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Another Spitfire XIV - The same but different!


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I haven’t done a WIP for some time now for various reasons but I can’t resist joining the unnoficial ‘ Spitfire XIV ‘ group build.

I am going to attempt a different approach to a high backed Mk XIV using the Airfix 1/48 Mk XIV and a Mk VIII fuselage. So what’s different about that I hear you say, well the spare Mk VIII fuselage turns out to be from the Hasegawa kit not Eduard as anticipated. I’m sure we all know the dimensional problems with the Hasegawa Spitfires so that rules out the obvious conversion using the majority of the Mk VIII fuselage with the Mk XIV nose, underwing radiators and various other bits and pieces, so that just leaves the spine. Apart from the length ( I have a plan to remedy that ) the spine compares well with the Eduard Mk VIII version, which seems to have become the ‘ gold ‘ standard for the Spitfire fuselage and as my chosen aircraft had an ‘E’ wing I should be able to use all of the Airfix Mk XIV without any changes.

The aircraft I have chosen is Mk XIVe  RN135 of 17 Sqn at Miho in Japan in 1947 flown by Sen Ldr JH ‘ Ginger ‘ Lacey in a non-standard scheme of medium sea grey and  green as shown below.

The illustration comes from Scale Aircraft Monographs No5 and will be removed if there are any objections

IMG_2343

 

According to his biography Lacey was not too keen on the Mk XIV and didn’t consider it to be a ‘ proper ‘ Spitfire, an opinion perhaps coloured by an early experience with one when he decided to perform some low level aerobatics over the airfield and nearly wiped himself out doing a loop because he hadn’t realised how much height he needed to recover safely!

Anyway, that’s what I’m planning but with a warning to anyone who might be tempted to follow this. I am a very slow builder so don’t expect daily updates, I seem to spend less and less time modelling these days, most of it looking for pieces I have dropped as my finger/brain co-ordination diminishes with age.

 

Hope you enjoy it;

 

John. 🇺🇦

 

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Nice subject choice John, and welcome to the party! Will follow with interest,

 

Cheers,

 

Roger

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Welcome aboard John, I’m looking for to this, it’s a great scheme which I’m sure you’ll do great justice to.

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Excellent news John, a very interesting conversion too.

I think the issue with the Hasegawa kit is the nose which is too short in the area just behind the exhausts and the rudder I think?

The high spine conversion will be fantastic and really looking forward to this.

Chris

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Thanks Adrian and Chris.

From what I remember of the reviews at the time there were shortages in both the nose and rear fuselage and it was too shallow.

I’ve taped a half Eduard fuselage to a half Hasegawa fuselage for comparison of the spines and will post some pictures in a couple of days.

 

John. 🇺🇦

 

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I'll tag along on this too John, XIVs are hard to resist to my mind, I've loved them since I first realised what I was looking at on the cover of Johnny Johnson's book "Wing Leader", would be getting on for 55 years ago now.

Steve.

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Thanks for all the support so far guys, now on to the build;

IMG_2356 IMG_2354 IMG_2350 IMG_2358

No box top or sprue photos included as I’m sure we all know what these look like by now.

I began by painting the main cockpit components with Xtracrylix cockpit grey/green, the throttle quadrant, undercarriage selector, trim wheels and instrument panel with Night Black. I have been using Gunze Rust   for the ‘ plastic ‘ seats for several years but this has finally run out, so I settled for Humbrol Brick Red which links a little too red to me but hopefully will look better after it has been dirtied up a little.

While these were drying I assembled the wheel wells and spars on the lower wing and removed the wingtips as RN135 had clipped wings, forgot to download photo so will include next time. As I said in one of the other Airfix Mk XIV threads I am very hesitant about fitting the lower wing to the fuselage then the upper parts and hope to find a way of fitting the built up wings over the undercarriage attachment points on the fuselage, but will wait until the cockpit assembly is installed and the fuselage halves joined before going any further with the wings. In an effort to keep this build as short as possible the cockpit will be straight from the box and I’m not going to waste time faffing about ‘ improving ‘ anything, but from looking at the photos I can see I have a little touching up/finishing to do before I go much further.

IMG_2346 IMG_2347

 

As mentioned earlier the  Eduard  and a Hasegawa Mk VIII fuselage spines comparison was better than I had expected, the height and cross-sections match well with the Hasegawa version ( lighter coloured ) being about 1mm shorter at the cockpit end, so it seems that Chris was right and most of the problems were with the nose dimensions and cockpit position. My plan to remedy the shortfall is to make a new fuselage frame No 12, the one which supports the forward end the spine, with enough extra material at the top to become the missing section of the spine. I have an Airfix Mk V which uses the same cockpit construction and plan to copy the frame from that.

Next job will be to put the cockpit components together, apply the instrument panel decal and manufacture the new frame 12.

That's it for now, any comments/criticism welcome.

 

John. :pilot:

 

PS: this is all looking a bit familiar by now! Hope you're not bored already

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Excellent to see this John really looking forward to seeing this develope and great idea about copying frame 12 from the Mk.Vb too. That too is a lovely kit.

Great start and definitely not bored.

Chris

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Well, I told you it wouldn’t be quick. When I started this I had forgotten that we have friends arriving tomorrow for a few days  so  I’ve had other, more pressing duties to perform lately.

I have managed to get a few bits glued in the cockpit but posting photos of them would be just a re-run of several other posts in this mini-GB so I’ll wait until I have something different to show.

Normal service will be resumes in a week.

 

John. 🇺🇦

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi folks, sorry to keep you waiting.

Although our visitors left over a week ago, life has got in the way again and I haven’t spent much time in my man cave.

Firstly, the forgotten photo of the wings.

IMG_2361

 

I brush painted the inner parts of the wheel wells with interior grey/green, not a very smooth finish but very little of it will be seen with the undercarriage in place. The main parts of the wells will be sprayed medium sea grey when I get to paint the undersides of the aircraft. I noticed when cutting off the wing tips that although the correct short span ailerons are supplied, the hinge line continues to the wing tip panel line, so a little filling there and where the end of the port lower wing is slightly short-shot.

 

  Assembled cockpit components, considering the time spent on it there will be very little of it visible when it is installed in the fuselage, but I hope that the forward displacement of the control column to match the ( eventually ) drooped elevators will be noticeable. I have added the lap straps to the seat but will leave the shoulder straps until the missing frame is in place to avoid damage.

IMG_2362

Although it’s been a week since I’ve actually done anything on the kit I’ve had time to collect some of my Spitfire references and to think again, several times, about how to approach the rear fuselage conversion and have changed my mind about the original plan. I think it will be easier to make up the shortfall with a ‘ plug ‘ at the rear of the spine just ahead of the triangular panel at the base of the fin rather than at the front, then I will be able to use either the Hasegawa frame 12  re-shaped at the bottom, or a combination of both frames, fitted into the Airfix cockpit tub.

IMG_2368

 

The proposed fuselage cut line marked with Dymo tape on the starboard fuselage and cut on the port, with the Hasegawa for comparison. As all the RN serialled Mk XIVs where Fs rather than FRs, according to Morgan and Shacklady, I don’t have to worry about camera hatches, but some of the drawings in my references show a radio access hatch behind the cockpit on the port side as does the Xtradecal sheet. After much searching I found a clear photo of The Fighter Collection Mk XIVe and some black and white period photos in a chapter on Griffon Spitfires in the excellent John Dibbs book ‘ Spitfire- Flying Legend ‘ and am satisfied that the hatch was not there. The hatch on the starboard side near the tail is there, but also another one further forward and higher, perhaps the radio was re-located there in preparation for the camera installation.  Any ideas anyone?

IMG_2373

 

Xtradecal    X48-130  sheet which has lots of tempting possibilities for late mark Spitfires, I must resist as I already have an F18 in ‘ desert ‘ camouflage planned from X-127.

IMG_2370

 

That’s about it for now, more soon hopefully.

 

John. :pilot:

 

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Nice Job the cockpit John, I have checked my refs and can see the lack of radio hatch on port side, but have yet to come across a good starboard view.  

 

Great work and certainly an interesting conversion. 

Chris

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A small update to show that some progress has been made

IMG_2376

Both fuselage halves cut ready for the Hasegawa spine. The cuts were made along the panel line just below and ahead of the fin and continued to a point at the rear of the cockpit opening above the canopy rail slot. I filled the apertures for the camera hatches with Plasticard so that I could save the rather nice clear parts for any future PR projects.

 

IMG_2377

 

I installed the new frame into the cockpit tub then joined the fuselage halves temporarily and attached Plasticard tabs to the rear fuselage and also to the lower edges of the nose fuel tank aperture, as suggested in previous threads,  to help achieve the difference in level between the tank and fuselage sides. It was at this point that I realised that as the Mk XIV fin extends further forward from the rudder post than that on the Mk IX, the Hasegawa spine in not too short at all, so anyone planning a similar conversion and having a redundant Hasegawa Mk IX fuselage take note.

IMG_2382

I have temporarily attached one of the Hasegawa spines to a fuselage half and am reasonably satisfied with the shape, but have yet to decide wether to glue each piece individually to the corresponding fuselage half or join the Airfix fuselage first . Decisions, decisions. The plastic box on the left is full of spare canopies, mostly from Spitfires, so I shouldn't have any problem finding something to fit.

The next step will be to fill and sand the fuselage joins, always my favourite part of a build (NOT) and when that's done the main airframe should come together quite quickly and I should have something something resembling a Spitfire.

That's it for now, all comments/criticism welcome.

 

John. :pilot:

 

 

 

 

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Hi John 

The cut fuselage halves and spine sections look awesome fella, this is a wonderful conversion you are doing.  

I don't know if this helps,  but as you have added the tab behind the spine sections and have a flat surface, like a mirror, it might be worth gluing the spines to their respective halves and the flat surface would help keep them in the right place, even tacking them and then when fuselage joined, run the TET round then so you have wiggld room just incase.  

 

Great work on this John

Chris

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John,

 

Nice work on some major surgery - this will be worth watching!

 

Cheers,

 

Roger

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What do they say about the best laid plans?

I followed the my initial instinct by tacking each spine part to the respective fuselage halves, using Revell Contacta glue which is thicker than TET and has a slower drying time to allow for ‘ wiggle ‘ room when I taped the  fuselage halves together to check the alignement along the spine ridge. When I inserted the cockpît tub I discovered that the forward ends were too low to fit over the new fuselage frame which I had checked for height against one from the Airfix Mk V before I glued it in place. I removed the spines, re-taped the fuselage halves and tried again, with this result. It’s a good job I inserted fairly substantial tabs in the fuselage, otherwise the new spines would have been left ‘ floating ‘ above the rest of the fuselage. Something went seriously wrong with my measuring, perhaps I did some in metric and some in imperial!

 

IMG_2384

The starboard spine doesn’t look too bad from this side, but from the outside, oh dear ( or similar ) it looks like the Matchbox mad trench maker has been at work.

 

IMG_2385

 

 

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The port side was much the same with a gap of up to 1mm in places  so I dug out my bottle of sprue gloop with the intention of starting the filling with that but unfortunately it has gone solid. While looking I came across a bag of Plastruct which included some square section, which proved to to be too big, and various sized rods so I filled the trenches with suitable pieces but some severe filling and sanding is anticipated.

 

IMG_2397

 

 

Fuselage halves now cemented and cockpit tub installed, glued front and back only, and copious amounts of Tamiya putty applied. The whole of the fuselage join line will have to be eradicated from the cockpit to the vertical panel line halfway to the tail and refined to become a panel line again aft of that. Wish me luck.

 

IMG_2390

While waiting for the filler to dry I have cemented together the tailplane halves, underwing  radiator parts and the carb intake. The nose now has rocker covers and I have started preparing the fuel tank cover by removing most of the tabs on the lower edges.

 

IMG_2398

 

Finally a photo of the first sanding pass on the port side, more putty methinks.

 

That's it for now folks, comments etc welcome.

 

John. :pilot:

 

 

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The results are are going to justify this level of effort, of that I have no doubt.  And the journey is very interesting indeed..

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Thanks Chris and Roger, the journey continues:

I added some more filler each side yesterday evening as gave it another swipe or two with the sanding sponge an hour ago and applied more filler, you don’t want to see any more pictures of sanded fuselages do you? No I didn’t think you would. The starboard side is coming along quite nicely but I think I’m going to have a problem with the replacement camera hatch on the port side. When I fitted it I was sure it was flush but I must have pressed on it before the glue was dry because it is now recessed, particularly at the forward edge. I will try another couple of coats of filler and if that doesn’t work I might try to remove it and replace it with one that stands a little proud on the basis that it will be easier to sand flush than fill.

More sanding awaits.

 

John.  :pilot:

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