Review: iModeler Review – New Tool 1/48 Airfix Spitfire Vb
Some of you may well be asking why do we need another 1/48 Spitfire? Hasegawa, and Tamiya have both produced excellent kits of the Vb, and there are readily available kits by some of the short run producers - Whether or not any of these have accuracy discrepancies I do not know but as we all know, from a profit making point of view in the modelling industry, Spitfires always sell well. Once again the Airfix kit is very competitively priced when compared to other companies offerings - RRP £16.99 in the UK ($28 US approx.) I got mine off Amazon for £13.99 (including postage).
Airfix’s latest offering is of a similar quality to their 1/48 PRXIX or the XVII Seafire kits – that is to say IMHO very comparable to the high quality of mouldings of the big Far Eastern Manufacturers. Five sprues packed with parts fill the box. Once again there are various options included; three canopy styles (opened or closed, early/late style external and one internal armoured windscreens), choice of oil coolers, three styles of exhaust stubs, dehaviland and Rotol propeller spinners, standard and tropical (Volkes) air filters, pose able flying surfaces, and raised or lowered undercarriage. Unusually for Airfix Spitfires in this scale there is no lowered landing flaps option.
The parts on my example are all flash free and come with nice recessed panel detail – check out the photos. Some of the raised detail on the engine panels appear a bit heavy but will soon be reduced with a few swipes of the sanding stick. The “B” wing with its appropriate armament configuration looks correct to my eye, and also comes with the prominent strengthening strips, which I note from past comments in various places may or may not be appropriate. The cockpit detail merits special mention and looks suitably busy. It appears to me to have more details than previous kits, although the instrument panel is a bit bland relying on a decal to provide details for the dials etc. The control stick has the grip and column as separate parts, and the pilots seat is a subassembly with a recessed depression for the parachute. Please note that the instructions clearly indicate that the rudder pedals cannot be installed if you want to include the pilot figure. The fuselage section immediately in front of the cockpit comes separately with two options to suit which windscreen type you choose, and for once is detailed with the fuel cap. It all looks very good in the box. There are also bombs and associated cradles etc, but as with the fairings provided for a clipped wing variant, they are not required for the options offered in this kit. Clearly Airfix have another release planned for the future…..
Two decal options are provided – 1.) Malta Spitfire with tropical air filter based at Ta kali March 1942 of 249 Squadron RAF, and 2.) Markings representing a Vb from 317 (Polish) Squadron which is based on the restored example that currently flies with the Historic Collection at Duxford. The Malta option will provide you with some fun as it requires the debatable Blue/Grey hue applied in theatre, which apparently faded very rapidly due to the weather conditions. Weathering fans can have a field day with that one!
So what does the latest Airfix Spitfire give you that aren’t already on offered elsewhere? Given the amount of options straight out the box, and the level of detail provided I’d have to go with value for money. The average modeller will get a nice result here without having to resort to lots of aftermarket products, with the usual exception of seat harnesses/belts. In conclusion this looks like another winner for Airfix and Spitfire fanatics. The mark Five apparently was the most numerically produced Spitfire, and for my money the best looking of the Merlin engine variants. I’m already in a quandary as to which of the kit options to utilise as I have always liked the look of the Spitfire with the Volkes air filter, and that blunt spinner, I might just have to buy another one, and build them both!
(Ed.) See also Tom Cleaver's build review of this kit at: http://imodeler.com/2014/09/imodeler-review-airfix-148-spitfire-vb/
26 additional images. Click to enlarge.