In 2006, Airfix had scheduled the release of a 70th Anniversary Edition 3-kit boxing of Spitfire’s to celebrate that iconic aircraft’s birthday. As a Spitfire fan, I was really looking forward to it. The set was reported to have the already released Mk. IX and Mk. 22/24, and a new tooling Mk. I. However, just before it was to be released, Airfix hit the rocks financially and the set never saw the light of day.
Happily, Hornby stepped in, purchased Airfix, and announced that the first release of the “new” Airfix would be that very Mk. I. For a company that is so associated with Spitfires, it was a very appropriate release.
After what seemed like a far too long wait, the kit arrived at my local hobby shop, Hayes Hobby House. And after building and completing the kit, I’m pleased to report it is everything I’d hoped it would be!
The kit fills a gap in the Spitfire boxings- it contains parts for the pre-war Mk. I with the two bladed prop and “flat” canopy. Parts are also included to build the Mk. II.
If you’ve built the Airfix Mk. IXc/XVIe, the Mk. I will be very familiar. In fact, they have the same sprues in common for many interior and “bit” parts. Airfix did make improvements to the Mk. I wing, which is now much thinner than the noticeably thick Mk. IX wing. Also, the panel lines seem to be engraved a bit sharper, and overall the parts seem a bit nicer.
Assembly started, as required by well established international treaties, with the cockpit. It’s a bit simplistic, but very adequate for an OOB build. For the rivet counters, the seat is not real accurate, and probably too large, and the IP is void of detail inside the dials. However, I’m a pretty relaxed modeler, and am perfectly all right with it. 😀
If you wanted to “kick it up a notch”, Eduard makes a nice photo-etch set, that while meant for the Mk. IX, will fit the Mk. I as well, since all of the cockpit components are the same. Adding that in would really make the interior “pop”.
For the interior, I used PollyScale British Interior Green. The seats in the early Mk. Is were not made from Bakelite, so it was painted in the same color. Sidewall components were painted in PS Night Black, and everything was dry-brushed with Testors silver…. the old stand-by in the little bottle. A wash (a bit of a heavy wash) was applied with PS Night Black thinned with water and some dish soap. To top it off, Eduard pre-painted belts were added to the seat.
The instructions call for you to sandwich the interior pieces into the fuselage as you glue it together, but I’d found from experience with building their Mk. IX (twice!) that it was better to glue the fuselage together, and while the glue was still setting, slip the IP and seat in through the bottom of the fuselage. I used Tamiya Thin Cement to glue the fuselage, and rubber bands to hold things in place. The fit of the fuselage is good, with only a little sanding needed to remove a slight ridge.
While the fuselage dried, I went ahead and assembled the wings. Fit of the two wing top pieces to the single bottom piece was good. The trailing edge is a bit thick, and could use some sanding if you prefer. I left it alone, though.
Another thing I’d learned from my previous experience was that the wing-to-fuselage fit is greatly improved by using a piece of sprue to spread the fuselage slightly. The sprue should be placed just forward of the IP firewall. I simply cut a piece of sprue, and went through a process of test fitting and sanding until I had the best fuselage to wing join I could. You’ll still need to do some gap filling. I found the best way to actually glue the wings on is to start at the rear of the wings where it joins to the fuselage, and use small drops of CA to “tack” things in place. Continue working your way forward. After that, I cemented the whole join in place with Tamiya Extra Thin Cement. Once all of that had time to fully dry, the gaps were very manageable and simple to fill with some CA and Mr. Surfacer 1000.
After adding the horizontal stabs in place, I did a (mostly) thorough gap filling and seam sanding. Nothing too bad, really. If you’re used to Tamigawa standards, it might seem like a lot. But it’s not really too much, and sands down quite nicely. To be honest, I kind of find sanding an agreeable task. Kind of like whittling wood….. passes time nicely. 😀
I decided to build this bird fairly clean. The undersides on the early Spitfires were left bare aluminum, so I airbrushed on a coat of PollyScale Aluminum. I then masked off the bottom, and applied PS British Dark Earth to the topside. After masking off the camo with blue masking tape, I added the PS British Dark Green.
I applied several coats of Future, then the decals went on. The decals are a bit of a disappointment. Though the color is OK, and they settled fine with some PS Decal Softener, they are not high-quality printing. On some of the colors- especially the yellow- you can see a “dot” pattern. I appreciate Airfix delivering fun to build, affordable kits, I really do, and don’t want to sound like a complainer. However, I do think it might be worth it to notch up the decals a bit in quality.
That said- to most people’s eye, they look perfectly fine. Most modelers would probably look at them and say I’m being a bit picky. Probably am. 😀
After the decals, I followed up with one more coat of Future, a light panel line wash, and a coat of PS Flat Coat on the upper surfaces. I added the extra “bits” that I usually leave off for last- landing gear, antennas, canopy, etc.
All considered- I loved building this kit. Granted, Spitfires are my absolutely favorite airplane, and Airfix is one of my favorite brands of airplanes to build- and probably my favorite Spitfire manufacturer. So I’m a bit slanted towards this kit anyway…
Still, I think most modelers would truly enjoy this kit, especially since it builds up into a wonderful model of the very earliest airplanes in this legendary line. It is well worth the money, delivers an enjoyable build, and in the final analysis- looks every bit the Spitfire!