by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Eduard's definitive new quarterscale Spitfire Mk. IX has seen a surge of interest in the aircraft, along with a host of new accessories. But it also provides a timely opportunity to look back at some of the existing aftermarket sets that are available, not least Montex's extensive range of well produced painting masks.
Montex have kindly sent us a selection of sets from their Super Mask range which include not only national and individual aircraft markings, but also canopy masks. While the latter go one step further than Eduard's own masks by including interior masks to allow you paint the framing realistically, it's worth remembering that they were designed for Hasegawa's Spitfire kits, so don't assume they will necessarily fit the new Eduard canopy too.
Each set features two colour schemes and the subjects covered are:
Set #K48083 - £8.00
Spitfire Mk.IX, PV181, Wing Commander Rolf Arne Berge, 132 Norwegian Wing, Netherlands, 1944
Spitfire Mk.IX, MJ931, 331 Squadron, 1945
Set #K48090 - £8.00
Spitfire Mk.IX, MJ238, 73 Squadron, Yugoslavia, 1944
Spitfire Mk.IX, PL488, Commandant Jaques Andrieux, 341 Squadron/GC.III/2 Alsace, Wevelghem, Belgium, 1944
Set #K48181 - £8.50
Spitfire Mk.IXc, MH883, George "Buzz" Beurling, 412 Squadron RCAF, 126 Wing, Biggin Hill, January 1944
Spitfire Mk.IXc, MJ966, Chef Denys Boudard, 340 Squadron FAF, France, June 1944
Set #K48205 - £8.50
Spitfire Mk.IXc, EN177, 332 Squadron RAF (Norwegian), North Weald, May 1943
Spitfire Mk.IX, MH544, 2 Squadron SAAF, Forli, Italy, January 1945
Set #K48218 - £8.50
Spitfire LF.IX, PL265, 317 Squadron RAF (Polish), St. Denijs Westrem, late 1944
Spitfire LF.IX, MK520, Wing Commander Marian Duryasz, Germany, 1945
Looking at the sets as a whole, it's interesting to see a clear development in Montex's range. So, while sets K48083 and '90 include only painting masks for everything including small personal insignia, K48181 introduces a decal for the row of "kill" markings, and K48205 and '218 go further still by offering decals for the fuselage serials in addition to the painting masks, while small insignia are supplied only as decals. This seems to be a recognition that there comes a point where most modellers prefer to use a decal, despite the benefits of painting - convenience and simplicity winning the day, if you will.
The markings masks themselves are very nicely produced on grey vinyl (the canopy masks are black for some reason), and separate neatly and precisely from their backing sheet. Each set includes personal markings for two aircraft and national markings for one - but the masks are re-usable if you're careful, so you can complete both subjects. Set K48205 also includes a full set of "Invasion Stripes" masks, but I'd want to check references for the specific subject before using them, as in many cases (if not most) the full-sized stripes were very hastily and crudely applied. While the precisely masked "regulation" stripes we often see on models may match present-day restored aircraft, they are far too neat to be realistic for many operational machines.
The instructions consist of a B&W diagram showing the layout of the masks, and attractive full colour profiles and plan views of each colour scheme. Montex don't provide specific instructions on how to apply the individual sets or a suggested painting sequence, but there are a number of excellent tutorials on their website that illustrate the techniques required for using their masks.
The sets' colour drawings are a useful starting point, but appear to be rather generic: for instance, every subject is shown with a late-style strengthened undercarriage. There's a slip up in one case where the cannons aren't lined up with their corresponding wing bulges (and in fact the barrels on the left side of every drawing are shown too far inboard to match the armament bays). In other words, I'd recommend finding reference photos if at all possible, because Spitfire wing configurations are a notorious minefield for the unwary modeller.
conclusionWith the full range of Eduard's "early" and "late" Spitfire Mk.IXs now coming on stream, Montex's painting masks provide a great selection of interesting colour schemes for anyone looking for the ultimate "painted on" look. They are good value for money with two subjects in each set and, while obviously aimed at quite experienced modellers, the later sets that include decals for smaller items would make an excellent way to try using masks if you're new to them, as they give extra confidence that you'll be able to complete the project.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.