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Airfix 1:24th Spitfire MkIa restoration and new-build MkVb


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Inspiration: jumps on you out of the blue from attic recoveries and lucky junk shop finds!

I know I've recently spoilt myself rotten with a multitude of Eduard early war Spitfires, but I do have a weakspot for the odd nostalgia build - revisiting those kits built as a youngster when you find them up for grabs.
I got the (boxed) 1/24th Spitfire MkIa at an auction a few years back before Airfix re-released them as part of their vintage classics range. I hadn't returned to model building at the time, but it was a silly cheap price as the decals are shot, but all the parts still sealed in the original bag. It was another "when I return to the hobby" purchase which has been sitting patiently in the wings ever since. I had previously built two examples. The first in the early 1980's is now long gone. The second built in 1988 when I was 16 survives and has been tucked away in various attics since the early 1990's.

This weekend I got my hands on a mint 24th scale Spitfire Vb from a junk shop tucked away in the grounds of a small garden centre, just 15mins drive away from home. The box was still sealed, and for £35 I was quite happy. I was even allowed to open the box to check it was complete and not previously tampered with before handing the money over!

 

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So now my old surviving MkIa has been recovered and is now seeing daylight for the first time in many years. Considering it's been at the bottom of a box of built models it emerged remarkably complete: one prop blade snapped at the collar and the aerial mast broken off at the base (but still attached to the tail fin by a thread). Aside from a liberal coating of grime and paint/decal damage, the wings have lost their dihedral, and the rubber tyres have gone hard but are still in perfect shape. All the gun covers and engine cowling were fixed in place, but I'm sure I built, painted and installed the 303's and Merlin 🙃

 

Well I think she deserves a new lease of life. My aim will be to do a full strip down and refurb, and rebuild her in line with with my two newer Spits. She will again don her markings as LO-B "Bogus" from 602sqn, while the other MkIa will become Al Deere's KL-B "Kiwi". The Vb will of course take the guise of Jan Zumbach's gun toting Donald Duck RF-D. Hopefully I'll do these three ladies justice in the long run!
 

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Overall not too shabby for something that was brush painted with enamels and no aftermarket materials 33 years ago.

 

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The original Spitfire MkIa has had a bath to remove most of 30+ years of dust and grime. The engine cowling is part removed and the engine is complete underneath - the 303's in the wings are missing however! Going through one of my spares boxes I've found the main landing gear tyres from my first 24th scale Spitfire that I built in the early 80's. They are in surprisingly good condition, no wear or degradation. They may we'll end up being used on the rebuild if the current one's prove troublesome! I'm keeping fingers crossed that the Browning's will appear in a box somewhere too, but it won't be a heartbreaker if they've gone awol.

 

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Well she came apart without any real issues! 😊
A few things became apparent - the rudder pedals in the cockpit were missing, as were the 303's and ammo boxes in the wings. The pitot tube under the wing was also gone.

 

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After digging out my second spares box, I found the pedals, all the ammo boxes and 7 of the 8 Brownings.... plus one that's survived from the very first one I built in the early 80's (hence the 7 in gun metal and 1 in matt black). A bonus was finding 'fresh' main wheel hubs, again surviving from the first 24th Spitfire I built. Bizarrely, one thing that had survived has now vanished - the main radio mast! 😂


Still a good step forward. Now to plan the clean-up, paint stripping, and get studying the build instructions alongside some photo references👍

 

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More photos and updates to come as the project progresses!


Comments and suggestions always welcome 😎👍

Edited by Rob Henderson
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11 minutes ago, Johnson said:

Still looking like a great Spitfire despite 33 years of weathering!

Very kind of you to say, especially after just seeing your 1:24th Spitfire project! 😊👍

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Nice projects , they are nice kits and as you have seen on Charlie's build the extra work pays dividens.   Looking forward to these builds so will grab a chair.  

If doing Jan Zumbacks aircraft it has a very unusual rear view mirror with a tall mount and serial was EN951.   AB910 was painted in this scheme in 2011 ish I think.

Good luck with your projects 

Chris

 

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Steps forward with the 30+ year old 1/24th Airfix Spitfire MkIa restoration (plus a new build MkIa and MkVb):

 

The bulk of the Merlin is now stripped of its old enamel paint and waiting for a final clean up. I'll be fettling this along with the Merlins for the other MkIa and the Vb.

 

The paint was stripped using Revell Paint Remover. This was just dripped onto the parts with an eye-dropper and allowed to soak in. You could see the paint lifting in barely two minutes, and came away by gently scrubbing with an old flat paintbrush. Some of the deeper recesses needed a second dose, but overall they've come out well and should clean up nicely 😊

 

Cheers! 😎👍

 

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22 hours ago, bigbadbadge said:

Nice projects , they are nice kits and as you have seen on Charlie's build the extra work pays dividens.   Looking forward to these builds so will grab a chair.  

If doing Jan Zumbacks aircraft it has a very unusual rear view mirror with a tall mount and serial was EN951.   AB910 was painted in this scheme in 2011 ish I think.

Good luck with your projects 

Chris

 

Thanks for the interesting detail there - I've not considered the fact that the decals were a BBMF repaint rather than Zumbach's original RF-D, just didn't even cross my mind!  😀👍

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37 minutes ago, Rob Henderson said:

Thanks for the interesting detail there - I've not considered the fact that the decals were a BBMF repaint rather than Zumbach's original RF-D, just didn't even cross my mind!  😀👍

Hi Rob no worries, I built a 32nd scale model of EN951 last year although started in 2018 and stalled due to the base kit being used and the corrections needed for any Spitfire.  The rest is pretty normal, there is a great thread in the WW2 section in the Aircraft modelling section re any Spitfire questions , if you look at pages in the 60s you should find it there.  

Hope this helps

Chris 

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Next set of parts from my 30+ year old 1/24th Spitfire MkIa restoration underway - cockpit parts now getting stripped and cleaned up.

 

A couple of pins gone on one seat bracket, and the base of the reflector gunsight detached (but safe), but otherwise still going essentially trouble free.

 

To keep this process manageable I'm following the original build instructions, only stripping the parts required for one build stage at a time. This currently gives me about an hour/hour and a half at the workbench per evening, keeps the workload light and adds to the feeling of progression 😎

 

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Cheers!

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Interesting project you've got going here Rob.

 

I've never heard of the Revell paint remover before until you'd mentioned it.

 

I always thought the only way to get enamel paints off my old models was to soak them in oven cleaner... 

Edited by RussellE
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3 hours ago, RussellE said:

Interesting project you've got going here Rob.

 

I've never heard of the Revell paint remover before until you'd mentioned it.

 

I always thought the only way to get enamel paints off my old models was to soak them in oven cleaner... 

It can work out a bit expensive due to the small size of the bottles, but as long as the parts aren't submerged it seems to work trouble free. I've used it on acrylics, enamels and Halfords spray cans to good effect 😎👍

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15 minutes ago, Biggles87 said:

There seems to be a lot of interest in restoring/building Airfix 1/24 Spitfires at the moment. Mind if I sit in?

 

John

Pull up a chair mate and grab a cuppa! 😎👍

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Good progress Rob!

 

If you need any spares I have a few left over from my build;

 

y4mqammewjDX4wSmNhfU6ax1bsEYM5_8jW0fRrnD

 

Plus all the browning .303s and ammo boxes. PM me if you need any.

 

Despite it's age, the Airfix 1/24 Spitfire is a really good kit, very accurate, I read ages ago that Airfix researched it using a museum Spitfire. Having spent the last 9 months looking at it I'm certain it was based on the Mk.1 now at RAF Cosford. And you don't need to do all the ridiculous things I did to get a fine looking model. I'm seriously thinking of doing another (someone tell me not to :mental:!!!). I've always wanted to do LO-B 'BOGUS', which I think you're also doing?

 

But if you are able to, there is one modification that makes a lot of difference, and I thoroughly recommend, which is to add a spar or some sort of bracing to the wings to stiffen the bottom wing and get the 6 degrees of dihedral, otherwise they tend to droop.

 

Best wishes,

 

 

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On 4/26/2021 at 10:48 PM, bigbadbadge said:

....there is a great thread in the WW2 section in the Aircraft modelling section re any Spitfire questions , if you look at pages in the 60s you should find it there.

That's awesome, thanks for the heads-up! 😎👍

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3 hours ago, Johnson said:

Good progress Rob!

 

If you need any spares I have a few left over from my build;

 

y4mqammewjDX4wSmNhfU6ax1bsEYM5_8jW0fRrnD

 

Plus all the browning .303s and ammo boxes. PM me if you need any.

 

Despite it's age, the Airfix 1/24 Spitfire is a really good kit, very accurate, I read ages ago that Airfix researched it using a museum Spitfire. Having spent the last 9 months looking at it I'm certain it was based on the Mk.1 now at RAF Cosford. And you don't need to do all the ridiculous things I did to get a fine looking model. I'm seriously thinking of doing another (someone tell me not too :mental:!!!). I've always wanted to do LO-B 'BOGUS', which I think you're also doing?

 

But if you are able to, there is one modification that makes a lot of difference, and I thoroughly recommend, which is to add a spar or some sort of bracing to the wings to stiffen the bottom wing and get the 6 degrees of dihedral, otherwise they tend to droop.

 

Best wishes,

 

 

Good to hear positive comments about this old kit. Like all the older 1/24th scalers, I think they all looked the part when built.

 

Thank you for the kind offer of spares! I think I'm all good with what I've recovered plus what I had left in my own spares from my original and long-gone Spitfire build 😊

 

Good you mention about the wing spar - one of the highly noticeable problems with this refurb prior to dismantling was the severe lack of dihedral. Definitely a mod to add! 😎👍

 

Cheers!

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3 hours ago, Johnson said:

....seriously thinking of doing another (someone tell me not too :mental:!!!). I've always wanted to do LO-B 'BOGUS', which I think you're also doing?

Yes, go for it!! 😎

You're correct - this refurb will reappear again as "Bogus", while my second MkIa will take the guise of Al Deere's "Kiwi".

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Still more parts in the paint stripper for my old Spitfire MkIa..... but now it comes to this old fella, who was brush painted with enamels back in the day.

 

Almost seems a shame after 30+ years, but while I would have been chuffed to bits with him at the time, sadly I don't feel he reflects my current standard, and needs a repaint along with his trusty mount 😊

 

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Ah yes, the good old Airfix 1/24 pilot figure. I always thought he looked as if he was wearing wellies with long sea-boot socks rolled over the top. While you’re refurbishing him perhaps you could rotate his his right hand 90degs so that he is holding the top of the spade grip.

 

John

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16 hours ago, Biggles87 said:

Ah yes, the good old Airfix 1/24 pilot figure. I always thought he looked as if he was wearing wellies with long sea-boot socks rolled over the top. While you’re refurbishing him perhaps you could rotate his his right hand 90degs so that he is holding the top of the spade grip.

 

John

Good call regarding the hand position!
The kit used by fighter pilots in the early war period could be quite ad-hoc..... football or rugby socks with boots not uncommon, as were a mix of personal jumpers, scarves and leather jackets to contrast with uniform issue items. There is tale of one pilot who preferred to wear carpet slippers while flying. The socks on the figure also remind me of the kit worn my Ian McShane as Sgt pilot 'Andy' in the 1969 film 'Battle of Britain'.

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A few of the chaps in the photo below look like they really are in wellington boots!
 

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Would you believe that I still have my original issue Airfix Spitfire, complete with incorrect colors (Sky Blue for the underside and Zinc Chromate Green for the wheel wells) Even after all this time the only thing it is missing is the pitot tube. I keep it around, though not out on display, to remind me how far I've come as a modeler. I'll be interested to see how your revamping of yours comes out.

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MThanks for posting the photos.

The man sitting on the wing root with the dog in the first photo is Brian Lane who commanded 19 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. He survived the battle but was lost over the North Sea in December 1942 at the age of 25.

 

John

Edit: On further inspection it looks like the dog is probably ‘ Flash ‘ with his owner George Unwin on the other side.

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1 hour ago, Biggles87 said:

Thanks for posting the photos.

The man sitting on the wing root with the dog in the first photo is Brian Lane who commanded 19 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. He survived the battle but was lost over the North Sea in December 1942 at the age of 25.

 

John

Pleasure - group photos such as these are fascinating studies of the men that defended our skies.

Another character of note in that first photo (for those unaware), the pilot sitting next to Lane is George Unwin. A 19sqn Sgt pilot from before the war, he was credited with 13 kills flying the Spitfire MkI/II. Between him and Lane is Unwin's Alsatian 'Flash'. He was still serving in the RAF as a Wing Commander in the far east at Tengah in 1955 😊

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Haha, I was posting an ‘ edit ‘ to my last post about George Unwin and ‘ Flash ‘ when your reply pinged on my iPad.

Incidentally I worked at Bournemouth Airport in the 70s with a keen golfer and the president of his golf club was George Unwin!

 

John

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