by: Tim Hatton [ ]
Pavla Models have released a conversion set to modify the Airfix 1/72 Mk I Spitfire into a Photo Reconnaissance PR.IA, a PR.IG or a PR.IVD. The conversion set includes resin, vac formed parts as well as decals.
Parts come in a transparent vac formed blister. Inside there are:
-2 x seats one with padding and the other without.
-1 x carburettor intake
-1 x wing oil cooler.
-1 x insert for the recess for oil cooler on the lower port wing.
-1 x camera access hatch for the fuselage port side.
-1 x 29 gallon fuel tank.
-2 x 5 spoke wheels.
-1 x unpressurised canopy.
-1 x pressurised canopy.
The water slide decals are sealed in a plastic transparent package. Pavla provide three marking options:
[A] Pr Mk IA, N3071, flown by F/L Maurice “Shorty” Longbottom, Seclin, Northern France, 18th December 1939. Camoutint Green.
[B] Pr Mk VII type G, 140 [AC] Sqn RAF, September/October 1941. Dark green/dark earth upper surface, medium sea grey lower surfaces.
[C] Pr Mk IV type D, 74 out, Petah Tiqva, Palestine. Overall royal blue.
Six pages A5 manual.
Resin parts: Both seats are exquisitely moulded with some seat detail such as the seat adjustment lever, seat harnesses across the lap and on one seat cushioning on the back rest. The seat with the cushioning also has what looks like a plate of armour attached to it. Each seat comes on a small block. The carburettor intake has a recessed mouth and the grill inside is represented superbly. The panel lines on the carburettor intake are very fine. Oil cooler for the port wing has a recessed intake and outlet and the recessed panel lines are very fine. There is a very thin resin insert for the recess on the Airfix Spitfire port wing where the oil cooler is located. The camera access hatch for the fuselage of the PR Mk.VII is tiny and designed to fit where the radio hatch is situated. Obviously some surgery is required to fit the new hatch. The hole for the camera lens is filled with “clear fix”.
The 29 gallon fuel tank is another lovely piece of casting. This sit directly behind the pilot fitted to the frame. The filler cap, frame hangers and fuel pipe to the engines are easily recognisable. The fuel pipe is very fine and is only joined to the fuel tank at the exit point and where it disappears under the tank, amazing casting Pavla. So be very careful handling this part. Some drilling is required for the two camera ports under the fuselage, the instructions show you exactly where they go and the suggested drill size. Just be aware the Pr Mk IA has the camera ports in tandem on the centre line, whereas the other two types, the cameras are slightly offset from the centre line.
The two canopies have the two bubble blisters either side, not the easiest things to create using the vac formed process. The non pressurised windscreen has a armoured windscreen. The pressurised canopy looks excellent with it's frame less non armoured windscreen. The frame work is very well defined on both canopies. Obviously great care will be needed to separate the components when cutting. As they are, the canopies feel pretty strong, but once cut into they will need some support on the inside. Not an item to rush and use a fresh surgical blade. But they will improve the look of your Airfix Spitfire no end.
The decals are printed by Etech and are excellent. Thin with a tiny amount of carrier film. Colours look dense and registration on my sample is excellent. The decal designations seem a bit confused . On the decal sheet choice [B] is marked Spitfire PR.IG, should be Pr Mk VII type G. choice [C] is marked PR. ID when it should be PR. IV type D The confusion is not a problem as it's very clear in the instruction what goes where.
The instruction are very thorough with exploded black and white illustrations. There are details of where and what size holes to drill for the various camera positions. The guide for the removal of the oil tank cover is pretty clear if the option you are building requires you to do so. There are colour guides for all the components. Paint references are for Humbrol enamel paints and the FS numbers are provided. Pavla provide advice for the paints to achieve the special Camoutint Green, although the ratios is not supplied.
This is an excellent release from Pavla and I am going to have to acquire a Airfix's Spitfire Mk I to utilise this beautifully produced conversion set. I am not a Spitfire expert at all, but this set will appeal to the vast majority of modelers interested in creating something different for their Spitfire flight line. Pavla have been very brave tackling this subject particularly as PR Spitfires are difficult to model as the real things were prone too many modifications when built and in the field. Nice one Pavla Models.