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A Real Lady – Airfix 1/48 Spitfire PR XIX

June 30, 2014 in Aviation

Following the last year’s review of the 1/48 Airfix Spitfire PR Mk XIX by Tom Cleaver, this is one of these kits I just had to lay my hands on.

The idea was a simple out-of-the box project with a single-color paint scheme giving a chance to experience what the “new Airfix” kit had to offer. In the event it took me a full year to get it finished, but this was entirely due to my own faults, not the kit.

Accuracy-wise, the Airfix PR Mk. XIX is a cracking replica of the real thing. Airfix are the kings of the subject and can reproduce Spitfires in scale like no other company in the world. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Thank you Mr. Snowden.

Construction-wise, it is a well-engineered kit with plenty of detail and no vices. I particularly enjoyed the poseable flying surfaces and the inclusion of bulged tyres, keyed to their proper positions. I opted to apply some filler at the wing root joint and rescribe the corresponding panel lines, but could have probably done without it. The remaining panel lines look just right for the scale and the PRU paint scheme. The underwing flaps are provided as separate parts but would not fit well in the closed position. I posed my flaps open, knowing that the flaps used to be closed on parked Spitfires.

In the end I made three simple modifications to the box content: drilling out the exhaust stacks, adding a fuel filler cap at the top of the cowling and replacing the three-spoke wheel hubs with four-spoke ones that Were left over from the Eduard Spitfire IX kit.

The chosen paint scheme is my tribute to Sweden where I have been living for over 20 years.

In 1948, the Swedish Air Force found itself in a pressing need for modern reconnaissance aircraft. The planned PR version of Sweden’s indigenous swept-wing jet fighter, the SAAB J29 ’Flying Barrel’, was delayed since the fighter version had priority.

As an interim solution, a total of 50 surplus Spitfires PR Mk XIX were purchased from England in 1948. In Swedish service the aircraft received the designation S31 and were assigned to F11 Reconnaissance Wing in Skavsta. Today, Skavsta is an international airport south of Stockholm, not far from where we’re living.

At the time of its service introduction, the S31 Spitfire flew faster and higher than any other Swedish or Soviet fighter and was instrumental in developing modern reconnaissance tactics within the Swedish Air Force. Throughout the 1950s, the S31 Spitfires were roaming across the Baltic Sea, providing daily photo coverage of the harbors and coastline installations behind the Iron Curtain. On occasion, they were reaching as far as the Murmansk area, deep into the Soviet Union.

One S31 is preserved in the Swedish Air Force Museum in Linköping, and I had a priviledge of sitting in her cockpit.

The Airfix kit comes with Swedish AF decals as one of the marking options, but the deep blue color of the Swedish national insignia is so distinctive that one really needs a specially-produced decal sheet to accurately reproduce it. I used a sheet from Research Based Design no. RBD-48006 ‘S31 Spitfire – Swedish Air Force’. It comes with a full set of markings and stencils and a choice of about a dozen Swedish aircraft, plus a dose of well-researched information. Warmly recommeded. The difference between the RBD and the Airfix decals can be appreciated on the photo.

PRU Blue is another very distinctive color and I think that there’s no better rendition of it than Xtracolor X8.

Strangely, the paint would not adhere to the model as well as I expected, leading to multiple repaints and corrections for the remainder of the project which caused a lot of frustration and delays. In the end, I managed to seal the color coat with Tamiya Clear.

Weathering was done with AK Interactive enamel colors, Tamiya Weathering Masters plus color markers.
The Swedish Spits were well cared for and I tried to reflect this on the model.

I can’t wait for another quarter-scale Spitfire from Airfix (it’s a Mk.Vb, to be released this Summer).

Appreciating the wonderfully curved lines of the completed model, I can’t help recalling how Spitfire chief test pilot Jeffrey Quill once managed to encapsulate the entire beauty of its design in a single meaning.

“Here”, I thought to myself, “is a real lady”.

10 additional images. Click to enlarge

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30 responses to A Real Lady – Airfix 1/48 Spitfire PR XIX

  1. Excellent detail and weathering, Martin….top-notch photos as well. Nice job all around. I can see why you chose this particular kit to model. And here all the while, I thought Airfix was an inferior kit compared to the Far East offerings of today. I shall have to consider Airfix more closely it seems.

    • You should definitely give it a try. Their Spitfire XIX and Bf 109E are both easy kits that go together very well. Or the Javelin.

  2. you have done a lovely job here Martin ,well done.I have a question,why have Airfix supplied so many of there kits with a Swedish option,I have the ancient H.P.Hampden in the stash which has this slightly unusual choice and I seem to remember there being quite a few others ,did/do Airfix have a connection to Sweden ?

    • Interesting remark. Someone told me before that Airfix indeed was including Swedish marking options in their kits whenever they could. Can’t remember why, though – if their products were simply selling well on the (rather small) Swedish market or if there was some other reason.

      • Martin,further to the Airfix /Sweden comments,I’ve done a bit of looking and it seems Sweden only had one Hampden which was eventualy sold to Saab,Australia ,Canada and the Soviet Union had loads of them so does anyone know why the Airfix /Sweden connection ?

  3. Nice one Martin.
    Great pics as well.
    Saw a write up on this kit a while ago and the plane was done in the same scheme.
    Well done boss.

  4. That is one beautiful model Martin. I love the colors, and the subtle weathering. Great model and great write up.

  5. Incredible job, Martin! Great, how you captured the glossy surface of the original and scaled it down to the model.

    • Thanks. I find producing a glossy finish that bit more difficult than a matt one. Here, the original plan was to stay with the Xtracolor enamel, which gives a very fine glossy finish. As it happened, I had to use various clear coats over it which gave varying effect on the sheen. I’m glad that the result is reasonable 🙂

  6. Beautiful work. This is a kit I’m aiming to procure very soon. Love the scheme!

  7. Really nice colors for this plane ! great job !

  8. Wow! Martin builds a model – will wonders never cease? And it’s a good one. 🙂

  9. Your right Martin, it as a beauty. The solid color really accents the lines of the aircraft.
    We’ll done.

  10. Can’t get enuf Spit, Martin, and your’s is well-cone. And your subtle weathering is spot-on. Less is more.

  11. Martin,
    Fantastic job on what just might be the prettiest Spitfire of them all. I definitely want to give this kit a try, now that I have the appearance of your model to aim for. Many thanks!

  12. Bravo Martin, well done. As well as the images really captures the graceful lines of this Spitfire mark. That scheme really pops. Even as a recon bird, it shows some teeth if you know what I mean. Thanks for sharing, and your right about Xtracolour enamels, I love to use them when I can get some here in the U.S., so I am surprised you had an issue with the PRU Blue on this kit. Normally shoot and let it sit 24 hours and it cures. Otherwise thanks for sharing. Airfix has really stepped up their game.

  13. Very well done, nice WIP pictures, an interesting text and a very nice
    Spitfire. It is time for a recon Spitfire for me, i guess. The blue camo is far from boring it shines with the swedish roundels and the slight weathering.
    A true masterpiece


  14. Beautifully done Martin. The Swedish markings are unique and really add to the look of that sleek beast. Now, when are Airfix going to give us the pleasure of a correctly shaped Mk XIVc to build?!

  15. Superb Martin – love the exhaust staining on the fuselage and the sharp paint job. Talking of which….I also had paint problems with this model so much so that I binned it 🙁 . I was using Humbrol paints and they would not adhere to the plastic, even though I had washed all the parts before hand. This demoralised me somewhat and I left the modelling bench for quite a while. My 1/48 Airfix Seafire was primed prior to painting and voila no probs. I’m making a point of priming all my models now before construction. Having seen your PR XIX I’m going to give this one another go. Well done!

  16. What a superb job! You’ve captured the look, the sit, colors & weathering to perfection. As I’m already a convert to the ‘new’ Airfix, I can’t wait for the new tool Mk.Vb. Thanks Martin.

  17. Beautiful job Martin it looks the business

  18. Nice clean build and an unusual version of a popular aircraft, superior work!

  19. I love the subtle finish on this, Martin. Your article’s presentation and write up sets the mark for the rest of us.

  20. Thanks everyone for your feedback in this thread. Much appreciated – it encourages me to keep going!

  21. Late to the party on this one Martin, but you dressed your lady “up to the nines”.
    Lovely finish, almost seems to change shades from different angles.

  22. Martin,
    What can I add except that I also like what you have done here. Excellent choice of a scheme and one that I had never seen before. No matter how it is painted, a Spitfire always looks good.

  23. If it wasn’t for you being the builder Martin it sure would be on my shortlist for an MoM :-)!

    Beautifully done Martin!

    Regards Magnus

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