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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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