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Build Report: Tamiya’s 1/48 Spitfire Mk. I

One thing about writing a build report for just about any Tamiya kit- there’s not a lot to say about fixing gaps, strategies to get parts to fit, or areas to be aware of in the build. It’s no wonder they are called shake and bake kits. They just fit together, without any surprises. And I’m not complaining about it at all. I just find that writing about the build itself is rather uneventful.

Tamiya’s Spitfire Mk. I is no exception to this exceptional quality in engineering. One friend told me he once fit all the parts together, up to the fuselage and wings, with no glue. Just fit it all together and it held. I believe it. In fact, I specifically chose this build because I wanted a simple, drama free build to just sort of go through on auto pilot.

The cockpit itself is well detailed, again, as one has come to expect from Tamiya. It’s not full of fiddly parts, and I wouldn’t call it super-detailed by any stretch. But when you look inside the cockpit, you see all the major parts you expect to see in a Spitfire, all very well cast, sharp in detail. the “spade” grip control column, the gear lever on the lower right sidewall, throttle quadrant on the left, the various major boxes and bits in place, the seat adjustment lever in place. If I could ask for any addition to it, it would simply be that set belts be molded in, because I prefer that myself.  (Of course, with great after-market parts available, like the Ultracast seat, even that’s easy to solve for those like me who are averse to fiddling with photoetch or scratch belts.) the “bottomless” floor is well represented, too. the only problem I had was self-inflicted. As I write this, looking at the finished model, I realized I left out the gun sight. Oh well…. call it out for repairs… 🙂

Assembly, as I’d alluded to early, is so smooth and easy, there’s not much to write. A little Tamiya Extra Thin cement will join the fuselage halves together, and little more than a quick sanding is needed to remove the styrene bead that squeezes out as a result. the wings and the tailplanes fit just as well. I left off the landing gear, prop, antenna, exhausts and a few other bits for painting.

I painted the undersides Tamiya Sky and Flat Black, choosing the paint scheme that had the port wing underside black. The uppers were Pollyscale Dark Earth and Tamiya Dark Green 2 (RAF), or XF-81. I wish Tamiya would come out with a direct equivalent for the Dark Earth, as the instructions call for mixing two paints to achieve the correct result. You’d think with the kits they produce that require that color- the Spitfire Mk. I and Mk. Vb Tropical, as well as the Brewster Buffalo coming to mind, they’d produce that color. So I used my dwindling supply of Pollyscale. I suppose I’ll have to find a suitable replacement to not have to bother with mixing! (Suggestions are welcome…)

Paint was followed with a coat of Future, then the decals. For all of the quality Tamiya puts into their kits engineering, I’ve always found their decals to be rather average, if not bordering on poor. The color and register are fine, but they are relatively thick, ad did not respond to well to setting solution. They’re certainly not bad like Academy or ICM decals I’ve worked with, but with the type of quality decals that are available, I’d like to see Tamiya step up that part of their game. (Even the 1/32 Spitfire Mk. IX from Tamiya had less-than-friendly decals, which I will detail in my soon to be published build report on that kit.)

A final panel line wash, and gluing on the last bits and parts completed the build.

There are several 1/48 Mk. I kits available- Tamiya, Airfix and Pegasus Hobbies all come to mind. All are very good, enjoyable kits. Tamiya’s is without a doubt the best in terms of fit, detail and engineering. (Of course, being a Spitfire nut, my recommendation is to build all three! :)) This kit is the kind you build and just simply enjoy for the fun of not having to do much beyond gluing and painting. I highly recommend this kit for any modeler at any level.