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Seafire F.Mk.XV FAA & RCN (SH48233) 1:48


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Seafire F.Mk.XV FAA & RCN (SH48233)

1:48 Special Hobby




A Navalised Spitfire was on the Admiralty's agenda even before WWII broke out, but it took until the end of 1941 before a viable conversion was actually constructed due to the rigors of carrier-based service that take its toll on any aircraft that embarks.  The initial Merlin-engined Seafire Mk.Is reached the front line at the end of 1941, but these were quickly superseded by the more capable and battle-ready Mk.III, although it was 1943 before it saw its first real combat experience.  As the Spitfire design was further developed, these improvements were eventually passed on to the Seafire, including the installation of the more powerful Griffon engine with the corresponding lengthened nose and four-bladed propeller, which resulted in the F.Mk.XV, a Navalised Spitfire Mk.XII, of which over 2,600 were built.  It was the direct successor the Mk.III, somewhat surprisingly given the difference in Mark, but the Spitfire’s Mark designations have always been a bit flaky, so why shouldn’t its ship-based sibling have the same characteristics? 


The Mk.XV was equipped with a Griffon VI engine that could output around1,850hp at 2,000 feet, with the single-stage supercharger contributing to that impressive figure, driving the four-bladed prop with aggressive blade shape, which made it an excellent interceptor for the dreaded Kamikaze attacks that were becoming common at the time the XV came into service.  It was replaced by the Mk.XVII, which was essentially a Seafire Mk.XV modified with longer and stronger landing gear and stronger main spar to cope with the extreme pressure of carrier landings in rough seas.  The type also had a cut-down rear fuselage and tear-drop canopy synonymous with late model Spitfires, a larger tail fin to restore some of the stability lost by the removal of the spine, and a more streamlined curved windscreen.



The Kit

This is a reboxing of the 2012 tooling from Special Hobby of their Seafire Mk.XV with new decals, of the type that can be made carrier film free after they are dry.  The kit arrives in a blue/white/grey themed top-opening box that has an attractive painting of the subject wearing a high demarcation FAA scheme, whilst flying over islands far below.  Inside the box is a resealable bag with three sprues of grey styrene, a clear sprue, a large decal sheet that also has a sheet of printed acetate and a Photo-Etch (PE) fret in its bag, plus the instruction booklet that is printed in colour on glossy paper, and has the painting and decaling profiles on the rear pages, also in colour.  Detail is good, with finely engraved panel-lines and rivets, cockpit interior and plenty of raised and recessed features around the model.














Construction begins with the instrument panel, which is a lamination of two PE panels plus acetate dials that are aligned behind the dials to simulate their faces.  This is applied to the cockpit frame with the foot well cut-out after removing the moulded-in detail, then installing the compass on its bracket under the centre of the panel.  If you’re not a fan of PE, you can leave the raised detail on the kit’s panel, and apply two decals over it instead, being sure to flood the decals with plenty of decal solution to ensure it settles down smoothly over the detail.  The rudder pedals are fitted with PE retainer straps on top, then are glued to the rudder mechanism, adding the two-part control column and an actuator rod going aft, then gluing it to the front of the instrument panel frame, adding a footwell bulkhead to prevent the viewer being able to see through into the engine compartment.  The fuselage frame behind the seat is detailed with head armour, circular head cushion, and seat frame so that the seat can be fitted through the rest of the seat armour, then adding the PE four-point seatbelts, which have separate adjustment straps, painting them to enhance the details.  The fuselage halves are prepared by adding the ribbing inserts plus some small details from styrene and PE, including the usual twin silver cylinders and throttle quadrant that are synonymous with the Spit.  After detail painting, the fuselage is closed around the two cockpit assemblies, threading the linkage under the seat, and fitting a rod and roll-over frame to the next station behind the seat.  The fuel filler cap on the nose in front of the cockpit is also inserted from within at this point.


The lower wing is full span up to the joint before the tips, which has the very bottom of the cockpit moulded into the centre as raised ribbing, adding the landing gear bay inserts and ribbing, plus a triple line of recognition lights in the rear.  The upper wings include the wingtips to obtain a fine cross-section, then building up the individual four blades of the prop on the back plate, and covering it with the pointed spinner, setting it aside until later.  Before the wings are joined to the fuselage, the twin Griffon cowling bulges are applied over the exhaust slots, the single-part elevators and rudder are fitted to the tail, then the arrestor-hook ‘stinger’ is made up from two parts, using different fairings to depict early and later versions, which involves shortening the hook for the latter option.  The wing assembly is then mated to the fuselage, and the single-part ailerons are installed in their cut-outs, deflecting them for a more candid appearance if you wish.


Flipping the model over, the large rectangular radiator fairings are fitted with cooling flaps and inserted into their corresponding recesses after putting the radiator core inserts front and rear, using the raised lines in the bottom of the pathway to assist with positioning.  A two-part chin intake is assembled and glued over the interface between the cowling and wing leading edge, and the tail-wheel with moulded-in strut is fitted at the rear, adding the two bay doors to the sides.  An arrestor wire defecting frame is built from a straight rod and triangular support then glued into position in front of the wheel bay, a pair of dipole aerials are inserted under the starboard wing, with the L-shaped pitot probe under the port wing, but before any of this fine work is done, there is a fairing on the lower fuselage sides that must be sanded flush with the surrounding area, leaving the small holes unfilled to accept small circular lights in them.  The main gear legs are each chunky single parts with separate two-part scissor-links, which have captive bay doors on the inner side, making a choice of hub inserts between a flat or four-spoked options, which are trapped between the wheel halves and slipped over the stub axles at the bottom of the legs.  The legs are angled forward more aggressively than its land-based cousin, and plug into the bays on two chunky pegs.  The instructions point out that there were often two anti-slip markings painted on the border between the hubs and tyres to detect whether the tyres were moving on their rims, which would presumably end with the valve being ripped away.


Due to the nature of carrier-based operations, drop-tanks were often carried to extend range, with a two-part centreline tank included, suspended at an angle from two separate struts to avoid striking the deck.  A pair of short pylons or bomb crutches are fixed under the wings, just outboard of the main gear bays, right next to the brass ejection chutes for the 20mm Oerlikon cannons, the barrels of which are inserted into the leading edge of the wings in the next step.  The prop is installed on its axle, and exhaust stubs are added to their slots, moulded as a continuous part without hollow exits.  They are circular and of a size that should make it easy enough to make a depression in the centre and drill out each one.  A small intake is applied to the top of the engine cowling by placing it over the guiding lines engraved into the fuselage, with a choice of two styles of aerial behind the cockpit.  Speaking of the cockpit, the windscreen is glued at the front of the cut-out, adding a rear-view mirror to the apex, then fitting the fixed rear portion into position.  The canopy has a PE opening mechanism fixed to the leading frame, and can be posed open or closed.  The cockpit door can be posed open or closed, with a fine PE opening mechanism glued to the top edge, hinging along the bottom edge.




There are two decal options on the sheet, and both wear a high demarcation scheme with Extra Dark Grey over Sky or Sky Grey.  The first decal option has an interesting variation from the norm, as it has a replacement outer wing that is covered in green/grey Temperate Sea Scheme camouflage, a much larger roundel on the upper wing, and a different style underneath.    From the box you can build the following:


  • SW912, 134T, No.804 Sqn., HMS Theseus, 14th Carrier Air Group, February 1947
  • PR479, AA-B, No.883/No.1 TAG, Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Joint Air Training Centre, RCAF Rivers, Manitoba, Canada, September 1948






The decals are printed using a digital process and have good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut loosely around the printed areas.  This means that the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film.  It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain.




It’s good to see this kit back on the shelves, and the two decal options are just that little bit out of the ordinary, which is quite appealing too.  The muscular lines of the Griffon-engined Seafire lends itself well to the Naval schemes, and the carrier-free decals are great news.


Highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of


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