Trumpeter's 1/24 scale
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
by Ron O'Neal
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
Airfix's 1/24 scale Spitfire Mk.Ia is available online from Squadron for only $63.99!
Every now and then, I feel like tackling a complex modeling project. I’m a big fan of the Spitfire, and have wanted to tackle the Trumpeter 1/24 Spitfire Mk V for a while. Reading over the many online build review highlighted the strengths and deficiencies of the kit. The Trumpeter kit is basically sound, but falls short on details, and misses some contours characteristic to the Spitfire.
A fellow HyperScaler in California was kind enough to part with his Hobbycraft boxing of the 1/24 Trumpeter Spitfire (thank you Alex!). With the kit in hand, and plenty of references, I finally felt ready to tackle the project. There are excellent photo documentaries of beautifully restored Spitfire Mk Vs online. My goal was to address most of the shape issues, and scratch build as much of the interior and fine details as practical. In 1/24 scale, details visible on the full size subject can be recreated nearly 1 for 1, allowing plenty of opportunity to practice detailing skills.
The photos should give you an idea of the modifications and enhancements that were done. The cockpit took the most time.
I used standard materials: sheet plastic, strip and rod stock, and wire of various diameters. The only special tools were punch and die sets and a rivet maker.
Thinning down the kit sidewalls allowed for richer detail while keeping dimensions in-scale. Each section of the model was compared to photos, and reworked as necessary to add or improve detail.
The bulkheads were built hollow using .010 sheet plastic sandwiched together over a core.
The instrument panel was built from layered sheet plastic, with bezels from Airscale. I was fortunate to find detailed scale drawings of the 3 main instrument panel layouts used for the Mk V. I picked the one that matched the restoration reference I was using, reduced it down to 1/24 scale, and used it as a pattern.
Other fine details were matched to photos using punch and die sets, scrap plastic, and wire. The seat is a modified Grey Matter part.
Cockpit stringers were penciled in and checked for spacing and alignment. I wanted to replicate the hollow design of several of the cockpit stringers, and route wires through them to match the full sized subject. However, I couldn’t arrive at a method that looked right. In the end, I compromised by drilling out the ends of stringers that had wires coming out. Lots of careful test fitting was required to make sure everything slotted in place. Particular attention was paid to the more delicate rudder frame, control stick, and seat mounting points.
Oil canning effects were added to the fuselage and wings. Using a rounded blade, I scraped along rivet lines to add subtle waves to the surface. Select panels were dented, and a few others were scraped flat to lend a 3 dimensional look to the model. Scratches and transitions were smoothed with 600 and 800 grit rolled sandpaper. Rivets forward of the cockpit were filled, and then lightly restored to vary the surface texture.
The upper engine cowl was reworked with plastic stock and epoxy putty to display the characteristic Merlin engine valve cover bulge. The bumps are resin castings patterned from the original Trumpeter kit part. Sheet .005 plastic was laminated over the fuselage to represent the fuel tank armor, with fasteners pressed in with an embossing tool. The spinner was a re-worked Grey Matter part. I increased the diameter of the base plate and modified the propeller blades. Quick release fasteners along the cowl were replaced with punched plastic discs, center drilled with smaller discs to represent the screws.
The kit fuselage spine aft of the canopy is too rounded. To improve the look, I scraped the upper fuselage sides flat, and block sanded them to restore contours. Detail lost during the sanding and scraping was re-scribed.
The kit landing gear struts are generally accurate, and benefited from some additional wiring and rivet detail. The mounting angles were modified to the correct dimensions. To ensure a positive location, I made brass tubing locators, secured with super glue and powder. Absent any aftermarket replacements, I used the kit wheel hubs and rubber tires. The wing cannons are the superb Master products.
The tail surfaces were sanded flat, with stitching detail added with punched rivets overlaid with decal tape strips. A couple coats of fine primer and light sanding produced an acceptable look.
The sliding canopy is too tall, so the shape was altered by removing material along the bottom rails.
I added new framing, along with the external canopy jettison cords and a scratch built canopy locking mechanism.
Prior to applying color, light primer coats were applied to check for surface flaws and consistency of panel lines and rivets.
Colors were sprayed with Tamiya Acrylics using an Iwata HP/CS airbrush.
All markings were sprayed on using Maketar masks. Initial weathering consisted of airbrush effects to disrupt the colors along panels and to create staining, followed by dark washes applied to select panel lines.
Prior to applying the stencil decals, one coat of Future, thinned slightly with alcohol, was sprayed over the model. Stencils and unit symbol decals were applied from the Techmod decal sheet. After the decals were dry, I sprayed Future over just the decals, followed by light sanding with a 3600 grit polishing cloth.
With the finish sealed under a coat of flat lacquer, I applied filters using highly thinned oil colors. The first filter was a pale grey-green, applied with a wide soft brush over the entire upper surface. After the first filter was dry, I applied a second filter with a more green-grey color. The undersurface filter was one coat of whitish grey.
Dot filters were blended on select areas of the wings, and streaks were applied to the undersurface and around areas where oil would leak back.
This project took about 8 months start to finish.
I’m not sure I’m ready for another 1/24 scale project like this just yet, but I must admit I’ve had my eye on the Trumpeter Hurricane..
Model, Images and Text
2016 by Ron O'Neal
Page Created 5 July, 2016
5 July, 2016
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