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Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XII - 1:48


Mike

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Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XII
1:48 Special Hobby


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The Griffon engine Spitfire can trace its lineage back as far back as 1939 when it was decided that a second-line of engines would be a good plan to develop the Spitfire's performance further in the long run after the Merlin ran out of development potential. The XII was the first Griffon engine Spit to see service in 1942, with clipped wings becoming standard for the low level duties that the single-stage Griffon was suited for. The Luftwaffe were wary of the Spitfire at lower altitudes, so the high speed XIIs rarely got the opportunity to "mix it up" with 109s and 190s where they would have been at a distinct advantage, having a much higher top speed and an improved rate of roll due to the clipped wings. It did have a lot of luck with V1 Doodlebugs, where its speed and twin 20mm cannon would catch and destroy them with impunity.

The Kit
This is a new tool from Special Hobby, and it arrives in their small blue and white box with a painting of an XII banking to show off its clipped wings. Inside are three full-sized sprues and one small sprue in mid-grey styrene, a clear sprue, a small fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, decal sheet and of course a small (read compact) instruction booklet with painting and decaling instructions in greyscale on the rear pages. The initial impression is of a good quality kit, with plenty of detail present on the sprues, no flash and some interesting overlapping panels on the fuselage parts.

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A full cockpit is included, which extends to ribbing that is moulded into the top of the fuselage interior, and an insert that provides the lower detail. The frame behind the pilot's seat is included, and has recessed lightening holes that can be drilled through if you wish. The seat with its back armour is installed on this frame on a bracket, and a full set of seatbelts are supplied in PE. The head armour and headrest pad are installed to the same frame, with only sidewall detail present aft of this frame, which includes the two large tanks on the port side. The instrument panel is moulded into the frame is sits on, but this raised detail can be removed and replaced by a sandwich of printed acetate film and PE parts to give a more realistic appearance.

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The firewall visible through the footwell is supplied to finish off the cockpit, and a set of detailed rudders sit within the well, which have PE straps, and sit on the busy floor that is so typical of the Spit. The control stick with its linkage is added to the floor, and a separate circular grip is installed at the top at any angle that suits you. The clear gunsight is glued to its mount on the top of the instrument panel, and the rearmost frame behind the seat is depicted as a small section that fixes to the rear of the cockpit opening, and is joined to the back of the seat by the tensioning reel of the harness. Once all of this is complete, the fuselage can be closed up with the addition of the filler-cap forward of the windscreen.

The wings are traditional in construction, having a full-width lower with boxed in landing gear bays added before installing the two upper halves, which have drop-in sections of skin that contain the cannon bulges appropriate to this mark. Other larger bulges are also found on the sprue, which are for other projects & surplus in this boxing. The ailerons are separate, so can be posed, and cleverly, the wingtips are supplied as completely clear, so that there is no awkward gap between the tip and the tip-lights A small insert is added at the chin area and the fuselage, with moulded in fillets, can be inserted into the gap, remembering to paint the lower central section interior green beforehand, in case any of it can still be seen in the cockpit opening. The tail has a separate rudder with the small trim-tab also separate, to give options for offsetting it, while the elevators are moulded into the horizontal tails. A small rudder actuator is added under the port elevator, which has some confusing (to me at least) instructions regarding removal of the moulded in fairings beforehand.

The large Griffon engine required some structural modifications to the Spitfire fuselage, and even then, a pair of power-bulges above the intakes were needed to streamline the large engine block. A further teardrop fairing sits at the top of the cowling just aft of the four-bladed prop, and all of these parts are supplied as add-ons to the basic nose shape. The prop itself is made up from a central rear part with keyed blades and spinner added to the base. The short peg on the rear then fits into a receiving hole in the nose, although you'll need to trim a pair of ejector pin marks off the back-plate before it will sit snug against the fuselage.

Under the wings are the usual intakes for the oil cooler and radiator, plus the chin intake that has a PE debris guard. All of these are fitted to pre-defined points, and the radiator has a pair of mesh surface parts, the detail of which will disappear under all but the most careful painting. In the centre, the modeller has a choice of three conformal extra fuel tanks of varying capacities to improve the painfully short range of the Mark 12, and a scrap diagram shows their correct location points of these against the underside. Moving aft, you have a choice of a fuselage insert and fixed tail wheel for early airframes, or a pair of doors and retractable tail-wheel for later models. The main gear is simple, and the gear legs have the retraction struts moulded in, with the four spoked Dunlop wheels and tyres made up from a complete back, and separate parts for the hub and tyre at the front. Sometimes a blank hub cover was added, and this is supplied for use as you see fit, or your references dictate. The gear leg covers are attached along their deeply dished recesses that run down the inside leg of the cover, but the cover itself is flat. An optional quartet of hooks sit to the rear of the fuel tanks, although I'm not personally clear on their purpose. The IFF aerial is of the later type without the T-shaped top that was seen on earlier Spitfires.

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The cockpit is finished off by adding the three-part glazing, which is clear and commendably thin, and choosing either the open or closed access door on the port side. A PE grab-handle is fitted to the inside of the sliding hood, and a rear-view mirror is set on the peak of the windscreen, with the familiar aerial base just aft of the canopy. The inboard cannon stations receive the long fairings that helped prevent icing, and the outer ones are blanked off with a small hemispherical fairing as is appropriate. The engine exhausts are added from the outside to simplify painting, and although they are well moulded, the ports are solid, so either some aftermarket hollow exhausts or a little drill-work is on the cards if this bothers you.

Markings
A generous four aircraft can be modelled using the kit decals, and a number of stencils are included on the second sheet, which is handled on a separate page of the painting guide to avoid confusing lines going everywhere. From the box you can build one of the following aircraft:

  • MB854, No.41 Squadron, Aug 1944-Jan 1945 - Dark Green/Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey with D-Day stripes on the undersides.
  • MB882No.41 Squadron, F/o Donald H Smith (RAAF), Friston, Apr 1944 - Dark Green/Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey, sky spinner & tail band.
  • MB840, No.41 Squadron, Friston, Apr 1944 - Dark Green/Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey, sky spinner & tail band.
  • MB832 No.91 Squadron, Hawkinge, May 1943 - Dark Green/Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey, sky spinner & tail band.

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Decals are printed by AVIPrint in the Czech Republic, and are in good register apart from the black, which has drifted off a little. This only shows on the tiny roundel red circles that have black text on them, and the single white "100 Octane" stencil decal. All the rest of the black is in isolation from the other colours, so it doesn't ruin the sheet. Carrier film is minimal and colour density seems good on the sheet.

Conclusion
This is a nice kit of a less well known mark, if any mark of the Spit can be considered thus? There is plenty of detail in the box, and some interesting spare fuel tanks and wheel hubs for the inveterate Spitfire builder. Special Hobby have tried to depict some of the lapped panels on the fuselage, which has turned out quite well, and adds a little realism to the finished product. Panel lines are refined and not over-large, and should look good under a coat of primer, paint and varnish.

Highly recommended.

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  • Mike changed the title to Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XII - 1:48

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