Saturday, October 12, 2013

LF IXe, 5531, Air Operations School, AFS Langebaanweg, SAAF, May 1953

The South African Air Force was a long time user of the Spitfire. Almost from the earliest marks. I seem to have a few SAAF aircraft, Spitfires and Hurricanes, on my shelf and it's probably due to a combination of subject and color. Typically their national markings had the red replaced with orange, and of course later the gazelle was put in the center.

And their camouflage schemes were sometimes non-standard in that they used paints more appropriate to their mission and surroundings.

The Subject

The AOS was generally used in an operational training role, teaching pilots in other types what it be like when bounced by their adversaries. Given the timeframe I admit that I'm putting 2+2 and getting 5 -- I'd like to think these Spitfires were used to mimic Yak 9 fighters the SAAF pilots might have faced over Korea.

So I fancy the idea of Spitfires and Mustangs in 1v1, 2v1, and 2v2 mock engagements over Langebaanweg operating areas; then the Mustangs deploying off to Korea for operations. These LF Mk IXe were used from about 1948-1953. Some online and decal sources call these aircraft Mk XVI because they are rear view aircraft, but in actuality the only aircraft provided to SAAF were LF Mk IXe, both standard and rear view, with pointed/broad chord rudders.

I don't know the original serial number of 5531, but it was one of a batch of 136 provided to the SAAF just after the war.

The Model

This was meant to be a quick build, one of many Heller XVI kits I've got in my stash, picked up for about $2 each at swap tables. The Heller kit is fairly accurate, the only real issues are raised panel lines, sparse decals in the cockpit and wheel bays and the radiator baths are too deep.

The radiator baths are the most obvious fix that must be done. The other details were not an issue for me; I wanted to display this model in flight so the wells would be covered up and the cockpit would have a pilot in it, hiding any detail that might have been added.

The fix for the radiators is really straight forward. Cut them off, then glue them back on. Generally the thickness of most razor saws is enough to compensate for their deepness. It appears the the baths are more accurate for a Griffon Spitfire, and may have been an error introduced when Heller was researching the Belgian Spitfires, who had a mix of XVI and XIV airframes. At any rate, the Heller kit looks wrong if these are left alone, but if corrected it becomes a very attractive model.

I took care to ensure I didn't lose much of the raised detail, and replaced any I'd lost due to seam filling. The pilot and raised landing gear are from an Airfix Mk IXc kit.

The scheme is Extra Dark Sea Grey over Medium Sea Grey. I used Humbrol paints, a mix for the EDSG (to a tin of Hu123, add 1 ml Hu34 + 0.5 ml Hu25) and Hu165 for the MSG. The spinner is Hu25. Acrylics throughout, applied via airbrush.

The decals are from AlleyCat, sheet 72009. They went on quite well using Revell's Decal Soft.

The clear stand is from Airfix.


Another enjoyable build. Very easy and different on my shelf. The club theme was "Korean War" -- any subject from that conflict. This was a stretch, but I'd already done the FR.47 Seafire.

Thanks for looking...

Sutton Coldfield Model Show

8th September 2013

Another show here in the UK that is not too far from where I'm living.  I did have to make a day of it, but I certainly enjoyed myself.  I was able to meet some nice folks, buy a few trinkets and see some great models.

Lots of photos follow...thanks for looking.