Spitfire Vc Tropical


Sword 1/72 Spitfire Vc (tropical), A58-84, 457 SQN RAAF


by Michael Louey

 

Serial No

A58-84 (BS219 )

A/C type

Spitfire Vc Tropical

Based at

457 Squadron RAAF Livingstone Strip Darwin NT 1943

Scheme

Foliage Green/Dark Earth over Azure Blue. Spinner and Fuselage Band - Sky Blue. Personal Aircraft of Sgt Rex Watson

Kit

1/72 Sword Spitfire Vc Tropical

Reference

[1] Spitfire Markings of the RAAF Part 1 - Smith/Pentland
[2] Correspondence from Peter Malone
[3] Review of Aeromaster 1/48th Decal sheet on Hyperscale - Peter Malone

 

Introduction

The Sword Spitfire Vc kit has been generally praised in reviews and I agree with these evaluations. The kit is moulded in very nicely moulded plastic with fine engraved panel lines. The 'RAAF' boxing comes with parts for both the tropical and standard Mark Vc. Note that this was not the case with the first 2 boxings which have had the optional parts (i.e. Tropical Filter, standard nose fairing) removed. As a bonus, only the RAAF boxing has the small colour etched metal fret including undercarriage covers, Sutton harness, radiator faces, rudder pedals and instrument panel. The cannon(s) - there are 4 enabling a 4 gun version and cannon stubs are moulded in resin.

The build

There are numerous alternative parts to allow just about any Vc to be built - wide & narrow cannon bulges, spoked & covered wheels, 3 and 6 stub exhausts, Rotol & de havilland propellers and spinners, rectangular and round rear vision mirrors. It still remains odd that the filter types were not included in the early boxings as it would have been more effort by Sword to remove the part. As this is a limited run kit, this may have limited buyers who were not specifically after the kit markings and who wanted a Tropical version or standard version.

There are no major 'fit' issues other than the wing root join between the upper and longer wing halves. The flaps/ailerons are moulded with the upper wing. Some sanding/filing may be necessary to avoid a 'step' in the join. The only other trap to avoid is the canopy moulding. It appears that Sword have moulded a 'full depth' rear glazing as would occur in some of the pressurised versions (i.e. Mark VII). I have seen a few builds where this has not been taken into account. The best way to handle this is to fill the bottom join as neatly as possible and mask the bottom of the glazing higher up by referring to plans/photos.

The cockpit detail is quite complete with an accurate seat, oxygen bottles, rear frame and floor. Even the standard instrument panel is quite nice, and the colour etch version is even nicer. There are quite a lot of parts to the Sutton Harness and I actually lost a piece so ended up replacing it with a simpler Eduard harness. The gun sight is moulded clear which is a great idea. The non lens parts can be painted black leaving a nice shaped reflector sight.

With all that nice detail, especially the instrument panel, I decided to open the canopy. This step actually added the most work for me as I had to try out a number of Vac Canopies before finding one that fitted. This was a spare High Planes Mark Vc canopy (they supply 2 in a kit). Cutting the kit windscreen and rear transparency took a bit of care and time. I believe they are better fits for the kit and for the rear transparency it is an advantage to have a solid join between injection plastic in order to blend in the join for the masking reasons outlined above. This then led to opening up the cockpit door. This was done but the fuselage plastic was too thick for scale accuracy. I substituted a spare door supplied as an optional part from one of the recent AZ Spitfire Mk VIII kits. A bit of thinning down of the inside of the fuselage walls is also required to give a more realistic scale thickness.

Wheel wells are fully enclosed and well detailed. The Radiator and oil cooler also come as multiple parts. The radiator itself is quite nice and the etch covers are just a bit of icing on the cake. The only other area I could see for improvement are the wing cannon bulges. The narrow bulges look fine but the broad bulges look a bit too tall to me. I have sanded them down a bit but I think they still are over size. A moulded on version would probably have been more accurate but may have limited the versions to one (i.e. Like the High Planes kit). Care may be needed with the exhausts. I chose to add them after the fuselage was painted so that an easier clean demarcation with the exhaust colours could be made. There are no backings in the fuselage spaces where the exhausts fit so there is a chance you may push them in too far. This has already happened in one build I've seen on Britmodeller.

Decals and painting

The decals options in the 'RAAF' version include Lou Spence's aircraft, a 79 Squadron aircraft and 2 British options (one is actually a 54 Squadron aircraft based in Darwin so could really be a de facto 'RAAF' version). The sheet has an extensive stencil assortment. The colours look ok, though some of the RAAF codes may be Sky Blue rather than White.

Originally I planned to build Spence's aircraft but after a minor brain fade adding the cannon bulges, I ended up building a broad bulged version so had to choose an alternative set of markings. Thankfully Dave Edwards came to the rescue with some really nice decals from the Smer Mk Vc. The decals are actually the best part of this kit as the Smer kit is a mixture of the old Heller Mark Vb with new wings. The Heller fuselage is too narrow and has really strange looking exhausts. I think the decals might be by 'Propagteam'. They are really thin, have very nice Sky Blue codes and delicate nose art. They go down well with no silvering but care has to be taken as they are hard to move once set and are delicate. I creased one of the roundels in handling and using a bit of microset to fix this actually dissolved the decal! I replaced the roundels with some spares.

The stencils were from the kit as they were finer and more extensive than those with the Smer sheet. The only omission from the Smer decal sheet was the small individual plane code that usually was painted on the front of the tropical filter - I added this from one of my generic sheets. A sky blue fuselage band is supplied but I've never had much success with these and painted the band. This does lead to a mismatch in colours with the codes but at least it matches the spinner.

The original scheme for this aircraft was the Desert Scheme. All that was done was to overpaint the mid stone with Foliage Green and add the nose spinner colours and fuselage band. All in all, this would be the best Mark Vc out there in the market. Try to get the 'RAAF' version as this has all the extras at the same price (at the places I've seen).