The Supermarine Spitfire was a single-seat fighter used by the RAF and many other Air Forces around the world. The aircraft was dubbed Spitfire by Sir Robert MacLean, director of Vickers (the parent company of Supermarine) at the time, and on hearing this, Mitchell is reported to have said, "...sort of bloody silly name they would give it. " The word dates from Elizabethan times and refers to a particularly fiery, ferocious type of person, usually a woman.
The MK V was the most produced variant of all the Mks. The main improvements over the earlier versions was the use of the more powerful Merlin type 45 engine and the "fishtail" flame damping exhaust stubs. The most numerous MK V was the Mk Vb with had a mixed armament of two 7.7mm machine guns and one 20mm cannon in each wing. Although the famous elliptical wing was kept on most Spitfires, some Mk Vbs had clipped wings for better low altitude maneuverability.
The kit comes in the usual sturdy Tamiya lidded box. Upon opening you will find two sprues separately bagged with the clear parts sealed inside their own bag. Instructions, painting guide and the decal sheet make up the rest of the kit. There are 57 grey plastic parts and 9 clear plastic parts, all which seem to be free of flash. Ejector pin marks are kept to a minimum and seem to be in places they won't be seen.
The detail in the cockpit is well done, with the only negative point being the exclusion of any harnesses. The reason for this is that Tamiya supply a pilot and they are moulded onto him. So scratch built or an aftermarket set is required if you don't use the pilot. The instrument panel has some nice raised detail and with some careful painting and dry brushing should look quite stunning when done. The cockpit door can be removed from the fuselage to model it open, as Tamiya thoughtfully added another another door to replace it.
The fuselage and wings both have some fine recessed panel lines and rivet detail. The wings strangely have the cannons moulded onto the wings so some careful handling will be required so as to not break them off. The wing tips also have to be inserted as the kit can be modeled in either a clipped wing or the elliptical version. The clear parts are free from imperfections but seem to show a slight distortion on the curved parts. There are two sets of canopies for the three versions you can model, and both can be modelled in the open or closed position.
The instructions comes on one sheet and folds up into itself. The first page covers the history of the Spitfire, with the second page giving you the Tamiya paint colour numbers you need. The build sequence is done over eleven stages and gives you the interior colours as you go along. The build sequence is pretty easy to follow with alternative parts being shown along the way. The last part deals with the paint schemes and decal placements. You also get an A4 size sheet with a 1/48th black and white profile With views of the port, starboard, top and bottom. This should help with masking of the camo scheme.
The decals are in register with very little carrier film around the edges. They are possibly on the thin side as Tamiya supply a set of white disks for the roundels to sit on. This should stop any "see through" effect you may get, especially on the white portions of the roundels. Three alternative markings are provided for either of the two versions you build:
- No. 243 Squadron, serial No. EN821. Fighter Command, Wing Commander, A G Malan.
- No. 316 Squadron, Serial No. BL479 (clipped wing version).
With so many 1/48th Spitfire kits around, you are spoilt for choice on what version to model. But the Tamiya kits are renowned for their superb engineering and ease of construction. If you want to depict the Mk Vb you can't get a lot better then the Tamiya offering. Whether you build it OOB or add any aftermarket parts it will still build into a great representation of one of the most famous and beautiful aircraft to have flown.
Tamiya's line of 1/48th model aircraft, are for the most part widely considered to be state-of-the-art. Only there older kits are now showing their age, compared to the newer releases. Tamiya kits are usually found to be excellent fitting and fairly well detailed. The 1/48th Supermarine Spitfire MK Vb falls into this category and looks like a typical Tamiya shake and bake kit. Even though this kit is over 10 years old it will still produce a well detailed representation of one of the most modelled aircraft.
About Andy Brazier (betheyn) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH EAST, UNITED KINGDOM
I started modelling in the 70's with my Dad building Airfix aircraft kits. The memory of my Dad and I building and painting a Avro Lancaster on the kitchen table will always be with me. I then found a friend who enjoyed building models, and between us I think we built the entire range of 1/72 Airfi...