For Father’s Day this year, my family gave me a great surprise. Not only did they give me Hasegawa’s Spitfire Mk. IXe kit, they also gave me a print of Johnnie Johnson’s Spitfire Mk. IX, flying over the D-Day beaches. The best part- it’s signed by Johnson himself!
The Spitfire is my favorite airplane, the Mk. IX is my favorite mark, and Johnnie Johnson is my favorite Spitfire pilot. I was really happy with my Father’s Day presents!
The Hasegawa kit is very nice, with several options, including having quite a few parts included in the kit that aren’t covered in the instructions, allowing a lot of flexibility in the Spitfire mark you want to build. All parts are molded very well, with almost no flash, sink marks or ejector pin marks. Decal options are included for three different aircraft. I’ve previously built two of Aifix’s Mk. IX, and while I thoroughly enjoyed building them, there is no doubt that Hasegawa’s Mk. IX is a better engineered, more detailed kit. (It’s also a bit more expensive…. and both end up looking like Spitfires… so you decide.)
Construction starts, as most kits do, with building the cockpit. The cockpit detail is very nice when built out-of-the-box. The Spitfire has some very distinctive interior parts, and Hasegawa captured them very well. More than a few of the parts are molded separately, which gives a much better appearance than simply casting the parts as part of the side-wall. The seat is very nice, and the seat adjustment lever is present. The IP is very nicely cast. I chose not to use the kit supplied decal, as it was more suitable to a flat IP. I opted instead to use a Prismacolor pencil to highlight details, then added a few dots of color here and there to give it some life. I did add a set of Eduard pre-painted belts to the seat, and I highly recommend use of their belts.
The interior was painted with Polly Scale British Interior Green. The photos appear a bit dark, but the paint is right on. Details were picked out with PS Night Black, and the oxygen bottles were painted PS Silver. I used the silver Prismacolor pencil to highlight some of the raised detail, then followed up with a wash of the PS Night Black. The seat was painted with PS Panzer Red Brown, to simulate the Bakelite plastic seat of the original.
Once the office was fully assembled, I closed up the fuselage. The fit was excellent, with virtually no gaps or trouble spots. In some areas of the join some of the glue “bubbled” out, which required a little cleaning. I sanded the join lines lightly, applied a coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 to see if there were any other hidden gaps, and sanded it down to a smooth finish.
The upper and lower wing sections go together nicely, and fit to the fuselage fairly well. Joining the assembled wings to the fuselage in one unit left a small gap at the wings roots. Nothing a little filler, Mr. Surfacer and a sanding stick couldn’t take care of. I should’ve glued the upper wing halves to the fuselage first, then the lower halves- would’ve saved a bit of time and given a neater join. Live and learn.
Once the wings were securely in place, I glued on the lower cowl. This did not fit just right- the edges of the cowl and the fuselage edges have a little bit of a ridge. Of course, sanding down the ridge would remove the surface detail- including the rather promonate fasteners that held the cowl in place. I decided on a compromise- sand it down enough to try and remove the ridge, but not enough to remove too much detail. As this line represents the demarcation between upper and lower camo colors, I knew that would help mask the area a bit.
With the major components assembled, filled and sanded, I moved on to the painting. MK 392, as depicted in the print my family gave me, had a full set of invasion stripes. Though I had never painted invasion stripes on a kit before, I’d read several articles describing how to do it. I started by painting the area where the invasion stripes would be white. I used Polly Scale White, with just a drop of PS Neutral Gray mixed in, to keep the white from being to stark. I checked some references to see how far along the wing the stripes would extend, and measured that off on the kit. I thin divided by 5 to get a measurement for my stripe width. Next, I cut long strips of blue masking tape, and carefully masked off the white stripes. Instead of trying to wrap the tape around the wings and fuselage, I used a piece for the upper and lower wing, and left and right fuselage halves, joining them at the edges. This worked out very well, and avoided the tape getting off alignment in those area. Once the white was masked off, I sprayed on PS Night Black, and finally placed a strip of tape over the black, completely masking off the invasion stripes.
I then proceeded to pain the rest of the aircraft normally, starting with the undersides in PS Med Sea Gray, then the upper parts in PS Ocean Gray, topped off with PS British Dark Green. By the end of this process, the plane looked more like a ball of masking tape!
Pulling off the tape, the camo and invasion stripes turned out pretty well, or so I thought. A few places here and there needed some correction, but not many. I try to be careful in burnishing the tape edges very well, and it paid off doing so. You can certainly use decals for the invasion stripes, but painting them does look much, much better in my opinion. It’s not too hard- give it a try!
Next came some silver chipping with a silver Prismacolor pencil, then some coats of Future before decaling. The decals that came with the Hasegawa kit did not include markings for Johnson’s bird, but I did have an ICM Spitfire Mk.IX that had the markings. I used the Hasegawa markings for all but the code letters, and they worked beautifully. The ICM decals, to be blunt, were awful. They did not respond well to PS Decal Softening Solution at all, and the carrier film around the edges was slightly opaque. I used every technique in the book to try and get them to fully settle down and disappear, but they never did. Fortunately, with a final coat of Future and PS Flat Coat, the problems largely go unnoticed unless you get right up at them and look.
I finished off things with a panel wash, some exhaust stains using Tamiya Smoke, and PS Flat coat. Adding on the final bits and pieces completed the model.
Hasegawa’s Spitfire Mk. IXe is a great kit, exactly the standard you expect from them. I actually built the c wingmodel, as the parts for that wing are included, just not used. In fact, the sprues even contain the parts for a Mk. VIII, so if you’re familiar with Spitfire marks, you can make great use of the extra parts included in the kit.