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Spitfire Part 2 (Griffon Powered) Airframe & Miniature #13


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Spitfire Part 2 (Griffon Powered) Airframe & Miniature #13

ISBN: 9781912932009

Valiant Wings Publishing

 

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The Spitfire has to be the most iconic aircraft of WWII and although the phrase is sometimes overused it really is the case for the Spit.  After its initial success in the Battle of Britain and beyond, the first meetings with the Fw.190 drove Supermarine to improve their thoroughbred, leading to the definitive Merlin engine Mark the IX.  Rolls Royce were also working to improve the engine and that effort bore fruit in the shape of the larger more powerful Griffon engine, which required some structural changes that affected the centre of gravity.  Later adaptations to improve the pilot's view over his shoulder by cutting away the top of the fuselage and installing a bubble canopy gave stability issues that were hard to fix, as was the monstrous torque from the gutsy new Griffon engine.

 

The Book

We reviewed the first volume of this work here a little less than a year ago, and now we're back again with volume 2, which covers the later Griffon engine Spitfires including the Seafires that were seen later in WWII, as the race for performance and combat advantage that persisted until the end of hostilities… and in fact continues today but with different competitors.

 

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The book is perfect-bound with 272 pages on glossy paper, lots of photographs, diagrams and profiles, the modern pictures being in colour, while the contemporary content is black and white due to that being the predominant film format of the day.  It is of course written by Richard A Franks, with profiles by Richard J Caruana, and models by a group of fine modellers.  With this being volume 2 it deals with the Griffon engine variants, from the Mk.IV prototype up to the Mk.24 with its contra-rotating prop, with everything in between, including the Seafires ending with the Mk.47, the short-lived Spiteful and Seafang, the oddities and of course the Photo-Reconnaissance variants that were modified to provide the Allies with detailed pictorial evidence of enemy movements, sometimes with dramatic consequences.  If you're familiar with the Airframe & Miniature series, you'll know that the pages are broken down into the Airframe section that deals with the 1:1 real thing, and the miniature section that covers the scale models and has a number of builds, plus a host of photographic detail that will be of great help to the modeller.  The breakdown in more detail is as follows:

 

Airframe Chapters

1. Evolution - Mk.XXI to Mk.24

2. Evolution – Seafire Mk.XV to FR Mk.47

3. Spiteful & Seafang

 

Miniature Chapters

6. Spitfire & Seafire (Griffon-powered) Kits

7. Building a Selection

8. Building a Collection

9. In Detail: The Supermarine Spitfire & Seafire

  • Engine, Propeller, Cowls
  • Fuel & Oil systems
  • Cockpit & Canopy
  • Radio
  • Mid & Aft Fuselage
  • Tail
  • Wings
  • Undercarriage
  • Armament, Ordnance, Drop Tanks, Sighting & RATO
  • Camera
  • Access Panels
  • Miscellaneous

 

Appendices

I. Kit List

II. Accessories and Mask List

III. Decal List

IV. Bibliography

 

1:48 Scale plans, equivalent to 8 pages in a single concertina fold-out

 

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The scale plans by Richard J Caruana are well thought out, and fold out sideways with the left-hand edge captive to the inside cover, and the isometric drawings by Juraj Jankovic, the side profiles are by Wojciech Sankowski that pick out the differences between variants and sub-variants are a boon for anyone like me that struggles to remember the details that separate the marks, so I'll be bookmarking that with a tab.  As usual with the photographs in these titles, they're excellent for the most part, and as good as they can be for the occasional slightly grainy one that is all that remains of this or that variant.  There's only so much that modern photo editing software can do, after all.  The four builds by Libor Jekl and Steve A. Evans are all first-rate too, with two each in 1:72 and 1:48, all of which wouldn't look out of place on competition tables at the highest level.  In 1:72 (by Libor Jekyl) there are a Fujimi FR.Mk.XIVe and an Xtrakit F Mk.22, while in 1:48 Steve A Evans builds a silver Airfix FR.Mk.XIV and a Special Hobby Seafire Mk.XV with high demarcation grey top surface.

 

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Conclusion

A worthy complement to volume 1 and very nice weighty tome with tons of insight and information on one of Britain's most beloved prop aircraft.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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I received my copy (purchased) from the publishers a bit over a week ago.  Generally, I am happy with what it contains in terms of information and inspiration for those interested in modelling Griffon engined Spitfires or Seafires.  However, I did find a few things that caught my attention, either as errors or omissions, or things that I think could have been included to enhance the finished product.

 

Firstly, I did notice a number of spelling and grammatical errors, including a couple of places where text got repeated - usually where text was placed either side of a photograph - which probably comes down to editing and design.  In particular, I did notice the appearance of the rarely covered "Spitefire" a couple of times.

 

Next, the supplied plans are good, but when it comes to the differences between the wing panels of the Spitfire FR.XIVe and the Spitfire FR.XVIIIe, as some have already noted in threads about the FR.XVIIIe, they don't show the correct panel layout and difference between the two wings.

 

The lack of listing of RAF, RCAF (as part of 2TAF) and RN FAA units operating the Griffon engined Spitfires and Seafires, even in a basic form I found disappointing.  It was interesting in the parts covering overseas users some listings of units and aircraft were provided, but recognition of the major user units was absent.

 

An interesting omission, there is no reference that I could see included about the interim  FR Spitfire XIV, which utilised the Spitfire F.XIVc airframe with the addition of an oblique camera installation in the rear fuselage, which was evident by its 'tear drop' raised fairing around the camera port.  These were used by a number of the Tac/R Squadrons in 2TAF in the later part of 1944 into early 1945, with examples being used by No.II(AC) Sqdn, No.414 (RCAF) Sqdn and No.430 (RCAF) Sqdn.  Interestingly they show an example of an airframe with this modification on page 253, but don't make the connection to the interim FR type.  Photos and profile illustrations of this sub-type appear in volumes 2, 3 and 4 of 2TAF by Shores & Thomas.  Examples include RN114, RM810 'A' and RM818 'C'.

 

Focus of the photos and profiles of Spitfire FR.XIVes appears limited, as to a certain degree does that of Spitfire PR.XIXs.  A number of 2TAF units operated the Spitfire FR.XIVe in the Tac/R role - with what I will admit were generally unremarkable c&m schemes - but  a number of these continued with the type post war into service with BAFO and provided aircraft with the return of Squadron identificaion codes, squadron 'colours' and some other interesting variations.  Similarly some of the post war BAFO schemes on Spitfire PR.XIXs provided a bit of variety which is not captured in the photos or profiles included.

 

I'll be pedantic, largely because a good friend of mine who is sadly no longer with us, was Officer Commanding of No.II(AC) Squadron RAF - Shiny Two - in 1945-1946, the use of 2 Squadron to refer to No.II(AC) Squadron whilst seen as a convenience to some, I see as not respecting the history or heritage of the Squadron by not using its proper title.

 

One good thing, thank heavens, no reference or dodgy photos or ill concieved profiles of Spitfire FR.XIVes supposedly with No.II(AC) Squadron wearing the low level PR scheme.  No, they didn't exist.

 

My overall review rating, good, lots of good information and detail, but let down from being great by the items I have listed above.

Edited by ColFord
typo
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  • 2 weeks later...

Got mine this Monday. Already have the Merlin-volume.  First impression: Vastly superior to the similar two volumes: Robert Humphreys, Robert, The Supermarine Spitfire Part 1: Merlin Powered (Modelers Datafile, 3; SAM Publications, 2000), and The Supermarine Spitfire Part 2: Griffon-Powered (Modelers Datafile, 5; SAM Publications, 2001, although suffering from some of the same problems, such as photos of details being to small in size, and especially the limitations caused by the author deciding to stay with available (mostly) models. Therefore the models in 1:32 are excluded as non-available, which is true for the Revell reissue of the old Matchbox F.24, but not necessarily of the Pacific Models Mk.XIVc, which should be available under a new ownership. 

 

But here the problem is evident: By choosing models still in normal circulations, the volume will soon be out-of-date, as kits are issue and withdrawn  all the time (how long will the new Airfix PR Mk.XIVe stay in light of the rather harsh reviews?). The same problem is just as evident when decals are listed -- supposed to be available at the time of writing, but tomorrow?  And of course same thing with accessories. Here the publisher should think of the internet and the vast new possibilities offered here to get out-of-print issues, e.g. on ebay.

 

It will be hard to better the book using classical printing options.However, It is like a new car which is old when it has left the shop.  It is probably the time for publishers to review the options: Especially how to prevent a fine volume like this to be obsolete, say in a year. from now.  

 

Maybe, after some second thoughts the project was from the beginning over-ambitious. Impossible to complete. What modellers need maybe a kind of 'Trevor Snowden approach', a manual for modellers planning to build Spitfires -- any mark -- following the lead of Brett Green. Then a basic text but with constant updates via the internet.

 

But all of this does not distract from the fact that Franks' two book are most inspiring. I wouldn't miss any of them.

Edited by NPL
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