Saturday, September 12, 2015

Airfix Supermarine Spitfire MkIa, 1/72nd scale, Kit # A01071A

Some of us older modelers have fond memories of the Airfix kits of the 1960’s.  They were of a uniform scale (1/72nd – sometimes referred to as “The One True Scale”), they had much more detail than the contemporary plastic kit offerings, and the range included many aircraft we all wanted to model, i.e., WWII fighters and bombers.  Today, the old Airfix kits are invidiously compared to modern kits, but back in that day, they were superb.  And, the single engine models were 50 cents, well within our reach as kids.

This Spitfire is one of the newly designed kits in the Airfix range.  It comes with markings for one Battle of Britain machine.  You get two gray-blue colored plastic sprues, and one clear sprue.  There is a decal sheet with full stencils and a complete instruction sheet.  The back of the box has a nicely detailed color four view of the machine.

Here are my thoughts on this kit:

The Good

·         One of the all-time favorite subjects – the Supermarine Spitfire in a Battle of Britain version.

·         Excellent instructions and color guide.

·         Fairly well detailed cockpit for this scale.

·         Realistically flattened tires.

·         Generally good fit of the parts with a minimum of putty and sanding (some of which may have been caused by my own clumsiness).

·         Not over-engineered, meaning you do not need an electron microscope to see the parts you are working with.

·         The decals are very well printed and appear to be the right colors.  Extensive stencils are included.  They apply well with Microscale solutions. 

·         Rational pricing, even if you pay list.

The Bad

·         The sprue gates are somewhat thick.  This means that it is hard to cut the parts off the sprues, since the plastic is at the same time soft and slightly brittle.  Parts must be very carefully cut from the sprues to avoid unwanted gouges and indentations.

·         The surface detail while not having been made by “The Mad Trencher” of Matchbox fame, the panel lines and surface details may have been done by his cousin.  The panel lines on Asian kits are much more subtle.  These lines are not terribly prominent with flat, camouflage finishes.  I have not built a new Airfix kit in a natural metal finish where such details would be far more noticeable.

·         The canopy is fairly thick, but is therefore not as extremely delicate as some kits in this scale and easier to work with.  It just is not as petite as it could be.  It is one piece.

·         Only markings for one machine are supplied, the 610 Squadron at Biggin Hill in July 1940 – the height of the Battle of Britain.  One more choice might have been nice.  The red patches over the gun ports are too small and hard to apply over the wing leading edge.  They are square and should have been rectangular.  Painting them on would be better, or some solid color decal cut up.

If I were to give this kit a grade, it would still be a solid A.  It was just plain fun to build.  The “bad” things I point out apply to the other new Airfix kit I built (see post below on Curtiss Hawk), and appear to obtain to several other new Airfix kits in my stash.  They do not at all outweigh the good qualities of this kit.  I fully intend to keep buying and building these kits.