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Build Report: Tamiya’s 1/48 Spitfire Mk. Vb


After my misadventures with Eduard’s Spitfire Mk. IX, I decided I needed a Spitfire experience that was less frustrating. Without hesitation I grabbed Tamiya’s Spitfire Mk. Vb from the build pile.

The quest for “the perfect kit” is of course a very debatable topic, which ultimately comes down personal tastes. My definition of “the perfect kit” may not match yours, of course- and that’s OK. (You’re free to be wrong… just kidding… no emails please…. 😉 ) In my mind, the title of “perfect kit” goes to Tamiya’s Spitfire Mk. Vb Tropical in 1/48 scale. Here’s why:

  • I love the look of the desert Spitfires
  • From this kit, I can build several varieties of Spitfire Mk. Vb
  • The parts count is not too high
  • Their isn’t anything “fiddly” about it
  • The interior and surface detail is very good
  • The fit is absolutely outstanding
  • It’s not an expensive kit

Basically, if I had to build this one over and over and over- I could do so happily. (In fact, I have…. )

So this kit was just what the modeling doctor ordered. No fiddliness, fuss, frustration or griping over puzzling engineering decisions.

The only thing the kit really needs to have added, if you feel the need to, is seat belts. My preferred method is to use Ultracast resin seats with the belts molded in. I just like the look better. (And I loathe photoetch….)

Construction is really rather uneventful. It’s Tamiya- it just fits. (Maybe their PR people could use that? Hummm….) The cockpit is nicely detailed, with all the major parts represented. The fuselage goes together with no gaps. You will need to do some sanding to make the seam disappear. (No matter how good a kit fits, som treatment of seams is required.)

The wing fits is perfect. Tamiya provides some small tabs on the lower wing that pull the fuselage perfectly into place, every time. (And I’ve built enough of these kits to know it works!) Why more manufacturers don’t do this I don’t know. I’m sure it adds a little bit to the cost initially, but maybe the savings could be found in reducing the marketing budget’s ridiculous ads… in the case where a company does that. Just sayin’…. 🙂

The model was painted with Vallejo Model Air’s colors for Azure Blue, Middlestone and Dark Earth. Weathering was with a silver Prismacolor pencil and artists oils.

The only area that the kit is not top notch is the decals. They’re quite thick and take a good deal of work to get settled down.

If you haven’t built this kit, build it. In my modeling world, it’s the king of 1/48 kits. Even if you don’t think it’s “the best”, I can guarantee you’ll have a great, no fuss build that will look great when it’s complete.