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Build Report: ICM’s 1/48 Spitfire Mk. VII

DSC00224.JPGI generally don’t have much trouble getting around to building a Spitfire. Lately, Mr. Mitchell’s Wonder is is most of what I build. Yes, maybe it is an obsession. But I just don’t get tired of it. When I’m building a Spitfire, I’m having a great time. When I’m not building a Spitfire, I generally rush a build along to start another Spitfire. (Or I just start the Spitfire and have two, or three, or even four build, going at once.)

I’ve always heard good things about ICM’s Spitfire, generally regarding it’s accuracy of shape. I’m not much of an accuracy person, so that has never played into my build decisions. However, in addition to the shape comments, I always heard folks talk about the engine, and troubles getting the cowl panels to fit around it.

I must confess- I hate modeling engines. It can be a great looking, accurate engine, or a blob of plastic resembling one. I just don’t like fiddling with them. I’ve built a few, and in doing so I realized it was just not my cup of tea. So for three years I’ve gone to my stash closet, and though I might linger on the ICM Mk. VII, the thought of the engine headed me in other directions.

And every review I read talked about how the engine must be at least partially included to hang the prop and exhausts on.

I finally decided I was going to build this kit, engine or not. I pulled out the box, and after looking over the parts, I realized that I could probably build it minus the engine. So much for reviews. 🙂 (I should know better by now….)

The cockpit on the ICM kit is very nice. It’s probably one of the most well detailed Spitfire cockpits in 1/48 scale I’ve built. However, the seat looked a little, well, goofy. The seat pan looked “short” from front to back. Again, I usually don’t worry about things such as that, but this was really weird looking. Generally, I would have given it a shrug and moved on, but I happened to have a handy-dandy resin seat in the spares box from a Kiwi Resins Mk. XII conversion set, so I substituted that. I topped it off with some  Eduard belts, and was quite happy with the results.

Test fitting showed that I would need to add the forward bulkhead to get the fuselage to align correctly when I closed it up, but sure enough, I was able to get things closed up with no trace of the cursed engine. (Which does look good, by the way, so if you like building engines, you’ll probably like this kit.) Gluing on the top of the cowl carefully helped keep the nose shape right.

For the exhausts, I found a simple solution. I simply blobbed on enough Tamiya Extra Thin cement along the lower edge of the cowl opening to float a couple of Spitfires, and then slapped the exhausts on the edge of the cowl panel and pushed down. The backplate that the exhausts are connected to proved to be the perfect way to get things to stay, and after allowing time to dry, the exhausts were solidly in place.

One note on the fuselage- don’t show the door open, as they give you the option to do in the instructions. The Mk. VII had no pilot door, as it was pressurized. It did have a sliding canopy. The door is molded in place, so just fill in the panel lines that make up the sides of the door, sand it smooth, and you are ready to go.

The wings went together nicely, but there were some definite fit issues when mated to the fuselage. As with so many Spitfires, the problems were along the rear, where the wings merge into the fuselage and wing root fairings.  This seems to be a common ailment to quite a few Spitfires, regardless of manufacturer. (I’ve always wondered why they don’t just engineer it to extend all the way back to the rudder.) I had to use some sprue to fill in the gap at the rear of the wing/fuselage join. The rear edge of the wing root fairings were bad too. I filled them with some more sprue, but sanding along that curve, and getting a nice edge got to the point it was no longer fun. And it’s just a hobby. So I left it as-is and moved on. (You can see it in some of the photos.)

I found a nice photo of a Mk. VII with the standard wing tips, instead of those silly-looking pointy ones. Thankfully, Barracuda Studios had this bird on their Spitfire Mk. IX Series – Part 1 decal set. They decals were very good. I had some self-induced problems with tearing one of the markings on the left fuselage side, and with the serial number on the right side. Like I said though, those problems were self-induced. I would definitely recommend their decals.

For painting, I used Vallejo Air PRU Blue on the undersides, and Tamiya XF-83 Medium Sea Gray 2 (RAF) on the topsides. Post shading was done with highly thinned Tamiya Flat White, and a mix of Tamiya Smoke and Flat Black. The stripes were Tamiya Flat White and Black.

When it was all said and done, I was happy with the result, despite some hack marks when you examine it closely. It was not a bad kit to build, and the detailing was nice. I do think I prefer Hasegawa and Airfix for the “long nosed” Merlins, the Mk. VII, VIII and IX. If I recall correctly, the Airfix Mk. IX comes with extended wing tips, so a conversion there would be easy. I’m certainly not saying avoid the ICM Spitfire- if you’re a Spitfire nut like me, I say build them all. But unless you’re specifically wanting to display an engine, I’d recommend the Airfix or Hasegawa kits over the ICM kit. (Shape conscious folks will likely disagree, but that’s OK. :))