First peek in the box: Airfix 1/48 Spitfire Mk IXc/XVIe

Though it’s been 20+ years since I built an Airfix kit, the news of their apparent demise kicked off some nostalgia to build some Airfix kits. Much to the delight of my credit card company, I’m single-handedly trying to resurrect Airfix. Just this week I bought the 5 plane, 1/72 70th Anniversary Spitfire kit, a Spitfire 1/48 Mk V/Seafire Mk III, and the one that arrived today- a 1/48 Spitfire Mk. IXc/XVIe.

My last Airfix kit was a B-26, which I built around 1982. I don’t recall much about it, other than I thought it was a reasonable kit, though a bit thin on detail. And most of what I read recently has been about poor fit, raised panel lines, etc.

So when I opened the Spitfire box today, I was pleasantly surprised. The box is chock full of sprues, with a huge number of options- some not even documented in the instructions. The options in the instructions provide for the rounded and pointed rudder, 3 gun/wing configurations, and two cowl options.

After comparing the sprues to the instructions, I saw that there are not only normal and clipped wing tips, but the HF wingtips also. And for some reason, there is also the lower wing for a Mk. V.

All of which means if you’re willing to do a little research and maybe a bit of sanding, I bet you could make quite a few variants out of all the parts.

The plastic feels neither soft nor brittle- it’s a bit different than most kits I’ve handled. It feels like it will work well.

I’d heard how older Airfix kits had raised panel lines, but this is obviously a newer tooling, with finely recessed panel lines. The lines in the Mk. V underwing are a bit deep, but nothing I’m sure flowing some Future into the gaps couldn’t cure.

The office is nice, with a decent IP, nice seat, separate throttle quadrant and oxygen bottles- all of which look like they’ll build into a nice office. The interior sidewalls have raised detail, that though a bit sparse, is quite adequate for most folks who build mostly OOB (like me.) One oddity I noticed- the rudder pedals are molded in to the “suspended” floor, and are basically small blocks. Correcting this would require some simple scratch building, but as they probably won’t be visible except under close examination, I’ll likely leave them alone. The cockpit door is molded in, but Airfix thoughtfully included a separate door, allowing you to cut out the molded door and open the cockpit up.

Two types of wheels are included- flat faced and four-spoked, and there are two slightly different propellers. The instructions are plain but clear, with adequate painting instructions. (If you’re like me, you’ll do more referring to photos than instructions for painting.) Markings for 3 aircraft are provided, with a large set of common decals for all the little stencil markings. The color is good on the decal sheet. Another nice point is the included slick color sheet showing exterior colors and decal placements.

The clear pieces are a bit thick, but adequate. I tend not to sweat stuff like that, so for me it’s not a problem.

The only real complaints I have is the sprues and their connection to the parts. Some of the sprues are veritable tree trunks, with huge connections to the parts. Careful cutting and sanding keep it from being a problem, but I’d certainly prefer not to have to deal with it. Also the wing and tail surfaces seem a bit thick on both the leading and trailing edges, and the prop seems a bit mis-shaped, when eye-balling a picture for comparison.

Overall, I’d say from just examining the parts, I’d recommend this kit. While the engineering and detail are not what you normally see from Tamiya or others, the fact that it was only $16 US makes it a real bargain.

After seeing this kit, it really makes me hope someone will buy the Airfix brand and continue producing more kits like this, and keep the variety that Airfix has been known for. If I’d have known how nice these newer Airfix kits were, I’d have already bought more. Who knows- maybe that would’ve helped?