Four ICM Spitfires
Back before there was the Eduard kit, before there was the Hasegawa kit, there was the ICM kit, released first in around 1999 with the Spitfire IX, the first series of kits to get anywhere close to accuracy with the Merlin-60 series Spitfires. The initial releases had lots of problems: short shots, warpage, etc., which led to bad attitudes toward the entire series from modelers; this was then exacerbated by the discovery that if one put the engine inside the cowling, nothing else would fit, and that attaching the cowling pieces without the engine and frame inside was a real jigsaw puzzle (easily solved with some Evergreen strips inside, for the glue to attach to), then there was the too-narrow rear upper fuselage (solved with a plug of Evergreen strip for those needing it) and a not-so-detailed cockpit (resin aftermarketfor those needing it, a good seat and instrument panel for those realizing you can't see much more in a Spitfire cockpit), and a good vac canopy (Falcon/Squadron). The kits were re-released with better molding, and the later marks (VII, VIII, XVI) between 2001-2003, but were overshadowed by the Hasegawa release, despite the fact that ISM had it right as regards fuselage dimensions. At the time there were quite a few decal sheets released by SuperScale and Aeromaster, so it wasn't that hard to come up with some interesting markings.
So, here is an ICM Spitfire VII in Pete Brothers' markings with kit cockpit, Falcon canopy, Eduard seat belts, and SuperScale decals; a Spitfire VIII in reverse-lend-lease used by the top Spitfire ace of the 31st Fighter Group, Leland Molland of the 308th FS with a Cutting Edge cockpit , Falcon canopy and Superscale decals; the obligatory JE-J early Spitfire IXB with Superscale decals, Eduard belts and Falcon canopy; and an ICM Spitfire XVI in kit markings for 74 "Tiger" Squadron, with a kit cockpit, Eduard belts and Falcon canopy (the kit bubble canopy being a bit short).
Each of these, with all the aftermarket included, would be cheaper than an Eduard kit.
None of the decals sheets are still in production, but they are still to be found. It wouldn't be that hard to do an Eduard kit with the extended wingtips from a Hasegawa kit, the retractable tailwheel option from a Hasegawa kit or an Airfix Spitfire XII, and get a Spitfire VII, not would it be that hard to take the retractable tailwheel option from a Hasegawa kit or an Airfix Spitfire XII and get a Mk. VIII.
But the ICM kits, as cheap as they are nowadays when you find them, are still good value with "some modeling skill required."
12 additional images. Click to enlarge.