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Spitfire Mk.Vc Trop ‘Mediterranean Theatre’ (KPM0417) 1:72


Mike

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Spitfire Mk.Vc Trop ‘Mediterranean Theatre’ (KPM0417)

1:72 Kovozávody Prostějov

 

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The Spitfire was the champion of the Battle of Britain alongside the Hurricane and a few other less well-known players, and it’s an aircraft with an amazing reputation that started as a bit of a damp squib in the shape of the Supermarine Type 224.  This gull-winged oddity was the grandfather of the Spitfire, and despite losing out to the biplane Gloster Gladiator, designer R J Mitchell was spurred on to go back to the drawing board and create a more modern, technologically advanced and therefore risky design.  This was the Type 300, and it was an all-metal construction with an incredibly thin elliptical wing that became legendary, although it didn’t leave much space for fuel, a situation that was further worsened by the Air Ministry’s insistence that four .303 machine guns were to be installed in each wing, rather than the three originally envisaged. It was a very well-sorted aircraft from the outset, so quickly entered service with the RAF in 1938 in small numbers.  With the clouds of war building, the Ministry issued more orders and it became a battle to manufacture enough to fulfil demand in time for the outbreak and early days of war from September 1939 onwards.

 

By then, the restrictive straight sided canopy had been replaced by a “blown” hood to give the pilot more visibility, although a few with the old canopy lingered on for a while.  The title Mk.Ia was given retrospectively to differentiate between the cannon-winged Mk.Ib that was instigated after the .303s were found somewhat lacking compared to the 20mm cannon armament of their main opposition at the time, the Bf.109.  As is usual in wartime, the designers could never rest on their laurels with an airframe like the Spitfire, as it had significant potential for development, a process that lasted throughout the whole of WWII, and included many changes to the Merlin engine, then the installation of the more powerful Griffon engine, as well as the removal of the spine of the fuselage and creation of a bubble canopy to improve the pilot’s situational awareness.  Its immediate successor was the Mk.II that had a better Merlin engine and higher octane fuel to give it a healthy boost in performance.  The IIa was armed identically to the Mk.Ia with four .303s in each wing, while the IIb carried the two 20mm cannons of the Ib and two .303s in each of the wings.  The Mk.II was followed by the Mk.V that had yet another more powerful Merlin fitted, which returned the fright of the earlier marks’ first encounters with Fw.190s by a similar increase in performance from an outwardly almost identical Spitfire.  The C-wing was also known as the Universal Wing, and could carry different armament types without modification, cutting down on manufacturing time, whilst offering easy armament changes depending on the task at hand.

 

 

The Kit

This variant of the beloved Spitfire is a reboxing with additional parts of the 2016 tooling, and arrives in a small end-opening box with a painting of the subject on the front and the decal options on the rear.  Inside are three sprues in grey styrene, a tiny clear sprue, two decal sheets and the instruction booklet, which is specific to the Mk.Vc.  Looking inside, the sprues are very nicely detailed with two sets of wings that have different gun fairings as separate parts for the topsides, so care will need to be taken when snipping them from the sprues.  The interior is similarly well detailed, with raised and engraved detail on the sidewalls and instrument panel, plus the typical strengthening ribbing on the roof of the gear bays, which is moulded into the underside of the upper wings.

 

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Construction begins with the cockpit, with a decal provided to apply over the black panel to enhance the details, the control column, red-brown Bakelite seat, the seat frame with an armoured panel between the seat and its frame.  This is attached to the floor section, then the stick and seat join them along with the instrument panel where the rudder pedals pass through the footwell cut-out.  The completed cockpit is glued into the starboard fuselage half, and the two exhaust slots are backed by some styrene sheet from your own stock, with a drawing of a template given to assist you with this.  If you have some 3.5mm wide strip to hand, you’re half way there already.  The fuselage is then closed after adding the twin bottles in the port side, and the clear gunsight is fitted to the top of the panel, ideally after you’ve finished with the fuselage seams.

 

The lower wing is full-width as you’d imagine, and this more modern tooling is detailed with the oil cooler and radiator fairing that has textured front and rear radiator surfaces, plus a pair of teardrop shaped blisters outboard of the gear bays, which also has the narrow tunnel that accommodates the gear strut when retracted.  The upper wing halves are glued over the lower, and once dry it is joined to the fuselage, has the gun barrels installed in the leading edges, the elevators and rudder fixed to the tail, and the chin insert added to the front, followed by the two-part chin intake, exhausts, and tail-wheel with moulded-in strut.  The landing gear is simple and made from a single strut, captive bay door and single part wheel on each side.  The prop is moulded as a single three-blade part that is trapped between the front and rear spinner, the latter having an axle moulded to the rear that is inserted into the front of the fuselage.  The canopy is a single-part, and has a rear-view mirror fitted to the top of the windscreen, and an antenna just behind the cockpit.  The back page of the instructions shows the location of the aerials and all the stencils, including the flare-port decal on the side of the canopy.

 

 

Markings

There are three options on the main decal sheet, while the separate sheet contains all the stencils, which is good to see at this scale.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

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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.

 

 

Conclusion

A well-detailed replica of Britain’s favourite fighter from WWII as it flew in the sunny Mediterranean in the hands of British, South African and French pilots.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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