Preview: MPM’s 1/72 Spitfire PR Mk. XI

MPM 1/72 Spitfire PR Mk. XISince getting back into the modeling hobby two years ago, I’ve been drawn more and more to the kits that are a little off the beaten path. Not far off, but just enough that you get a chance to enjoy subjects a little different than the norm.

Yes, this is a Spitfire. Still, it’s not the typical version you see most of the time. And it’s from a manufacturer that frankly I’d not heard of before.

MPM 1/72 Spitfire PR Mk. XIWhen I saw a Spitfire PR Mk. XI on the shelf of my local hobby shop, Hayes Hobby House, I grabbed it immediately. Being a Spitfire fanatic, I was pleased to see a kit of this mark. My goal is to build at least one example of every major mark, and the XI is not one of kits you see every day. I didn’t know anything about MPM, but I appreciated the clear labeling on the box, “Canopy is injected”. Ah, so no meeting with my nemesis, Mr. VacForm. And for only US$13, I figured it was worth a shot.

When I got the kit home and opened the box up (minor gripe: a side opening box….), I was very pleased. Two sprues of 31 injected parts, 1 clear injected part, and 7 resin parts make up the kit. The injected parts are fairly well molded, though there is little bits of flash here and there. Nothing that can’t be easily cleaned up. The parts feature very finely recessed panel lines. Many kits in this scale have panel lines that seem a bit large. This kit features probably the most petite lines I’ve seen- well done MPM!

Cockpit detail is a bit sparse, consisting of a floor panel with rudder “stubs”, a instrument panel, control stick, seat and bulkheads. Sidewall detail is simply cast in ribs, with no other detail. Given how small the cockpit opening is, and that the canopy is molded closed, most folks won’t see the interior. For folks who like to add some scratch-built detail, it will only take a few pieces of scrap styrene to take the inside up a notch. The addition of a small P/E fret to this kit would really be nice!

The kit comes with the pointed rudder molded in, but a separate rounded rudder and stabilizer piece are included. Oddly, you don’t just replace the rudder, but the whole stabilizer piece. It might be simpler to cut just the rudder away from both pieces, and swap them out, rather than the more major surgery involved as the kit pieces are cast.

One glaring omission is the openings for the camera. The “PR” in the Mk. XIs name stand for photo-reconnaissance. The instructions show you where to cut the lower fuselage openings, but do not provide any clear parts for the openings. And the port side opening is molded in, but again, no clear part is provided. Opening them up and adding some scrap clear plastic is not any major problem, but it is rather odd to package a “PR” without the “PR” openings!

Markings are for three different aircraft, two RAF sets (Europe and India) and a USAAF set of markings. These are the markings shown on the box art, and the simple metal finish with the black and red trim really caught my eye. A fairly complete set of stencils are included, which should really “pop” against the aluminum finish.

One other thing I noticed- the kit doesn’t have locating pins int he fuselage and wings. Again, this is pretty typical of kits from Eastern Europe, but really should present no problem as long as you are careful about parts alignment. I’ve even seen some folks add small pieces of styrene projecting from either side of the fuselage to give some sense of alignment.

This looks to be a great kit to start with if you’ve not built a mixed media kit, or if you’re a collector of Spitfires. Or if you’re just looking for something else to add to the stash- and who isn’t? I highly recommend it!