The Spitfire Mk IX was originally developed as a stopgap measure as a response to the appearance of the Focke-Wulf FW 190A. It used the Merlin 60/70 series engines in a slightly modified Mark Vc fuselage. This allowed for rapid development and production of the new model. The first test aircraft flew on 26 February 1942. It was so successful that it was ordered into full production. Progress was rapid, and full production began in June 1942. It entered service the next month with No.64 squadron at Hornchurch.
The Mk IX was a significant improvement on the Mk V. It had a top speed of 409 mph at 28,000 feet, an increase of 40 miles per hour. Its service ceiling rose from 36,200 feet to 43,000 feet. It could climb at 4,000 feet per minute. In July 1942 an early Mk IX was flown against a captured Fw 190A, and the two aircraft were discovered to have very similar capabilities. The RAF had its answer to the Fw 190 problem.
There were three main versions of the Mk IX. The standard F.IX used the Merlin 61, and was the only version produced until early 1943 (1,255 F.Mk IXs were produced). It was then joined by a version powered by the Merlin 66. This engine produced its best performance at slightly lower altitudes than the Merlin 61. Spitfires equipped with this engine were designated LF Mk IX. This was the most numerous version of the Mk IX, with 4,010 produced. Finally, 410 high altitude HF.Mk IXs were produced using the Merlin 70 engine, with an improved performance at high altitude.
The majority of Mk IXs of all types used the standard “c” wing, which could carry four 20mm cannon or two 20mm cannon and four .303in machine guns. From 1944 some were built with the “e” wing, which replaced the four .303in machine guns with two .50in heavy machine guns.
Eduard's Spitfire Mk. IX in 1:48 scale is probably not far from being the best kit produced by the Czech manufacturer to date. Highly detailed and accurate, it is also the most perfect representation of this important variant after the more or less failed attempts by brands such as Hasegawa, Airfix, ICM, Ocidental and others, which all had their problems. Rather than going too much into details with this review, I will point you to the review of the initial release of the kit (see HERE
), which includes additional detail photos of the plastic parts, and concentrate on what more this Royal Class boxing has to offer.
Content of the kit
Eduard's Royal Class Spitfire comes in the standard black top opening cardboard box of this series of special kits. Inside there are eleven plastic sprues (nine grey and two transparent), four photo etched metal sheets, resin wheels and accessories, masks, four decals sheets, an instruction booklet, a beer glass, a beer coaster and a game card with one coupon.
The overall quality of the plastic parts remains excellent with a superb surface rendering and a high level of detail. With the parts provided in the box it is possible to build two models, but more about this later. Of course the kit still features the optional parts of the original Mk.IX late release (kit n°8281):
- Rudder: 2 variants (round/pointed).
- Elevator: 2 variants (early/late).
- Wing tip: 2 variants (long tip/shortened).
- Upper engine housing: 2 variants (flat/bulged).
- Carburettor intake: 2 variants (short/enlarged).
- Main landing gear legs: 2 variants (with/without scissors links).
- Landing gear bay interior: 2 variants (early/late).
- Landing gear doors: 2 variants (straight/modified).
- Tires: 2 variants (plain/pattern).
- Wheel discs: 3 variants (four/five spoked/flat disc cover PE).
- Wing/fuselage intersection: 2 variants (smooth/bulged).
- Gunsight: 2 variants (reflective/gyroscopic).
- Mirror: 2 variants (round/rectangular both PE).
- Tail wheel: 2 variants (single piece/three piece).
- Cockpit door: 2 variants (open/closed).
- Canopy: 2 variants (open/closed).
- Instrument panel: 2 variants (with/without relief detail).
- Underwing radiators: 2 variants (open/closed actuators).
- Fuselage formation light: 2 variants (with/without).
Some of the parts will end in the spare box either because they are optional depending on the aircraft (like the pointed or rounded rudder), or because they can be replaced with PE parts (instrument panel) or because they represent open or closed items (canopy, wing radiator flaps, access door, etc…). The surface detail is very thoroughly done and this will allow the builder to achieve a very elaborate finish on his model. The fit of this kit is almost perfect and the only difficulties are the very small parts and the breakdown of some sub-assemblies (wheel bays and exhausts). Having already built two Eduard Spitfires I can guarantee that only a very limited amount of filler is needed and this is a good thing as it helps to preserve the excellent riveting of the kit's surface. It is to note that the exhaust stacks and guns are hollowed out and that the ailerons, the rudder and the elevators are separate items.
The clear plastic parts are excellent as well and two canopies are included (open or closed). Masks are provided for easy painting. The fit of the transparent parts, especially the canopy over the fuselage, is very good and will allow the modeller to glue them at the very end of the build, even after painting.
The pre-painted photo etched fret is typical of Eduard and features a nice multi-layer instrument panel and also seat belts. A second fret comprises other detail parts such as armour plates for the cockpit, levers, oleo scissors, carburettor intake grill and covers, wheel disc covers, etc… Of course there are enough parts for two kits. The same is true for the masks (canopy and wheels).
What is new in the kit
In comparison with the regular Profipack release, this Royal Class box features some more alternative parts:
- 3 different wing variants to do a Mk.IX Early (broad gun blisters), Mk.IX Late (narrow gun blisters) and Mk.IXe (Outer machine guns deleted).
- 2 alternative cannon barrels.
- 2 alternative styles of exhausts.
- A pair of resin beer barrels.
- 2 resin slipper fuel tanks.
- 3 pairs of Resin wheels (two with smooth and one with treaded tyres, two 5 spoked and one 4 spoked hubs).
- Two sets of PE landing gear flaps.
These new parts will allow you to do two models in one of the following combinations:
- Mk.IX early and Mk.IX late.
- Mk.IX early and Mk.IXe.
- Mk.IX late and Mk.IXe.
It won't be possible to do two identical variants in the same time because there are simply not enough wing sprues for that. However it is possible to order "Overtrees" directly at the Eduard store so for €17,25 more per additional kit (plastic parts only). This way more combinations are possible to take advantage of the numerous marking options. Speaking of these, here is a list of the 14 proposed by Eduard in this kit:
A - F Mk.IXc, MH358, flown by S/L James E. Storrar, CO of No. 65 Squadron, Kingsnorth AB, September, 1943.
B - F Mk.IXc, EN398, flown by F/O Ian Keltie, No. 402 Squadron, Kenley AB, March, 1943.
C - F Mk.IXc, EN526, flown by W/Cdr A. Gabszewicz, CO of Northolt Wing, Northolt AB, summer, 1943.
D - LF Mk.IXc, MH779, No. 453 Squadron, Ford airfield, June, 1944.
E - LF Mk.IXc, flown by Maj. Garth Jared, CO of 309th FS / 31st FG, USAAF, Pomigliano / Castel Volturno AB, Italy, late 1943/early 1944.
F - LF Mk.IXc, MH763, flown by Prince Emanuel Galitzine, No. 72 Squadron RAF, Ramatuelle Airfield, France, autumn, 1944.
G - LF Mk.IXc, MJ628, flown by W/Cdr Daniel le Roy du Vivier, CO of No. 324 Fighter Wing, Italy, May, 1944.
H - LF Mk.IXe, NH432, flown by F/O Max A. Collet, No. 485 Squadron, Maldegem airfield, Belgium, fall 1944.
J - Mk.IXe, PV181, flown by W/Cdr Rolf Arne Berg, CO of No. 132 Wing, Twente AB, the Netherlands, winter 1944 – 1945.
K - HF Mk.IXe, PT766, flown by Jean-Marie Accart, CO of No. 345 Squadron, Deanland AB, September, 1944.
L - LF Mk.IXe, flown by Maj. Vasiliy A. Matsyevich, CO of 26th GIAP, Leningrad Area, May, 1945.
M - LF Mk.IXe, SL632, 101st Tayeset, Israeli Air Force, late 1949.
N - LF Mk.IXe, MH978, No. 132 Squadron, 1944.
O - Mk.IXe, MK329, flown by W/Cdr J. E. Johnson, CO of No. 144 Wing, June, 1944.
The decals for the marking options are spread over four sheets. The biggest one (almost A4 sized), printed by Cartograf, features the various roundels, fin flashes, code letters, serial numbers, nose artworks, units badges and other markings. Two instrument panel decals are also present on it. A smaller one printed by Eduard features the code letters and the serial numbers of the two "Beer Spitfire" aircraft. Why they weren't included in the big Cartograf sheet I don't know? Two more decals sheets, again printed by Eduard, are covered with stencils (available separately as well).
The decals are well printed and the big Cartograf one is particularly impressive with a dozen of colours printed in perfect register. I like how the code letters FU-N and the fuselage roundels of Spitfire MH779 (option D) are already surrounded by the two tone camouflage colour. This will prevent the modeller from doing a very complex masking job. The decals can be simply applied directly over the D-Day bands without additional work. Nicely done Eduard!
Bonus items and Beer Game
A Royal Class kit wouldn't be a Royal Class kit without special bonus items. This time Eduard have included a nice beer glass (mine arrived safely as you can see on the last picture of this review) and one beer coaster. It is possible to collect more of these coasters and even to participate to a beer game - though by the time you will read this it will be probably over. But maybe Eduard will extend it, who knows? Below is a link to the rule page of the game:
Eduard have once again designed a nice product with this Spitfire Mk. IX Royal Class box. To the modellers are provided plastic, resin and photo etched parts as well as decals to build two superb replicas in colourful and original markings. For the collectors, Eduard have chosen the beer theme and included a nice beer glass and a coaster. Now we just have to travel to the Czech Republic to get a drop of the "Mark IX" Eduard Beer specially bottled for the occasion!
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