Sunday, February 16, 2014

PR XI PL776/Y

Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk XI, PL776/Y, 681 Squadron RAF, Alipore, India 1944/45


This is another of those early passionate builds of Spitfires.  This time I wanted a PR bird but didn't want to make the typical PR XIX.  This was my second attempt at a PRU Blue aircraft, the first being the Mosquito PR XVI, which languished for a few years, not due to the paint, but due to decals.  Meanwhile I tackled this limited run kit by MPM way back in December 2008.

The Aircraft


The PR XI was basically a Mk VIII Merlin powered Spitfire, but with the unarmored wing of the PR IV, extra fuel tanks in the "wet" wings, and a non pressurized cockpit.  The nose is deeper to accommodate a larger oil sump for longer flights.  790 were produced in 1943-44.  The PR XI was the natural progression from the PR IV for a mass produced photo reconnaissance aircraft, replacing all of the earlier PR conversions and the PR IV from mid-1943.  The PR XI was subsequently replaced by the PR XIX, the Griffon powered variant.


681 Squadron served in the South East Asia Command (SEAC) theater.  Operating from Alipore airfield, India.  The squadron was first formed from Number 3 PRU at Dum Dum, India in January 1943, initially equipped with the PR IV.  The squadron re-equipped with the PR XI in October 1944 after they had moved to Alipore in May.  They moved to Mingdalon in June 1945.

The squadron re-equipped a final time to the PR XIX in August 1945 and then moved to Kai Tak airfield, Hong Kong in September with the Japanese surrender.

PL776/Y was completed 23 February 1944 and delivered to 681 Squadron on 17 April 1944.  She was used operationally until her engine cut and it made a belly landing near Whaiknyaung on 28 March 1945, she was struck off charge a month later.

The Model


This is a short run kit by MPM, kit number 72086.  It has options for one USAAF and two RAF machines with either the early rudder or later broad-chord pointed rudder.  It also contains some resin detail parts.  After clean up it went together quite easily for a limited run kit.  Frankly, cleaning up the parts was the most difficult part of the build.


Even the vac canopy was easy and I typically struggle with them.

The model was painted PRU Blue overall, using Model Master PRU Blue enamel.  The white SEAC identification bars were painted, although they came on the decal sheet.


The decals came in the kit and went on very nicely with just Micro-Sol and Set.

Summary


Even 5 years later the model still looks like one of my better results.  I didn't weather it at all as that was before my feeble attempts and botches, which is one reason I've gone back to no weathering; the models just look better.

Highly recommended as a first foray into limited run, if you can find the kit.  I've seen them at shows for very little, as some folks are put off by MPM, especially the older kits.

Thanks for looking...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

PR XIX PS852

Spitfire PR Mk XIX, PS582, 81 Squadron, Kai Tek Hong Kong, 1951

When I received my new PR XIX I decided I did not want a typical PRU blue overall scheme as I already had a Spitfire PR XI in my collection with that scheme. It just so happened that XtraDecal released a PR XIX decal sheet that had many optional paint schemes so I purchased it.


The Subject


One of the schemes is PS852 which was in the high altitude scheme of PRU blue undersides, Medium Sea Grey uppersides and a black anti-glare panel on the nose. Very colorful with the bright post-war roundels.


I decided to look up PS852 to see why XtraDecal would include it on their sheet, other than it was colorful. The top hit on Google was http://www.spyflight.co.uk/spit.htm titled “Spitfires over China”.

In short, Flight Lieutenant Ed “Ted” Powles was detached from Tengah, Singapore as part of 81 (PR) Squadron with 2 PR XIX aircraft, PS852 and PS854, to Kai Tek, Hong Kong in January 1951. He and his flight spent the following year photographing sites along the Chinese coast and to a degree inland China as well. Two flights are of particular interest.

On 22 May 1951 he flew from Hong Kong to the southern end of Hainan Island to photograph the docks. Because he had to fly below a cloud deck he had to make 3 photo runs instead of the planned 2 and after evading pursuing Chinese fighters, he ran out of fuel on the return trip to Hong Kong.

Ultimately he was able to land, dead stick with the aircraft otherwise intact after 3 ½ hours of flight.

On 27 August 1951 he flew a similar mission to the northeast corner of Hainan Island to photograph the harbor, port and airfield at Haikou. Again he landed dead stick as his fuel ran out on final.

Ultimately Ted Powles flew 63 missions over China during 1951.

The Model


Airfix PR XIX, a new mold that is crisp, accurate and a very easy build. It’s also inexpensive at only $6 from Squadron. I built it straight OOB, the paint was Model Master enamels. PRU Blue and Medium Sea Grey. For both I air brushed them using Painters Oil Medium III(available at Michael’s) as my thinner. It allows a very smooth finish but takes about a week to fully cure. Very much worth it if time is not important. The black anti-glare panel is Tamiya acrylic, and the entire model was sealed after decaling with Future.


Summary


Much can be done with this kit if one wants to take care and add some detail.  Myself, I enjoy it for its ability to be a pallet.


Thanks for looking...






Saturday, February 8, 2014

F Mk XIVe RN119

Fujimi Spitfire F Mk XIVe, RN119/AE-J, 402 Squadron, RCAF, March 1945


I have a number of these Fujimi kits in their various guises. While they seem scarce as hen's teeth in shops and priced as such, they do become available at online auctions from time to time. I've got all I want of this kit, as I haven't identified enough subjects to drive me to want more. It doesn't help that as a building experience I'd rather not tackle such over-engineering. I originally built this model in June 2010.

The Aircraft



RN119 was assigned to 402 Squadron RCAF; the photo above is from the IWM, catalog number MH 6855, and is from March 1945.   It later served with 412 Squadron RCAF and finally with the Belgian AF post war.  One search indicates it was used to shoot down a Ju88 on 19 April. 

Other than this photo ensures the modeler can build an accurate replica, I'm not sure of the significance of this subject.  For myself, it was Canadian (I like having some Canadian subjects on the shelf for some reason) and it's a Spitfire.

The Model


My memory of this build has faded. I don't remember building it at all but know I must have as no one else builds models in my house and I don't accept built models from anyone. I do remember photographing it as it was done as part of a group of models while my basement was being remodeled and my photo booth was stored away.

At any rate, I do know it went together quite readily and at the time I had little references so the mods needed to make an accurate F Mk XIVe were not done. The ailerons are the wrong length (you have to fill the panel line to represent the shorter, Mk VIII style, ailerons) and there are some bumps that are in the wrong places or represent the PR Mk XIX. Also the cockpit just plain wrong for a Spitfire and if accuracy is important it must be replaced. Additionally, the tail wheel represents a modern modification; operationally they were retractable but modern war birds typically have them fixed down for both safety and maintenance reasons. I didn't make all the mods because at the time I didn't care.


I am sure this is the first of the Fujimi Spitfires I made and I was obviously impressed as I went out and acquired at least 5 more to represent the PR, F and FR variants, including one to be a FR XVIII (which I later realized was not right). Until AZ released their F Mk XIV kit, this Fujimi kit was the bee's knees as the other, Academy, kit is so wrong in shape; it's only redeeming value is a pretty good cockpit and some other details. Snap up the Academy kit at bargain prices and you can tart up any Spitfire.

It was painted using Model Master enamels as that is what I had at the time. I am sure I used the FS equivalents of the RAF Dark Green, Ocean Grey and Medium Sea Grey as it is what I had and I wasn't aware of the subtle differences in color back then. Of course now I'd be horrified to use FS equivalents on a Spitfire!

Obviously I used the kit decals. I do remember looking up the subject, JE-J/RN119, as I wanted to know its operational significance. One thing I dislike about Japanese kit makers is they typically provide no historical context for the subjects of their decals, just the squadron and sometimes the pilot's name. I truly loved reading historical context in the old Airfix instructions, it's what hooked me onto model airplanes way back when.

Summary


On the shelf it looks good. This must have been a quick build given I've no memory of it. I do have a few of those where I look on the shelf and wonder when I made it, only to note the copyright of the kit is within the last 20 years! I do have a plan for the other Fujimi kits, one of which is Ginger Lacey's mount while he was in Japan.

Thanks for looking...


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hasegawa Spitfire Ia

This is a kit I purchased back in the early '90's and started shortly after, but didn't finish until 2009.

When I started it I thought it was a good kit. Well, okay the definition of "good" meant "easy to build" and "bad" meant "impossible to build". At the time this was a good kit, to me. I had no idea it had inaccuracies and because it was so easy to build I purchased two more. My desire was to build a series of Mk I subjects that represented the different schemes worn from 1938 to 1941. This kit actually comes with decals for two variants of the Mk I, an early machine from 19th Squadron in May 1939 and Al Deere's mount during the Battle of Britain.



I built the kit out of the box, however the decals were the wrong size and out of register. I had some spare roundels and codes in Medium Sea Grey. I did use the Kiwi marking for All Deer's KL-B as it was the right size.



Overall I enjoyed the build, albeit the other 2 kits in my stash may just be donors to other kits. The wing/fuselage is completely wrong, having no gull-wing shape. This was the 2nd time I'd tried weathering and I way overdid it.



Some day I'll redo the subject, but will use the new-ish Airfix Mk Ia kit.

Thanks for looking...