In-Box Review
Seafire Mk.XV
  • move

by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

The Seafire Mk.XV was a naval adaption of the RAF's Spitfire Mk.XII, and the first Griffon-engined variant to enter service. With the new engine driving a 4-bladed propeller, the Mk. XV was about 25-30 mph faster than previous Seafires, but the introduction into service was beset by problems. Torque from the Griffon caused increased directional instability, resulting in poor gunnery results, and early aircraft suffered with aileron reversal which caused a number of fatal crashes. Early Seafire Mk. XVs featured a V-frame arrestor hook under the fuselage, but this was later changed to a "sting" hook in the tail with a modified rudder. Later aircraft also introduced a long stroke undercarriage which made deck landings a lot easier.

Squadron's began working up on the new Seafire Mk.XV towards the end of the war, and some idea of the unpopularity with which it was greeted can be judged by the rumour that Pacific squadrons were set to beg, steal or borrow their old Mk.IIIs back for the planned invasion of Japan...

the kit
Special Hobby's Seafire Mk.XV arrives in a solid and attractive top-opening box, with the sprues and accessories bagged separately for protection. The kit comprises:

113 x grey styrene parts
12 x clear parts
19 x etched brass parts, plus a clear film for the instruments
Decals for 4 x colour schemes

From their traditional short-run beginnings, the latest Special Hobby kits are in many ways just one step away from what you might term "mainstream" so, while the detail in their kits may actually be superior in some cases to that produced by the "majors", you can expect to need to do a little extra preparation work.

The Seafire is very nicely moulded, with no problems of flash or ejector pins in the review sample, although I did find a couple of shallow sink marks near the tail where there's a deep moulding on the inside for the tailwheel mount. The exterior finish is excellent, with the parts smoothly polished with neatly engraved panel lines and embossed fasteners. Something I think is unique to Special Hobby's Spitfires and Seafires is the way they have appliqué panels on the fuselage which may surprise anyone who expects these elegant aircraft to boast a perfectly smooth surface. It's not(!)... having spent a few hours cleaning the exhibits at the RAF Museum, I can vouch for the fact that they are surprisingly "industrial", with overlapping panels in places (as bruised fingers and skinned knuckles can witness!).

sizing things up
A dry fit of the main components is very encouraging. Everything clips together neatly, with nice tight joints at the wing roots and tail.

After all the at times ill-natured furore that accompanied the release of Airfix's Griffon-engined Spitfire Mk.XII and Seafire Mk.17, it's inevitable to compare Special Hobby's take on the broadly similar Seafire Mk.XV. I am indebted to Edgar Brooks who kindly provided copies of original Supermarine drawings and scale plans. By comparing the kits against these and my own photos and other references, I came to the following "broad brush" conclusions:

In my opinion Airfix have captured the nose profile best, as Special Hobby's seems a tad too flat and long, with a spinner that is slightly too great in diameter (although the size and position of the propeller openings look better). Conversely, Special Hobby's kit captures the look of the rear fuselage better, maintaining the subtle "hump", but avoiding the overly stocky look at the base of the fin.

The difference is small in both cases, and most modellers will be equally delighted with both manufacturers' kits. However I can foresee some ambitious kit-bashing ahead, as the most determined seek to combine the best of both worlds.

a few details
The cockpit is very neatly fitted out, with a combination of styrene and etched parts. I've no doubt there will be detail sets hot on the heels of this release, but Special Hobby have really provided a pretty good "office", with a choice of etched or moulded instrument panels and an etched seat harness, along with neat touches like brass straps for the rudder pedals and even a separate top section for the control column so that it can be positioned to match the ailerons. The sidewalls have separate details such as the undercarriage selector and throttle, while there are lower sidewall extension panels to blank off the hollow wing-roots that mar so many Spitfire/Seafire kits. One small omission seems to be that although a flare rack is shown on the front of the seat in the instructions, there doesn't seem to be one among the parts.

The wheel wells are are boxed in and include rib-detail at the wing-fold point, but Special Hobby have avoided the complication of offering a folded wing option. The landing gear is neatly moulded, with a choice of plain or 4-spoked hubs. A neat touch is the inclusion of decals for tyre-creep indicators.

The propeller is constructed with separate blades, and these have square lugs to set them at a consistent pitch. A simple jig will also help ensure they are mounted at precisely 90° to each other.

The canopy is moulded in three sections and is crystal clear with crisp framing. A rear-view mirror is provided, along with an etched release for the interior. The separate entry door has an etched locking catch.

For stores, just a centre-line drop tank is included, along with empty bomb racks under the wings.

A sign of more versions to come is the inclusion of moulded-on external plates on the fuselage. These must be sanded off carefully for this version - a little bit of a pain, as it will require some rescribing (perhaps separate etched parts would have been a better idea?). Another indicator of future versions is a V-frame arrestor hook and alternative cannon covers that are unused in this boxing.

instructions and decals
The assembly guide is printed as a 12-page A-5 booklet in black and white. Colour illustrations of the colour schemes are available online, and I have reproduced them here.

The construction drawings are neatly done and laid out in a clear and logical order. Overall, the Seafire doesn't look a difficult build for anyone used to limited run kits and using a few photo-etched parts. Colour matches are given for Gunze Sangyo paints.

Decals for four colour schemes are included:
A. Seafire Mk.XV, "White 122", 806 Sqn. FAA, HMS Glory, September 1946
B. Seafire Mk.XV, s/n SW786 "White 11-4/Y", 806 Sqn. FAA, HMS Glory and Kai-Tek airfield, 1946
C. Seafire Mk.XV, s/n SR537 "White 132/N", 806 Sqn. FAA, HMS Implacable, February 1946
D. Seafire Mk.XV, "White 13-9/T", 806 Sqn. FAA, RAF Trincomalee, Ceylon, Summer 1945

Scheme A is painted in post-war Extra Dark Sea Grey/Sky, while the others wear full wartime camouflage.

The decals are produced by Dead Design and AviPrint and look to be excellent quality - thin and glossy, and in perfect register on the sample sheet.

Special Hobby's Seafire looks set to be a very enjoyable build. I'd have to say honours are divided equally in my opinion between this and the Airfix kit, and they should look great sat side by side. Notwithstanding Special Hobby's traditional short-run background, this is at the cutting edge of the genre, and anyone with a little experience should have few problems with the Seafire. Recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Well moulded and very nicely detailed. Excellent decals for 4 x colour schemes.
Lows: The nose contours don't look quite right to me, but the kit scores in other areas. A little sanding and rescribing is required on the rear fuselage for this version.
Verdict: Special Hobby's Seafire Mk.XV make not be suitable for beginners, but looks set to be a very enjoyable build for modellers with a little experience.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: SH 48116
  Suggested Retail: £19.50
  PUBLISHED: May 20, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Special Hobby!
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.

View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. 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.


What's that great huge divot in the middle of the seat pan all about? I've never seen anything like that in other Spitfire seat.
MAY 20, 2012 - 04:07 AM
Hi Jessie It's correct for a moulded seat: http://spitfiresite.com/2010/07/anatomy-of-spitfire-cockpit.html/01__15_020 All the best Rowan
MAY 20, 2012 - 06:31 AM
Okay, that's a new one on me. Any guesses as to what its function was? I rather doubt that seat pack parachutes were shaped to fit it exactly. It's also interesting to see the colour of the leather back pad. I had been under the impression that it was supposed to be black.
MAY 20, 2012 - 07:52 AM
I'm no spitfire or seafire expert but I'd imagine the 'divot' in the seat would be so when the pilot landed back on a pitching carrier at sea he'd sink more into the seat rather than having his head smashed into the canopy, just my theory Ant
MAY 20, 2012 - 09:20 AM
It was designed to accept the air bottle, for inflating the dinghy, and dates from around 1941. First seats had only a slightly undulating base, then a square receptacle, for the parachute. Pilots initially had a sorbo pad, between their "delicates" and the parachute, for comfort, but lost that when the dinghy (not available during 1940) arrived. Edgar
MAY 20, 2012 - 09:30 AM
Aha! I kind of suspected it was there to provide clearance for some piece of kit or other. People in wartime just didn't design things like that for no reason. A day you don't learn something is a day wasted
MAY 20, 2012 - 10:00 AM
Sorry, missed the bit about the seat-back; the cushion is not easy to pin down, since it was supplied by the seat-makers, who were based in Glasgow, so could have been "standard," or Basil" leather (made from sheepskin.) My feeling is that it would have been a brown, of some type. Not necessary, in a model, but possibly of interest, is that late Seafire seats tended to have two wooden strips attached to the back, presumably as a brace, to stop the seat rocking during arrested landings and assisted take-offs. This led to the "QS" harness being introduced from August, 1946; this had a parachute-box style of release, rather than the Sutton-style, as seen during the war, and seems to have been a middle-blue colour, rather than tan. Edgar
MAY 20, 2012 - 10:54 AM

Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move