It’s always a good thing when Airfix releases a new-tool kit. It’s an even better thing when it’s a Spitfire!
Airfix fulfilled the wishes of many Spitfire fans with their recent release of the Griffon-engined Spitfire Mk. XIX. While the numbers of this particular model of Spitfire were never that great, it’s unique, clean look as a purpose built recon aircraft has given it a special place among modelers.
It follows in the footsteps of two other Griffon-engined variants that Airfix has released over the last few years, those being the Spitfire Mk. XII and the Seafire Mk. XVII. (Here’s to hoping for a Mk. XIV!)
The quality of the tooling for this release is consistent with the high standards Airfix has set with their recent kits. Interior detailing is very good, surface detailing is good, and the fit is excellent. In comparison to Tamiya or Hasegawa kits, some of the parts are a bit thick, and the detail not quite as fine as those manufacturers tend to produce. But overall Airfix has done an excellent job, and most importantly in my mind, they’ve kept it affordable.
The cockpit is packed full of detail. It not only includes a very complete cockpit, but also a full array of cameras. Parts are also provided so that the modeler can open up the various hatches used for servicing the cameras to give the viewer a look at what’s inside.
The construction of the cockpit is very straight-forward, and presents no problems. The parts fit very well. I did opt to use an Ultracast seat with belts molded in. The kit seat is nice enough, but the Ultracast seat is so nice that there was simply no reason not to use it. Also, the kit seat has the flare rack on it, and I’m not certain this Mk. of Spitfire had that detail. (Although it would be easy enough to remove.) Also, I followed the painting guide for the colors of the interior camera mounts, though I’ve since read that those may have been made of unpainted wood, so you may want to check into that. In any event, the interior builds up quite nicely and looks the part.
One note regarding the interior. As with their Mk. XII, Airfix decided to cast a single piece part that allows for an open canopy option. In order to use this, however, you must cut away a small portion of the fuselage. The area is clearly shown in the instructions, and marked with a recessed line in the plastic. I chose this route with the Mk. XII. However, I discovered that it is quite difficult to paint the framework of the inner canopy part in a convincing manner. So on this build, I decided to do the more traditional option of using the two parts provided for the closed canopy option, and simply placing the sliding portion open. It worked out OK, as I only had to use a small bit of pressure when I glued th open canopy on to get it to settle down and not “ride” so high. Anyway… Airfix, if you read this, I think it would be simpler for the modeler if you provided separate canopy parts that just fit for the open canopy option. it’s easier to paint and requires no surgery.
The rest of the construction was completely uneventful. It all fit well, and no major issues were encountered.
If there is any drawback to building a Mk. XIX, it is one completely out of Airfix’s hands. For the most part, the marking options available are boring. Exceptionally so. The kit comes with markings for a Swedish bird in overall PRU Blue, and an RAF bird in PRU Blue and Medium Sea Gray. There are actually quite a few aftermarket decal options available, all of which are one of those two schemes, though I have seen a single olive green Turkish bird. In other words- you won’t find too many exciting or colorful marking options. To be honest, Airfix probably picked the most exciting ones available for the kit.
I opted for a marking set that, while boring, would hopefully be unique and not what everyone else would do. I had some Kits World decals for the Mk. XIX, and found a set on there for an operational bird that flew from Italy towards the end of the war. About a day after I finished mine, Brett Green from Hyperscale posted his. Same markings. Since then, I’ve seen two other builds online- both using the same markings also. Oh well…. 🙂
I used Vallejo PRU Blue, though I found it to be exceptionally fragile. I finished it off with some light weathering and a coat of Vallejo Matt Varnish.
This is really a very fine kit, and a unique addition to the line of 1/48 Spitfires available. I really have no complaints about the build at all, as it’s a very fine molding. The only let down is really the simplistic, and frankly, downright boring, marking options available. And that’s no one’s fault but the various air forces of the world who used this aircraft for not being a little more imaginative in their finishes. (I’m joking, of course…) In any event, I do highly recommend this kit. You’ll enjoy the build, and at the very least won’t have to deal with any complicated masking or freehand paint schemes!