Tamiya/Paragon 1/48 Spitfire Prototype

spitfireprototype-14Don McIntyre sent in this build report for converting Tamiya’s Spitfire Mk. I to the Spitfire Prototype, K5054. And in doing so collected an unprecedented 50,000 Ninja Bonus Points! 😉

History:
I won’t go to much into the history of the Spitfire Prototype or the Spitfire series itself, other than to say that this, the very first Spitfire, bore little resemblance to its ultimate incarnation, the Seafire Mk.47. The Seafire weighed (empty) almost twice the loaded weight of the Prototype Spitfire and had almost twice the horsepower. The Seafire 47, while a beautiful aircraft had (IMHO) little of the elegance of the Prototype.

The Kit:
The Tamiya Spitfire I is (again MHO) the best Spitfire I available, although I will admit I haven’t seen the Airfix kit. It is finely molded with excellent detail and fit throughout. The only two things I can recall having issues with is that Tamiya would have you install the landing gear/flap control assemble (on the right side of the cockpit) upside down, and that the aft cockpit framing will sit too high and interfere with the aft canopy section if you’re not careful.

Paragon’s conversion is pretty simple, uncomplicated and the parts fit like a dream. Resin parts consist of: Rudder, Exhaust Ports, Main Wheels, Tail Skid, Windscreen Fairing, Radiator Fairing, Landing Gear Door Extensions, Two Prop Blades and Spinner. The rounded windscreen, canopy and aft canopy sections are vacuform.

I managed to lose the my prop blades and ended up using Aeroclub’s two-bladed prop, of which more later.
For decals I used Ventura Decals excellent set as listed above.

The Build:
I’ve probably got a mishmash of Spitfire Prototype features in my build. For example, I’m not 100% sure that the aircraft still had the original angled rudder balance when it was painted and at what point the landing gear doors were added.

Kit:Tamiya/Paragon 1/48th Spitfire Prototype Conversion
Kit Number:Tamiya 6032, Paragon 48114
Price:Tamiya: $26.95 in 1997
Decals:Ventura Decals V4805: Markings for the Spitfire Prototype K5054, a USAAF Mk.Vb and Clive Caldwell’s Mk.V CR*C
Reviewer:Don McIntyre
Notes:An Easy Conversion

The Tamiya kit can be pretty much completely built prior to adding any of the resin bits. The only real modification you need to make to the kit is to cut the angle for the new rudder on vertical stabilzer. The Paragon instructions call for “rounding off” the upper nose shoulders. I wasn’t exactly sure what was required here, so I eye-balled it and reduced the cowling panel width over the exhausts.

I’d read somewhere (Dr Alfred Price’s Spitfire Story, IIRC) that the panel lines on the wings were puttied over to provide as smooth an airfoil surface as poissible, so using a combination of Squadron’s Green Stuff and White Putty I filled in the panel lines, gun ports and shell ejection chutes, leaving the fuselage panl lines intact.

The Paragon parts fit beautifully, other than where I caused problems for myself. On the tail, instead of waiting until I had the fuselage halves together before cutting the angle for the new rudder, I did it before. I cut a little too much off the left half, so I added a sliver of plastic sheet to get the fin back to the reuired height, then sanded and filled to get a smooth correction. The resin windscreen base needed a little filler to blend it into the fuselage.

Another problem of my own making was losing the prop blades from the Paragon set. K5054 inititally used a fixed-pitch 2-bladed unit. The blades were much wider in chord than the later 3-bladed props, so I couldn’t just use the kit blades. So, I still had Paragon’s spinner but no blades. I ended up ordering a set directly from Aeroclub in the UK. In less than 10 days I had my new prop. Unlike the Paragon set with its spinner and seperate blades, the Aeroclub prop is one piece. This made painting a little more difficult, but otherwise it’s a great piece. The only thing that I didn’t like about the prop was that the pour stub is on the end of one of the prop blades. I’m not sure why John did it that way, but after about 10 minutes worth of careful filing and sanding it came out ok.

Painting:
After getting all the birts and pieces together it was time for painting. There are a number of theories about the color of K5054. I’ve seen a number of colors suggested, Dove Gray, Sky, Duck Egg Blue, Admirality Gray and Sky Blue among others. IIRC the color was actually a Rolls Royce color, but apparently there’s been no definitive color ID yet. One color that I’d seen suggested and which appealed to my sense of aesthetics was the late-war German color, RLM-76. So, I decided to go with Modelmaster’s version of this color. I ended up brushing on three coats of this color before I got satisfactory coverage, allowing 2-3 days between coats. I didn’t bother to use future as the Modelmaster RLM paints give you a very nice semi-gloss finish which takes decals very well.

Decals:
From what I can tell the Ventura decals are accurate and they’re easy to apply. The markings all consisted of at lease two parts. The white and blue of the roundel were printed together with the red center being separate. Once you’ve got the white-blue located correctly, then you apply the red center bit. Therefore, roundel alignment is up to the modeler. For the fuselage code the white lettering goes on first, then the black lettering is applied over it, again, proper alignment is up to the builder.

Final assembly:
After decal application was finished I added the tail skid, main landing gear legs and wheels (very nice raised “Dunlop” tire lettering on the resin tires). Then holding my breath (hoping I’d trimmed the vac canopy correctly) I added the canopy. One of those “whew” mkoments, it fit pretty much as I’d hoped. At this point, I discovered one crucial thing I’d forgotten. I missed filling in the mounting hole for the radio antenna mast. Doh! Elmer’s Glue and more RLM-76 to the rescue!

At this point the prop awaited its paint. After Jon scanned and sent me some photos, I located my copy of the same book. Dr Alfred Price’s The Spitfire Story is a must if you’re at all interested in the History aevlopment and usage of the Spitfire. I found some more photos that were useful. I painted the blades and the spinner cap Modelmaster Aluminum. Then after much searching through the paint stash I used Modelmaster’s Ford & GM Engine Blue for the aft part of the spinner.

Almost finished, I realized that I’d missed a couple other things, the pitot tube and the wingtip lights. With all the earlier sanding on the wings, I’d also sanded off the wingtip light locations (another Doh! moment). I ened up guesstimating their locations. Using Bare Metal Foil, I masked around the light locations. With my luck, using tape of any kind would have resulted in disaster. But with the foil being so thin and flexible I was able to get a good demarcation. After getting the foil suitable arranged and pressed down, I painted some Future over the area to be painted. This (hopefully) would seal the edges preventing any paint “creep” under the foil. Well, it worked. After waiting a day, I painted on the light colors, then five minutes later, I peeled off the foil and voila, nice sharp edges.
The pitot tube was even easier. One photo I saw showed a relatively massive, straight probe coming out from the port wing. I again, eyeballed the location, drilled an appropriately-sized hole and installed a modified landing gear retraction strut from the spares box for the tube. Then out with more RLM-76.

Conclusions:
After gluing the prop in place she was finished. Not a difficult conversion at all, but one that required continued patience on my part.

So now I need to get going with that Seafire 47 that I started about the same time as this kit (June of 1998). Sitting them side-by-side should graphically illustrate the advances in propeller powered aircraft technology that occurred in that 10 year 1937-47 time frame.

Bio:
Don McIntyre, Clarksville, TN. Retired USN P-3 RADAR operator. Member of Gateway Christian Church. I’m married, have two grown stepsons of whom I am very proud. I build mostly 1/48th scale aircraft, any type, any era (altho primarily WW-2 and later). I’ve been building models since I was about 12 (good grief, I’ve been building models for 40 years!!?!?!?)…


1 thought on “Tamiya/Paragon 1/48 Spitfire Prototype”

  1. Great job Don, always nice to see people building the prototypes in their various forms.

    In response to your questions regarding the rudder balance and landing gear doors on K5054.
    The angled balance was used until 10 April 1936, when the aircraft went into the workshop for modification. These modifications included not only the ‘Rolls Royce auto blue’ repaint, but also replacing the angled rudder balance with the classic squared off balance. The landing gear doors were also fitted at this time. The landing gear doors in question were two part doors that when in the ‘up’ position covered the whole wheel, not the ‘half wheel covers’ of the production version. So K5054 only carried the angled rudder balance and no landing gear covers between 5 March and 10 April 1936, during which time it was unpainted.

    The Rolls Royce paint didn’t wear well and on 1 August that year K5054 was sent back into the workshop to be repainted in a high gloss ‘blue grey’ aviation paint. It retained this finish until it was camoflaged in March 1937.

    David

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