfire Mk.XVI
Spitfire Mk.XVI
Spitfire Mk.XVI
Spitfire Mk.XVI
Spitfire Mk.XVI
Spitfire Mk.XVI
Spitfire Mk.XVI

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. This 'interim' solution wound up being the second-most numerous variant of the Spitfire, the most numerous version being the Mk.IX.

The Spitfire Mk.XVI was yet another incremental improvement to an existing airframe in production. The Mk.XVI was essentially a late-model Mk.IX with an American-built Packard-Merlin engine. The early Mk.XVI had the same hood and rear fuselage as previous Spitfire marks, except that it did have the taller rudder and revised horizontal tailplane of the later Mk.IX.

One very distinctive improvement that was introduced into the Mk.XVI line was a cut-down rear fuselage and bubble canopy, giving the pilot excellent all-round visibility. This new feature would be integrated into future Spitfire variants as well.

Here is ICM's Packard-Merline-powered Mark XVI in 1/48 scale. The kit features all of the same parts trees of the earlier mark Spitfires except for the revised fuselage halves, cockpit bulkheads, and new canopy.

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. As I said, even though this kit represents the Mk.XVI, you still receive the common parts trees that contain extra parts for the Mk.VII, 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 Mk.IV/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.

This release has markings for two examples:

  • Spitfire LF.Mk.XVIe, TB673, 4D-V, 74 Sqn, Drope Germany, April 1945
  • Spitfire LF.Mk.XVIe, TD317, ZF-P, 308 Sqn, summer 1945

This is still the best Spitfire Mk.XVI produced in this scale. 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!