Beacon Models Spitfire Mk.I and Bf109E, 1/144. The New Company on the Block.
A while ago Beacon Models started a kickstarter followed by a pre-order for a pair of iconic Battle of Britain aircraft. Now, they're finally here! For a debut kit from a new company I'm very impressed.
The kit comes with two sprues, one of each aircraft, in injection moulded plastic. Whilst the kit comes with only one scheme for each aircraft there are many options included in the plastic for future releases, including the Spitfire Mk.I with the early canopy and two blade prop, as well as a seperate wing with the Mk.IIb's cannon arrangement. The 109 similarly has a wing for the machine gun armed E-1 or the cannon armed E-3/4/7, as well as options for bombs, drop tanks and a tropical filter. Wheels up options are provided for both as well as a spinner with no propellers for an in flight display.
Instructions are simple as expected, but very well presented and easy to follow for the two aircraft. Masking sets for the canopies are also included which is very appreciated.
The model itself builds up very easily but has a lot of detail, the interior cockpit detail is by far the best I've seen in this tiny scale which either completely neglects any detail here or requires photoetch for it. The exterior details are out-of-scale, but honestly not much more than Airfix's 1/72 Spitfire is! I don't think this is a bad thing though, a realistic in scale 1/144 would be barren of panel line details so a compromise is expected and unsprisingly for a debut launch achieving what Eduard can do in the scale would be unrealistic to achieve.
Markings are provided in Cartograf so this means extremely good quality markings that confirm well over the panel lines. As a pre-order I did receive generic marking sets, more on that later.
Of the two, the Spitfire is the less fiddly to build due to having fewer parts. The model fits together exceedly well and no issues were encountered, the only filler needed went down the fuselage seam but this is standard of all my builds in any scale. Having built Eduard's 1/144 Spitfire Mk.IX I can say that the Beacon Models offering is less fiddly with slightly better fit, obviously the trade off is that Eduard has more in-scale detailing.
As a challenge, and not being bothered to do tiny blu-tac lines masks, I ended up free-handing this scheme with my 0.2mm airbrush. It lacks the hard edge of the real thing, but it was fun and a nice test of accuracy. Paint used was MRP's Dark Earth and NATO Green (I ran out of RAF Dark Green). The underside was painted in the early white/night, with silver nose and tail. The intent was to build a miniature of N3200 which is a unique aircraft having been shot down on 26 May 1940 during the Dunkirk evacuations and resurrected after a very difficult restoration, flying again in 2014 and continuing to regularly fly today.
The plan was to use the generic decal set, however whilst the kit came with Cartograf these generic decals were not. I've never struggled with decals so much admittedly, they seemed allergic to the idea of settling down. After two days of micro sol/set, Mr. Mark Softener, and even Tamiya Extra Thin as well as two clear coats, the decals still moved when applying a black wash to the model as if they were applied 15 minutes previously.
As such this left me with a model that was in the incorrect 'Type B' pattern, whereas the kits decals are for a plane with 'Type A', as well as a completely different underside. In the end I cut out the fuselage roundel away from the letter codes and I present a naked Spitfire at least until I get some replacement lettering through the post.
As for the 109, well it remains in primer with a black wash to show the details and will be painted when I need a rest from Corsair work!
Whilst 1/144 isn't a scale for everyone, I appreciate it as a fun and quick side project when a main model gets a bit stuck. I also appreciate it for testing out ideas for a bigger project especially if you are one for doing dioramas. Beacon Models provide a very high quality debut kit and in my eyes future releases can only get better after starting so well, granted this is perhaps not too surprisingly when the two founders have a background of successful projects including experience at Wingnut Wings.
I highly recommend the kit, once its available, to anyone interested in the scale. I also look forward to seeing the next projects which (if successful) will mean a line of new Battle of Britain era models in 1/144.
2 additional images. Click to enlarge.