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Supermarine Spitfire Mk Ia

Scale: 1/24th
Manufacturer: Airfix
Ref No: 12001
Material: IM

Kit Review

This kit was released as #1201 in 1970 as the first in the 'Super Kit' series from Airfix. It was subsequently reissued in 1973, 1976 (#12001-6), 1979 (#12001-6), 1982 (#9 12001), 1990 (#12001), 1993 (#12001), 2003 (#A12001) and 2010 (#A12001A), it is due reissue with the superb original artwork in the new 'Airfix Classic' series later this year (#A12001V) and has been reissued in the past by MPC in the USA and Gunze-Sangyo in Japan. The version I built here was, I think, the 1993 edition, with the awful box art and hard grey-coloured plastic; it just had to be built, no-one wanted to collect that offering!

I never got to build this kit back in the 1970s, it was simply too expensive, but a neighbour did and his was done mounted on the display stand with the electric motor to spin the prop - mine therefore had to be the same. 
As already stated this particular boxing had that horrible shiny and very hard wishy-washy grey-coloured plastic, so I knew my work was going to be cut out to start with. I had the new style motor to go into this one, but what a travesty, it was nothing more than a bare motor with leads, no terminals for the batteries etc. and no guidance on this, it was all down to the building grasping such knowledge from the ether! Regardless I got on with fitting it into the engine, although you will find that you have to ensure the support ledge (#1) on the rear bulkhead (#2) is dried before attempting to fit it all inside the engine halves. You will also have to add the plastic drive shaft extension to the front of the electric motor and ensure that all lines up with the hole in the front of the engine halves, dispensing with fitting #10, as that's for the static version. After 20 years the fit of the parts was not bad, but there were large gaps at the back of the engine and later on I found the header (#9) fouled the inside of the fuselage. The engine bearers (#49 and #53) seem very flimsy and getting the engine into the fuselage was hard work, as the fit of the lower support structure (#48) is vague beyond belief, with the cut-outs being too large and thus there being little to glue anything on to? 
The interior was no real problem, you can go to town on this with updates from the Airscale range, as well as paper belts from HGW, but I wanted this 'in flight' with the pilot, so all I did was build it from the box and just add some extensions to the seat belts going back through the bulkhead behind the pilot using thin plasticard. I painted the back of the clear instrument panel backing piece (#21) white and the front Interior Grey-Green and black, picking out the dial details with a black DVD marker pen so that once assembled they looked the part. If you go with the pilot option you will really need to build him and secure him to the seat then build up the control column/rudder pedals/instrument panel assembly, otherwise you will find it very hard to get it to actually fit. I left his arms off until the fuselage halves were closed though, which proved to be a bad idea as it was almost impossible to get them in situ and secured whilst ensuring his left hand was on the throttle box and the right on top of the control column. 
I somehow lost the hub for the tail wheel (#61), but its just a disc with a hole in the centre, so I made a copy from an old kit part in the spares box (no idea what it originally was!). Secure the tail wheel strut (#62 & 63) into the rear fuselage, but don't add glue to the lower half, that way you can leave the wheel and rubber tyre off until much later. The guns were all painted etc., but as the model was 'in flight' all this would be hidden once the access panels were secured in place (these did not fit all that well, so keep a close watch on which one you fit where). The plastic moulding was not great on this edition, so I had short-shots in various places, the ones on the ailerons being annoying, as they made getting them to sit properly difficult to say the least.
By this stage I had built the bulk of the model, so I tacked on the engine cowls, omitting #54 as it fouls the upper cowl, blanked off all the remaining openings and started the paint process.
Colour & Markings
I had to have the kit decals, sorry but Flt Lt Deere's machine was the option used on that one built by my neighbour as a child, so it just had to be. I did not however want to use the main markings, so these were masked and sprayed (more anon). The model was primed with Gunze-Sangyo Mr Surfacers 1500 (Grey) and boy, don't you use a lot of that on a 1/24th scale kit; now I remember why I work in 1/48th! The only real gap in the airframe I had to contend with was the lower rear wing/fuselage one and that was filled with cyanoacrylate first, then any finer holes filled with traditional putty. I tend to seal putty nowadays, having had some bad experiences in the past, so a quick spray with some Tamiya clear (X22) ensured that the area did not go 'dull' due to the putty soaking up the paint more than the surrounding plastic. The main scheme was airbrushed on with an Iwata using Gunze-Sangyo Mr Aqueous Color paints; H74 Sky for the undersides with shadow-shading done by adding a little Dark Green and the upper surfaces were H73 Dark Green (with shadows done by darkening with RLM 70) and H73 Dark Earth (darkened for shadows with Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown). The camouflage pattern was masked with a combination of Aizu micro-masking tape to define the curves and any old standard low-tack masking tape to infill. Once it was all applied, dried and the masks removed the whole model was sealed with Tamiya Clear (X22) thinned with Gunze-Sangyo Mr Levelling Thinner to get it nice and smooth.
The markings were a combination of kit decals (serial number, fuselage roundel and codes, fin flashes and Kiwi marking) and masks (upper wing roundels). The latter all came from a set of Montex self-adhesive vinyl masks intended for the kit (#K24022) but offering different options. I only used the Type B upper wing roundel masks in the end from it and used Xtracolor enamels for the correct shade of RAF Roundel Blue and Red. I would have liked to have used masks for the fuselage roundels, but the set I had were the wrong dimensions for the aircraft I was depicted, plus after cursing so much trying to align just an inner and outer mask for the Type B roundels, I thought it best to just give up at that stage! The kit decals were a little thick, very matt and thus had obvious areas of carrier film. This was not a problem with that visible around the fuselage codes and roundel, as I could trim it off once applied, but the carrier film between the characters on the serial number was too small/complex to cut away. I wish I had though because, yes, you guessed it, they silvered!
Once all the markings and sealed below another coat of clear, it was time to move on to the final assembly stages, as there is still quite a lot to do.   
Final Details
The undercarriage, what can I say, probably DON'T try and fit it retracted. It simply does not fit, the wells are too shallow to take the wheels and allow the doors to fit flush with the underside of the wing. In the end I did a butchery job to the wheels and got it all to fit in. Really though, if you want the legs up, shave off the upper halves of the oleo legs and cut the rubber tyres in half, then dispense with fitting the upper hub halves and just fit the whole lot up in like that, as the reduction in the 'depth' of the whole unit will allow you to get the doors flush. The tail wheel tyre and hub (painted aluminium) were added next by prising the strut halves apart and putting the wheel in place, then closing the strut halves and securing them with extra thin cement. If you are careful you will not need to touch up the Sky on the strut, but if you do the gloss overall finish at this stage will hide the new paint. The inside of the engine cowls and surrounds etc. had all been previously sprayed While Aluminium from the Alclad II range, so any touch-ups can be done using Chrome from the Vallejo range, as it's an almost exact match. The vinyl masks for the canopies in the Montex set had been used, so once the masks used to cover the open cockpit area were removed, the windscreen, sliding and rear section could be attached and I am glad to say they fitted quite well with no big gaps between windscreen and sliding hood. The rear-view mirror and aerial mast were added, the latter having a small hole drilled into the top to allow Uschi van der Rosen rigging filament to be used for the aerial lead. The exhausts stacks are one task that has to be done methodically, if you mix up the parts, they just wont fit. I had joined each set of stack halves together earlier in the build and had marked the inner face (where it glues to the engine block) using a DVD marker with the part numbers, that way I could keep tabs of which set was which during the painting process (mount them on bu-tack face down on the numbers, so your spraying does not cover these markings). I used my standard method of painting them; white aluminium base, then a very weak mix of XF-64 Red Brown and black loosely over the top and finally all the edges and any details were picked out with a contrasting brown hue with a paintbrush. Once secured in place the exhaust staining was applied using XF-69 NATO Black first, then heavily-thinned XF-64 Red Brown and finally add to that colour some XF-55 Deck Tan to lighten it and apply that nearer to the exhausts themselves. I also used the XF-69 for the gun port staining. All the panels lines were picked out with a MiG Productions Dark Wash and once I was satisfied with the whole thing, the model was sealed with a number of thin coats of Vallejo acrylic satin varnish.
The masks could then be removed from the canopy and the aerial lead secured before the whole lot was mounted on the display stand (which I had assembled and then given a number of coats of gloss black). One-day I may get around to making up contact pieces to go inside the base and actually get the propeller to turn, but I doubt it...

I have for many, many years, wanted to make the Airfix 24th Spitfire and the markings and display method were all dictated by my childhood recollections of a kit that really got me into this hobby. Although the 1990s reissue was pretty shoddy, with poor decals and that awful plastic, I am glad I built it because now it sits on the shelf just above my desk in the office, the first of what I hope will be a collection of all of the Airfix 24th scale Super Kits.

Paints used
Alclad 2 lacquer:
White Aluminium

Gunze Mr Hobby Aqueous Hobby Color acrylic:
Mr Surfacer 1500 (Grey)
H65 RLM 70 Dark Green
H72 Dark Earth
H73 Dark Green
H74 Sky

Tamiya Color acrylic:
X-1 Gloss Black
X-22 Gloss Clear
XF-55 Deck Tan
XF-64 Red Brown
XF-69 NATO Black
XF-71 IJN Cockpit Green (plus grey to make Interior Grey-Green)