Last year, just before temporarily going out of business (thanks Hornby for bringing them back!, Airfix released a new tooling of a Mk. IXc/XVI. The main difference between the two was the engine, the former having a Rolls-Royce Merlin, the latter having a Packard built Merlin. Parts are provided for both early and broad chord rudders, as well as blisters for various versions of “c” and “e” wings, and standard and clipped wingtips.
The sprue connectors in some areas are quite thick, so care must be taken in dealing with those. And oddly enough, a complete wing for a Mk. V is included, so that, plus the extra parts for the various versions, will leave your spare parts box a bit richer once the build is completed.
I’d previously built this kit, and enjoyed it then. As I received it a second time as a Christmas present, I decided to build it once more, because, as we all know, you can never have enough Spitfires!
The cockpit is reasonably detailed, and though not having near the detail of Tamiya or Hasegawa kits, it does build up into a nice looking office. If you’re going with the canopy closed option, the detailing is fine. With the canopy open, some good paint and highlights/washing will make the detail stand out more. And certainly adding some scratch-built parts here and there would make it even nicer. Eduard makes a very nice detail set if you want to go that route. Still, a little bit of extra effort can really set this cockpit apart, as this photo from Brett Green’s build of this kit on Hyperscale shows. Though he used an After-market seat and door, a similar result could be achieved with the provided kit parts and some clever use of sprue.
I chose to take the simple, OOB route, using Polly Scale British Interior Green, some highlights of color, and a wash of PS Night Black. In retrospect I should’ve painted the seat PS Panzer Brown. I had the paint, simply forgot to do it! I guess that is the ravages of age catching up with modeling sense. 🙂
The fuselage takes a little bit of work to get it together nicely. Due to the fact that the upper cowl is a separate piece, and the plastic is a bit soft, the parts have a tendency to bow in a little bit. If you do some dry fitting, you’ll realize that this will leave a serious gap in the fuselage to wing join. As i discovered in my previous build of this kit, the simple fix is to cut a piece of sprue and use it as a spreader to open the fuselage up a bit. The plastic is soft enough that this can be accomplished after gluing the fuselage is glued together. It also helps to have the wings assembled, or at least taped together, to use in dry fitting. I simply used my sprue cutters to snip off a section of sprue, and then sanded it down after a few test fits once I figured out the correct size. I then glued it in place, resulting in a much better fit to the wing, leaving very little gap to deal with. Even if you prefer the route of gluing the upper wings to the fuselage, I’d still suggest trying the spreader to make it all work together well.
As for the wings themselves, they are a bit thick. While the shape looking down on them is rather nice. they are very thick when viewed from the front, and the trailing edges are rather thick also. A bit of sanding can help the trailing edges, but it would take some major work to thin the profile from the front. In the end, I left it alone- it still looked every bit the Spitfire. Inserts are provided for both standard and clipped wings. The standard inserts did not fit well using the provided tabs, so I clipped them off and simply lined them up by eye.
Airfix gives the option to have the flaps down. Most Spitfires did not sit on the ground with flaps down, as this interfered with the engine cooling system. As I’d built my previous Airfix Mk. IX with flaps up, I decided to do this one flaps down simply to be different. Plus I thought it looked kinda cool. Flap detailing is molded in, though AM parts are available if you want to detail them.
Once the major components were together, I filled the few gaps, sanded down the joins, and began painting. I started by painting the fuselage band with PS Type “S” Sky. Though the kit has decal, it is very “dotted” looking, so if you are up to painting the band on, that should give a better result. One the undersides, I went with PS Medium Sea Gray. The topside received a coat of PS Ocean Gray, then I used blue masking tape to mask off the camo areas. I made a slight mistake here- I masked the pattern opposite of what I should have. The green should be gray, and vice-versa. Oh well. I masked the pattern close to those in the instructions, then gave the plane a coat of PS Br. Dark Green.
Next I started the weathering process, using a Prismacolor Silver pencil. I always do this before I put down a coat of Future, as the pencil goes on much better over the matte paint surface. I’ve found it doesn’t hurt to over-do the silver pencil a bit, since the following coats of Future and dull coate will tone them down a bit. After a few coats of Future, I began applying the decals. They’re not bad overall, although the roundels on the upper wing had a peculiar black ring around the edge, which really only showed up once on the wing. I pulled it off, and simply used the roundel with the yellow edge. After the decals, I gave it one more coat of Future, then a panel line wash of PS Night black thinned with water and a few drops of dish soap. I use a 3/2/2 ratio of water, soap and paint. Last on was some smoke and exhaust stains with Tamiya Smoke.
Finishing up, I added the landing gear, canopy, gun tubes, propeller and spinner, antennas and so forth. The landing gear doors are a bit thick, and somewhat rounded, so a few swipes with a sanding stick can take care of that. The canopy is a bit thick, but very clear. leaving it in the open position causes it to ride a bit high. That was OK with me, though if you were particular about that, some sanding and polishing (or a vacform canopy) would take care of that.
All in all, once built, Airfix’s Spitfire Mk. IXc/XVIe lloks very good. The overall fuselage shape is very nice, and the wing thickness doesn’t detract from the look of the bird. And it’s price is nice too- this kit is in my local hobby shop for less than $18, and it’s just over $18 at Squadron.com. The Hasegawa IX, while certainly a beautiful kit, is almost twice as much. So if price is a factor, you can’t go wrong with the Airfix kit. And since it’s a Spitfire, even if price isn’t a factor, you can’t go wrong building both!