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Jay Chladek

Initial Impressions, Tamiya 1/48 Spit Mk I kit

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Hey there guys. I just picked up the new 1/48 scale Spit Mk 1 kit (#61119) today and it has some very nice features in it. My main focus was on the interwar years Spit birds. If you plan to do a 1938-39 model Spitfire, here are some features which I think will be a nice surprise for you.:

 

Pre-war ring and bead gun sight- Using a combination of some styrene and included photoetch, this is the first 1/48 Spitfire I have seen which includes the ring and bead sight. When I did my Interwar 19 Squadron bird years ago for a Britmodeler build, I had to cobble something together.

 

Two pronged fork pitot tube- Again, it wasn't around when I did my build. Granted Tamiya isn't the first to do this style of tube as the Hornby Airfix 2015 Spit Mk I kit (A05126) also included it. But it is nice to see Tamiya noticed it as well. 

 

Gun heater exhaust vents in the wings- This is something I have never seen on a 1/48 Spit kit. Early Spitfires tried to use exhaust gas heating to keep the .303s from freezing in flight. Heating ducts were installed along with an exhaust port in each wing. Tamiya put those into this kit! The wing mount holes are flashed over for those who want to do BoB aircraft. But, it is nice to have that option in this kit!

 

Unarmored glass windscreen- Tamiya did the windscreen un-armored with the simple frame. Two versions of armored glass can be installed over the top of this for WW2 birds. The shape of the windscreen looks beautiful and at a nice petite thickness for pre-war birds.

 

The pre-war marking option is for K9906 of 65 Squadron, FZ-L from 1939. It has the later more traditional style bubble canopy and the 3 bladed Jablo prop. There is some debate about whether the Munich Crisis camoed topside aircraft had an all aluminium underside as the kit depicts of whether it had gone with the black/white wing paint (making sure to leave the control surface undersides aluminium if you go that route).

 

Early square spine antenna- The antenna mounting for the early and late style antennas is very robust and designed to help eliminate a glue stain. The square antenna mount looks great and is less prone to flexing than the Hornby Airfix one.

 

So, you can do the kit out of the box for a pre-war Spitfire easily. Now if you want to do one of the earliest birds, such as the 19 Squadron Duxford Spits from 38-39 you are on your own for the Watts two-bladed prop and the flat canopy.  But the 2015 Airfix Spit Mk 1 and the earlier Humbrol Airfix Spit kits provide those to scrounge. The Hornby Airfix Mk I also includes the flat top canopy, but it is a bit too thick to use properly if you intend to pose it open. So I recommend acquiring a Falcon Spitfire vac canopy set for the sliding portion if you wish to go that route. 

 

As for other Spit features, all are nicely represented with the later gunsight option and a cockpit/seat with etched belts and features that can be used with or without a provided pilot figure. BTW, This Spitfire side door does not have the crowbar molded in (yay). 

 

There is only one feature left off, but it is not a show stopper at all. The elevators are molded into the horizontal surfaces. So you can't build the elevators drooped as found on a parked Spitfire. It is not a deal breaker given most spit models I have seen have level tailplanes anyway. I suppose if one wanted to they could scrouge early style elevator/tail planes from a Late Mk IX or VII/VIII Edward kit that uses the later tailplanes and graft them into the Tamiya tail. It will probably work fine as the rudder is molded separate in both kits. And I do see a couple possible other areas that might need some slight material removal to make it right for a specific variant. But I really like the looks of this and I think it can build quicker than an Eduard weekend edition.

 

Is it the king of the Mk 1 Spitfires in 1/48? I'm not going to say that, not just with an initial look. There are a lot of things I like about this kit and a lot of things I like about the Airfix kit. If my intention was to go Pre-war, I would choose the Tamiya kit. But for a BoB offering... ? Let me just say it is nice to have choices and this kit is a very nice choice. But Airfix has a lot going for it as well, especially a lower price tag. I'm going to have a lot of fun with this model. 

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Awesome review- thank you!  I have three in transit from HobbyLink Japan and can’t wait to start building one.

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I just received my three kits from HLJ.  I am amazed at what’s included for the price (especially the pre order price- $22.50!).  Masks, photoetch, and full color 3-view drawings too!  I really like the photoetch harness straps for the seated pilot figure - another nice touch.  Surface texture looks like typical Tamiya.  I can’t wait to get started- I will probably build 2 or maybe all 3 at the same time.  Looks like a quick build/low parts count 👍🏻

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So tell me this, what was the main motivation behind Tamiyas decision to release an all new tooled Spitfire mk1 in 1:48 scale? Was it because they weren`t happy with the 1993 kit or are they embarking upon a new generation of kits to make them all that much sweeter when to this day the "old" ones really are more than good enough?!  

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Now if they just supersize this kit to 32nd! 

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I've also got a copy and look forward to building it. IMHO the lack of droop-able elevators is a bummer, especially considering all the other neat options that are included. OTOH, one cool feature that, I think, hasn't been mentioned is the engineering of the main gear struts as one piece with a hidden connector between the two struts: really foolproof alignment.

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On 1/11/2019 at 11:10 PM, Jay Chladek said:

The pre-war marking option is for K9906 of 65 Squadron, FZ-L from 1939. It has the later more traditional style bubble canopy and the 3 bladed Jablo prop. 

 

FWIW, the three-bladed prop is not a Jablo.  It’s a de Havilland two-position variable pitch prop.  Jablo props came in with the Mk.V.

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6 hours ago, Sonoran said:

 

FWIW, the three-bladed prop is not a Jablo.  It’s a de Havilland two-position variable pitch prop.  Jablo props came in with the Mk.V.

Thanks for that. I knew it was two speed, but I brain farted on which one. Yes, it was the prop that if you didn't position to coarse pitch on takeoff, you were going to overrun the runway, as Douglas Bader found out once. He broke and bent both his legs in the resulting prang. But he was fine the next day. 😉

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On ‎1‎/‎12‎/‎2019 at 7:10 AM, Jay Chladek said:

 

Gun heater exhaust vents in the wings- This is something I have never seen on a 1/48 Spit kit. Early Spitfires tried to use exhaust gas heating to keep the .303s from freezing in flight. Heating ducts were installed along with an exhaust port in each wing. Tamiya put those into this kit! The wing mount holes are flashed over for those who want to do BoB aircraft. But, it is nice to have that option in this kit!

 

 

 

Hello, Jay.

 

Thanks for your "initial impressions".

I had been thinking about building a 1938 Spitfire using the 2015 Airfix kit. Maybe I'll follow your suggestion and use the  flat canopy and two-bladed prop on a Tamiya kit.

 

Could you please indicate where those flashed over gun heater exhaust vents are? That is indeed a neat feature, but so far I have been unable to find them on the parts.

 

Cheers, Stefan.

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They are just outside the outermost gun shell discharge holes in the wings. If you look inside the wing, you will see a pair of flashed over holes in each wing half. They are parts B9 and B10, called out in instruction section 21. 

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19 hours ago, Jay Chladek said:

Thanks for that. I knew it was two speed, but I brain farted on which one. Yes, it was the prop that if you didn't position to coarse pitch on takeoff, you were going to overrun the runway, as Douglas Bader found out once. He broke and bent both his legs in the resulting prang. But he was fine the next day. 😉

 

Jeremy Kinney of the NASM has a new book out about constant speed props, and I was surprised to learn that DH implemented a crash program to convert the two position props into governed constant speed props just prior to the beginning of the Battle of Britain, and that it made a huge difference to the outcome of the battle.  

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6 hours ago, Jay Chladek said:

They are just outside the outermost gun shell discharge holes in the wings. If you look inside the wing, you will see a pair of flashed over holes in each wing half. They are parts B9 and B10, called out in instruction section 21. 

 

Thanks, Jay.

 

I see them now. I was looking for the wrong thing, some kind of flashed-over slot. 

Cool to have the option. I'll dig into some references to see if it can be found anywhere at which point in production these things were no longer installed.

 

I saw in the Eduard February newsletter  that the Tamiya release is not going to deter them from producing their own Mk I. They expect to release it in about a year or so.  Great times to be a Spitfire kit collector, er, Spitfire builder.:thumbsup:

 

Sonoran,

Thanks for the heads-up on that book. Sounds very interesting.

 

Cheers, Stefan.

 

 

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Eduard will have to step up their game if they are going to compete with Tamiya on this one.  I'm building it now and it is one of the best engineered kits I've seen.  You can see whoever designed the kit is a real model maker.  Neither Eduard's Spit IX or their newest Tempest are thought out as well, or precisely molded, as the Tamiya kit.  I also prefer Tamiya's representation of surface detail.

 

Eduard would be better served if they moved up their timeline on the Tempest Mk II.  They would have an exclusive on that one.

 

Paul

Edited by Paul Budzik
Added additional text

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