In-Box Review
Early PR Spitfires
PR.Mk.IA, PR Mk.IV AND PR Mk.VII with resin and vac formed parts and decals
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by: Tim Hatton [ LITESPEED ]

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.
Vac formed:
-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.
Highs: Beautifully cast resin parts. Excellent vac formed canopies. Very nice decals. Outstanding product.
Lows: Discrepancies with the Marks in the instructions and decals. Nothing serious though.
Verdict: If you want to convert your Airfix Spitfire MkI into a early PR machine then this is definitely the set to go for. Much easier than scratch building. Highly recommended.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: U 72-129
  Suggested Retail: TBA
  PUBLISHED: Aug 05, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Pavla Models!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Tim Hatton (litespeed)

Aircraft are my primary interest from WWll to present day.

Copyright ©2021 text by Tim Hatton [ LITESPEED ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


PR Spitfire designations. The early development of photo-reconnaissance Spitfires for the RAF resulted in many different configurations, as many of the aircraft converted for the role received unique or near unique equipment, or were progressively modified. As aircraft were converted prior to the adoption of significant role prefixes (eg B for bomber, F for Fighter etc.) a method was required to distinguish them from regular fighters. Thus a total of seven ‘Type’ designations – A to G – were used to denote various configurations, both airframe and photographic equipment, used by they early photo-reconnaissance Spitfires. That is PR I Type A, PR I Type B, and so on to PR I Type G. As they were all variations of the Mk I they were also known as PR Ia to PR Ig (sometimes written with capital letters, PR IA ….). In 1941 this was rationalised so that the c to g versions (the variants still in service at that time) became the PR III, PR IV, PR V, PR VI and PR VII. PR IV Type D is not a designation; it is a tautology, a concatenation of the new and previous designations used by some to indicate that they are the same type. Camotint or Camotint Green. Camotint or Camotint Green is the same colour as Sky. Sky ws the name given to it by the RAE when it was added to the Vocabulary of Stores reference 33B at the beginning of 1940. Spitfire PR type G R7116/ZW*C 140 Army Co-Operation Squadron. Spitfire Mk I ZW*B of 140 Army Co-Operation Squadron pre-August 1941. There is no camera port visible so this may be one of the squadron’s Mk Is used for conversion training (most likely L1000). In the Temperate Land scheme, Dark Earth/Dark Green, with Sky undersides. The Land Temperate scheme with Medium Sea Grey undersides would seem to be a very odd combination. When the PRU were asked by the Air Ministry what special aircraft camouflage schemes they used they replied that two standard schemes had been adopted. Scheme A was applied to high flying aircraft and consisted of an overall finish of PRU Blue, (33B/494), with the exception of national markings. Scheme B was for low flying aircraft and consisted of Extra Dark Sea Grey (33B/245), and Extra Dark Sea Green (33B/338), on the upper surfaces, while the the under surfaces were PRU Mauve which was mixed from 5 parts PRU Pink (33B – not in Vocabulary of Stores), 2 parts PRU Blue (33B/494), and one part ident red (33B/72). Examination of the Vocabulary of Stores reveals that 33b/72 was the pre-war bright red colour not the wartime dull red. Spitfire PR type G, thought to be P9328, of 1416 Army Co-Operation Flight (DP codes) which used the type during July September 1941 until reformed into 140 Squadron. The overall dark appearance with an only just discernible disruptive pattern conforms to the prescribed scheme of EDSGrey/EDSGreen with PRU Mauve undersides. Spitfire PR type G R7116 of 140 Army Co-Operation squadron. The low contrast suggests the prescribed scheme of EDSGrey/EDSGreen with PRU Mauve undersides. However the presence of the Sky spinner and fuselage band suggests it might be the Day Fighter scheme of Ocean Grey and Dark Green (with the two colours transposed) with Medium Sea Grey undersides. Spitfire PR.IV BR416 In North Africa different air transparency characteristics made PRU Blue too bright at high altitudes. As a result Spitfire PR IVs were often painted Royal Blue (a very dark gloss blue) in that theatre. Fin flashes were generally not carried but they did feature roundels under the wing. Because of the similarity of roundel blue and Royal Blue the national markings were applied with lighter shade of blue, possibly Azure Blue. Spitfire IV BR416 in overall Royal Blue scheme. The code letter X is unusual for this finish. The wing tip of another PR Spitfire in the foreground is PRU Blue. The wingtip relief valve for the fuel tank can be seen. Later the undersides and sides of BR416 were painted white (or perhaps Sky or light blue). It seems the fuselage roundels remained in the pale blue colour. It is sometimes claimed that BR416 was used in this scheme by 1437 (Strategical Reconnaissance) Flight. Documents of the flight make no mention of any Spitfire used at all. BR416 was used by 2 PRU/680 Squadron from late 1942 until 1944. During this time the Spitfire was flown, among others, by Cpt ‘Jerry’ Orr SAAF, seen in the photograph.
AUG 13, 2011 - 04:52 AM

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