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The Spitfire is done

I finished up the Revell 1/48 scale Spitfire Mk. II. It had some issues along the way…. OK, more than a few. Overall, it built up into a decent kit, though, and looks pretty good on the shelf.

I’d originally picked it up at Walmart for less than $8. I knew being an old Revell kit, it wolud not have the detail or fit that a Tamiya or Hasegawa kit would- but those kits cost 3 to 4 times as much.

My intuition was right- the detail was thin, and the fit was bad, really bad. Still, with a few scratch built parts added here and there, some judicious use of gap filler, and a little patience, it wasn’t to bad in the end. And if it wouldn’t have been for some ham-fistedness on my part in the last parts of assembly, it actually would have been a lot better.

Early on in the build I realized the kit sorely lacked for cockpit detail. And I wanted to try my hand at scratch building some parts. I found several photos of the interiors of Spitfires, and using various bits and pieces of plastic, both from the sprues the parts were attached to and other sources, I built a few bits to add some detail “in the office”.

(I should have done a little more research, as some of the photos were from a later variant of the Spitfire, and so what i stuck in wasn’t 100% accurate- but hey- it’s colorful and looks good and i had fun. I ain’t no rivet-counter!)

After getting the office built, I closed up the fuselage, and began to add the wings. That’s when the poor casting job Revell did on the kit showed up. The gaps in the fuselage weren’t bad- about what you’d expect from a kit this old. The wing to body fit, however, was awful.

The lower wing section fit into a gap in the bottom of the fuselage, with the upper wings glued into place on top. The gap at the aft portion of the lower wing- which shouldbe a fairly streamlined piece, left a rather large ridge. And the wing to fuselage fit on the upper wing- right at the wing root- was awful. Compounding the problem was a small tab on the wing where the fuselage join was that was supposed to slid under the joint. On the right wing, however, the piece had been cast extremely thick, and the right upper wing simply would not fit.

So after quite a bit of sanding and smoothing, I got the right wing to fit. Only now there was a gaping hole where the lump had been. To make the story short- if you build this kit, be prepared to spend quite a bit of time filling and sanding. I finally reached a point where i simply said “Good enough” and called it ready for paint.

The painting went fairly well. I did the undersides in Type “S” Sky, and the upper fuselage in RAF Dark Earth and RAF Dark Green. The Dark Earth went down first, then I masked off the camo pattern (a slow process- but worth the effort) and put down the Dark Green.

A coat of Future was next, then decals, weathering and so forth, and then a final coat of Testors Dull Coat.

I had some disasters with putting on the antenna wire- namely a broken antenna. By the time I finally got the antenna back on, and was adjusting the wire, I decided that this Spitfire would just have a slightly saggy antenna wire. Again- “Good enough”. (If it becomes a pain it’s no longer fun- and I do this for fun.)

In the end, I’m proud of the final bird. It has a few warts here and there, and a rivet counter could certainly pick it apart, but I’m glad to have it on the shelf. The markings on the plane are for Douglas bader’s Spitfire Mk. II. Bader was an English pilot who actually flew with artifical legs, having lost his legs before the war in a crash. He was shot down in ’42 I believe, at which time he was on of Britain’s leading aces. He managed to bail out, though he lost his legs in the process. Imprisoned by the Germans, he received a new set of legs, parachuted in by a British bomber, courtesy of German ace Adolph Galland, who arranged for the drop out of respect for Bader.

Next up- Accurate Miniatures P-51A.