Sunday, May 21, 2017

NMF Spitfire

Spitfire F Mk VIII, 307th FS, 31st FG, Italy 1944

This may have been easy, but it still took me 3 months from start to finish!

The Subject

The 31st Fighter Group used Spitfires for hacks during the last year of the war. As I understand it, they were flying P-51 Mustangs and retained a few reverse lend-lease Spitfires for the squadron CO's (or Operations Officer I would presume) to run about the theater when a critical meeting of leaders was needed face-to-face.

"MX" was stripped of paint and unit markings were applied. In my view, it should have been given an aircraft-in-squadron letter or number, but apparently it did not. Maybe the only known photos are pre-application of that letter/number so we are making an assumption that it never had them. Anyway, that is what this subject represents.

I also wonder if the aircraft would have retained it's 20mm cannon. I left them on for this build because it was simpler. If they access to spares to keep the bird flying they probably had access to the appropriate ordnance.

The Model

This is the Hasegawa late Merlin Spitfire kit, in a "U.S. Army Air Force" boxing of the Mk VIII variant. Kit number 00723 from 2004. The sprues are engineered to offer a HF Mk VII, F Mk VIII, or an middle or late F/LF Mk IXc. This particular boxing did not have the VII bits in it, but had everything to build either the VIII or IX. These kits are quite expensive nowadays, unfortunately, as they suffer some inaccuracy and the Eduard Spitfires beat these kits hands down for both detail and accuracy.

I decided to start WIP stories for each of my kits, which I'll document on the 72nd Scale Aircraft forum instead of here. I will discuss what I've done uniquely about this kit.

I decided to attempt the natural metal finish on this model because I hadn't done one in years and even then it was simply paint the entire model a silver color. Lately I've been building models that required an aluminum paint over either metal or fabric, and some are in the queue that have both fabric and metal painted aluminum...and there is a difference in the tone. So instead of simply painting it all one shade of Aluminum I decided to get some of the recent acrylic metallic paints and give them a try.

In this case, I started with Model Master Aluminum enamel as the base coat. I then masked off areas that I wanted lighter and sprayed them Vallejo White Aluminum. Then I did the same for Vallejo Dark Aluminum. I had no idea "what" would be each shade but I decided to experiment a bit and try to be symmetrical. I knew the cowling got hot so wanted to make it darker, but otherwise kinda let my imagination go. After the White Aluminum I was quite pleased with how it was progressing and frankly if I'd stopped there could have been quite happy. So for the Dark Aluminum I hand painted a few removable panels as well as the cowling. Yuck! Way to contrasty and the look was terrible. After lots of contemplation I did a combination of misting lightly the MM Aluminum enamel over the cowling and then misting it over the entire model to "tone down" the effects. Voila!


I'm quite pleased with this model. Yes, it's not accurate but frankly the Hasegawa late Merlin Spitfires are extremely easy to build. As a kit they are great, if expensive. I got lucky and acquired mine online as part of a "lot" and got a few of them for about $3 USD apiece. That was nearly 10 years ago and now they fetch well over $30. Not worth it IMO given the much cheaper Airfix IX and the extremely high value for money for the Eduard kits. Since I have them, I'll build them.
Thanks for looking...

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