Following the electrifying announcement of a new TamiyaSpitfire in 1/48 scale, here's my review of the actual kit. In search of a more efficient review format, I'll skip the lengthy introductions, state the facts and let the (extensively commented) pictures do the talking. Please drop me a comment to tell me if this works, and of course do not hesitate to share any other comments or questions!
What is it
Tamiya 1/48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.I, kit no. 61119
Injection-moulded kit with photoetched and vinyl foil parts
Self-adhesive masks for canopy
Decal sheet with 3 marking options
User-friendly kit engineering
Flawless, high quality mouldings
Visible care for detail
The variety of detail options
Everything in the kit appears to be well-researched down to the smallest bits of this well-known aircraft
The engineering and overall finesse of this kit is superior to the otherwise commendable Airfix 1/48 Spitfire Mk. I from 2015.
Things to watch for
Gluing the windscreen and the armored glass together
Steel photoetched belts might be stiff to pose naturally on the seat
With all the detail parts provided for the early pre-war Spitfire variants, the absence of a two-blade Watts propeller (nor the "flat" canopy hood) is a disappointment.
Reviewer's point of view
Well, this kit is bound to be the new "best" Spitfire Mk. I in this scale. I'm also quite certain (by close examination of the sprues) that it will be followed-up by a Spitfire Mk. V from Tamiya. There, I said it. Happy times!
64 additional images. Click to enlarge.
1. Alternate canopy parts2. Separate armored glass with alternate types of rear-view mirror3. Two versions of the canopy for closed and open positions respectively4. Early unarmoured windscreen is provided5. Interestingly, the windscreen and armored glass panel are separate parts
1. Fuselage parts2. Note the large cut-outs for the cockpit area3. Smaller cut-out for the extreme upper nose
1. There are two alternative fuselage inserts for the cockpit area. This one is for a closed canopy configuration. The second provides a different fuselage spine to accommodate a slid-back canopy and the open cockpit door.
1. Wheel well sidewalls are provided as separate parts, with nice rivet detail on their inner faces.
1. The carburetor intake comes in two parts, split horizontally. This is probably the best breakdown to replicate a hollow, elliptical duct of the original
1. Oil tank. Note the moulded-on Dzus fasteners.
1. Inner cockpit sidewall, door closed, port side.
1. The two main undercarriage legs are moulded in one piece by means of an interconnecting spar. This ensures perfect alignment of the legs while avoiding having a visible socket (or blobs of glue) at the leg attachment points. Clever thinking by Tamiya!
1. Rear fuselage inner detail. Not sure why this is included, as it's not here for accuracy :)2. The edges of the cockpit-area inserts will match the panel lines, and they should be easy to glue-in using this contact surface.
1. The horizontal stabilizers are interconnected, ensuring easy alignment. Another nice touch!2. Cockpit door comes in two different styles, with and without the crow bar.3. Note the two spacers on the outer surface that ensure that the door is mounted at the right angle when opened. That's care for detail.
1. The "other" individual halves of the horizontal tail are moulded together with the elevators. 2. Separate wing tips
1. The pilot seat is a three-part assembly that also includes a mounting frame2. Separate rudder
1. Forward cockpit bulkhead
1. The lower cockpit bathtub is correctly moulded floorless.2. Pitot tube
1. Wheel hub detail2. Tail wheel
1. A mystery part...2. This is a jig that will help to hold rear cockpit bulkheads in place while attaching and tensioning the seat harness. Once done, the jig can be be discarded.
1. The quality of the surface detail can be best appreciated looking at the lower wing2. The "rivet" detail is constrained to where the screws were on the real airframe. Actual rivets are omitted. It's a different philosophy towards surface detailing than for example Eduard's.3. Gull-wing effect... what's not to like :)
1. Ejector chutes2. Landing light flap, fixed on the kit.3. Ailerons are moulded separately4. Landing flaps are fixed closed. These were never opened on parked Spitfires, so that's ok.
1. The three-blade de Havilland propeller. Sadly a two-blader Watts is not provided in the kit!2. Instrument panel. The detail is on a shallow side, but this should go well with the decal that's supposed to go on top of it.
1. Separate ailerons feature a large positioning tab for positive join, but should be rather easy to pose off-centre if desired.2. Fabric and rib detail
1. Main glycol cooler comes in three parts to ensure that side detail is not lost.2. This flap comes fixed, but due to the parts breakdown, scratchbuilding an open replacement (if desired) should only require a minimum of work. 3. The "spade grip" control column handle4. Two versions of pitot tube are provided, this being an early type.
1. Oil cooler housing to go under the port wing
1. Two armoured windscreens with different types of rear-view mirror2. Canopy for the closed configuration3. Opened canopy4. Unarmoured windscreen.
1. As per the original Spitfire, the armored plate is to be attached on top of the unarmoured windscreen (part D8). Gluing clear parts is a rather risky business, so one wonders how this would go... but it is possible that the parts just click together.2. The transparencies are commendably clear and from what I could see, the inevitable distortion of the bubble hood is well within the acceptable limits. I wouldn't hesitate using these parts on my model.
1. Two types of harness (early and late)2. Ring-and-bead gunsight for pre-war Spitfires3. Solid wheel hub covers might have been retrofitted to a few Mk. Is, but I'm pretty sure that this and a few other parts on this fret are indicating that Tamiya is also planning for a Mk. V Spitfire...4. FOD guard for the carburettor intake is a welcome PE addition5. Larger radiator meshes for the Mk. V-style oil cooler6. Mesh for the oil cooler
1. Pre-cut canopy masks2. Self-adhesive vinyl parts, for the few raised panels on the fuselage.
1. The large decal sheet is perfectly printed
1. Note the cutouts for the underwing blisters. This should make the underwing roundel application much easier!
1. Instrument panel decals2. Full set of stencils is provided