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Airfix 1/48 Seafire XVII

To say that Airfix’s transformation over the last few years was phenomenal would be an understatement. Their journey from bankruptcy to where they are today has been truly a joy to watch. The kits they’ve produced have been wonderful, and not all of them have been the ordinary selection of kits.

One of their most recent releases is a 1/48 Seafire XVII. This is one of those examples of “not your typical choice to produce” kind of kits that Airfix is willing to release. And it’ has paid off, appearently, judging by the numbers of these kits I’ve seen move. My local hobby shop, Hayes Hobby House in Fayetteville, NC, can hardly keep them in stock. On forum after forum, I see folks who are building them, or have already finished them.

With good reason: it’s a great kit.

The fit of the kit is excellent throughout the build. Tamiya seems to be the gold standard in terms of fit & engineering, and certainly Airfix is approaching that lofty altitude among in the modeling stratosphere. And I don’t say that meaning “they have a way to go still”, not by any means. This kit is within shooting distance of the fit of the latest Tamiya kits.

The only complaint I’ve heard is always focused on Airfix’s handling of panel lines. Their latest kits do have panel lines that are deeper and wider than most kits from major manufacturers. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it. In fact, for my tastes, I’d prefer this over lines so fine that after a few coats of paint and some clear coat they simply disappear. I like the fact that you can get a panel wash to stick. Of course, it’s preference, to each his own.  I will say, however, that it is quite a shame when modelers turn there nose up at any kit over so slim a complaint. They’re missing out on a truly wonderful kit to build.

Their loss, however. 🙂

The cockpit is well detailed, and looks quite good once assembled and painted. All of the major “bits” you’d expect to see in a Spitfire cockpit are present. The instructions call for the upper half of the cockpit to be flat black, while the lower area is interior green. A clear demarcation is shown in the instructions to indicate the line. The only additions really needed, beyond what is in the box, is perhaps some seat belts and instrument dial decals.

The fuselage closes nicely. Using Tamiya Extra Thin Cement, I clamped it closed, let it dry overnight, and sanding the resulting “bead” from the join down and had a very nice result.

One of the most impressive parts of this kit is the way the wings are handled. Quite often, kits of naval planes offer parts for a folded wing, but if you don’t want a folded wing, you have to try and glue the separate pieces together- something not always easily accomplished. Airfix has approached this in a very straight forward manner- two complete sets of wings are provided, one folding, one not. (The fact that they kept the kit under $30 in doing so is astonishing. If this kit would have come from any other manufacturer, it would have easily been $40-$60, I would imagine.)

A great side note…. this plethora of wings will give you an extra set to use on their recently released Spitfire Mk. XII fuselage. A bit of kit-bashing and you have a very nice Seafire XV.

The fit of the wings to the fuselage at the wing root is perfect. I set the fuselage on, used a rubber band to set the dihedral (wrapping it around the kit from wingtip to wingtip), and glued with Tamiya Thin. Perfect.

A bit of Mr. Surfacer was required where the wings trailing edge fairs into the fuselage, as well as on the aft join of the wing part to the fuselage underside. However, that is typical of just about every Spitfire kit I’ve built. That area seems to be a tough one to engineer!

The rest of the build is very pleasant also, with no problems at all.

Three sets of markings are provided, two from operation squadrons, and a third, very colorful one, from a training squadron. I chose that one. The decals are excellent, as good as any high-quality aftermarket set you can find. If you do choose to model the the bird with the yellow markings, note that the color call out for one of the gun cover panels on the starboard wing to be natural metal is correct. I found a photo of the actual aircraft, and clear enough, it’s there.

The kit was finished in Tamiya colors overall. I used XF-21 Sky for the undersides. XF-22 RLM Gray worked out quite nicely as slate gray, and XF-54 Dark Sea Gray finished off the camo. Tamiya Flat Yellow was used for the control surfaces, and a quick blast of Alclad Aluminum went on the unpainted gun cover. A coat of Future was added for the decals, and then after some weathering and a panel wash, it was sealed in a flat coat.

This is one of those kits that you hate to finish. The process of building it was quite fun. Kudos galore to Airfix for this type of work- keep it up! (And keep going with the Spitfires! :))