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Wrestling an ICM Spitfire Mk.VIII into Lt Cullen’s RAAF No.452 Squadron Airframe. ++++FINISHED++++


mark.au

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Spitfire LF Mk.VIII s/n A58-518 was one of three Spitfire in No.452 Squadron marked as CR-C belonging to WgCdr. Caldwell.  A58-518 was one of Caldwell's two spares (his usual aircraft was A58-484) so it was usually flown by F.Lt McCormack.  However, on 10 July 1945 another pilot was at the controls, Flt. Lt. Norman Cullen.  Cullen was from Perth in WA and had seen a lot of the war, enlisting in mid-1940 he spent two and half years in the Middle East as well as time in Darwin.  He was 28 years old and a very experienced pilot.

 

Cullen was flying one of four No. 452 Squadron Spitfires and eight Kittyhawks tasked with an attack on Japanese positions at Tawao in Northern Borneo, Malaysia.  The bombing and strafing attack was to be carried out in conjunction with a seaborne attack by American PT boats.  Upon arrival they successfully destroyed two bridges and burned huts in the area.  Only one Spitfire of the twelve attacking aircraft was lost, Spitfire A58-518; it was seen to drop its bombs, but nothing more was seen and it failed to return to base.  In December 1945 the wreckage of his aircraft was found, as well as Norman Cullen's remains.  He was buried in the war cemetery on Labuan.  

 

The Cullen family gave much to the war effort; his brother Doug, also in the RAAF was killed in an air accident in 1944.  Four other brothers served; Don was made a POW in Crete, Dern was a captain in the.A.I.F., Dan flew with the R.A.F. and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Ken, who served with the A.I.F. in the Middle East.

 

A58-518 was built as a Spitfire LF Mk.VIII at Eastleigh.  Around three months later it arrived in theatre on SS Rimu in September 1944 and issued to 452 Sqn RAAF in December. It was designated as one of WgCdr Caldwell's spare aircraft and marked up with his personal code of CR-C though it was usually flown by F.Lt McCormack through the remainder of its service.  Following its loss on 10th July it was struck off charge on 25 July, 1945.

 

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As someone that shies away from the conventional approach, I'm using the ICM kit instead of the Eduard.  Why? because I quite like the IMC Spitfires despite their idiosyncrasies and besides, I don't have an Eduard in the stash.  I've built a few of these kits, the most recent a conversion to a PR.X and with a little effort and some planning in assembly they build very nicely.  And they're cheap as chips.

 

The assembly sequence is a little different to most.  Of course, we start with with the cockpit but it's not installed immediately.  In fact, it can be left to quite late in the construction phase.  I have built mine close to out of the box, but I did use a PE seat which looks much better than the kit part, even if it's not totally accurate.  I also used a PE instrument panel because of expediency as much as anything else.

 

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The basic process for cockpit and fuselage interior was the same as usual; a black base followed by the base colour (I used Hataka, again because of expediency, and isn't as blue as it appears above) followed by a wash, dry brush and finish coat. For a cockpit and interior as cramped and largely invisible as for a Spitfire it more than does the job for me.

 

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Whether the fuselage interior aft of the cockpit should be natural metal or not on a Mk.VIII I couldn't remember, but as it can barely be seen anyway I left it green.

 

Construction continued then.  I made a real balls-up of the wing tips and had to use a fair bit of sprue goo to fill the gaps I caused by over zealous fettling.  I still need to scribe the missing panel lines but can do nothing now about the slight valley effect I've created around the seam, hopefully it won't be too obvious under flat paint.  On the underside I have also attached the radiators but need to properly blend them in.

 

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The fuselage is joined, and while not pictured in the shot below I have cleaned up the seam and blended the cockpit frame.  It still needs to be painted.  I also drilled out all the little holes in the frame just because.  I didn't add the engine - I haven't on any of the ICMs I've built - so joining the fuselage is a stage by stage task.  Not a difficult task by any means excepting the requirement to maintain patience in letting each section properly set before moving on to the next.  There are no pins so alignment is down to the modeller's care.  I needed to use just a smidge of CA glue to fix a couple of little seams but I avoided a stepped join for a change and not a lot of sanding was required.

 

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I added some 3D printed seatbelts for the Sutton Harness.  They look ok, but I've since added a wash and grubbed them up a bit as the white carrier film on the edges was distracting.  

 

The current state of play is as below.  I've a little more assembly and clean up to do before reaching the point of inserting the cockpit and closing everything up for paint.  In offering up the wings - they are only dry fitted in the pic below - the fit looks pretty good after cleaning up the mating edges.  The horizontal tail fit was almost perfect with just a slight adjustment, though it and the engine cowl look much worse in the pic than in real life, it does give me pause to check those fits again!

 

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That'll do for now.  Oh, and Roger @Dunny, I haven't forgotten the P-38 but I can't seem to get motivated for it just yet... 🤷‍♂️

 

Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by mark.au
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28 minutes ago, mark.au said:

Oh, and Roger @Dunny, I haven't forgotten the P-38 but I can't seem to get motivated for it just yet... 🤷‍♂️

Mark,

 

Given the superb start you have already made on this, I have no doubt you will meet the P38 GB deadline. This looks awesome - following with interest!

 

Cheers,

 

Roger

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Oooooo I wondered if and  hoped another Spitfire was coming along.  Nice choice, I also like the ICM kits and have a Mk.IX  to do in the stash.  

Great start on the cockpit and wonderful to see yhe dryfit of wings and fuselage as looks great.

I am in a GB at the mo and have been struggling to get motivated due to all that I have on the go too 🙄

Great work Mark

Chris

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Going to follow your build with interest. I’ve cottoned on to the fact that ICM’s ‘48s at not much more than a tenner a pop will be perfectly good carriers of decal schemes left over from Eduard Profipacks. I already have a Mk VIII in the stash for this purpose. Enjoy the build!

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17 hours ago, Dunny said:

Given the superb start you have already made on this, I have no doubt you will meet the P38 GB deadline. This looks awesome - following with interest!


It might be tight on the P-38, we’ll see…

 

10 hours ago, bigbadbadge said:

Oooooo I wondered if and  hoped another Spitfire was coming along.  Nice choice, I also like the ICM kits and have a Mk.IX  to do in the stash.  

Great start on the cockpit and wonderful to see yhe dryfit of wings and fuselage as looks great.

I am in a GB at the mo and have been struggling to get motivated due to all that I have on the go too 🙄

 

I’ve had my eye on an Aussie Mk.VIII for a while, it was calling me!  You certainly do keep a lot on the go Chris, I don’t know how you do it sometimes.  I’ve always been a one-at-a-time builder.

 

7 hours ago, TonyOD said:

Going to follow your build with interest. I’ve cottoned on to the fact that ICM’s ‘48s at not much more than a tenner a pop will be perfectly good carriers of decal schemes left over from Eduard Profipacks. I already have a Mk VIII in the stash for this purpose. Enjoy the build!


A good strategy, I’ve done the same with plans to build multiple VLR Mustangs from the Eduard boxing and Airfix kits.

 

6 hours ago, Winded Penguin said:

Looking good so far 👍 

 

When I saw it was a VIII kit, I half expected to see a conversion project and another entry to the 'un-official' XIV club 😉 


I thought about it, but I have a different plan for a Mk.XIVc coming soon…

 

6 hours ago, AliGauld said:

A wonderful start.

Looking forward to this but I can only hope it doesn't make me want another Spit as I've got plans for something else.

 

Cheers,

Alistair


Ahh, go on, you know you wanna… 😈

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1 hour ago, mark.au said:

I’ve had my eye on an Aussie Mk.VIII for a while, it was calling me!  You certainly do keep a lot on the go Chris, I don’t know how you do it sometimes.  I’ve always been a one-at-a-time builder.

I have to have something new to turn to as I have the attention span of a goldfish really, no, as I brush paint I have to leave things to dry for longer before handling so I have various kits on the go so I can keep working on something else. 

Chris

 

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On 11/6/2022 at 5:16 PM, TonyOD said:


Is that a thing? 😁

 

It definitely is!

 

It's about time I posted a catch-up on this build.  Pay close attention to the pics, I made a whopping error which will be tricky to fix later.  See if you spot it before I point it out at the end of the update.

 

The next task was attaching the wings.  I wanted to ensure a clean upper join so I glued that first, without paying too much mind to the rest of the attachment points.

 

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One of the advantages of the relatively soft plastic ICM uses is that it's quite malleable and so the gap at the rear was easy to close with a little pressure.  The gap at the front required filling; I used Tamiya putty for that.

 

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Next, I attached the lower engine cowl and blended it in.

 

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I wasn't too worried about the sizeable step where it intersected with the lower wing because it will be covered by the slipper fuel tank.  The fit was pretty good, but it needed a little sanding and then I needed to reinstitute the fasteners.  I recently bought a punch set for this purpose and the results were just about perfect (which I could show you if I'd taken a photo of them...).

 

Next, another balls-up, but not the one I referenced earlier.  See the engine cowl above, the one I blended in and replaced the fasteners...?  I should have used this one - I must get better at reading the instructions...

 

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Oops.  The solution was to cut out the air intake, glue it together and attach it to the already installed cowling.

 

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I used the back of the scalpel blade to score the outside of the intake on both pieces and soon had them separated from the cowling.  After gluing the halves together I attached the intake to the cowling in its correct spot and ensured the join was clean at the front half - the rear half didn't matter so much as it will be covered by the slipper tank.

 

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Speaking of which, the next job was to attach the slipper tank itself.  It was a clean fit.  Note that the gaps are as they should be - the references show that the tank tended to sit like this on the airframe rather than perfectly flush all the way around.

 

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With the tank attached, I turned my attention to some of the other bits and pieces.  I attached the cannon barrels and the blanks, attached the ailerons, the tail and a PE piece for the antenna insulator plate on the spine just behind the cockpit.  There's a couple of tasks remaining before paint; masking the canopy and attaching it, blanking the cockpit door for painting, cleanup on the cannon barrels and a final seam check.  Then it's on to painting.

 

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So, did you spot the deliberate mistake? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I forgot to add a blanking plate for the exhausts (which I need because there's no engine in there).  That's going to require some fettling to either fit the exhausts into the gap perfectly, or I might be able to get a backing plate in there with some fancy tweezer work.  It would have been a lot easier if I'd just put a plate in there the seven or eight times I thought about it before attaching the lower engine cowling...

 

Cheers.

 

 

 

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  • mark.au changed the title to Wrestling an ICM Spitfire Mk.VIII into Lt Cullen’s RAAF No.452 Squadron Airframe

Mark,

 

A mere trifle for a man of your calibre! What about fettling a single thickish piece of plastic card to bridge the two openings - if you then bond it in place it should be a firm enough foundation to mount the exhausts? Just a thought - I'm sure you'll figure it out,

 

Cheers,

 

Roger

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Well done Mark !!

I'm still a fan of these ICM Spitfire... 

Great job on your congrats !!

Soooo, no sink marks under the stabilisers on the tail ???

That sound strange....:rofl2:

Every ones of mine got it....

I commited A-58 464 moons ago on an Eduard basis...

ICM, I build Mk VII, FR IX, XVI, and some more

 

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We all make these 'little' errors, but it's nice to make a swift recovery!

For the backings on the exhausts, could you feed a single piece of plastic in to bridge the empty space inside, sized large enough to rest on the sil of either openings, but not too large so as to leave room for the exhausts to sit in?

 

EDIT

 

You know, what Roger said!😅

 

Honest - must be two of a like-mind!

Edited by Thom216
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Looking good Mark, also made a similar mistake on a 72nd Spitfire too,ended up drilling a hole in the spinnermount plate and inserting two bits of plasticard and TETd then into position,  I did'nt tell anyone, so don't mention it😉

Roger's idea is a good one , could be glued to one set of eyeballs austs and when they are glued into position the other side glued to it too thus ensuring strength whilst handling, wish I had thought of that when I did it😄

Looking forward to seeing some paint on, are you going to town on the weathering on ghe slipper tank ?

Chris

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Well...

I did it too on one of mines...

Now, I hastily build the engine block, no more and put it in.....

I was about to do the same on my old Eduard Tempest...

And I did ti too on the Stuka....

So, you don't walk alone on this path....:shrug::shrug:

Sincerely.

CC

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16 hours ago, Dunny said:

Mark,

 

A mere trifle for a man of your calibre! What about fettling a single thickish piece of plastic card to bridge the two openings - if you then bond it in place it should be a firm enough foundation to mount the exhausts? Just a thought - I'm sure you'll figure it out,

 

Cheers,

 

Roger

 

13 hours ago, AliGauld said:

Great stuff.

The missing blanking plate will be a mere bagatelle for a Consultant Plastic Surgeon of your quality.

What an ingenious save with the underside cowl too.

Amazing work.

 

Cheers,

Alistair


Good suggestions, both.  There’s a twist in the tale though, see below…

 

12 hours ago, corsaircorp said:

Well done Mark !!

I'm still a fan of these ICM Spitfire... 

Great job on your congrats !!

Soooo, no sink marks under the stabilisers on the tail ???

That sound strange....:rofl2:

Every ones of mine got it....


Surprisingly, there’s no sink marks in this kit except very slight ones forward of the ailerons.  They’re too light to fill, and while I am sure they will show under a gloss finish this airframe will have a flat finish and I don’t think they’ll be obvious at all.

 

7 hours ago, Thom216 said:

We all make these 'little' errors, but it's nice to make a swift recovery!

For the backings on the exhausts, could you feed a single piece of plastic in to bridge the empty space inside, sized large enough to rest on the sil of either openings, but not too large so as to leave room for the exhausts to sit in?


Read on…

 

5 hours ago, bigbadbadge said:

Looking good Mark, also made a similar mistake on a 72nd Spitfire too,ended up drilling a hole in the spinnermount plate and inserting two bits of plasticard and TETd then into position,  I did'nt tell anyone, so don't mention it😉

Roger's idea is a good one , could be glued to one set of eyeballs austs and when they are glued into position the other side glued to it too thus ensuring strength whilst handling, wish I had thought of that when I did it😄

Looking forward to seeing some paint on, are you going to town on the weathering on ghe slipper tank ?

Chris

 

There will be some significant weathering on this one, yes.  These Spits were in the tropics for a long time and could get very grubby as well as a significant amount of wear and tear.

 

2 hours ago, corsaircorp said:

Well...

I did it too on one of mines...

Now, I hastily build the engine block, no more and put it in.....

I was about to do the same on my old Eduard Tempest...

And I did ti too on the Stuka....

So, you don't walk alone on this path....:shrug::shrug:

Sincerely.

CC


Spitfires everywhere, CC!

 

Thanks for all the suggestions on how to fit the exhausts, some excellent ideas there.  So they say “assume” makes an  a*s out of “u” and “me” and I must report that I had assumed the exhausts would require a backing plat to make them sit correctly in the engine cowling.  Last night I actually tried to dry-fit them…. They slot in beautifully as-is, no further work required!  Doh! 🤦‍♂️
 

Cheers.

 

 

Edited by mark.au
Correct the autocorrect!
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Only just found this, but there’s always another Spitfire coming along Chris, ( @bigbadbadge ) you should know that.

I also liked the ICM Spitfires when I was younger and liked a challenge, they were probably the most accurate Mk VIII/IX Spitfires for quite a while, just a little over-engineered and covered in sink marks.

I can see that you're beating  it into submission, keep up the good work.

 

John

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Just found your build Mark. Been away from the laptop , trying to get my property shipshape for a quick sale! Modelling is on the back bench!!! Thanks for the background story, always good to know the history. My late father was on Crete and was shot by a sniper in the hand an medi-vaced to Cairo. My mother was RAF issuing flight clothing to aircrew.

Like the speed of this build, the slipper tank looks especially interesting. Not my bag but always interested.

 

Colin

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I also like the ICM Spits! Aside from the sink mark problem, the other issue I found is, if done out of box, the gear is overly long, and incorrectly raked. The solution is simple, shorten and attach with a brass pin - makes it easy to correct the rake.

Cockpit 3

 

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  • mark.au changed the title to Wrestling an ICM Spitfire Mk.VIII into Lt Cullen’s RAAF No.452 Squadron Airframe. ++++FINISHED++++

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