Airfix 1/48 scale
u m m a r y
|Description and Catalogue Number:
||Airfix Kit # 05115 - Supermarine
|Contents and Media:
||77 parts in grey injection molded
plastic; 14 parts in clear; markings for two
available online from Hannants
||Accurate in outline, profile and
dimensions; first ever option for an initial Mk.I straight from the box; fine recessed surface detail; useful options including
parts for a Mk.II; pilot
||Thick clear parts; dot-screen
printing on decals visible close-up; some minor detail issues.
Reviewed by Brett Green
When the new 1/48 scale Airfix Spitfire Mk.I turned up on the doorstep this
morning, I approached the parcel with a sense of both anticipation and
This is the first time that an early Spitfire Mk.I has been available
straight from the box, yet last year's frustrating Airfix Spitfire Mk.IX is
still a fresh memory. Although generally accurate, that kit was plagued with
irksome errors, short-cuts and some pretty crude aspects that really should
not be expected in a mainstream kit of the 21st century.
I am pleased to report that Airfix has addressed virtually all of the
problems associated with that earlier offering.
Airfix has released an almost all-new kit with their 1/48 scale
Spitfire Mk.I. New parts include the entire fuselage, an
all-new wing, and the specific details relating to early Merlin Spitfires.
In total, there are 77 parts in grey injection-moulded styrene plus 14 parts
in clear plastic.
Click the thumbnails below to view
The surface of the plastic parts is smooth and consistent. There is no
evidence of the eggshell finish seen on some recent Airfix releases.
The new fuselage features the upper engine cowl moulded as part of each
fuselage half. The rudder is also moulded in place on each fuselage half.
The thinness and subtle fabric texture of the rudder are both noticeable
improvements over the Mk.IX kit.
The wing is specific to the Mk.I / Mk.II with eight machine gun armament.
Surface detail is by way of very fine and crisply recessed panel lines
combined with fabric texture for the control surfaces. The panel lines look
terrific - at least the equal of what we are now seeing from Revell of
Germany. In my opinion, the fabric texture on the ailerons and elevators
will benefit from being toned down with a coat or two of Mr Surfacer and
some selective sanding. The elevator trim actuators are a bit heavy too.
Airfix has persisted with separate flaps. Keep in mind, though, that the
flaps were either full up or full down, and it was rare to see flaps down
when the Spitfire was parked.
A Watts two-bladed propeller plus two styles of three bladed prop - de
Havilland and Rotol units - are supplied, permitting the modeller to build
any Spitfire from an early Mk.I to a Mk.II. The flat canopy and early-style
oil cooler housing are provided for the early Mk.I, whilst Mk.II specifics
such as the Coffman starter bulge are also offered in the kit. Four spoke
and five spoke main wheels are included. Five spoke wheels were typical for
the Mk.I through Mk.V.
The cockpit will be familiar to anyone who has built either last year's
Mk.IX or even the old Airfix Spitfire Mk.Vb from the 1970s. This is one of
the few areas where the kit betrays its ancestry, but I actually like this
vintage cockpit with its deeply rendered sidewall structure. Careful
painting really brings out the details. The photo below shows my recent
effort with the Airfix Spitfire IX cockpit. The only additions are an
Ultracast seat and entry door, fuse wire, replacement cockpit rails and some
Reheat placard decals.
This time around, Airfix has enhanced the front office with a new quadrant
for the lower starboard sidewall.
In addition to the armoured and non-armoured windscreens, blown and flat
canopies and rear sections for either a PR bird or a regular Spitfire, the
clear sprues also contain a bubble top canopy for a low back Mk.XVI (and
These clear parts are very clean, but really are too thick for a modern
mainstream kit. The windscreen is especially distorted.
Markings are supplied for two aircraft. The decals are high gloss and in
perfect register. The option for the Spitfire Mk.II benefits from recent
research on the use of Sky Blue spinners and fuselage bands in combination
with Sky Type S lower surfaces. The only problem is that the colours have
been printed using a dot-screen process
and, viewed close up, you can see the dots on the yellow, Sky Blue
and Medium Sea Grey.
Click the thumbnails below to view larger
The general outline of the airframe in plan and profile, and
the overall dimensions, correspond with published plans. The shape of this
Spitfire is accurate.
In terms of detail accuracy, respected researcher John Adams from Aeroclub
has made the following observations on HyperScale's "Plane Talking" Forum.
To quote John:
"The fuselage is very
good and from the firewall back it matches on all points -
windscreen, door, rear of rear view panel etc. The rudder is of
correct chord and shape, with the only very minor niggles being the
shape of the fin/fuselage fillet and that the rudder hinge line is
0.5mm too far aft. The wing fillets are good and of the correct
The nose contours (ie
thrust-line) on the Airfix Merlin family Spits are too high and
although some reshaping has been done, the Mk.I nose plate is still
too high by 0.75mm. Okay, most folks won't notice it.
The wings. In 1/48 scale
the Spitfire wing at its thickest point should be 7mm and this new
kit comes very close. Shapewise, the trailing edge is very good.
The leading edge at the
centre gun positions is a touch too "full" and again at the very tip
where the navigation light is.
The wing root angles on
model Spitfires are all different and these follow the pattern but
not the drawings.
I don't like the silly
fabric sag, but a film of filler will sort this . The panel lines
are fine. The trailing edges though much improved will still benefit
from thinning down on the insides.
The shape of the D.H.
prop blades is good but the Rotol not so good and the Watts two
blader should look the part when assembled, but watch out for the
tips sweeping back."
Airfix's new 1/48 scale Spitfire Mk.I is an accurate model
with restrained surface detail and the option to build either an early Mk.I,
a Battle of Britain Mk.I or a Mk.II. The main problem with the kit, the
thick windscreen and canopy, can easily be replaced with vacform parts or
even more easily ignored.
Some modellers may ask why they should buy this kit instead
of Tamiya's 1/48 Spitfire Mk.I. On one hand, Tamiya's kit will be easier to
build and the clear parts are thinner. On the other hand, the Airfix kit
boasts a more accurate outline, especially the plan form of the wing; has
finer surface detail; and is the only option available for a very early
Spitfire with two-bladed Watts propeller and the flat canopy.
At around £10.99, it represents pretty good value too.
If you want to build an early Spitfire Mk.I, it is no
contest - buy the Airfix kit. Your decision for a late Mk.I will depend on
your personal preference for either accuracy and surface finesse (in which
case you'll probably choose Airfix), or ease of construction (Tamiya).
This model can be considered the final product of the "old
Airfix", but the improvements found in this kit auger well for future
releases. I look forward to seeing the first offering fully developed under
Airfix's new stewardship.
Welcome back, Airfix!
Thanks to Hannants for the review sample.
Text and Images Copyright © 2007 by
Page Created 24 July, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007
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Airfix's 1/48 scale Spitfire Mk.I will be available online from Squadron.com