SPECIAL HOBBY


SH48051 Spitfire Mk Vc 'Malta Defenders'


Review by David Harvey


Introduction

Together with the Hurricane, the Spitfire Mk I was the symbol of the 'Battle of Britain'. At the end of 1940 it was obvious that the Spitfire Mk 1 and it's slightly improved version, the Mk II, were not able to compete in aerial fights with the newer versions of the German fighters and bombers. It was assumed that the Mk III would be produced powered by the Merlin engine equipped with the two stage supercharger (never produced at all). It was decided to order the Mk V series in small numbers. The Mk V was the Mk I/II airframe with the new engine bed for the Merlin 45 engine with higher output. Due to the engine installation the oil cooler was slightly modified.

The first series used the already produced Spitfire Mk I/II airframes. These became the Spitfire Mk Va version equipped with eight .303in Machine Guns and the Mk Vb version equipped with two 20mm cannons and four .303in machine guns. The mass production focused on the Mk Vb versions. The Mk Vc versions that featured the strengthened wing was introduced in 1941. This improvement provided space for various armament combinations. The new Spitfires became the RAF's main offensive weapon in the war over Europe and subsequently over other battlefields like Malta, Africa, Australia, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia and India.

Thanks to mass production, the Mk Vc was continually developed with several types of propellers, spinners and anti-dust filters installed. Late production Spitfires were powered by Merlin 50, 55 and 56 engines with membrane carburetors. Also the wings were modified according to the requirements. The Spitfire Mk Vc served with typical wings tips as well as the clipped wings or lengthened high altitude tips. The new wing also had the provision for bomb racks so the aircraft could be used as fighter-bomber.

Even though the new Spitfires powered by Merlins with two stage super chargers were introduced the Mk Vc was used over Europe until 1944. In several other theatres the version served until the end of the war. The Mk Vc became the most important Spitfire version at all with more than 6500 aircraft of this version produced.

(extract of the Special Hobby instruction sheet)

The Spitfire Mk Vc has until recently been available in 1/48 only by conversion sets for the wings by companies such as Red Roo Models or using the Airfix amalgamation kit of it.

The Instructions

The instructions come in the usual SH format of Czech / English history followed by 7 pages of build diagrams, one page of stencil marking diagrams and the final page is a small catalogue of kits available from SH. The inside page has the parts breakdown for the sprues and it shows the parts that you don’t require for this version. The interesting part is that the parts blanked out are:

  • Inner and outer small cannon bulges,
  • Different style large cannon bulges (total of four different types of cannon bulges)
  • Different cannon barrels (total of three different types of barrels),
  • Different wheel hubs (three different types of wheel hub),
  • Clipped wing tips on the clear sprue, and
  • Alternate cowl to replace the tropical filter.

The build steps are pretty much the same as you would expect for any manufacturers version of the Spitfire.

The kit

The kit comes in grey plastic and comprises three large and three small sprues with the clear sprue as well. As with all the other SH kits I’ve seen the parts will require some cleaning up as there is a small amount of flash on several parts and in some cases the moldings are a bit rough, but nothing a small amount of wet and dry won’t fix. Other than those small points it appears very much the same finesse of the Hasegawa kits I have build with fine panel lines etc.

One of the interesting things is the manner in which they have moulded the cockpit sidewalls. In most kits the side walls are molded complete to the fuselage but in this case SH have moulded a separate lower side wall for both sides of the cockpit. The other area of interest is the clear sprue, this is marked as the “Spitfire/ Seafire 1/48” sprue, so that should be good for the FAA pundits.

You also receive a small PE sheet in this kit consisting of 18 parts. This sheet covers mainly the seat belts and a few small bits and pieces in the cockpit.

 

The decals

The kit supplies you with two different sheets of markings, one of stencils and the other are the aircraft markings. The aircraft covered are:

  • Spitfire Mk Vc, BR112 'X', of No 185 SQN RAF, Krendl airbase, Sept 1942 flown by SGT Claude Weaver. The aircraft is camouflaged in the Malta scheme of Dark earth (oversprayed with a thin coat of Azure Blue), Mid stone and Azure Blue underneath.
  • Spitfire Mk Vc, BR323 'S', of 249 SQN RAF, Takali airbase, July 1942 flown by SGT George 'Screwball' Beurling. This aircraft is also camouflaged in the Malta scheme of Dark earth (oversprayed with a thin coat of Azure Blue), Mid stone and Azure Blue underneath.
  • Spitfire Mk Vc, BP955 'J*1' of 601 SQN RAF, Luqa airbase, April 1942 and flown by FLTLT Denis Barnham. The aircraft is camouflaged in the standard Mediterranean scheme of Dark earth, Mid-stone and Azure Blue underneath.
  • Spitfire Mk Vc, BR344 '3*M' of 601 SQN RAF, May 1942, flown by SGT Stan Howard. The aircraft is in the standard Temperate scheme of Dark Earth, Dark Green and Sky.

The unit and national markings look ok and well printed in the sample I have but the stencil sheet is not the greatest. To my eye the stencils are not clear and to the standard that is achievable in this day and age. The letters and numbers are not clear and merge together unlike a number of other stencil sheets I have seen produced. Comparing the kit stencils to the Red Roo 1/48 Spitfire Mk Vc stencil data sheet, the kit ones don't even compare in clarity.

 

Recommendation

Going by all the comments I have seen about the various kits being produced of Spitfires I can't really compare it to them and there also seems to be a equal problems with Plans that have been printed. So I can't really say anything about how accurate the kit is in shape and panel lines but it looks good to me. Of course the actual standard of the kit will only be shown with the construction of it and being a Special Hobby kit i'm sure there will be a few 'fun' parts during construction.

But from what I see in the box I have no problems recommending this for an 'out of the box' Spitfire Mk Vc.

Kit supplied courtesy of my wallet and sourced from Snowy Mountain Models.


 

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