Intended as the definitive Merlin-engined Spitfire, the Mk.VIII was overtaken by events - namely the appearance of the Fw 190A that established clear superiority over the then current production model, the Mk.V. As introducing the new version would involve delays and disruption that simply couldn’t be accepted, a stop-gap solution was adopted in the form of the Mk.IX. In the event, the stop-gap proved so successful, it was built in far greater numbers than the Mk.VIII. Despite this, Geoffrey Quill was quoted as considering the Mk.VIII the finest Spitfire from a pure flying point of view - with standard wingtips, that is
; it originally appeared with extended tips which he considered of no practical value and simply reduced the aileron response and the aircraft’s rate of roll.
1,658 Mk.VIIIs were built, serving with some thirty squadrons around the world. Ironically, despite Geoffrey Quill’s high opinion of it, the type never equipped home-based RAF units.
Eduard’s new Mk.VIII arrives in a typically stylish top opening box, with all the sprues and accessories beautifully presented. As you’d expect, the new version shares a number of parts with Eduard’s original Mk. IX. There's plenty that's new, though, including revised fuselage and wing mouldings. The kit comprises:
92 3 96 19 x dark grey styrene parts (of which 52 are not required)
17 x clear styrene parts (5 not needed)
36 x photoetched parts, some pre-coloured
A sheet of Kabuki tape painting masks
Decals for 6 x colour schemes
The moulding on the sample kit appears essentially faultless. There’s no flash, and no sign of sink marks. As far as I can see, ejector pin marks have been kept completely out of sight.
The surface finish is simply superb, comprising beautifully delicate embossed rivets and realistically taught fabric areas with rib tapes. According to Edgar Brooks, the rivets on the full sized wings were puttied and smoothed towards the leading edges, so you can easily replicate this if you wish with a sanded back coat of thick paint.
Many assembly of the Mk.IX was very trouble-free, so the new kit should be no different. I found I needed a spot of filler at the roots of the tailplane, and the seam between the two halves of the top cowling was quite stubborn to remove all traces of (every time I thought I’d beaten it, the next coat of paint would highlight it again). The seam is the price to be paid for accurately moulded cowl bulges, so it’s worth the slight aggro. There’s a choice of standard, clipped and pointed wingtips and, based again on the Mk.IX, these should be a good fit.
A few details
Construction begins with a very nicely fitted out 40 parts cockpit. The kit makes extensive use of Eduard’s market-leading etched details, so the effect is excellent. If you wish to go even further, Eduard also produce Brassin aftermarket sets, but the kit parts will more than suffice for most modellers. Most of the etched parts aren’t overly complicated, so the kit will make an ideal introduction to using metal details if you haven’t before. Eduard do offer a conventionally moulded styrene instrument panel as an alternative, but I think one look at the superb pre-coloured etched version will ensure for most of us that the plastic part heads to the spares box.
The wheel wells are cleverly designed in multiple sections to allow plenty of details on walls. The maingear legs have a choice of etched or styrene scissor links, and the wheels have etched plain hubs as an alternative to the plastic 4-spoke versions. The wheels themselves are unweighted, so I’ll sand slight flats to prevent the finished model “standing on tip-toe”.
The canons and exhausts are hollowed-out thanks to slide-moulding, while the propeller assembly is nice and straightforward. Eduard have caught the shape of the spinner nicely in my opinion, but I’ll fill the opening in the tip to mimic the small circular cover on the full-sized article.
The clear parts are beautifully moulded - thin and crystal clear, with a choice of open or closed canopies. Clipped wingtips are moulded clear, which neatly avoids the need for separate navigation lamp covers.
Instructions and decals
As usual, Eduard’s Profi-Pack instructions are produced as a high quality glossy A-4 booklet. Construction is broken down into logical stages across 10 pages. The drawings are clear and easy to follow, and Gunze Sangyo paint matches are provided throughout.
Six colour schemes are featured, and they offer a really interesting selection that should have something to interest anyone, with European, North African, SEAC and even USAAF options:
A: Spitfire LF Mk.VIII, MD280, flown by F/Lt. Paul Ostrander, 155 Squadron RAF, Burma, 1945
B: Spitfire F Mk.VIII, JF470, 31st Fighter Group, 308th Fighter Squadron, Fano, Italy, 1944–45
C: Spitfire F Mk.VIII, JF330, Flown by AVM Harry Broadhurst, 1943
D: Spitfire F Mk.VIII, JF404, 32 Squadron, Foggia, Italy, Early 1944
E: Spitfire LF Mk.VIII, MT714, flown by F/Lt A. W. Guest, 43 Squadron, Ramatuelle, France, August 1944
F: Spitfire HF Mk.VIII, flown by W/C Robert Gibbes, CO of 80 Fighter Wing, Dutch East Indies, 1945
The decals look to be excellent quality - hardly surprising, because they are printed by Cartograf. The registration is perfect on the review sheet, and excess carrier film is trimmed as tightly as possible around most items - e.g. on the roundels it’s virtually non-existent, whereas squadron codes have some to make applying the letters simpler. The colours for the national markings look much better to me than on the original Mk.IX sheet, so I’ll be more than happy to use these.
There has been some discussion over the accuracy of the markings for Gibbes’ aircraft, but Eduard assured Steffen Arndt of IPMS Deutschland that they had been researched rigorously when he questioned them on the subject at this year’s Nurnberg show. See Steffen’s fine build HERE
Eduard look to have done a beautiful job with their latest Spitfire. It’s packed with detail, but still should be within the capabilities of average modellers, and is excellent value for money for such a comprehensive hit. Highly recommended.
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