A58 - SPITFIRE MK VIII


JY0103 1/72 Spitfire Mk VIII, 58-492/UP*B of 79 SQN RAAF, Morotai Island, 09 Mar 45


by David Edwards

 

Review Type

Build Review

Scale:

1/72

Price:

$22.00 AUD from Boomerang Models

Contents and Media:

Two plastic sprues, wire mesh and white metal control column

Advantages:

 

Disadvantages:

See text

Recommendation:

Recommended

 

Introduction

The Supermarine Spitfire has been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember, and the RAAF Mk VIII is the pick of the bunch for Spitfires to model for me.

For many years, the limited run Ventura Spitfires have been renowned as the most accurate 1/72 examples available.  Ventura has also kitted several marks of Spitfire and Seafire that were otherwise unavailable.  Jay's Models has now taken over the Ventura 1/72 Spitfire range.

The Kit

On opening the stout cardboard box, first impressions were not favourable, and agreed with Mr Harvey's in box review.

As I delved deeper, impressions were confirmed.  Wing panel lines are finely raised, while fuselage panel lines are recessed – a little odd.  There was no sign of the nice white metal cannon barrels included in the Ventura boxing.  The "A" numbers for both decal options are wrong with no "errata" sheet included.  There are some puzzling templates for undercarriage alignment in the instruction sheet that I am still trying to work out.  The tail wheel well is not included and the need to add this plus some doors is not mentioned.

Once I got over my fright, construction began with the wings.  The instructions called for replacement of the broad cannon bulges with narrow items, which looked like a hard slog.  I cheated and swapped the wingtips with a Ventura HFVII kit to avoid this chore.  Other options would have been to use the wing from the otherwise useless Italeri IX, a Hasegawa VIII or even Aeroclub's "C" wing.  Much sanding and fettling was required to get the kit wing together.

The wheel wells are devoid of detail – fellow AMIer Haydn to the rescue with some resin inserts.

Another resin donation from Haydn provided a replacement for the chunky instrument panel and other cockpit items.

Once cemented together, I filled and sanded the fuselage.  Joining the wing to the fuselage was next, with more filling and sanding.  The tailplanes needed a bit of clean up before being butt joined to the tail and going down the filling and sanding route again.

The carburettor intake is rather vaguely moulded, so the front section from the Italeri kit was spliced in.

A coat of Mr Surfacer 1000 showed a few areas to rectify, and then it was time to visit the paint shop.  I used an old Humbrol Authentics tin of Medium Sea Grey, which went on nicely.  Aeromaster Enamels provided the Ocean Grey and Dark Green – terrific paint, why don't they make it any more?  All three colours were a little lighter out of the tin/bottle than others which suited me fine.

My chosen subject was A58-492 UP-F of 79 Sqn.  There's yet another family link here as the photo of this aircraft at ADF serial was taken by a member of my Dad's Unit and section at Higgins Field on Cape York.  A heap of extra information was also kindly provided by Peter Malone.  This showed some further variations to the kit instructions and decals, as follows:

  • no white leading edge to the wing;
  • medium blue spinner rather than green;
  • Squadron codes in sky blue rather than white; and
  • The Mac III title is way oversize and probably should be yellow in part.

I was unable to do anything about the last two items.

The instructions note that the serial is wrong for UP-B but I managed to find a sheet of the original Ventura decals in my collection and used the correct A numbers from that.  I took the precaution of using some Microscale Liquid Decal film before applying the kit decals.  The roundels and fin flashes were a major disappointment.  The blue sections are partly overprinted on a white background, giving them an odd two tone appearance that looked terrible.  I had to replace them with spares.  No stencils are supplied so I had to resort to the spares collection here also.

The vacform canopies are nicely moulded and crystal clear.  I used the sliding section from one of these with a windscreen, mirror and rear section from an Italeri kit.  No gunsight is provided so the Italeri kit donated one of these too.

While the kit propeller blades capture the distinct shape of those fitted to the VII/VIII/IX, hacking them away from massive sprue gates and then aligning them with the spinner was going to take more time and effort than I was prepared to allow.  I rescued a Highplanes Seafire prop from the spares cupboard, cleaned it up and put it to work.  Red Roo has a resin propeller, spinner and exhaust set as an alternative - http://www.redroomodels.com/conversions.php?conversion=394

The main wheels are lacking in hub detail and no antenna mast or pitot tube are provided, so my Italeri kit made another two sacrifices.  I used the kit doors with the correct bulges and Italeri undercarriage struts.

I did consider adding bombs and racks to this model (thank you Peter for the information) but didn't have a photo of UP-B so fitted and chickened out.

 

Recommendation

I probably sound rather critical of this kit, but I'm happy with how it turned out.  If you are prepared to persevere and have some spare parts that can be used, a decent result is possible.  Perhaps the best use of this kit is as a correction set for the Italeri or Hasegawa kits?

For a less demanding build, I'd recommend the Czechmaster Spitfire VIII, or a conversion of the recent Airfix IXc.  Me, I'm looking forward to seeing what the A.Z. Spitfire VIII is like and also whether Sword will put one out.  I think I need to build at lease another three – Clive Caldwell's, Bobby Gibbs', and Eric Gibbes' 4 cannon mount.

Many thanks to Boomerang Models for the kit, Mr Harvey for the opportunity to build it and Peter Malone for the mass of photos and information.