My family and I were visiting Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this weekend, and were shopping at one of it’s many outlet centers. Well, they were shopping. I was passing time until we went to lunch. I stopped in K-Bee Toys, knowing that occasionally, on the rarest of circumstances, they had some models. I found a shelf along one side of the store, and sure enough, there were boxes and boxes of modern jet kits from a manufacturer I’d never heard of, Kitech. The box said the kit was made in China. Not being interested in modern jets, I started to walk off. Then I spotted some boxes behind the ones on the shelf front, and grabbed one.
I almost whooped out loud- a Spitfire!
One thing about me- I love Spitfires. Any scale, any manufacturer, any mark. Poorly detailed or super-detailed. I love Spitfires. And here I was staring at a 1:48 Spitfire Mk. XIV. For US$4.95.
Having never heard of Kitech, and factoring on the price, I knew the kit was not likely to be Tamiya standard. In fact, I had visions of blobby plastic that would in no way resemble an airplane. Still…… $4.95 is $4.95. Kits don’t cost that much nowadays. Even bad ones.
Like I said though- I love Spitfires. I figured what the heck- I bought two. 🙂
My family was still shopping, so I decided to open one of the kits up and see what it had to offer. And I can’t tell you how shocked I was examining the sprues and seeing that it was not bad at all.
If I had to compare it, I’d classify it on par with Airfix’s Spitfire Mk. IX or Revell’s Spitfire Mk. II. Big deal you say. Those aren’t great kits. Maybe not, but they aren’t bad, and can certainly be built into nice looking kits. And again- I remind you I just bought two kits for less than $10.00.
Anyway, if you’re a rivet counter or someone who has no patience for anything less than Tamigawa standards, you’d probably not like this kit. However, if you see a decent kit as an opportunity and not a challenge, this Kitech Spitfire Mk. XIV is a bargain. And it’s a scratch builders dream- a good foundation to start with, and plenty of detail to add if you want to.
Surface detail is very similar to what you see in more recent Airfix kits, recessed panel lines that are a bit soft, but certainly workable. In a few places, they “wash out” a bit, especially noticeable on the vert stabs. And the rear half of the fuselage is completely void of panel lines, meaning you’ll either have to scribe some in, or accept it as a shortcoming and live with it. The shape of the fuselage is mostly accurate, though it does look a bit odd to my eye. I haven’t measured it up to a drawing yet, but it’s either a bit short tailed, long nosed, or maybe both. Still, in the end I feel fairly certain it will look like a Spitfire.
The wings look decent, with engraved lines in generally the right places. They were thin, nicely so along the trailing edge. Certainly better in their thickness than the Airfix Mk. IX. The wheel wells have no detail, but as Spitfires had minimal features in the wheel wells anyway, some simple scratch-building can liven it up a bit. The various gun blisters will fit into holes that are marked on the wings inside- easily drilled out. Though it’s a different approach than most manufacturers inserts, I think it will end up working well.
The cockpit is at Airfix/Revell standards. While the sidewall detailing is minimal, the seat, instrument panel and control stick are perfectly acceptable if the canopy is buttoned up, and with nice paintwork and washes should look OK even if you open the canopy up. And a little photo-etch here and there would make it look very nice. I did notice that they actually provide something close to correct rudder pedals, which is a step up from the Airfix Mk. IXs slab pedals.
|Sidewall detail is minimal but acceptable.||The IP is simple but effective.||Except for a sink mark to deal with, the seat is fine.|
|Rudder pedals are shaped close to accurate.||Even the control stick is acceptable for the price.|
The canopy is a bit odd. Most Spitfire kits that do not have an option for an open canopy are one-piece. Kitech includes a two-piece canopy, the second piece being the smaller, rear-most part. A bit odd, I suppose, but workable. The canopy itself is a bit thick, and not very clear at all. With a bit of polishing and a coat of Future, it should look decent though. And certainly if you wanted to invest in an after-market vacform canopy, you’d have an even better final result.
The decals are simple, and don’t appear to be the correct colors. They seem a bit to “primary” to my eye. The aircraft ID numbers appear to be spurious, based on the resources I have. And only the basic markings are included- no stencils. Assuming they aren’t a problem during application though, for the price I’d call them par for the course. Perfectly acceptable for OOB, but if you have a few spare decals in the spares box, go with them.
One odd addition I noticed- the kit as an arrestor hook. I haven’t had time to do my research, but I believe that with some minor modifications, and the inclusion of the arrestor hook, a fairly decent Seafire Mk. XV could be built- a bonus for less than $5! (And now I’m really glad I bought two.)
In total, the kit has 47 parts molded in light gray plastic that has a slightly soft feeling, and 2 clear parts. There are decal options for two aircraft, one in the Pacific Theater, the other an ETO Mk. XIV. Two sets of exhausts are included, one shrouded.
To say I was surprised to not only find a couple of Spitfires in such an odd location, but that for the price they would be such a bargain, is certainly an understatement. I have no idea if Kitech makes other WWII aircraft, or their general availability. I can say if you see a Kitech kit at such a bargain price, it’s not a bad risk to pick one up. And if you are a Spitfire fan and see this Mk. XIV kit- grab two.