Monday, November 28, 2011

Airfix Spitfire Mk Ia (1979 tooling)

Supermarine Spitfire I, R6595/DW O, 610 County of Chester Squadron, RAF
Biggin Hill, August 1940, P/O F. K. Webster, KIA 26 August 1940.

I was reviewing the Group Build section of Fine Scale Modeler last month and when I spotted an Airfix group decided I could be in and do a quick build of an older Mk Ia I had in my stash. My original plans for the kit were to convert it to a PR Mk I something or other that would not be a quick nor easy effort. So I rummaged through my spare decals and found an old Aeromaster sheet of Spitfires from the Battle of Britain (72-028). Paint and glue at the ready I jumped in.

The Aircraft

Spitfire Mk I, R6595, from first production batch of 450 aircraft on third contract awarded 9 August 1939.  This was the first aircraft in the batch, delivered 7 May 1940 to Number 8 Maintenance Unit. Delivered to 610 Squadron on 28 July 1940. Because of timing this aircraft would have been delivered to 8 MU with then then-required Night/White undersurfaces. While at the MU it would have been repainted with Sky undersurfaces per directives dating from June 11. This is certainly during the period from June to September where a controversial shade of Sky could have been applied, ranging from Sky Grey, Sky Blue, Eau-de-Nil, through to actual Sky.  As an example for demonstrating all the possible variations, this subject hits them all. Aeromaster suggest Sky.

This aircraft is featured in a fairly well known and widely published photograph from the period.  On Monday 26 August, 1940, the aircraft crashed after being badly damaged by a Bf109; the pilot, Pilot Officer F. K. Webster, was killed while attempting to land at Hawkinge.

References:  Spitfire the History, 610 Squadron History.

The Model

As mentioned above, this is the older tooling Airfix Spitfire Mk Ia dating from 1979.  Airfix modified the molds to be a snap together kit in the early 1980's.  Actually a fairly accurate kit in shape and outline, but the detail is raised (arguably more accurate) and the cockpit is nearly void except for a seat. The cockpit is not much of a problem if using the kit canopy as it is rather thick, most especially if one is to put a pilot in there. But if wanting to use a vac canopy much detail will be needed. For this effort I chose the kit canopy with no pilot.

As this was for the FSM Group Build I didn't want to take too long and it's the last of my old tooling Mk I kits. I removed the snap together pins to correct alignment but overall the fit is very good. As is typical of this kit and similar offerings from that period, construction was very quick and I was ready for painting within an hour. I almost felt like a kid again!

After a primer coat from a spray can, I hand painted the camouflage using Humbrol enamels.  Dark Earth (29) and Dark Green (116), after Sky (90) was airbrushed for the undersides.  Future was applied for the decals and followed with a light wash using Payne's Gray oil was applied.  A 50/50 mix of Future with Acryl clear flat was then applied as a final sealer.

Back to the undersurface color:  Humbrol 90 is listed as a recommended enamel paint for Sky, however the formulation has changed over the years. I have two tins, one the earlier Super Enamel before Hornby and Hornby's version with the blue stripe. The difference is subtle with the older paint looking truer to Sky with a slightly greener hue than the later paint.  Conversely the later paint is slightly bluer. I cannot stress how subtle the difference is and lighting conditions matter greatly. So based on the subject's timing, I used the later tin of "blue stripe" 90 as a local interpretation of sorts for Sky.

And that was that. A very fun build of a fairly familiar subject. It's unique with the oversized markings on the fuselage and fills a void in my collection of early Spitfires. Total time was less than 7 hours spread over a couple of weeks in order for paint and clear coats to thoroughly cure.