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Kit Preview: Airfix’s 1/72 Spitfire Mk. XIX

Airfix shows off their new style of box art- looks great!

Airfix shows off their new style of box art- looks great!

If you’ve not read for long, I need to let you in on a minor detail about myself. I love Spitfires. Any scale, any make, any mark, any time, any place. And I get especially excited about Airfix Spitfires. Something about the iconic British model maker producing the iconic British aircraft just seems to fit.

And since Hornby rescued Airfix, I’ve been quite happy to see that not only have they continued releasing the “classic” Airfix molds of various Spitfires, they’ve also been tooling up new versions.

When I saw that one of the releases for 2009 would be a new-tool 1/72nd Spitfire Mk. XIX, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. Trouble is, it’s taken a while.

The kit was actually released several months ago, but up until now I could only find it for order on UK sites. And while the kit price was not a problem, the shipping was sky-high. So I decided to wait until it “crossed the pond” so to speak, and arrived at US distributors.

I waited and waited. And I never saw it in a US catalog. Now, I’m sure someone had it, but I never saw it. So I emailed my good friend and local salsa dancing legend, Mike Starling, at the best model shop on the planet, Hayes Hobby House. His reply came back quicker than 3 jumbo chili dogs on a roller coaster- “Stop bothering me, you pest.”

OK, he didn’t say that, exactly. I think his exact words were “It’ll be here Wednesday.”

So I went in today (which is Wednesday….), and while Mike was not there, my shiny new Airfix kit was!

Once I was safely back at home and in the ManCave™, I couldn’t wait to break the box open.

I like the new digital artwork Airfix is putting on the covers. Sure, it’s different- but this is the 21st Century. We’ve got some catching up to do. While the one-piece silver jumpsuits with the “V” on the front and the flying car that folds into a briefcase isn’t a reality, we can see some progress in digital artwork. You don’t want to hold up progress, do you? Anyway….

The kit has 44 well cast parts in the light gray color that is typical of newer Airfix kits. Many kits that are molded in China that I’ve seen have a pebbly texture to the plastic. This example is much smoother than most that I’ve seen- very smooth. The recessed panel lines are very sharp, and some would probably call them slightly oversized. (I actually prefer them that way.)

The cockpit is minimal but nice, especially given that the only canopy option is a closed one. A piece for the “bottomless” floor, the stick, seat, and two aft bulkheads are included. there is some raised detail on hte fuselage sides. An IP is included, though it is flat with no detail at all. Oddly, no decal is included to represent an IP. Not a show stopper- if someone really wants one, it wouldn’t be hard to add some Mike Grant instrument decals.

The canopy is nicely shaped, and clear enough. The underwing radiators have a cast in “grill” face, which I like. Many kits use fiddly photoetch parts, which, in my experience, never fit. The exhausts leave something to be desired, quite honestly, but I’ll probably use them as-is anyway.

The landing gear are a bit different. For one, parts are included for a gear-up option, which I like. it gets back to how I modeled as a kid- it was for toy army air support, not to count rivets. 🙂 The gear down option is  single piece gear leg and door casting. I don’t have any problem with it- a little painting and a wash will make it look just fine. Some folks may not like that too much, but for a “just for fun” builder like me, it’s perfect. Now I don’t have to fiddle with gluing them together.

One area that many of the newer tooled Airfix Spitfire kits had room for improvement on was the thickness of the wings. In this kit, Airfix did a great job of getting the trailing edges very thin, slimming to a very nice, very thin taper at the wing tips. And the leading edges are much thinner, and look very nice.

Markings are included for two kits, one an RAF 81 Sqn bird that was based in Malaysia in 1954, and the other in Swedish markings. Both are very nice looking color schemes, and I’m not sure which I’ll do.

Perhaps I’ll have to build two. 🙂

The decals are very nice, and of good quality. While the manufacturer is not printed on the decal sheet, they are much thinner than some previous Airfix offerings I’ve worked with. The RAF decals appear to be in very good register, while there is a minor bit of “shift” in the Swedish markings.

When all is said and done, I can wholeheartedly recommend this kit. The parts are well cast, the detail is nice, the markings are good, and the best part- the value is tremendous. This little kit only set me back $8.50- a real bargain.