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'Spitfire Story: The Few'

Scale: 1/48th
Manufacturer: Eduard
Ref No: 11143
Material: IM, PE, R
UK Distributor: Hannants
UK Price: £57.20

'Spitfire Story: The Few'
'Spitfire Story: The Few' 'Spitfire Story: The Few' 'Spitfire Story: The Few' 'Spitfire Story: The Few'
Kit Review

This is probably one of the most anticipated releases of the year and marks Eduard's move to fill in all the early marks that they have not covered previously. This limited edition Dual Combo edition is the first, offering all the early versions of the Mk I from introduction until the Battle of Britain period and it will be followed by individual releases of the early and late versions as ProfiPACK kits, then they will move on to look at the Mk V series.

First of I have got to say I love the box design and the fact it was done portrait, as it makes this edition stand out. Inside the box you will find enough parts to make two complete kits via two clear and ten dark grey-coloured sprues, plus a set of die-cut, self-adhesive paint masks and two sets of pre-painted photo-etched. The kit also includes a resin pilot figure, who looks a lot like Douglas Bader, but the instructions have an error in that sprue E is listed, but not illustrated and its not in the box, so obviously just a layout error. Clever breakdown of the sprues means that Eduard have grouped items together so that there is a separate sprue for the two fuselage styles and another for two styles of propeller and spinner, as well as different styles to the back of the pilot's seat (with or without the upper padding). The breakdown of parts is much like their Mk VII-XIV series and you have separate sidewall panels onto which go things like the throttle quadrant, trim wheel, undercarriage selector (the correct early style) and oxygen bottles. There are three different styles of rear bulkhead offering it with two upper styles and another with separate (etched) head armour. The control column is two-part, with a separate etched component, while the seat as already mentioned comes in two styles and you have the option to cut off the moulded flare stowage rack along the front and replace it with an etched version. Like the real thing all the control rods are in the bottom of the cockpit area and it, the seat and control column assembly are added to the starboard sidewall panel so that the instrument panel bulkhead, rudder pedals and compass can be added, which are all separate components. You have both an original ring sight with mount, or the Barr & Stroud reflector gunsight dependent on the version you are building and the separate compass has the dial face as an optional etched component. Once the etched seat belts are added the port sidewall can be attached along with the aft bulkhead upper 'hoop' and then you have to decide on open or closed canopy, as the latter requires some cutting to the canopy sills. Once you have decided on that the cockpit tub can be secured to one fuselage half along with the socket to take the tailwheel later and the engine and front bulkheads. These latter items combined with the ledges and grooves moulded into the fuselage show how Eduard design a kit nowadays with resin and etched detail sets in mind, as a resin/etched cockpit interior and engine bay are already available in the Brassin range. The leading edge root fillets are separate, which may seem odd, but it is so that they are separate from the engine cowlings, which will need to be cut away if you install the Brassin engine set. 
The wings, as usual nowadays have a partial spar inside and don't miss out the opening up of holes show on page 7 for the tank overflow vents. The undercarriage bays have multi-part inserts and the gun barrels are included as separate tips, so they can be correctly seen inside the ports. The tailplanes are two-part and separate from the elevators and the wire horn-balance seen on very early machines at the top of the rudder is supplied as an etched component. The fabric effect on the separate control surfaces is via raised ribs and these will satisfy most modellers. The wing tips are separate, as Eduard obviously intend to use the A type wing in their later Mk V series and they have done some research, as the external stiffeners seen on the cover over the fuselage fuel tank are supplied as etched parts, offered in two styles for three of the supplied decal options. The oil cooler has separate etched interior detail and the overall shape is good, just being a partial round intake instead of the complete oval of the Mk V. Once again Eduard make up the coolant radiator in multiple parts, which seems complex, but reduces the risk of shrinkage etc. They have interior bulkheads and etched detail for the matrices, with these latter items coming in two styles depending on the variant being built. The feed pipes are separate on either side in the back of the radiator, as are the exhaust flap linkage, while the support struts inside the flaps are etched and that linkage is supplied in open and closed forms. The main wheels are separate from the hubs with two styles of each supplied and the up-lock bracket, although moulded in situ on each leg, can be replaced with the much finer detailed example on the etched fret. A nice and thin two-prong pitot is included for the early machines, with the more usual L-shaped one for later examples. The tailwheel has the main strut and one side of the leg moulded as one piece with the other side of the yoke and the tyre/hub as another, so that eases painting and the assembly uses that socket put into the fuselage halves earlier in assembly, so no need to add it until the very end of the build.
The clear sprues holds a mass of different canopy options and they come as two part to have the sliding section posed open or a single part to have it closed.  Just about every version is covered from the original flat-sided version up to the bulged version also seen on the early Mk Vs. Each is cleanly moulded, with little or no distortion and they are nice and thin. Two styles of windscreen are included with or without external armoured glass and the release toggle for the main canopy is supplied as an etched component. For the later machines there are three styles of rearview mirror, one internal and the other two external and the aerial mast comes with a separate base plate and early (tube) or later (aerofoil) styles. The cockpit door can be posed open or closed and you get some lovely early style exhausts stacks, although there are already resin version in the Brassin range. The propeller comes either as a two blade wooden or two styles of three-blade variable pitch metal, the latter two offering the pointed or blunt spinner styles. The instructions conclude with two diagrams, each showing the placement of the aerial lead (early) and aerial and IFF leads (late). The self-adhesive masks include all panels of the canopy, the gunsight projector lens, the tailwheel hub and the downward identification lamp lens 
 
Markings
The kit offers ten decal options: 
• K9795, No.19 (Fighter) Squadron, RAF Duxford, October 1938 - this is Dark Earth/Dark Green over aluminium with type A1 roundels on the upper surfaces and Type A underneath
 • PN•B, No.41 Squadron, RAF Catterick, spring 1939 - This is the same upper colours but with the 50/50 black/white split underneath and Type B roundels on the upper surfaces only
• K9906, FZ•L, flown by F/O R.S. Tuck, No.65 Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, summer 1939 - This is the same scheme as option 1 but with Type B roundels on the upper surfaces and Type A underneath
• K9955, LO•O, flown by F/O A.A. McKellar, No.602 Squadron, RAF Drem, March 1940 - This is the same scheme as option 1 but with black/white undersides, Type B roundels above the wings and Type A on the fuselage sides
• N3180, KL•B, flown by P/O A.C. Deere (RNZAF), No.54 Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, May 1940 - This is in the same scheme as option 4 but with Type B roundels above the wings, Type A1 on the fuselage sides and Type A below the wings with the one on the black wing being thinly outlined in yellow
• P9443, ZD•D, flown by Flt Lt D. Bader, No.222 Squadron, RAF Duxford and Kriton-In-Lindsey, early June 1940 - This is in the same scheme and markings as option 4 but with the underside of the fuselage, nose and tailplanes in aluminium
• K9953, ZP•A, flown by Flt Lt A.G. Malan, No.74 Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, June/July 1940  - This is Dark/Earth/Dark Green over 'Duck Egg Green' with Type B roundels above and Type A below the wings and Type A1 on the fuselage sides.
• N3162, EB•G, flown by P/O E.S. Lock, No.41 Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, August/September 1940 - This is in the same scheme and markings as option 7.
• X4425, QV•H, flown by F/Sgt G.C. Unwin, No.19 Squadron, RAF Fowlmere, August/September 1940 - This is in the same scheme and markings as option 7, although the undersides are in the official Sky tone we all associate with it nowadays
• X4382, LO•G, flown by P/O O.P.V. Hansbury, No.602 Squadron, RAF Westhampnett, September 1940 - This is in the same scheme and markings as option 9
The decals are beautifully printed and going by those in their recent kits they should behave perfectly, with little or no silvering on a gloss base. There are two complete sets of stencils included on separate sheets and page 27 of the instructions clearly shows where they all go via a set of four-view diagrams.
 
Conclusion
Wow, what a kit, I think everyone thought that it was brave to do the type so soon after Tamiya, but going by how well their new-tooled Fw 190s fit together this could certainly be the equal of it and as far as what you get in the box (etched, masks, 10 decal options, full stencils and a resin figure) it is excellent value because when done separately as ProfiPack kits, they should be around £37 each, which is just a couple of pounds more than the Tamiya kit with no need to buy masks or etched belts. Overall, if it builds as well as it looks, this is going to be the choice for the type in 1/48th simply because it offers so much now and such potential in the future.

Our thanks to Eduard (www.eduard.com) for the review sample, UK modellers can obtain this kit from Hannants here.