Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vc Trop of Sgt. George Beurling in 1/72 Scale

Sgt. George “Screwball” Beurling was the highest-scoring Canadian ace, with 31 credited victories, the majority of which were scored over Malta.  BR323 was one of the Spitfires he flew with 249 Squadron at Malta, achieving 5 victories with this aircraft in July 1942.  The dual drop tanks on the centerline were a field improvisation, the blue camouflage was applied in theater and has been interpreted in several ways.

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Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vc Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part III

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This Spitfire will be in post-war Greek markings. Mr. Color #5 was a good match for the blue in the Greek roundels. The natural metal finish almost did me in on this one though, as the soft Airfix plastic scratched easily and the Alclad made any scratches jump right out. I ended up buffing out scratches and re-shooting the Alclad a couple of times.

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Everyone agrees that several of the Malta Spitfires were oversprayed in blues, but there is little consensus as to what blues and to what extent they were covered. Here I have layered on two USN colors, Intermediate Blue and Blue Gray.

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For a darker blue Malta scheme I used Model Master Insignia Blue. I still have some stocks of the MM paints, although they do not age well and I often discover a few unusable bottles during every build.

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The last will be another Greek Spitfire in the more usual Temperate Sea scheme. This one will have the hybrid markings with RAF Type B roundels on the upper wings and Greek roundels in the other positions.

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A group shot all glossed up and ready for decals.

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This is the ugly stage of a “sludge wash” to bring out the panel lines. The sludge wash is a diluted dark gray acrylic mixed with a little dish soap. This is best applied over a gloss finish with the excess wiped away before it is completely dry.

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Here the excess has been removed with a damp cotton swab. Always work in the direction of the airflow and any streaking will add depth to your weathering.

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The finished batch. I borrowed some spare Type B roundel decals from the Eduard kit as the Xtradecal sheet didn’t have enough to do every subject I wanted. The only real flaw with this kit is the center sections of the canopies are not as clear as they should be, I replaced what I could with spares from Eduard kits which are much better molded. Overall though I am happy with these kits as they go together well and are fun builds.  In total I spent 26.5 hours on these, or about 6 hours and 40 minutes per kit.

Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vc Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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The fuselages fit together well with no surprises. I am intending to display two of the models with open canopies, and have removed the door pieces from the fuselage side.

 

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The wing assembly left a bit of a gap at the wing roots.

 

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There were also gaps around the filter. This problem was not present on all the models to the degree shown here so this may have been an error on my part.

 

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Perfect Plastic Putty is ideal for filling these sort of gaps as any excess can be wiped away with a moist cotton swab without damaging the surrounding details. Another trick is to go around the canopy mating surfaces with a black Sharpie. This will prevent the plastic color showing through at the joints and the Sharpie ink will not inhibit the glue from bonding.

 

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While I do love canopy masking sets some manufacturers are now demanding ridiculous prices for the convenience. On a simple single-seat aircraft I would rather mask by hand and save the money for additional kits.

 

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A coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 revealed a few seams to address. Always a good idea to check as I inevitably have some errors show through.

Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mark Vc Batch Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

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This is the Airfix Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vc, kit number A02108 released in 2020. This is a new tool and very much in Airfix’s home court as it replaces their older tools and, well, it’s a Spitfire. I’ll be building a small batch of these, hopefully as a painless build before trying something more involved.

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I was really pleased to see that Xtradecal issued a decal sheet targeting this kit, and it one with several interesting options. The Airfix kit has two decal options provided, one in U.S. markings and one in South African. I think at least one of the kit options should have been in Royal Air Force markings as this would have provided examples of the most common national insignia for the Spitfire.

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On to the sprues! The kit is molded in the soft light blue plastic we now expect from Airfix. The panel line detail has come a long way and this kit features finely scribed recessed panel lines. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how nicely these were rendered. There are also optional upper wing parts for the clipped wing version, no cutting needed.

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On the smaller parts sprues Airfix has provided the builder with a number of options. Both the Rotol and DeHavilland three-bladed propellers are provided along with their associated spinners. The Vokes tropical filter as depicted on the box art is included, as are parts for the standard nose panel and filter. Exhausts come with or without the gun heater tubes. The modeler can also choose to show the landing gear up and the canopy either opened or closed.

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The cockpit is well-detailed and builds up as a tub to be inserted into the fuselage. You must do this before joining the fuselage halves but it fits nicely.

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Here are two tubs assembled and painted. Seat belts are not included, I have made mine from masking tape. The instrument panel is the kit decal which is fine given what can be seen.

Airfix Boeing B-17E Conversion “THE BLUE GOOSE” in 1/72 Scale

B-17E Flying Fortress serial number 41-2616 THE BLUE GOOSE is somewhat enigmatic due to there being no known photographs of her.  What is known is that the USAAF requisitioned her from an RAF order and that she was given a unique paint job at the Hawaiian Air Depot.  From Fortress Against the Sun, pg 218:

“Interestingly, Waskowitz’ plane, the Blue Goose, was actually painted a bright, light blue.  Perhaps as a test for a new camouflage scheme, B-17E 41-2616 had been given a coat, top to bottom, of Light Glossy Blue Duco paint at the Hawaiian Air Depot.  With its highly unusual color, the B-17 and its crew were soon known to everybody.”

Unfortunately the exact shade is not recorded.  I have included a Duco automotive color chart below, perhaps the paint is one of the blues on this card.  My color is a mix of Mr. Color 34 with Mr. Color 115 (RLM 65) in a 2 to 1 ratio.

The BLUE GOOSE served with the 11th Bomb Group.  She was lost off Bougainville on 29SEP42, shot down by antiaircraft fire while attacking a Japanese cruiser.  None of her crew survived.

The model is back-dated from the Airfix B-17G kit.  Markings are from Starfighter Decals #72-162 “Fortress of the Skies Part 3: E Models”.

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North American P-51D Mustang Comparison Build, Hasegawa, Airfix and Tamiya Kits in 1/72 Scale Part III

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The models were painted with Alclad lacquers and Testor’s Model Master enamels.  All the models came with recessed panel lines on the wings.   Most of these were filled with putty on operational aircraft, so I filled the appropriate lines on all the models.  The natural metal areas were painted Alclad Dark Aluminum, the painted wing color is Alclad Aluminum with a few drops of Alclad light gray primer added to dull it down a little.

SUMMARY

I’ll give you what I consider the pros and cons of each kit, and what I did to get them to the configuration I desired.  The one big caveat is this – what I feel compelled to change other modelers might not give a hoot about or even notice – and visa-versa.  Build the model you want how you want and have fun.

 

HASEGAWA

First is the Hasagawa kit with decals from AeroMaster sheet 72-175.  This is the oldest kit of the three, and needed the most work.  The cockpit and wheelwells were replaced with Aeries resin and the flaps dropped.  The contour of the upper cowling was given a more rounded profile with a file.  The upper wing joint needs filed back a bit at the wing root joint to get some dihedral on the wings.  The ventral antenna should be moved back about 3-4 mm.  I cut the flaps off and replaced them with the spares from the Airfix kit so they could be shown dropped.  The kit decals had creamy whites and orange reds.  I used the instrument panel decal, but it split into four pieces so the rest of the kit decals went into the trash.

On the plus side, this kit has nice surface detail.  There are many additional parts included to allow the modeler to make several modifications and alternate configurations.  Good to have the options.  In addition to the two types of drop tanks, the kit includes both the Hamilton Standard cuffed propeller and the Aeroproducts propeller usually seen on the P-51K.  Oddly, both the Airfix and Tamiya kits provide additional clear parts for the blown sliding canopy “Dallas” hood but Hasegawa does not.  Hasegawa does include both shrouded and unshrouded exhausts and the dorsal DF fitting seen on some Mustangs.  Duplicate parts are also included for the ventral inlet scoops and radiator door, but the differences were not obvious to me.

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“Little Freddie”, piloted by Lt. Freddie Hutchins, 302 FS, 332 FG.  Hasegawa kit, AeroMaster decals.
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The underside of “Little Freddie”.

AIRFIX

This is the new Airfix kit, with markings from Eagle Strike sheet IP7208.  This kit does a lot of things right, the most obvious being the ability to drop the flaps without the use of a razer saw.  Two sets of flaps are provided, tabbed to pose them up or down as the builder prefers.  The second big thing done right is the wheelwells, which go all the way back to the main wing spar, just like the real thing.  The wells benefit from a little clean-up to remove the inner lip and thin the lower wing edge.  They will still be just a little shallow, but only a little.  If you want to paint the wells in natural metal with only the spar in Zinc Chromate like the early “D”, this kit provides your best opportunity.  Fit was good overall, with the exception of the clear parts.

Which brings us to the liabilities.  The problem which gets the most attention on the Web is the panel lines.  Yes, they are wider and deeper than those of other kits.  I have reduced them here with coats of Mr. Surfacer.  It helped quite a bit, at the expense of some extra time and sandpaper.  The smaller parts also present some problems, due mainly to the soft plastic and large sprue gates.  Some parts were molded badly on my example.  The drop tanks have several errors, and are best left off or replaced.  There are some minor fit issues with the forward windscreen.  This is the first time I have built a kit with the clear canopy molded separately from the lower frame.  I gave it a shot, but I have to say I prefer a one-piece canopy and will replace it with a vacuform piece in the near future.

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“Cripes A’ Mighty”, piloted by Major George Preddy,328 FS,  Bodney, Norfolk, Dec. 1944.  Airfix kit, Eagle Strike decals.

TAMIYA

Last of the three is the Tamiya kit.  Markings are from Super Scale sheet 72-697, which performed flawlessly despite languishing in the stash for years.  The panel lines here are recessed and nicely engraved, the molding is sharp.  If you want dropped flaps with this kit they must be cut loose, but they are molded as one piece with the upper wing panels and can be filled out with a few lengths of half round.  The wheelwells are deep and have some really nice detail, but only go back to the well opening, not to the spar.  In the end I replaced them, but I’m sure many modelers won’t see that as being worth the extra effort.

The Tamiya kit surprised me with a couple of fit issues.  The fit of the main wing can be fixed with some careful trimming at the center of the rear edge, above the radiator scoop where it will be hidden.  Of more concern is the fit of the forward windscreen – it’s about a millimeter wider than the fuselage.  On any future builds I will try shimming the upper cowl out enough to improve the fit.  The main canopy is in two pieces, and I think a vacuform piece would improve the appearance here as well.

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“Honey Bee” Piloted by Capt. Barrie S. Davis, 317 FS, 325 FG.  Tamiya kit, Super Scale decals.

 

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“Daddy’s Girl” piloted by Major Ray Wetmore, 370 FS, 359 FG, East Wretham, Norfolk.  Tamiya kit, Fündeckals decals.

 

 

Airfix Boeing B-17E Conversion “Honi Kuu Okole” in 1/72 Scale

This is a conversion of the Airfix B-17G Flying Fortress kit to represent B-17E 41-9244 “Honi Kuu Okole”, which served with the 19th and 43rd Bomb Groups in the Pacific.  She was one of a group of four B-17Es requisitioned from a Royal Air Force order by the USAAF, the others being serial numbers 41-9196, 41-9234, and 41-9235.  The aircraft were finished in the RAF Temperate Sea Scheme and British markings, the insignia were replaced with U.S. markings but the camouflage was retained.

There was a fad among U.S. aircrews in the Pacific to give their aircraft Hawaiian names.  According to Lawrence J. Hickey’s “Kens Men Against the Empire”:

“Sometime during its combat service with the 19th and 43rd Bomb Groups the aircraft acquired the nickname HONI KUU OKOLE.  Whoever named it thought the name meant “up your ass” or perhaps “kiss my ass” in Hawaiian; a more literal translation of the phrase would be “massage my buttock.”

The aircraft was in the thick of the action, racking up a total of 87 combat missions and an impressive scoreboard.  Her luck ran out on the night of 21MAR43 over Rabaul when she was shot down by a J1N1 Gekko (Irving) nightfighter piloted by SFPO Shigetoshi Kudo of the 251st NAG.  Only two of the crew survived the crash.  Bombardier MSGT Gordon Manual evaded the Japanese until he was rescued by the USS Gato (SS-212) on 05FEB44, waist gunner SGT Robert Curry was captured and executed by the Japanese at Rabaul.  SFPO Kudo would go on to become the first nightfighter ace of the Pacific War.

Photographs of HONI KUU OKOLE focus on her scoreboard.  I have depicted her with replacement parts in U.S. colors and touch-ups in Olive Drab along the locations where the de-icer boots would have been removed, all probable but the specifics are speculative.  Her U.S. insignia are in the sizes and locations of the RAF insignia they replaced.  Decals are from Starfighter Decals #72-162 “Fortress of the Skies Part 3: E Models”.

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