Supermarine Spitfire Vc
by Ian Robertson
The issue of Spitfire wing armament configurations is not entirely simple.
The armament on the Spitfire Vb consisted of a drum-fed Hispano 20 mm cannon plus two .303 Browning machine guns in each wing. The "c", or "universal", wing was developed during Mk.V production to simplify wing construction and allow for various gun arrangements without further structural modification. Three gun arrangements were typical on the universal wing: (1) the "A" arrangement consisted of four .303 Browning machine guns, (2) the "B" arrangement consisted of a single Hispano 20 mm belt-fed cannon plus two .303 Browning machine guns, and (3) the "C" arrangement consisted of two Hispano 20 mm belt-fed cannons.
Although there were some unique field modifications, the Mk.Vc usually sported the "B" arrangement. The additional cannon fairing was plugged and the inner machine gun on each wing was moved one rib toward the wing tip to give more room for the cannon ammunition. Because the cannons on the Mk.Vc were belt fed rather than drum fed, the blister on the lower surface of the wing was unnecessary and therefore deleted. The blister on the upper surface of the wing was enlarged and moved forward to accommodate the twin cannons (even though in practice most Mk.Vc's used only the inner cannon).
Other modifications included strengthened undercarriage with a slight increase in forward rake, the loss of the wheel bulges on the upper surface of the wing, repositioning of the cartridge chutes beneath the wings, and a slightly deeper radiator. Despite these modifications, the Mk.Vb and Vc Spitfire had the same wing platform and differed little in overall appearance.
This is Tamiya's 1/48 Spitfire Mk.Vb converted to a tropicalized Mk.Vc. It is finished in the markings of a USAAF aircraft that was shot down in early 1943 while serving in Tunisia with the 5th FS, 52nd FG.
The decals are from Third Group (#48-012). The particular aircraft I built had a Rotol propeller and spinner (which is supplied in the Tamiya kit), although it is worth noting that some tropical Mk.Vc's had a DeHavilland propeller with a blunter spinner (as in the Mk.I Spitfire). The Vokes tropical filter was supplied gratis by Luke Pitt.
The modifications outlined above were relatively easy to tackle, although I opted not to modify the landing gear and radiator as these changes would be virtually unnoticeable in 1/48 scale.
The first step in the conversion was to remove the upper and lower cannon blisters and fill the holes with sheet styrene. New cannon blisters for the upper surface of the wings were scratch built using spare US WWII drop tanks that I cut longitudinally and then filed and sanded to the desired shape.
The wheel bulges and reinforcements on each wing were sanded smooth to the wing surface. A plugged cannon fairing made from styrene was added to a hole drilled in each wing, slightly outboard of the original cannon.
The hole for the inner machine gun on each wing was filled with a styrene plug and then sanded to conform with the leading edge. A new hole was drilled approximately 3 mm towards the tip of each wing. Panel lines and cartridge chutes specific to the Mk.Vb wing were removed and replaced with those characteristic of the Mk.Vc.
The model was painted in RAF Dark Earth, Middle Stone and Azure Blue using Polly Scale acrylics.
Because USAAF Spitfires were acquired from the RAF, the roundels on the wings and fin flash on the tail were overpainted in camouflage colours before the American markings were applied. I used a slightly darker shade of RAF Dark Earth to 'overpaint' the British roundels in an effort to simulate the effects of differential fading.
The cockpit was painted RAF Interior Green, with the seat reddish-brown to simulate a bakelite finish. Etched brass seat belts were added. Syringe tubes were used for the .303 machine guns. As a finishing touch, chalk pastels and uneven sprays of (highly thinned) black paint were used in weathering. Colour photos in Ethell (1998) show that USAAF Spitfires in the Mediterranean theatre were often scuffed, patched, and weather beaten, so I tried to capture this look on my model.
The Mk.Vb to Vc Spitfire is a relatively straightforward conversion that can be done from scratchbuilt parts without too much difficulty. Some modelers may also want to tackle the changes to the undercarriage and radiator as well. The biggest challenge for me was finding spare parts suitable for fashioning new cannon blisters.
For those inclined, a 1/48 Mk.Vc Spitfire was produced (at least at one time) by Gartex; and resin Spitfire Vc conversions are available from both MDC and Bringiuer Aviation Products.
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Model, Text and Images Copyright ©
2000 by Ian Robertson