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  1. Spitfire HF Mk. VIII ProfiPACK 1:48 Eduard The Spit needs little introduction other than that it helped to save Britain from the Luftwaffe's onslaught during the Battle of Britain, holding off the fighters while the Hurricanes went after the bombers. It was a flexible airframe and was capable of much improvement, which rendered it useful for the full course of WWII, with many changes during service both to the airframe and the Merlin powerplant, which was later replaced by the more powerful and larger Griffon engine. The Mark VIII airframes were all built by Supermarine themselves and saw a lot of use overseas, with the Mk.IX used more in defence of the British Isles and benefitting from the extra power the revised engine gave it. The high altitude HF was equipped with a set of wingtip extensions to improve climb and lift in the thinner atmosphere at height, and ran a Type 70 Merlin that was able to propel it a further 3,500 feet above the standard Mk.VIII, as well as 10mph or so higher top speed. The extended wingtips gave little in the way of assistance, while slowing down the aircraft's roll-rate, and although it was well-liked by pilots (with standard tips), it was eclipsed by the more potent IX. The Kit Eduard's Spitfire range just keeps on growing, and this new boxing uses as much existing tooling as is appropriate, and adds new parts to complete the airframe as its mark requires. Consequently there will be a fair number of parts remaining in the box after completion of your model. The kit arrives in the standard ProfiPACK box with the orange band, with four sprues in dark grey/blue styrene, one in clear, two sheets of decals, a small sheet of pre-painted and nickel-plated Photo-Etch (PE), a sheet of yellow kabuki tape masks, and the glossy colour printed instruction booklet with painting and marking guide to the rear. The sprues are bagged in resealable clear foil bags, while the circular clear sprue is bagged separately in a ziplok type bag for extra protection from chaffing. The PE and masks are in a bag each, with the PE protected by a piece of card, and the decals are in their own bag with paper covering the printing to protect them. Eduard's 1:48 Spitfires are beautiful models that have exquisite surface detail, go together well and look the part. There's not much unusual about this build, and the cockpit goes together as you'd expect, with a small depression to fill on the head of the frame behind the seat, and a choice of two parts either with the head armour moulded in or added as a separate PE part. There are optional styrene or colour PE instrument panels, and a decal on the sheet to overlay the styrene part if you really don't like laminated PE panels. There's also a decal for the compass that sits between the pilot's knees hanging from behind the instrument panel. If you're closing up the canopy you'll need to trim a few sections of the cockpit sill, which are indicated in red on scrap diagrams, and a few holes need drilling in one wing root and in the starboard nose for the later application of a small teardrop fairing peculiar to the HF's engine configuration. The wings are full span underneath as you'd expect, and there are a choice of colours for the underwing recognition lights, which is predicated by your decal choice. The tops glue on after the wheel wells have been constructed from three parts each, and the airframe is brought together by adding the wings, elevators and rudder at the rear. The cowling is a perceived weak-point of the kit due to the fact that it must be moulded as two parts due to its shape and you then have to deal with the seams, which are prominent, and with some fillers have a tendency of coming back both there and over the fuel tank in front of the windscreen. This not limited to Eduard's Spits, as I remember having it with another brand myself. Don’t forget to add the exhaust stacks with their hollow slide-moulded tips, which are closer in look to resin than styrene. At this stage the wings are clipped and have no control surfaces, which are added next, and the former have long tabs that slip inside the slot in the wings, so take care with alignment here and save yourself a lot of heartache later by minimising the seam. Underneath you need to add the chin with prominent scoop plus the radiator housings, all of which have PE mesh intakes and in the case of the latter, exits too. The doors at the rear of the housings can be posed open or closed by fitting a different actuator, the angles and positions of which are shown in scrap diagrams. The Spit's landing gear was notorious for causing many a nose-over due to its narrow track, and this is replicated well by the kit, with each wheel having four parts, the main strut having either styrene or PE scissor links on the oleo, and the bay doors nicely detailed as well a commendably thin. If you are posing your model in flight, leave the tabs at the wing end intact, otherwise they need trimming as instructed. The VIII had a retractable tail-wheel in the search for speed, and this is well depicted with a two-part yoke around the tyre, and two clamshell doors that have the correct position pointed out in another scrap diagram. Pitot probe, aerial and two metal hooks are fitted on the underside, and then it's just a case of choosing whether to leave your canopy open or closed and fitting the prop. A rear view mirror and closure mechanism is provided in PE, and if you are closing the canopy, you have a single part for the opener and the fixed rear part, while the open canopy has two sections that fit one over the other. Choose your cockpit door position, then fix the single part prop to the back plate and top it off with the spinner, locating it on the front (shocker!) with its spindle through the thoughtfully provided hole. A fuel filler cap, aerial post behind the cockpit and a pair of cannon barrels with domed over outer positions finishes things off nicely. Markings This is a ProfiPACK kit, and you have your usual five markings options spread between two sheets. The main sheet contains the machine specific decals, while the smaller sheet is full of stencils for the airframe that are common between them. These are called out on a separate page of the instructions. Decals are by Eduard, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, and a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. From the box you can build one of the following: JF364, No. 32 Squadron, Foggia, Italy, early 1944 JF476, No. 92 Squadron, Triolo, Sicily, November 1943 JF519, No. 1 Squadron SAAF , Trigno, Italy, February 1944 JF630, flown by F/O L. Cronin, No. 81 Squadron, Palel, India, March 1944 308th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group, Castel Volturno, Italy, 1944 Yes, those roundels on the right are a bit bright, but they're supposed to be like that. Supplied on a sheet of yellow kabuki tape, the masks provide you with a full set of masks for the canopy, with compound curved handled by using frame hugging masks, while the highly curved gaps are in-filled with either liquid mask or offcuts from the background tape. In addition you get a small number of masks for the wing and fuselage lights where needed. Conclusion One of the less famous Spitfire marks with a quirky set of wingtips gets a thoroughly modern, well-detailed rendition with a nice selection of decal options that should please most folks. If you're hungry for more detail, just check out the back page of the instructions, which has an advert extolling the benefits of the resin wheels, engine, cockpit, gun bays, exhausts and various PE sets that you can add. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of