I’ve built a lot of Spitfires. Forty-four, in fact, over the last six years. In all those builds though, I had not built Hasegawa’s Spitfire Mk. Vb. I’d always heard it was a fine kit, but I had not encountered one at a time when I was in a plastic buying mood.
This past November, my local IPMS club, Lafayette Scale Modelers, held their annual show. As I looked through vendor tables, I saw the Malta boxing of the Hasegawa Mk. V. The vendor talked about what a great kit it was, and with the Malta markings to boot. However, I had something different in mind for this kit.
Now I normally don’t like conversions, especially from scratch. Without exception, I’ve botched every attempt at a resin conversion I’ve tried. In some cases, like adding a resin tail to an AMT kit to make it a big-tail P-40K, I was able to get it close enough that with the right camera angles, you wouldn’t notice that the rear half of the fuselage was out of whack. My biggest disaster ended up being an attempt to convert an ICM Spitfire Mk. IX to a Mk. XII with a resin nose. The nose was just fine, and the instructions were quite clear, but my ability to cut and file and sand are horrible. I ended up with a ruined piece of resin, and a box full of Spitfire parts for the spares box.
But I’d done a little research on the converting a Spitfire Mk. Vb to a Seafire Ib. It was simple enough even I could do it.
Basically, the conversion amounted to adding an arrestor hook and some sling points. I already had a set of decals for the Seafire Ib handy, so that angle was taken care of. The sling points were easy enough- a small rectangle of plastic with a punched plastic disc. Four of those in the right place took care of that.
The arrestor hook I approached from a brutally simple premise. Most of what you see, when looking at a Seafire model with the A-frame arrestor hook in profile, is the tip of the hook sticking out. No need to cut out the A-frame, build all that hardware, and try to get it back in. I realized I could simply scribe in the arrestor hook area, cut a notch in for the hook, and glue something resembling a hook to peek out when viewed in profile.
So simple a caveman could do it. 🙂
The build itself was almost uneventful. There’s not much to say about the Hasegawa kit except it’s a well fitting, simple to build kit. it’s nicely detailed and a joy to build. I did have a True Details resin cockpit on hand to throw in it. Normally I don’t bother with resin cockpits, because generally they don’t fit as well as advertised, and I hate cutting all the parts of the casting blocks. But this one was not too bad. It was pretty much a direct drop in for the kit parts, so other than removing the details from the sidewalls with a scalpel, not much was required. The only real complaint I had was with the resin parts themselves. I had two sets, and each set had miscast parts, short shots, etc. I was able to pull parts from both sets to get the kit complete, though. As both sets were given to me as gifts, I wasn’t out any money. You’ll see in the pictures the rough texture of the sidewalls. Both sets of resin parts were that way… very rough. I made some attempts to smooth it out, but between the parts being so fragile, my eyesight being so poor, and my patience for nonsense like that being so little, I just used them as-as. I figured once installed, it wouldn’t be that noticable anyway. (Which proved to be true.)
The kit was painted with Xtracrylix paints, which I am really beginning to like, especially for British aircraft. Nothing fancy about the finish. I painted the basic camo colors, added a coat of Future, added decals, did some airbrushed panel fading with highly thinned Tamiya Buff XF-55, and then added an oil wash for the panel lines. I finished off with a coat of Valejo Matte to dull things down.
It’s not a very sophisticated conversion, but it looks pretty much like a Seafire Ib. I think what I love most about Seafires is the Fleet Air Arm colors. I think they are a bit of cool. 🙂 The Hasegawa kit is a great one, if you can find it.
Now to think about a Seafire IIc.