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Mike

Spitfire PR.XIX - 1:48 Airfix

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Spitfire PR.XIX
1:48 Airfix


boxtop.jpg

The Spitfire is possibly the most iconic and well known fighter of WWII, so I'll not drone on about how great it was, as we already know - It and the Hurricane were our bacon savers on a number of occasions, and are immortalised in aviation history as a result. The Mark 19 Photo Reconnaissance model was the last PR model of the Spit, and was powered by the powerful Griffon 65 engine, with the resulting extension in forward fuselage, power bulges, not to mention pure grunt as it was pulled along by the massive five bladed prop. It could carry over 250 gallons of aviation fuel to extend its range, and after the initial batch had a pressurised cockpit common with the Mark 10. It was introduced in 1944 and remained in service until 1954, although its last operational sortie was as asymmetric combat partner for an English Electric Lightning in 1963, when there was a chance of it having to engage Mustangs in Indonesia.

The last was serialled PS888, and is currently mimicked by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Mark 19, PS915, which wears its colours and markings in honour of this historic aircraft that carried out the last operational sortie in Singapore, when it photographed an area of jungle looking for communist hideouts on the 1st of April 1954.

The Kit
This is a new tool kit, freshly minted from the Airfix production lines, and arrives in their usual red top-opening box, with more of Adam Toobie's excellent and inspiring artwork on the boxtop. Inside is a single bag containing three sprues of parts in Airfix's usual mid grey, plus a separately bagged clear sprue within the main bag. The decal sheet, instruction booklet and full-colour painting and decaling guide are laid in the bottom of the box for safety.

sprue1.jpg

sprue2.jpg

sprue3.jpg

First impression is that this looks to be an excellent kit, with excellent detail, although some will still have a good old moan about the panel lines, although to my tired eyes they look fine, and will blend in once primed and painted. There is a lot on internal detail in this kit due to its photo-recon role, and as a result, there's a lot more than just a cockpit included in the kit. Construction does begin with the cockpit of course, and here detail is excellent. The frames are all there, and although the lightening holes aren't hollow, they are recessed, so could be painted black or drilled out, if the mood takes you. A detailed control column and rudder pedal assembly sits at the bottom of the cockpit, and the whole front is blanked off by the instrument panel, which has excellent raised detail, and the pedal well, with cut-outs to give room for the pilot's feet. The seat has an L-shaped armoured panel and affixes to a slightly simplified mount on the roll-over frame behind it, and there are three large cylinders on a tray between that and the next frame back. Usually, that's about as far back as a Spitfire's internals go, but with this PR model, there are an additional two frames included aft of the usual, between which are suspended the three cameras, two of which point down through the corresponding holes in the underside, the other is angled to fire out of the porthole in the side of the fuselage. This might sound fairly pointless as the majority will be hidden away inside the fuselage, but the access panels can be opened on either side to show off your work, which makes a lot more sense.

Once the cockpit, camera bay and interior of the fuselage are painted, the prop is built up from the single five-bladed propeller unit, which has sprue gates moulded into the trailing edge of each blade. Some may wring their hands in disdain at this, but the gates are very slim, and should be easy to remove with no remaining marks, unlike perhaps a short-shot prop, if the sprue gates weren't there?

Before closing up the fuselage, the decision over open or closed camera bays is made, which will help get a nice flush fit to the parts if you elect to close them up, due to the access at the rear. You can also choose to install the pilot, who is of a good size and has separate arms - none of those midget pilots of early Hornby releases. Another choice is made here, whether you are leaving the canopy open or closed, as if open, you will need to remove a short section of the fuselage spine behind the cockpit, to accommodate that thing Airfix do with modern Spitfire kits these days to simulate the double layer of glass when the sliding section is back over the fixed rear section. A scrap side view shows you where the individual cockpit and camera bay parts go, and the camera port is popped in from the inside just before closing up the two fuselage halves, remembering to trap the prop in place. A small vent is added on the port side just behind the cockpit, and the six stack Griffon exhausts are added on each side, although they don't have hollow mouths, which is a shame for such a nice kit.

Attention then turns to the flying surfaces, dealing firstly with the tail. The horizontal tail surfaces are installed perpendicular to the fuselage using the usual slot and tab, but the elevators are supplied as a single part that passes through the fin and is locked in place by a small insert. This allows the elevators to either stay loose, or eases the setting of their offset before gluing. The rudder is also separate with a curved leading edge, and fixes into a trough in the fin, making offsetting easier and a lot more realistic. The retractable tail wheel can be fitted extended by installing it and the open bay doors, or retracted by installing a single piece representation of the closed doors.

The wings are the usual single piece lower to make the gull-wing dihedral a no-brainer, and separate upper surfaces either side of the fuselage. Two more camera ports are added to the rear fillet under the fuselage before they are mated, and the separate single-piece ailerons can be fitted clean or offset. A full set of flaps are also included with the kit, which can either be modelled dropped, or retracted if you prefer by using alternative parts. Whether you believe that lowered flaps are appropriate on a parked Spit is entirely up to you.

Under the Griffon engine, the underside cowling is a separate part that covers up the flat joint between the two fuselage halves, saving a little seam filling there, and the two-part chin mounted intake is installed in a small recess just aft of that panel. The underwing radiators are pretty large on the Mark 19, and have separate grille faces installed inside the single piece housings, with the rear flaps moulded open, which would be most appropriate for a parked or taxiing Spit, given their penchant for overheating while ground running.

The main gear legs are nicely detailed with separate oleo-scissors and a choice of weighted or unweighted wheels, both of which share the same hub part. The bay doors attach to the back of the legs and the whole assembly, with built in retraction strut, slots straight into a square hole in the bay. If you're planning on building your XIX wheels up however, an alternative set of legs and skinny tyre halves let you do this easily. A pitot probe is the last bit added to the underside, at which point it's just the canopy that needs installing.

clear.jpg

The canopy has the correctly curved front screen, and fixed aft part, with a choice of closed canopy, or open by selecting alternate parts. The open section incorporates extra thickness to portray the fixed rear section, with a line representing the front few millimetres of the spine. This should be painted the exterior colour so that it shows through the glazing, mimicking the spine through the glass. A further coat of interior green on that section would then fool the eye into thinking it was seeing the inside, if you see what I mean? Here we have a slight problem, as the glazing in my review sample is a little bit thick and distorting. There are also a couple of fine lines as found on my review sample of the new Merlin helicopter, which suggests to me that something at Airfix has changed. Whether it's a new machine, operator, clear styrene compound or what, I don't know, but there has been a definite reduction in quality that's a little concerning from the perfectionist's point of view. If I'm being overly critical, please feel free to tell me so (politely), but Airfix canopies aren't as good as they were 5 or 6 kits ago.

Markings
Two schemes are available out of the box, and those are as follows:

  • "The Last" No.81 Squadron, RAF Seletar, Singapore, 1st April 1954. Medium Sea Grey over PRU Blue
  • Swedish 1 Division Flottilj 11, Flygvapnet, Nykoping, 1955.

decals.jpg

I was pleased to see that the main exterior colours were given their equivalent BSC colours as well as the usual Humbrol colour codes, although you'll have to mix up the spinner colour for "the Last", which appears to be a very light sky blue. The decals are thin, in register and with good colour density, plus minimal carrier film that has a slightly matt sheet to it. My only problem is that there appears to be a small section of white on one of the Swedish roundels, right in the centre of the outer yellow ring - Hopefully this is a one-off applicable to my review sample though. Finishing on an up-note, there are also plenty of stencils, and they are crisp and legible, although as I don't read (or speak) Swedish, I can't vouch for their correct spelling.

Conclusion
An excellent kit, and I'm sure it will make many a Spitfire lover very happy. It is suitable for anyone from the absolute novice to the expert, who will probably throw some aftermarket at it, and the choice of scheme is nicely done, giving a lesser known Swedish 19 some prominence.

Highly recommended.

bin.jpg

Review sample courtesy of
logo.gif

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This year I'm going to build the kits I've got before I buy a new k........ hmm.... ok maybe just this one...!

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Lovely Jubbly. Mine's in the post, and my Xtradecals arrived this morning.

Quick question - the review mentions the later aircraft had a pressurised cabin. Are there any external differences? How can I find out if the one I'm planning on building is pressurised or not?

Edited by Jazzy Jase

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Lovely Jubbly. Mine's in the post, and my Xtradecals arrived this morning.

Quick question - the review mentions the later aircraft had a pressurised cabin. Are there any external differences? How can I find out if the one I'm planning on building is pressurised or not?

Most obvious difference is the lack of the pressurisation intake on the cowling side on non-pressurised aircraft, also very slight difference in the rearmost part of the canopy , although this is hardly noticeable in scale.

Andrew

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Quick question - the review mentions the later aircraft had a pressurised cabin. Are there any external differences? How can I find out if the one I'm planning on building is pressurised or not?

The first 25 were Type 389 unpressurised. Edit: It seems that aircraft with an RM serial were all unpressurised. I'm sure Edgar can confirm.

The external difference was that there was no pressurisation intake on the port side of the nose. I believe that the cockpit also had the usual side door.

Edited by Enzo Matrix

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This one's been a long time coming, but I'm glad it's here. Now I only have to wait the usual half a year before it hits the shops in the United States. :banghead:

Andy

Sarasota, Florida

Edited by AAbshier

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Happy to see this. Yes, I'm one of the "way too much" on the panel lines. I never use primer, and even with 2 or 3 coats of paint (microns thick) those will still scale up to trenches. Clearly their tooling shop isn't capable of (or isn't being pushed into) making really fine panel lines. It takes some skill to do that really well.


But... it's still a 1/48 PR.XIX, which is very very cool!


Andy - you have a hobby shop that stocks Airfix? And you're grousing about having to wait? The closest *real* hobby shop to where I live is 4 hours on the highway. And I'm not even sure they'd stock Airfix on a good day. That's what mail order is made for.

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Happy to see this. Yes, I'm one of the "way too much" on the panel lines. I never use primer, and even with 2 or 3 coats of paint (microns thick) those will still scale up to trenches. Clearly their tooling shop isn't capable of (or isn't being pushed into) making really fine panel lines. It takes some skill to do that really well.

But... it's still a 1/48 PR.XIX, which is very very cool!

Andy - you have a hobby shop that stocks Airfix? And you're grousing about having to wait? The closest *real* hobby shop to where I live is 4 hours on the highway. And I'm not even sure they'd stock Airfix on a good day. That's what mail order is made for.

Hey fella - I think that you're being somewhat unfair on this kit and it's panel lines. I've taken a very close look at the sprues from it and can tell you that the panel lines are no deeper or wider than many other panel lines seen on a raft of kits from the likes of Tamiya, Hasegawa et al. The photographs accentuate them, but please don't assume that they are the same as those found in the earlier kit, because they are not, being way more refined. If you are going to criticise this kit on the basis of its panel lines, can I suggest you expand that out to every kit on the market, given that they would ALL have features that would "scale up to trenches". Perhaps until you actually see the kit in the flesh, you could refrain from assuming the worst simply based on a set of photographs posted on an albeit, very good website? ;)

Spence :)

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Nice news !

I will purchase several to make also a Mk XIV ( or a Mk XVIII ...i don't know ...) with the Aeroclub set. The Xtradecal look fantastic !

Still some of my XIX photo walkaround in the resource section here :

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234929831-spitfire-mk-xix-ps858-and-rm632-walkaround/

Olivier

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Jonathans got some close up pics of the nose area, and have to say the panel lines look quite nice.

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Very nice and long awaited kit. I'll be getting a couple to build as soon as they arrive "down under". Will be interesting to see what other marking options the decal makers will give us to contemplate. Fortunately most of the subjects I want to build I can do the markings using decals from generic sheets for the roundels, serials and aircraft id letter.

Now roll on the Mk.XIV hi and lo back variants and a PR.XI from Airfix in 1/48 and I will be a very happy chappy.

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Jonathans got some close up pics of the nose area, and have to say the panel lines look quite nice.

You mean this? Slap a Tamiya logo on it or say its not tooled in China and I'm sure perceptions would change. ;)

file_zps70680572.jpg

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Happy to see this. Yes, I'm one of the "way too much" on the panel lines. I never use primer, and even with 2 or 3 coats of paint (microns thick) those will still scale up to trenches. Clearly their tooling shop isn't capable of (or isn't being pushed into) making really fine panel lines. It takes some skill to do that really well.

But... it's still a 1/48 PR.XIX, which is very very cool!

Andy - you have a hobby shop that stocks Airfix? And you're grousing about having to wait? The closest *real* hobby shop to where I live is 4 hours on the highway. And I'm not even sure they'd stock Airfix on a good day. That's what mail order is made for.

Actually I do, just up the road in Bradenton, and they have a branch store in Sarasota Square Mall, just minutes away from where I live. They don't have a huge stock but are happy to special order. Some of us are fortunate. :-)

My point about the wait times is that it really does take months, it seems, to get these kits on our side of the pond. That said, your point is well taken on grousing about it!

Andy

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You mean this? Slap a Tamiya logo on it or say its not tooled in China and I'm sure perceptions would change. ;)

Compares favourably i think :)

Cheers

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Actually I do, just up the road in Bradenton, and they have a branch store in Sarasota Square Mall, just minutes away from where I live. They don't have a huge stock but are happy to special order. Some of us are fortunate. :-)

My point about the wait times is that it really does take months, it seems, to get these kits on our side of the pond. That said, your point is well taken on grousing about it!

Andy

Would it be worth yours (and Jennings) time looking at Hannants?

You could be fettling the plastic within days..............

Go on you know you want to....................

:wicked:

http://www.hannants.co.uk/product/AX05119

Trevor

Edited by Max Headroom

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Actually I do, just up the road in Bradenton, and they have a branch store in Sarasota Square Mall, just minutes away from where I live. They don't have a huge stock but are happy to special order. Some of us are fortunate. :-)

My point about the wait times is that it really does take months, it seems, to get these kits on our side of the pond. That said, your point is well taken on grousing about it!

Andy

Too right - Hornby USA gets theirs far too long after they are available in the UK, a major failing in my view.

Still, I may well order from Hannants, as I want this and the Vampire, and I'm sure i can add some decals to that order, then some paints, then......

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Resist, resist, resist..... Bugger, I couldn't.

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