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Vulcanicty's first ever model - Spitfire I rebuilt (for the second time!)


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This one has a bit of a story behind it...

 

Back in the mists of the nineties, a small, skinny boy was rapidly developing an aircraft obsession following trips to Cosford in '96 and being mesmerised by howling, fast jets, the majesty of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and miles and miles of C-130s stretching into the heat haze (the nipper's first airshow, RIAT '97). Come December 1998 he decided that as he was nearly nine, it was about time he tried that modelling thing grownups did, so he pestered his father (who was by now wondering what the heck he had done) to buy him the Airfix Spitfire I for Christmas. Said father ended up doing nearly all the modelling, even patiently splicing it back together once the lad had established that it couldn't really be made to glide across the room. Built OOB of course, with the kit markings as N3277 AZ-H.

 

About ten years (and 45 or so 1/72nd scale models of British aircraft) later, the small skinny boy had become a large, lanky teenager, and was by now aware of the existence of recessed panel lines, vacform canopies and aftermarket decals. He was also an avid reader of Fly For Your Life and First Light, and so stripped the rather dated model back to bare plastic, rescribed and refinished it using a Xtradecal sheet as N3249/QJ-P of 92 Squadron.

 

However, when an angsty university student (with dodgy lungs from years of painting enamels in an inadequately-ventilated bedroom) joined Britmodeller as "Vulcanicity" a couple of years after that, his skills increased rapidly by exposure to such a wealth of talent and information. Whole new avenues of ideas and skills opened up, and it became obvious that the somewhat Heath Robinson paint stripping and rescribing (using a pencil sharpener blade as a scraper and a Swiss army knife as a scriber) wasn't going to cut it. Neither was the spinner cobbled together from the damaged original and a chunk of Mosquito spinner and crudely filed down to size, the rough approximations of the destroyed undercarriage legs, or the claggy matt varnish coat.

 

Then the new tool Airfix kit came out and was built (twice, the first one being Vulcanicity's debut on BM), the old model was pushed out to grass. Like a real aircraft left to rot, it looked progressively shabbier and bits started to fall off.

 

Which brings us to the sorry  22-year old relic languishing on my shelf. The skinny kid is now a slightly less skinny ecological consultant with a PhD,  surprisingly tolerant partner, mortgage, cat, goldfish, chickens, and approaching 110 aircraft completed. The model was less up together than its owner: frankly, it was a wreck held together largely with sentiment (if it had been anything other than my first ever model it would have been in the bin a while back)

 

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Stripping it down again (with Tesco cleaning fluid this time!) revealed the scale of the job: not a straight panel line in sight, disintegrating trailing edge of the wing roots, a massive crack separating the wings into two (and not in't' right place neither!) and small parts more or less all unusable.

 

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Luckily I came armed, and thanks to Pavla, CMK and Quickboost I had a veritable panoply of resin.

 

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Coupled with a raid on the Eduard Mk IX in the stash, some more Xtradecals, and  lot of scratchbuilding (including much of the cockpit which was inserted from underneath, as following the wing crack I couldn't face splitting the fuselage halves) I managed to turn out (I think) a passable model of R6691 as flown by Frank Howell of 609 Squadron RAuxAF from Middle Wallop in the momentous summer of 1940.

 

The only original parts from the 1998 model are the fuselage (minus rudder), wings, the seat (much modified) and the bottom part of the tailwheel! Hope you like my belated tribute to the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain - I do, which is as well as I don't think the old Spit would survive another rebuild...

 

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You really did a very nice job on refurbishing this kit. It really deserves it with such a personal story attached :goodjob:

I still have my first kit too, a Revell Su-34 in 1/72. It is already disassembled and stripped of paint. I even have new decals already I just need some motivation to restore her to new glory. Must be more than 20 years since I've built her the first time...time flies.

 

Cheers

Markus

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It might be a tad heavier than before with the new resin extremities, but it does go to show that the 'one before last' Airfix Spitfire was basically very good in outline, if a bit unsophisticated in details. The quality of rescribing from the original refurbishment is rather impressive.

 

Jonathan

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That's quite a story and an excellent result. 👍👍 Reminds me of the bloke who claimed his axe was the one that George Washington had used to cut down the cherry tree.  When it was pointed out it was in surprisingly good condition for a tool almost 300 years old he said, "Well it's had five new heads and eleven new handles since then..."

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Neat result.

 

I also worry about the long-term damage caused by a 'childhood painting enamels in an inadequately-ventilated bedroom' - especially those lethal but never equalled Humbrol Authentics! 😀

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Thanks everyone!

 

@Shorty84 Go for it! Unusual choice for your first model, I thought everyone built the Airfix Spitfire for their first model! :)

 

@Ologist Yes underneath all the crud the shape is good, isn't it? One noticeable difference from the new tool is the cowlings, which is straighter-sided and not so "plump" around the exhausts - I think the old tool looks better here. This area looked too underfed before I did the rebuild but I think this was an effect of the oversized cobbled-together spinner.

 

@Uncle Pete yeah I did think of the related Trigger's Broom analogy when counting up the number of original parts! It is still more original than a lot of the airworthy Spits so I don't feel too bad!

 

 

@IanC I came into the world a touch late for the Authentics but the Humbrol enamels I used were unpleasant enough! I switched wholesale to acrylics aged about 18 and the chronic catarrh I had for much of my teens gradually vanished- funny that!

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Very nice result!

Is it a restoration epidemy, perhaps a side effect of Covid?  :)  Currently I am also restoring  one of two mine first model of airplane in 1/72 done by my father for me and my older brother ( @KRK4m ) sometime about 1965, certainly from time when I was well below 8. It was Frog Dewoitine 520...  (another one was Corsair by Revell ). I hope to show it on RFI soon... But it will be certainly not  that nice as yours since I did only few improvements in kit, which is of course very ancient.. and rough. But all parts except Pitot tube are original...

Regards and Merry Christmas 

J-W

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