iModeler Review: Airfix 1/48 Spitfire P.R. XIX
Martin asked me a couple weeks ago if I would do the first "formal" (i.e., commissioned") review for iModeler, of the new Airfix 1/48 Spitfire P.R. XIX. Saying "yes" was easy and within a week the box showed up here at l'Chateau du Chat.
There are basically two things to be said about the kit: 1) it is a very easy build; the hardest part is waiting for the paint to dry to proceed to the next step, and 2) it's the best Spitfire kit Airfix has done since the Spitfire 22/24/Seafire 47 kits. I had it together and ready for painting in a matter of days in the midst of making last minute changes for my editor on my current book project.
The kit is logically thought out in terms of production design, and fits so well I didn't use any seam filler or putty anywhere. While the full suite of cameras is provided as part of the interior detail, the only way you'll see them is to open up the hatches. While Airfix provides the seperate hatches, they didn't mold the fuselage halves with them open (which would have been easy to do and would allow a modeler the easy choice of open or closed - my one complaint on this), which leaves one with the option of carving the hatch open, with all the associated opportunities for "operator error" in getting the opening right. I chose not to do that, though I did assemble the cameras to see how they would fit inside the fuselage, and they fit just fine.
Airfix doesn't provide seat belts or decal instruments for the panel. I used some of my dwindling supply of lead foil from wine bottles to make some seat belts, and used Aeroscale instrument decals for the panel. Since there is no side flap on the cockpit of the P.R. XIX (the cockpit was pressurized), you're not going to see a lot of detail inside, and what the kit provides is more than enough with some judicious painting.
Since I had received a set of the new Xtradecals sheet for the P.R. XIX, I chose to use them for purposes of the review. The kit decals are fine, but these are better. Certain folks who visit here regularly will be happy to know that the one foreign operator that is provided on that sheet is the Turkish Air Force, for P.R.XIX "6553". I think that at least one of the World War II options may be for one of the first 25 P.R. XIXs that were unpressurized and did have the cockpit side flap; you should do your research before doing one of these options - you will also need 4-spoke wheel hubs, since the 3-spoke hubs were post-war only. You would also need to cut off the pressurization intake below the exhausts on the left cowling. I chose to do the most colorful of the post-war versions, the airplane from 504 Squadron at RAF Benson, circa 1949-50. The sheet also provides PS890, which flew the last RAF sortie from Seletar, Singapore, in 1955. If you have the contra-rotating props from the Seafire 46/47 kit, you could use these markings to do this airplane as it was modified at Planes of Fame in 1998-2002 for an attempt at the World Time-to-Climb Record, which was planned to be accomplished on the Spitfire's 70th anniversary in 2005 (though not done after the airplane was sold to The Fighter Collection where it can now be found at Duxford). I might do this at some time in the future.
I painted the interior with Xtracrylix "RAF Interior Grey-Green," and painted the exterior with Xtracrylix "PRU Blue," after pre-shading the panel lines with flat black to give "depth" to the monochromatic scheme.
Airfix provides wingwalk markings and other stencils for the Swedish option, but strangely does not do so for the RAF version, so I used a sheet of Lifelike Decals Spitfire stencils here.
While the kit canopy is clear, the only way to pose it open is to use the option which has the rear glass molded inside the canopy glass, which doesn't look too realistic to me, but is an option if you have no alternative. I used a sliding canopy section from a Falcon vacuform canopy.
Overall the kit is very nice and provides a type heretofore not done by a mainstream kit manufacturer. It is obvious from the fact it has a Spitfire XIV prop instead of the correct larger-diamater P.R. XIX prop (something only the seriously-anal Spit boffin will agonize over), that Airfix is planning a Spitfire XIV. I test-fitted a Spitfire 22/24 wing to this kit's fuselage and the fit was perfect, so a Spitfire 21/Seafire 45 will be possible once the Spitfire XIV is released (now that the 22/24 has been re-released).
There are no difficulties in assembly of this kit and it would be acceptable for a beginner to do for a first "serious" kit since the painting and markings are also simple.
As a final note, after completing the model, I learned that the Spitfire XIX does not have a framed sliding hood - it's just clear plastic, like the Malcolm hood for a P-51B. So do not paint the sliding frame or the rear section of glass when you do yours. (he said, dipping his sliding canopy in 409 cleaner to take off the acrylic paint).
I am definitely looking forward to "things to come."