Before I buy a model I generally do some Google searching to see what others say about it, and maybe even find some photos of the kit sprues, in progress shots, and finished products. Of course, I’m an odd modeler, and when I see a lot of criticism of a kit, I often start looking at it like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It’s not a bad little tree. Just needed some love.
When I had the opportunity to pick up Fujimi’s 1/48 Spitfire Mk. Vb, I had just that feeling. Phrases like “don’t bother” and “run away” came up.
So of course I took up the challenge, still believing that my motto of “I never met a Spitfire kit I didn’t like” is true.
And I’m happy to report, after building the kit, that my motto still stands.
Now, to be fair, if you want to rivet count, this kit has plenty to run the counter up. Of course the “all-important” inverted gull-wing on the underside is not present. The right fuselage half is a copy of the left…. meaning there are two pilot entry doors, two radio compartment doors, etc. Cockpit detail is minimal, landing gear and wheel wells are not the best I’ve ever seen. Basically, this kit will not ever win an award for accuracy and detail.
Still, in the area that is most important to me- enjoying the build- the Fujimi 1/48 Spitfire Mk. Vb scores very high on the scale.
The lack of cockpit detail really doesn’t matter, in the end, because the kit has a single piece canopy. So out-of-the-box, it’s not a big deal in my mind. Of course, if you wanted to dress it up, and open the canopy, you certainly could. But I went for the simple approach.
Assembly is quite simple, with no problems at all. There is only a slight step at the wing roots, and I sanded this down a but, but didn’t really go all out with it.
I’d decided to build the kit as a Mk. IIb instead of the Vb, so I added a Coffman starter bulge on the starboard cowl. I simply scratched it from a piece of sprue sanded to shape.
The cannon bulges, according to some of the sources I read, aren’t exactly the same for a Vb and a IIb, but I left them as is. Paint was the Tamiya XF-81/82/83 triumvirate that I’ve grown so fond of. Decals are from an Aeromaster sheet I had. In fact, the entire reason I decided to call this a IIb instead of a Vb was based on the decals. I had them in my decal drawer, and thought they looked cool. Besides, the kit decals were very old, very poor, and rather un-exciting.
Weathering was done after applying decals, then a coat of Future, and oil wash, and finally a flat coat.
When all was said and done, I was quite happy with the results, especially given the kit. Whatever criticisms there are against it, in the end, you can make it look decent. And it’s a fun build.
Certainly, if you’re not a Spitfire nut like me, on a quest to build all Spitfire kits, I’d probably pass this one up in favor of the Hasegawa, Tamiya, or Airfix kits. Still, if you see it at a model show for a steal, grab it. You’ll enjoy the build.
And that’s really what it’s all about in my mind- enjoying the journey.