If you know me, you know I love Spitfires. And if you know how much I love Spitfires, you may recall how I had mixed feelings about Eduard’s Spitfire Mk. IX when it was released. I’ll save you the long sob story- if you’d like to catch up, you can do so here. But I hate walking away from a model feeling like it beat me in some way. So I knew I had to build another Eduard Spitfire.
And I’m happy to report I have- and I think I have made my peace with it. (Which is a good thing, because now I want to build another….) 🙂
If you didn’t take the time to read my previous build report (I won’t hold it against you if you didn’t), my basic gripes were with the two piece upper cowl, the exhausts that had to be installed prior to painting, and just a bit of fiddliness that I didn’t think was needed.
So what changed in this build?
Well, in a word- Ultracast. They came to the rescue with a single piece cowl that is simply gorgeous- in both a flat and bulged option, and also exhausts that can be easily installed after the model is painted, in the flared and tubular variety. (Note: It was later pointed out to me that I installed the exhausts on the wrong sides, so they look odd. Don’t blame Ultracast for my goof!)
These two simple items made me smile, and that’s how I like to build models. With a smile.
It’s not to say the kit parts are bad. They look gorgeous. But no matter how carefully you glue and sand the upper cowl, you will lose some of the awesome rivet detail. And it’s just a bit of a pain to have to paint exhausts in place. Anyway…. enough of that… I’ve had my say on it until I’m actually tired of it. Ultracast rocks, so that’s my last word on the cowl and exhaust saga. Mostly. 🙂
On to the build.
For this model, I used the Weekend Edition of the kit. I rarely if ever use photoetch, so I actually prefer the Weekend Edition boxings. (I’m pretty sure photoetch is spawned from the same level of Hades that vacform canopies are.)
The plastic is gorgeous. One marking option is included- a Czech bird- but I had planned from the outset to do and RAF Mk. IXe. However, a friend suggested an Israeli Spitfire, and it was then I remembered I had decals for such a bird. More on that….
The cockpit is very good out of the box. Good detail, and it builds up into a very convincing representation of the Spit’s office. I did use an Ultracast seat instead of the kit seat. I like how resin belts look. While technically they are “out of scale”, I think the depth they provide looks more realistic. Also, as the rest of the cockpit is painted, drybrushed, etc., I’ve always thought it looked odd to have pre-painted photoetch belts. To my eye they just look out of place. To each his own of course…. but you can’t go wrong with the Ultracast seat.
The Eduard exhausts are a slightly confusing assembly that I actually have never been able to get just right. (I tried, just to see…) Ultracast’s resin replacements make it simple. First, you glue in the backing piece that the exhausts slip into. Next, you…. oh wait. That’s all you do. Glue in one piece. See Eduard, it wasn’t that hard…. 😉
With exhausts mounts and cockpit in place, I glued the fuselage halves together, and the fit was very good. If you use the kit parts, the next step is to glue the two halves of the upper cowl together, then sand away the seam (there will be a seam, even as good as the two halves fit), and then restore the rivet detail.
Or glue on the Ultracast cowl. Again… one piece. Simple.
The wings go together nicely. The radiator housings suffer from a bit of over-engineering, but they go together just fine. Do take care in test fitting them. One of them never did fully fit to the wing, leaving a small gap. I’m not sure where the problem was, because even if I switched them out, both had the same gap on one side. Eventually I declared it “good enough”, and moved on. The wheel wells really look nice when assembled, but are a bit over-engineered also in my opinion. They fit together nicely, but you really do need to pay attention to the instructions, and fit things carefully.
The fuselage to wing fit is very good. The only area that really needed attention was the aft part of the join, which is a problem area on every single Spitfire I’ve built. (Which is 69 of them, in every major scale…) It’s a complex shape in this area, with a lot of recessed and raised detail to contend with. I’m not sure why no manufacturer has ever extended this area out to the first panel line down the fuselage, which would, in my mind, solve the problem. But for whatever reason, no one has, so I deal with it. (After all, it’s for the Spitfires….)
I’d decided to build an Israeli Spitfire, and was especially intrigued by the “blue and tan” scheme. I happened to have a set of decals handy from fündekals titled “Israeli Defense Force Spitfire Mk IXs“. The set provides some very interesting options- thirteen of them, and is a real bargain too at $14.00. I’ve also been very impressed with fündekals research into their subjects. They seem to really care about getting things right, and doing their homework. The decals were in perfect register, and the colors looked good. (On a side note, I love how they provide their instructions online as a downloadable PDF. This allow them to have very comprehensive marking guides, often with a lot of history and even photos provided. And it keeps costs down. Bonus Ninja points to them for that!)
I started the painting with the undersides, using Gunze’s light gull gray. For the dark blue and sand on the uppers, I used a mix of various Tamiya paints, until it was in accordance with TLAR color standards. (That Looks About Right)
The paint was followed up with some Prismacolor silver pencil chipping, and then a coat of Future prepared the surface for decals.
The dekals were quite fün to apply. (See what I did there? 🙂 ) I am always a little concerned applying white decals over darker camo, but happily these were quite opaque. (Is that the right word? I hope so…) I set them in place, and worked out any extra water with a paper towel scrap. The decals responded pretty well to Solvaset. They didn’t fully pull down into the panel lines, but that’s really no worry. I always wait for the decals to dry, and then pull a new #11 blade through the decal where the panel lines are, and then hit it with more Solvaset. The result is excellent, on any decal, thick or thin. Just make sure to give them time to dry, and use a new blade, to avoid tearing the decal.
One note- the tail stripes provided by fündekals fit very well. There is a bit of overlap, easily removed with a sharp blade, so they don’t come up short. I do think it would have been easier to apply this decal before fixing the rudder to the airframe. It’s not a problem with the decal, but rather just a bit easier to reach. The design of the kit makes this very simple.
After the decals were finished, I used Tamiya paints for some fading and shading and exhaust/oil stains, and applied some pastels to add in some dirt. The Ultracast exhausts were painted with Tamiya Burnt Iron, and given some fading and shading of their own, and inserted into their slots with a few drops of CA. (AFTER the model was painted…..)
All in all, I was very happy with how this kit turned out. The Ultracast parts really made things simple, and the cool camo colors and great fündekals markings really set this Spitfire apart, I think, from the usual color schemes.
I’ve finally made peace with Eduard’s Spitfire. I can say it is now my favorite Mk. IX kit in 1/48 scale. I’m looking forward to building another soon! (And I still have a resin cowl and more IDF markings standing by….)