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Spitfire Mk.XIV Civilian Schemes (A05139) 1:48


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Spitfire Mk.XIV Civilian Schemes (A05139)

1:48 Airfix

 

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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 the saviours of our bacon on a number of occasions, and are immortalised in aviation history as a result. The Mark XIV was powered by the powerful Griffon 61 and later on the 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 was based upon the XIII, and gave a substantial performance increase over the popular Mk.IX, later having the cut-down fuselage back and teardrop canopy and new E-type cannon wings.  The extra weight of the engine required centre of gravity motivated changes, and the wash off the props necessitated a new larger tail empennage to maintain control authority within acceptable ranges.

 

It entered service in late 1943, and was capable of almost 450mph at 25,000ft and could climb like the proverbial homesick angel, giving anyone on the receiving end of its wrath a serious reason for concern.  The Griffon engine had a drinking problem and drained its tanks with a frightening efficiency, so drop-tanks were often carried on longer missions, allowing it to range a lot further from home.  It was also a good candidate for knocking V-1 Flying Bombs out of the sky, and was considered the best Spit for the job by many.  Its successor the XVIII was an evolution of this successful type, but wasn’t in squadron service until after WWII had ended.  The Mark.24 was the last of the land-based Spitfires, thus ending its service in the RAF but continuing with other countries that bought retired airframes that they flew for a while longer.

 

 

The Kit

This is a reboxing from Airfix of their Mk.XIV, but with new decals depicting the retired airframes that saw civilian service once they had been superseded by the new jet engined alternatives that grew in performance and firepower through various generations.  The kit arrives in a red-themed top-opening box with a bright red Spit on the lid, four sprues of grey styrene, one of clear, a long narrow decal sheet and the instruction booklet with spot colour throughout and full colour painting and decaling guide on the rear pages.

 

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Construction begins with the cockpit interior, which consists of two inner skins that are decorated with the usual items we all know and recognise instantly.  The pilot's seat is made from an L-shaped seat with separate sides, which has an armour panel fitted behind it and the adjustment lever on the right side.  The frame behind the pilot has moulded-in lightening holes that you can either pick out with wash or drill out at your whim, then add the seat frame and head-armour, finally fitting the seat to the frame on its four corners.  The rudder pedal assembly goes through a depiction of a section of the wing spar and has separate pedals that you should leave off if you are intending to fit the pilot, and the control column is planted in the middle of the sub-assembly.  The instrument panel is glued to the next frame forward and has a nice decal with just the dials printed, which should settle down with a little decal solution.  The instrument panel is inserted into the port cockpit side along with the rudder pedal assembly, allowing the two cockpit tub halves to be joined and an angled front firewall bulkhead to be fitted to close in the foot well.  Then the seat assembly and next frame to the rear are slotted into the grooves, and your optional pilot with his two separate arms can be plonked in if you’re using him.  Before inserting the cockpit tub you need to paint the interior of the fuselage above the waistline, and remove a small part of the sill if you are posing the canopy closed.  Then it is mated to the starboard fuselage half, together with an insert in front of the canopy, which is where the fuel tank filler is found.  You can also cut out the access door on the left side of the fuselage, bearing in mind that you have a new door on the sprue so you can be a bit brutal in removing the plastic.  For decal option A, the tip of the moulded in fin is shortened according to a scrap diagram nearby.

 

The full-width lower wing has two circular bay walls fitted along with a section of the front spar, which holds the landing gear top sections, before the rear spar and front extensions are also attached to stiffen the wing.  Decal option B has you cutting the upper wing tips and cannon fairings are removed as per another scrap diagram, then you pop the upper wings on and move on to joining them to the fuselage after making sure you’ve fitted the light in the belly first.  The elevator fins are slotted into the tail at 90o to the rudder fin, then the three flying surfaces are added with any deflections that you might wish to portray.  The ailerons are also separate and can be posed deflected if you wish.  Under the nose the chin-insert is glued in, noting the finely moulded Amal fastenings there and on the side cowlings.  Under the wing the two square radiator baths with textured radiator panels and separate open or closed cooling flaps on the rear are glued into their recesses.  The fuselage has a couple of camera ports in the sides, which are supplied in clear styrene, and should be filled before painting, as they were faired over to streamline the sides in civilian service.  Option A has the gun fairings attached to the stubs in the wing’s leading edge, while option B has a couple of smooth inserts to fill the cut-outs you made earlier.  You might need a little filler here if you’ve been clumsy, but test-fitting should make that easier.  Option B also has clipped wingtips, which are clear to include the lights, and both have their characteristic Griffon power-bulges added at this time.

 

The tail wheel was retractable in the Mk.XIV, so you have the choice of wheels up or down for all three rubbery bits.  In-flight a small portion of the wheels can still be seen, so Airfix have provided a slim wheel to put on the doors so that a realistic look is obtained, and a single door piece for the tail is also included.  For the wheels down option, you have separate struts and doors, which slot into the sockets within the bay and have a pair of diamond treaded tyres with separate hubs added, making sure that the slightly flattened section is facing the floor.  The tail wheel bay and doors are a single part, with the wheel inserted once it is applied to the fuselage.  A T-shaped pitot probe goes under the wing with small hooks under the trailing edge and a centreline aerial at the rear, then the tubular exhaust stubs are glued into the nose, and joined by a one-piece five-bladed prop, two-part spinner, and three parts that slot into the front and will permit the prop to spin if you don’t flood it with glue.  You then have a choice of open or closed canopies, using the winddscreen and canopy assembly for open, and a different canopy part for the closed option.  The open option also allows the door to be posed down, which as previously mentioned uses a new part. 

 

 

Markings

There are two options in the box, one in bright red, the other in silver, and as you may have already gleaned, they have different wings.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk.XIV G-Fire, Duxford, England, 1988
  • Supermarine Spitfire FR Mk.XIV CF-GMZ, Canada, 1949

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.

 

 

Conclusion

Seeing a civilian Spitfire makes a change from your average camouflaged Spit we see on the forum every day, but if you’re not into modelling warplanes, these civilian options make a colourful alternative.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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On 11/7/2020 at 11:31 PM, Ruskin Air Services said:

Hopefully Airfix will also do their Hawker Fury and Hunter in Spencer Flacks colours too 

The Flack Hunter flew with straight leading edges and with gun-ports faired over, so it was very sleek. When with subsequent owner Mike Carlton, it was painted overall red and later gained the sawtooth leading-edges and a tail parachute housing.  That makes a number of possible variations for the one aircraft.

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