Italeri Spitfire IX
Likely to be overlooked in favour of the more widely touted Hasegawa kit, Italeri's Mk.IX is quite a respectable kit in its own right. Detail is recessed, and a little softer than the Hasegawa kit. The interior is comparable, with a reasonably detailed instrument panel, and some bulkhead detail. The entry hatch is provided as a separate part, but lacks any detail, and doesn't fit particularly well. Options include standard and pointed rudders, standard or clipped wing tips, two styles of air filter intake, and two styles of canopy, with and without the armoured windscreen. As molded, the wing is a 'c' wing, with the 20 mm cannon located inboard. As far as I know, the French Mk. IXs were all e winged, with the cannon in the outboard position. Both the cannon and the stub (which looks a little long) are molded into the wing. They could easily be swapped, however it would take a lot more work to relocate the elongated cannon bulge on the wing upper surface. Strangely, no ejection port is molded in the lower wing for either of the possible cannon locations. This is relatively simple to fix. The machine guns in the outboard wings have their ejection ports molded open. The tape over the machine gun apertures is indicated by a heavy raised section, which should really be sanded down. Decals are provided for the red tape over the ports.
Fit is the bugbear of this kit. The wing to fuselage fit is very poor, and the problem is compounded at the front of the wing, where something like 9 parts come together in the space of a few millimetres (two upper wing halves and the lower wing, two aft fuselage halves, two cowling halves, lower cowl, air filter body and intake). This area took a lot of putty and smoothing with superglue to get looking reasonable. Of course the big question at this stage is- is it an accurate Mk.IX? I'm not really sure. It looks good in this scale. It has the appropriate gull wing section, and the humps and bumps look ok to me, but I'm no expert.
Colours are the usual Ocean Grey and Dark Green over Medium Sea Grey, with a Sky band around the rear fuselage. This is included on the kit decal sheet, though I'm not quite sure of the colour. I masked and sprayed this. I decided to experiment with preshading on the this kit. Following priming, I went over the panel lines with flat black. The results looked terrible. My airbrush had been acting up, and half the plane was now covered in thick black lines. Determined not to give up, I went back over the kit with some flat white, highlighting the areas that were not shaded, and refining the shaded areas. I applied the underside grey in a single coat, with the paint very thin and lightly applied. I was very happy with the results. After masking the underside with Tamiya tape, I applied the ocean grey to the topside. Again, the results looked good, though the contrast against the darker grey was much reduced. At this point I realised that the preshading would be essentially invisible through the dark green, with too many coats of paint obscuring it. So after masking off the area to remain grey, I re-preshaded the green areas, and then applied the dark green. I was quite happy with the subtlety of the results, although the finish still didn't look grotty enough. After a little touch-up, I sprayed on a coat of Humbrol clear gloss, and began applying the decals.
Decals are included for three Mk.IXs, and amazingly two are French (though neither Indochina-based). Carpena provides markings for 2 LF.IXs on Indochina 1er Partie (72.04), aircraft "J" of II/7 "Nice" and a/c "R" of 2em Escadrille (SRA81) of GC 1/4 "Dauphine". I originally chose the "Nice" aircraft without the large rudder tricolour (I'm tired of trying to match colours to decals for this- why can't more manufacturers include decals for this?). However, during decal application, I ran into my usual problem with Carpena's decals- namely total disintegration. I managed to salvage the roundels with minimal handling of the decals once off the sheet. The RAF-style tricolour flag for the vertical stabiliser is the wrong shape, and will require trimming to fit. When it came time to apply the serials and code letters, the decal application process really started to go pear-shaped. It looks like the decals that have a white underprinted layer are far stronger than those printed in a single colour (such as the serials and codes). At this point I was in a bit of a quandary as to how to salvage things. I decided to try building the second variant. This required removing the tricolour from the vertical stabiliser, and adding a painted one to the rudder. Fortunately, I had the spare rudder from the kit, so I didn't need to completely strip and repaint the original one. To repair the decals I originally thought of using something like Micro Liquid Decal Film (or whatever it's called these days), however I couldn't find any about. I tried using a coat of Future/Klear over the decals, but this actually seemed to make things worse. So finally I came down to using a tip I'd read about years ago in FineScale Modeler, but that I'd always had my doubts about. I sprayed the decals with a coat of clear gloss (Humbrol). After a few hours drying time, I applied them- and it worked like a charm! The decals showed no sign of disintegration, and they remained as thin as ever! My only complaint at this point was the generally poor colour density of the markings. The yellow code letters were not underprinted with white, and as a result they appear much darker than the yellow surrounds to the fuselage roundels. The demarcation line for the grey and green on the top surfaces is visible through the the roundels as well.
After a coat of gloss clear to seal the markings, I applied a wash of Windsor and Newton lamp black and burnt sienna watercolours to the model. A tiny bit of dish washing soap was added to the wash to cut down on surface tension and prevent beading on the glossy surface. Once dry, excess was cleaned off with a dry paper towel, with stubborn spots cleaned up with a wet brush. On the undersides, the wash used more burnt sienna, while on top more black was used. When the wash had dried thoroughly, I sprayed on a coat of clear flat. Exhaust stains were added using black with a touch of dark brown, heavily thinned. The same mix was used for the powder stains on the wings. Next I added most of the remaining bits. The gear doors did not fit on their mounting pins correctly, so I filed the pins of the gear struts. I drybrushed a little red brown over the wheels, gear doors, wheel wells and the tailwheel area to simulate mud picked up on unpaved strips. Finally, a little simulated chipped metal, then a finishing coat of clear flat to seal everything.
After I built this model, Model Art sheet 72/037 became available, offering three choices- two from GC 1/4 Dauphine, and a shark mouthed a/c from GC 2/4 La Fayette. I also obtained Claude-A Pierquet's book on Les Spitfire francais, an excellent reference on the topic.
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Last updated 21 July 2000