I can finally say I have made my peace with Eduard’s Spitfire Mk. IX.
When it was first released, I was less than enamored with some of the engineering choices Eduard made with this kit. In fact, a blog posting I wrote on my personal site has actually had thousands of reads, much to my surprise. And I’ve received quite a few emails saying “yeah, I kind of felt that way too.”
Despite my initial disappointments, though, it was obvious that this kit was simply the finest Spitfire model available in this scale, bar none. When it is finished and sitting on the shelf, nothing else comes close- not any mark, from any maker.
And my second build went a bit smoother. I used some aftermarket parts to address some of my complaints, and for the other items, I just learned how to deal with them and move on.
When I decided to build a third Eduard Spitfire, I figured this time I’d do it mostly out of the box. And in the end, I was very happy with it.
Normally I use Ultracast’s excellent resin seats for all of my Spitfire builds, but I decided to give the Eduard seat, and their photoetch belts, a shot. The seat itself is very nice, probably the nicest plastic seat I’ve seen for a Spitfire. The photoetch belts look great, but as always, they befuddle me a bit. Superglue and I do not get along. No matter how hard I try, there always seems to be too much glue. And the law of superglue always kicks in: “Superglue dries in indirect proportion to how fast you actually want it to dry.”
Which one piece resin cowl: Ultracast or BarracudaCast?
My biggest beef with the Eduard Spit, nice as it is, is the two piece cowl assembly.
While the kit parts are very, very nice, they are split down the middle, and no amount of care can prevent some of the rivet detail from being lost trying to hide the seam. And the detail is so fine that it is difficult to restore properly.
Thankfully, Ultracast and BarracudaCast both make excellent replacement cowls for Eduard’s Spitfire. Each feature very fine rivet detail that matches the kit part. Each are one piece, so that no seam must be dealt with. And each fit perfectly, so thy are true drop-in replacements. Both make a flat and bulged version. Both have a small cut -out in the vent on the cowl, which makes them an improvement to the already nice kit part.
So which would I recommend?
Well, Ultracast. And it comes down to a simple choice in design- placement of the casting block.
The Ultracast block is placed at the front of the cowl, while the BarracudaCast is at the aft part of the cowl. So it takes a bit more care to get the casting block removed, and any clean up done, and still insure a perfect fit. With Ultracast’s, you can be a little less precise, and it won’t affect the fit of the cowl.
Yes, it’s a minor difference. But if I have to recommend one, I would point modelers to the Ultracast version. However, using either one will result in a great finished product.
I placed one belt on, with just a few drops of glue, but I had it slightly out of place. yet it bonded instantly. I had to tear it away- along with some paint off the seat, and start again. The shoulder belts, however, went perfectly into place the first try. Using a set of tweezers, I firmly held them in place for a full minute, and then set it aside. Checking it an hour later, the glue was still liquid and the belts moved freely. I removed them to clean the glue off and try again. Re-applying the belts, I had them almost in place, but I touched and edge of one and they shifted position. Using my tweezers to move them back in place, I discovered the glue had dried almost instantly. So they stayed right where they were at.
Lesson learned- always use Ultracast resin seats. Always.
The rest of the cockpit went together nicely. I did use the colored photoetch instrument panel. It does look nice. Still, my main reluctance to use it was borne out- it looks out of place to my eye. If you look in the cockpit, everything is essentially hand painted, dry-brushed, oil washed, etc. It all “fits”, And then you have a picture perfect instrument panel. It just looks odd to me. So I think next time I’ll stick with the injected plastic version. But that is my own taste, of course. Your mileage may vary.
The fit of the fuselage was very, very good. It closed up nicely, and just a little Mr. Surfacer was needed to fully hide the seams.
Next came the exhausts.
One of the engineering choices that still puzzles me is Eduard’s decision to make the exhausts so that they had to be inserted prior to painting the model. I don’t get it it, at all. In my first two builds, I’d used Eduard’s Brassin replacement exhausts (which I was not really enamored with), and then I used Ultracast’s, which were excellent, and could be fitted after painting. (Just make sure you put them on the correct sides…. a point I failed in.)
But for this build, I decided to give the kit versions a try. They are very nice, no doubt. But assembly is a bit of a Chinese puzzle. I had to dry fit over and over, until at some point, the parts, the diagram, and my understanding all converged, and I had an “A-HA!” moment when I got it.
I still think they’re over engineered and should go on after painting. But I can live with them now.
For the cowl, I did opt to use a resin replacement, this time going with BarracudaCast’s resin replacement. It is a single piece pasting, and fitted perfectly. (See sidebar for a comparison of Ultrast’s and BarracudaCast’s cowl parts.)
Assembly of the wings was much easier this time around too. For the wheel wells, just fit one part at a time, making sure you have the right parts for the right side, and it all goes together well. I also found that if I installed the underwing radiators “in reverse”, they worked much better, and fit nicely. Instead of assembling them and fitting them to the wing, I fitted the radiators faces to the wing, then the sidewalls for the housing, and then the bottom part of the housing. Finally, after this had dried a bit, I added the radiator housing doors. It went much simpler.
The wings fit nicely to the fuselage, as did the tail planes.
Next came the paints. Vallejo Model Air Azure Blue went underneath, and Gunze Middle Stone and Tamiya XF-72 were used on the uppers. (XF-72 is actually JSDF Brown, but it’s close enough for me.)
Various oils, paint chipping, shading and fading were added, and then the decals went on. I used the kit decals, and they were awesome. No complaints at all there.
Then I masked off the exhausts and painted them. A step that would not be required if Eduard had not over engineered them. (No, I still have not gotten over that….)
When it was all said and done though- I enjoyed the kit. I will make use of the Ultracast seat from now on, and an aftermarket cowl, but otherwise I was very satisfied with the build otherwise being OOB.
I think I’m finally at the point that I can say I really like Eduard’s Spitfire, and enjoy building it. I suppose that is good, as I have a few stashed away that need building. Anyone need an Italeri Spitfire Mk. IX?
(And I have resolved that with my next Spitfire build, I will not bring up the previous ones, other than to say I had built it before. 🙂 )