Despite the continuing global problems due to Covid-19, Eduard have released their eagerly anticipated new-tool 1:48 kit of the Spitfire Mk. I in time for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
The first boxing is a limited edition ProfiPACK dual-kit, with parts for a pair of early Mk. Is - one fitted with the original plain windscreen and the option of a fixed-pitch 2-blade propeller, and the other with an armoured windscreen a choice of de Havilland or Rotol 3-blade props. As a ProfiPACK kit, it includes all the photo-etched details and painting masks we've come to expect, plus a resin figure of the legendary Douglas Bader.
The kit arrives in a very striking and stylish top-opening box, with the runners and accessories packed in resealable bags.
The double-kit comprises:
306 x dark grey styrene parts (plus 58 not needed)
22 x clear styrene parts (plus 20 unused)
116 x photo-etched parts (some pre-coloured)
1 x resin figure
A sheet of die-cut washi tape painting masks
Decals for 10 x colour-schemes
That’s a huge parts-count - but it’s obviously spread across 2 complete kits. The runners are marked “Spitfire Mk I - V” - hence the unused parts and exciting confirmation of what Eduard have planned.
The moulding is excellent - really crisp - as you'd hope in a new-tool kit. I found a whisper of flash in a couple of places, and a touch of sinkage on some thick parts (e.g. the exhausts) - but this will take only a moment or two to sort out.
The surface finish is simply outstanding, with finely engraved panel lines and a mix of raised and embossed rivets and neatly depicted Dzus fasteners. Raised rivets might conjure up images of the dreadful "ship-yard"-style horrors in kits from earlier generations, but Eduard portray them with beautiful subtlety.
There's the oft-told story of how Supermarine did tests with split peas glued to an airframe to represent raised rivets in order to determine where they could avoid the need for flush riveting and so speed up production. This implies that very early machines were totally flush-riveted, so the mix in the kit might not be correct for all pre-war Spitfires and purists will want to check their references. Whatever, it's far easier to remove raised rivets than to add them. (EDIT: See our member Brigantine's clarification in the comments on this point.)
The fabric surfaces are depicted nice and taught with rib-tapes. As always, you might want to soften the effect with a little gentle sanding.
Dry-fitting the main airframe parts is very encouraging, with some clever engineering giving a very precise fit, even without any of the internal components to prevent flexing. With the parts taped together, the seams are really tight, so you should get away with using next-to-no filler if you're careful.
One point to note is that many of the runner attachments are on the gluing surfaces so they don't mar the exterior finish, so you'll need to take a bit of extra care preparing the parts before assembly.
A Few Details
I’ll try to keep this brief, because I’m itching to get started building the kit! As with all ProfiPACK kits, Eduard offer alternative etched parts to replace some of the styrene details but, bearing that in mind, this quick overview will also be valid for future Weekend Edition kits that surely can’t be far off.
Construction begins conventionally with a finely detailed cockpit comprising around 50 parts, depending which route you follow and version you’re building. Highlights for me are the superbly pre-coloured instrument panel and equally nice Sutton seat harness. There’s optional armour plate behind the pilot’s seat and on the headrest, and a choice of ring-and-bead and reflector gunsights. It's great to see the pilot's seat with and without a padded back.
The seats include an integral flare rack - which I would have thought was a mistake, were it not for a photo in Valiant Wings' Airframe & Miniature No. 12 which clearly shows a rack in an early Mk. I.
The decals include placards to dot around the office. Once you get to the stage of adding the canopy and entrance door, there are separate etched locks and no less than three styles of rear-view mirror. This being an early Mk. I, there’s no crowbar fitted to the entrance door, so the endless debate over the original colour can wait for another day when Eduard release later versions.
All in all, it looks set to build into a beautifully detailed “office” - and, based on first impressions, arguably a step above last year’s new-tool Spit from Tamiya. The only point I prefer on the Tamiya kit is the way they moulded frame detail on the inside of the lower wing half. Eduard do it on a separate part sitting above the wing, so it’s probably technically a bit too high.
The wheel wells are boxed in and there’s a semi-spar to give the wing rigidity. The gear legs and wheels are neatly moulded, with the tyres “unweighted”. The legs each feature an angled rectangular lug that slots in solidly to ensure the correct “sit”. There’s a choice of tailwheels - an all-in-one version for simplicity, or one with a separate wheel.
The machine gun barrels are separate parts, with 2 options for the outer guns - and they are slide-moulded with hollow openings.
Slide-moulding is also used on the exhausts. There will no doubt be Brassin replacements coming - but the kit parts are excellent (just watch out for the slight sink-marks noted above).
There are 3 styles of propellers used in this boxing - 2-blade, and 3-blade de Havilland and Rotol units. The 2-blade prop is quite ingeniously moulded, so I’ll definitely give that an outing for one of my builds.
The clear parts are beautifully moulded - thin and crystal clear, with crisply defined canopy frames. A full set of pre-cut painting masks is included, which will be a huge time-saver.
Finally, there’s the resin figure of Douglas Bader. It certainly does bear a resemblance to him (although perhaps in later life). It’s flawlessly cast and should look excellent if painted carefully. Figure painting is something I’ve long-promised myself that I must try to get to the point where I can do a half-decent job. This will present the perfect opportunity...
Instructions & Decals
The instructions are printed in colour as a high quality 28-page A4 booklet on glossy stock. The diagrams are excellent and clearly presented - but take your time checking what’s needed for the large number of colour schemes included. Gunze Sangyo paint matches are included throughout.
Eduard include markings for a interesting mix of pre-war and early WWII machines:
A) K9795, No. 19 Squadron, RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire, October 1938
B) No. 41 Squadron, RAF Catterick, North Yorkshire, Spring 1939
C) K9906, flown by F/O Robert Stanford Tuck, No. 65 Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, Essex, Summer 1939
D) K9955, flown by F/O Archibald Ashmore McKellar, No. 602 Squadron, RAF Drem, East Lothian, Scotland, March 1940
E) N3180, flown by P/O Alan Christopher Deere (RNZAF), No. 54 Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, Essex, May 1940
F) P9443, flown by F/Lt Douglas Bader, No. 222 Squadron, RAF Duxford, Cambridgeshire / Kirton in Lindsey, Lincolnshire, early June 1940
G) K9953, flown by F/Lt. Adolph Gysbert Malan, No. 74 Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, Essex, June/July 1940
H) N3162, flown by P/O Eric Stanley Lock, No. 41 Squadron, RAF Hornchurch, Essex, United Kingdom, August/September 1940
I) X4425, flown by F/Sgt. George Cecil Unwin, No. 19 Squadron, RAF Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire, August/September 1940
J) X4382, flown by P/O Osgood Philip Villiers Hanbury, No. 602 Squadron, RAF Westhampnett, West Sussex, September 1940.
Spread across multiple sheets, the decals look to be excellent quality. They are thin and glossy, with precise registration on the sample sheets. Some of the featured schemes feature yellow outer rings on the roundels over-painted with fresh Dark Earth and Dark Green, so Eduard have included a translucent ring to tint the underlying colours on the model. Rather ingenious - and it will avoid lengthy masking.
There’s a comprehensive set of generic stencil markings for each of the models in this dual-boxing. All the decals appear to be produced in-house by Eduard - which bodes very well, because I’ve found their decals perform beautifully over the last few years.
Eduard’s new Spitfire Mk. I looks to be a real gem of a kit. Highly detailed and cleverly engineered to be a straightforward build. The surface finish is just gorgeous - and, having had the privilege of helping clean and maintain preserved Spits at the RAF Museum, I can vouch for the fact that raised rivets are definitely a “feature” on the full-sized machine (like it or loathe it when they snag your cleaning cloth!).
Is this the definitive 1:48 Spitfire Mk. I? I'll leave that to others better qualified than me to make that call. It's times like this that I miss the late Edgar Brooks more than ever!
For what it's worth, from my perspective Eduard's kit looks superb. It looks set to be a joy to build and should be a huge seller for Eduard.
You can follow my progress with the full build in the Forum HERE
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