Kit: No. 07105
Manufacturer: Airfix, Humbrol Ltd., Marfleet Lane, Kingston-upon-Hull
HU9 5NE, England, phone 44-1482-701191
Comments: Injection molded, 94 parts, decals.
The F.22 and F.24 were the final Spitfire variants. They exhibited all the improvements made to the Spitfire in its long history -- bubble canopy, Griffon engine, cannon armament, enlarged tail surfaces, five-bladed propeller, and improved wing.
This kit is Airfix's first employing Korean tooling, and the results are spectacular. Razor-sharp recessed panels and fine detail rank this kit (and its sister, the Seafire 46/47, No. 07106) with its contemporaries.
The 12-page instruction booklet has 18 assembly steps with large, clear illustrations. Each of the three markings options has complete four-view diagrams included in the booklet, as well as two full pages to guide stencil placement. Paint colors are keyed only to Humbrol numbers. (See FSM's Humbrol cross-reference chart, Dec. 1996, page 73.)
Options include a pilot figure, camera lens for the F.24 version, dropped flaps, underwing rockets, and long- or short-barreled cannons.
The cockpit detail is good, but I added seat belts. Flatten the bottom of the seat frame (part No. 9) and trim 1/16" off the bottom of the instrument panel frame (No. 4) to ease the fit of the wing. A decal is provided for the instrument panel -- it will go on better if you file off the raised panel detail. The option is to paint the raised detail.
The instructions don't indicate that the gunsight (No. 5) can be found on the clear sprue. The cockpit fit well up through the wing opening in the assembled fuselage.
I found the fuselage halves fit better after removing the locating pins. No filler was needed on the seams. If you're going to hang the underwing rockets, bore out the locator holes before assembling the wing in step 9 -- the instructions don't point this out. The little wedge-shaped bumps on the upper surface of the wings are flap-actuator covers. If you drop the flaps, they are fine, but if you want the flaps raised, file the bumps flush. The fit of the wing to the fuselage is tight and will require adjusting.
The color numbers for the wing-tip navigation lights and the ventral ID lights aren't on the Humbrol color chart (they must be new "clear" colors). They should be clear red on the left tip, clear green on the right, and clear red, green, and amber (front to back) for the ID lights. Back the lights with either foil or silver paint for added realism.
I used Testor non-buffing aluminum Metalizer and sealer overall to replicate the aluminum-dope finish applied to the No. 603 squadron F.22. Airfix's decals are a little thick but Solvaset slowly snuggles them down over panel lines and contours. The decals have a flat finish and should be glossy. A coat of clear gloss before or after they are applied will fix them.
I had to trim the landing-gear doors and gear-actuating axles to get the gear to fit right. The canopy sits a little high in the open position even after trimming the inside edges.
Overall, this is a well-crafted kit with a few fit problems. I enjoyed the 20 hours I put into it. Airfix's Spitfire measures within a scale inch of the dimensions in Scale Aircraft Modelling Vol. 7, No. 1, and Squadron/Signal's Spitfire in Action.
If you've built a few 1/48 scale models, you won't have any major problems adding this ultimate Spitfire to your collection. Now where did I put that Seafire kit?