One of three aircraft types that stayed in continuous production from the first day of the war to the last, the Spitfire is perhaps the most renowned fighter aircraft in the world. At first not quite living up to its press, the Spitfire's ability to be constantly updated was a tribute to the brilliance of its designer, Reginald Mitchell. Even more than 70 years after its debut, the sight and sound of a Spitfire never fails to delight aviation enthusiasts the world over.
Moulded in Tamiya's signature medium grey hard smooth plastic, this is another gem. It needs no putty and the mouldings are first rate. There is absolutely no flash, and the panel lines are nicely engraved without either disappearing or being too obtrusive. It's a simple kit, having only 2 sprues of parts and a single small clear sprue for the canopy and gun sight. The kit has been well engineered to keep ejector pin marks out of sight.
The fuselage is two halves from nose to tail. The cockpit is nicely detailed and properly floorless. The only thing really necessary to dress it up is a new seat to replace the half-depth seat Tamiya chose to inflict on all its Spitfires. The instrument panel has no raised details in the instrument faces, and no decal faces are offered. They'll have to be sourced separately. The cockpit door is moulded closed, but Tamiya offers a separate part for those modellers who wish to pose it open. This is moulded with its characteristic emergency crowbar which is incorrect for an early production Spitfire. It will have to be ground off or replaced with an aftermarket part. There are multiple options for the canopy, Tamiya having chosen to use the same sprue for the Mk I and Mk V kits. There are flat-sided, partially blown and fully blown sliding canopies offered. The Mk I was usually seen with flat sided or partially blown canopies. The knock-out panel on the left side of the flat sided canopy was not surrounded by a metal frame, so avoid the temptation to paint it. The later style streamlined antenna mast is the only option. If you're doing a very early production spitfire, this will have to be changed to the pole type.
The wings are in 3 pieces; one lower wing half from wingtip to wingtip with one piece for upper right and left halves. The flaps are moulded shut, which is correct for a parked Spitfire. The flaps blocked airflow through the radiator and Squadron Engineering Officers would fine pilots who left the flaps down after landing. In any case, the flaps were held open by compressed air, which meant that as soon as the pressure bled off, the flaps would snap shut. The gun muzzles are moulded protruding from the leading edges. This is correct for early production Spitfires. Modellers wishing to produce a later machine may simply cut them off. The wheel wells are molded in a slight oval which is incorrect. They should be exactly circular with the top surface of the well slightly offset to the rear from the bottom so that the wheel well makes an angled cylinder through the thickness of the wing. Given that this is difficult to correct, I doubt many modellers will bother. Some people have complained that the curvature of the wing does not match published drawings, but the error is slight, and does not stop the model from looking properly like a Spitfire. The underwing radiator and oil cooler are separate parts, which will benefit from careful painting. Leave the pitot tube off until the last minute to prevent it from being damaged while handling.
The tailplanes are one piece mouldings. They are moulded in such a way as to prevent them from being glued the wrong way about. Parked Spitfires are always seen with their elevators drooped unless there was a control lock in place in the cockpit. They should be cut away and posed. Don't forget to push the stick forward in the cockpit.
The landing gear struts and wheels are finely moulded and nicely detailed. The struts are one piece with their mounting pins pre-set to give the gear its slightly raked forward stance. The wheels have separate outer hub faces which will make painting a little easier. The gear doors have nice detailing on their inside surfaces.
I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it will look like a Spitfire.
Decals and Markings
This kit offers two Battle of Britain Spitfires: L1043 from No. 610 Squadron with an overall sky undersurface and no underwing roundels and X4561 from No. 92 Squadron with a black starboard wing undersurface. Both aircraft are in the “B” disruptive scheme of Dark Green and Dark Earth. Tamiya gives you a 1/48 scale camouflage template which will be useful for placing the masking. Spitfires were usually masked with hard edges to the colours. Do not allow much overspray. There is a full set of white underlays to prevent any chance of the paint scheme showing through the decals. They are the typical Tamiya thickness which some modellers like to complain about. I've found them to be very responsive to Solvaset, and I've never had to worry about them curling up or tearing. Aftermarket schemes abound for those who want to do something a little different from the kit options.
There are shedloads of aftermarket options available for Spitfires. The only ones I would really recommend for this kit are Ultracast's wonderful wheels
. The seat is a must to replace the woefully inadequate kit seat. If you wish to portray a very early Spitfire, Ultracast also offers the two bladed Weybridge propeller
. The kit parts are very nice, but Ultracast replacements are a leap beyond nice. They'll really add to this wonderful kit. For those modellers who delight in etched brass, Eduard offers 3 different sets
to dress up the exterior and cockpit.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE