The Supermarine SF Mk 24 Spitfire was the ultimate mark of this magnificent aeroplane, but was little changed from the F Mk 22 that preceded it. The lineage of these aircraft is easily recognisable, not least because of their magnificence, but they bare little resemblance to the earlier marks. They were over 100 mph faster than their earliest ancestors and possessed twice the rate of climb, even though they were almost double the empty weight of a Mk 1.
The Eduard kit consists of the excellent Airfix kit plastic parts, an Aires resin cockpit, plus exhausts and F Mk 22 wheels. Eduard add one of their superb colour etch frets and canopy and wheel masks, excellent instruction booklet, colour marking guide and decals for four aircraft, 3 x F Mk 22s and 1 x F Mk 24.
The plastic parts.
The Airfix Spitfire F Mk 22/24 (and their Seafire FR 46/47) are, arguably, their best ever plastic kits. I have built the F Mk 22 previously and the kit is accurate in outline and size with correct panel lines (but more about this later). The fit is excellent, but there are a couple of areas that require some attention. Probably the worst part of the kit are the bulges over the Griffon engine rocker covers, they have a peculiar outline to the front end. I didnít know about this when I built my F Mk 22, but if you have the SAM Publications Datafile on the Griffon powered Spitfire, you will see what is required to correct it. In fact it took me about 30 seconds to achieve the result here, which now just requires a little refining.
Although Airfix supply the Mk II Hispano (long) and Mk V Hispano (short) cannon barrels for the 2 marks, they only supply the wheels for the Mk 24 (3 spoke); again I wasnít aware of this when I built my example. The control yoke, unfortunately, is moulded solid and is of the type found in the F Mk 22, but is wrong for the F Mk 24. The clear canopy parts are quite thin but there is distortion in the sliding part, which is also too small to sit on the rear fuselage in the open position. The clear parts are packed with the main sprues and my example is quite badly damaged. I checked the other Airfix kit that I have and that kit is packed the same way but the canopy isnít so badly damaged. The cockpit makes up into a reasonable representation of the actual aircraft.
OK, so thatís the entire nit picking done. For my build of the F Mk 22 I used an Aeroclub vacformed canopy and scratch built the rollover pylon and head armour, to give a more scale appearance and I drilled out the control yoke. Refining the bulges over the rocker covers, as I have already said, is a doddle so the plastic is pretty good, it just needs a few tweaks.
The Aires resin parts.
These are produced in a medium grey resin and consist of all the parts necessary to build the cockpit, including, gyro gunsight, fuselage door and the F Mk24 control yoke. There are also 4 spoke wheels, as used on the F Mk 22 and hollowed out exhausts. All of these parts are of excellent quality with no air bubbles at all. The Eduard instructions show that the detail within the plastic fuselage halves must be removed, but there is no mention as to whether or not they require thinning down. However if you go onto the Eduard site there is a build of the kit which shows them thinned, which is, probably, what you would expect. As for all resin detail sets test fit and you wonít go wrong.
If you are building the F Mk24 do not open out resin part RP11, as this would be the front face of the rear fuselage fuel tank. The real trick with resin detail sets is in the painting; this set will give you a stunning cockpit, with a little work and a deft paintbrush.
The Eduard etched fret.
Well whatís to say? Itís Eduard and itís coloured. You get the parts necessary to finish off the cockpit, such as the seat belts and instrument panels. The instrument panels are of Eduardís superb painted dials and include the different ďblind flying panelsĒ for the different marks. The other internal parts consist of the rudder pedals and the roll over bar and head armour. So thatís another area of the kit that is addressed.
The rest of the etched parts are external and include gear leg torque links, radiator faces, and tail wheel door detail and cartridge case deflectors. Two other pieces are re-scribing templates, the smaller one is to scribe the door over the flap actuator, if you elect to not have the flaps lowered (I believe it to be highly unlikely to see a Spitfire parked with itís flaps down). The fret includes these doors, if you do want to lower the flaps, but there is no internal detail given so you would have to scratch build this. The other template is to move the radio door, for the F Mk 22, on the starboard fuselage, but I have not been able to find definitive proof that the door was in a different place than that moulded. In the SAM Publications Datafile, however, there is a drawing showing the radio gear in 2 different positions. Forward, if the rear fuel tank was fitted and further to the rear if it was not. This might sound odd but it will be this way because of the centre of gravity. One of the differences of the F Mk24 is that it carried two 33 gallon fuel tanks in the rear fuselage, F Mk 22 did not. This being the case then the radio door on the F Mk 22 would, it seems, have been in the rear position, as Eduard indicates.
Instructions, marking guide, decals and paint masks.
The instructions are in Eduardís usual clear style, the bonus being that those for the resin parts are far better than those you would have got if you had bought the Aires set separately. They correctly point out that only the F Mk24 was capable of carrying rockets, but suggest using the longer (Mk II) cannon barrels when the F Mk 24 had the shorter (Mk V) barrels. Which is one of the few externally different features of the F Mk24. Having said that, however, as the F Mk 24 was basically the F Mk 22 with a few minor changes, and 27 F Mk 22ís were converted to F Mk 24 standard, it is possible that some retained the longer barrels. Early production F Mk24s did have the longer barrels. Unfortunately I donít have the references to identify which ones they might be. On the sprue guide the shorter barrels are indicated ďnot for useĒ but, from the information that I do have, 80 Squadron machines did have the short Mk V Hispano cannon barrels.
The marking guide is in colour and offers 4 different aircraft, only one of which is for the F Mk 24 - but only 80 Squadron flew the type. The Syrian example looks nice, in desert camo, and I already have the Aluminium doped 603 Squadron bird on my shelf (It is painted silver and is not natural metal, mores the pity). As I require an F Mk 24 alongside it, Iíll be doing the 80 Squadron machine. Eduard continues to be innovative, in that they have included a suggestion of staining on the colour profiles. A nice touch which could help those new to this type of weathering.
The decals look very good; the main markings are by Aviprint. They are in register and the detail on the Squadron badges is very good. The yellow outer ring on the 80 Squadron machine fuselage roundels looks a little pale - but application will tell. A nice touch is the codes, again for the 80 Squadron machine, which are applied over the black and white stripes and are coloured to suit, i.e. black on white, white on black, are separate. They are as one on the Airfix sheet but having them separate allows for painting on the stripes. All stencils are included, on a separate sheet, and are printed by Tally Ho!
The masks, for the wheels and canopy, are in the Tamiya tape type material and are a nice additional touch for those that like them. I donít usually use these masking sets and they may not fit the vacformed canopy I have. I will try them, as they may prove useful.
Verdict and recommendations.
Superb, what more do you want? - the best Airfix kit, great Aires resin and Eduardís colour etch, plus very well done decals and instructions - and itís a Spitfire. Itís no wonder Eduard sold out so fast. Well obviously Iím going to recommend this kit; there are a couple of things to watch out for, but overall a great package and a bit of a bargain to boot. By way of comparison, I have the Cutting Edge resin cockpit, which is very good, but it alone cost me £15.95 a couple of years ago.
Thank you to Eduard for kindly supplying the review sample.
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