Posted by: Andrew | April 3, 2010

Half Built Spitfire

There hasn’t been a post on the blog for several days because we have had the painters in to decorate most of the downstairs, and part of the upstairs too.  We are planning on moving to Ottawa in the summer and so we wanted the house to look nice before we put it on the market.  The new paint scheme has been chosen to be as inoffensive as possible!

However, the upheaval has meant a lack of time to do blogging.  I have managed to steal some time here and there to build my Airfix Spitfire.  It has been thirty-ish years since I last built a plastic model, and so it has been a re-learning experience.  I am quite pleased that some of my modelling skills seem to have been retained, although I am less pleased with my eyesight, which clearly (or not!) is on the downhill slide.  I’m having my eyes checked out in a couple of weeks. I expect my contact lenses my need replacing, and I might need to start wearing glasses for close-up work.  Reading is no problem, but try painting 1/72nd scale components on the aircraft.

The other nice thing is, I can now afford to buy all those useful things which make modelling easier, such as filler putty, very fine sandpaper, needle files, good quality acrylic paints and nice brushes.  When I was younger, I could just afford the kits and a few tins of paint.

I’m making the kit up out of the box (OOB as they say) in an RAF western desert camouflage paint scheme, which looks rather eye-catching.  Having done a bit of research on the Spitfire over the internet, there are one or two things which aren’t quite perfect about the kit, but unless you are an expert, you won’t notice. (The wing cannon blisters are the wrong width, the carburettor intake is wrong and there are overwing wheel blisters which shouldn’t be there – but you all spotted those in the photo didn’t you?).

Supermarine Spitfire IXc half-built

Supermarine Spitfire IXc half-built

Thanks to Light of My Life for taking the photo with her dSLR.  She can do a much better job of photography than I can.  In the photo the propeller is wonky because I haven’t glued it in place yet!  The canopy is also just there for show and still needs some refinement of the apint on the frames.  The construction was actually pretty straightforward, and the fuselage and wing sections mated together very nicely.  I used a little filler round the trailing wing roots, and on the tail, but it was a good fit (much better than Airfix kits of yesteryear), and the wings have that nice dihedral on them characteristic of a Spitfire (7 degrees upwards – it’s actually a reverse gull wing). I am impressed by the kit so far, it certainly looks like a Spitfire.  The main difficulties were actually very trivial – I couldn’t find the gunsight for ages because I didn’t realize that it was a transparent component! The only parts that didn’t fit together well were the spinner boss and hub, which needed a couple of rounds of filling and sanding.  I’m using Tamiya acrylic paint, which washes out in water, so no more white spirit or turps (yay).  The main snag so far is the underside of the plane, which should be in Azure Blue.   Tamiya don’t do a paint in exactly that colour – their closest match is the RAF blue-grey used for the uniform.  The azure blue is actually a surprisingly vivid colour, and to mix out of Tamiya colours I need to use the existing blue, white and a dash of purple, which I don’t have yet.  Another trip to Hobby World beckons. I’m painting with the “hairy stick” – an ordinary fine sable paint brush.  An airbrush would be nicer to give a softer demarcation line on the brown and sand colours, but that is an investment for later (although it is my birthday soon….)

If you want to see a real expert build one of these kits, take a look at Magnus Fridsell’s building report…

His model is the same aircraft, but with the alternative underside colour – a much lighter blue.   Somehow I don’t think my effort is going to match his…  He also makes a second Airfix kit, the Spitfire PR XIX, a photo-reconnaissance model, which looks very smart too

I’d like to make the alternative aircraft in the present kit, with the more recognisable dark grey/dark green upper surfaces, as a nice contrast.  The added attraction is that the aircraft is JE-J, the personal aircraft of “Johnnie” Johnstone, the top RAF ace of the war. I think Hobby World had another one in stock….

So, lots of things still to do, but a good start. It’s also very therapeutic after a hard day to do a bit of painting or gluing or whatever.  It’s quite a cheap stress relief technique.

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