Airfix 1/72 Spitfire Mk. IX – Kit Review

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Accuracy The kit is obviously aimed to represent a C-wing Spitfire Mk. IX. The later LF Mk. IX can be produced by attaching the ...
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Accuracy

The kit is obviously aimed to represent a C-wing Spitfire Mk. IX. The later LF Mk. IX can be produced by attaching the long chin intake, but the nose itself remains the same, which technically isn’t correct but probably will not show in this scale. Additionally, the early short air intake looks spurious, mostly reminding of a Mk. V intake, which it wasn’t.

The wing features narrow cannon blisters, these are probably inaccurate for the ZX-6 which should have featured double (wide) blisters. 

Also, the shallow blister on the upper wing surface over the undercarriage bay was a feature associated with post-war, three-spoke wheels. It can be fairly easily sanded flat if you care about such things.

The kit also features 4-spoke wheels and late, enlarged-horn elevators.

With the sum of all features, the kit best represents an LF Mk. IXC fighter-bomber of late-war production.

How does it compare?

To better assess the Airfix rendition of the Spitfire shapes and detail, I have compared the major components side-by-side with the earlier Hasegawa kit of the same mark.

 

Top: Airfix, Bottom: Hasegawa

Comparing the fuselages side-by-side immediately reveals that Hasegawa detail is much crispier. Also the mating surfaces for kit parts seem much softer on Airfix compared with its laser-cut Japanese counterpart. Although I haven’t dry-fit the components, I don’t expect the Airfix Spitfire to fit as good as Japanese kits do these days.

Notable is also the difference in rendition of the nose shape. Where Hasegawa has a distinct, pronounced lines and angular feeling to the upper cowling, Airfix has just flowing curvatures. I’ll refrain from any judgement of this difference until I see the Airfix Spitfire built.

Left: Hasegawa, right: Airfix

Comparison of the lower wing components shows the difference in detail resolution even more clearly. Airfix has almost none of the minor hatches, bumps, screws etc. of the Hasegawa kit. On the other hand, it curiously shows every leading edge inspection panel which existed.

Conclusion

For the Spitfire purist, it has its faults, but it also has its advantages. In terms of moulding technology, the new Arifix Spitfire scores somewhere between the Italeri and Hasegawa offerings.

For fair judgement, it must be considered that this is an Airfix kit for the next generation of kids to try their modelling skills on. As such, I think that Airfix got the balance between the simplicity and detail quite right. This kit was not meant to be perfect, yet it was meant to be good enough in order to appeal also to advanced modellers. And this is exactly what it does.

Then finally, it’s a five-quid modern plastic kit of the Spitfire from Airfix. Buy it. Build it. Enjoy it.

Addendum

After first posting this review, I have received a few additional comments via email, which prompted the following additions.

Firstly: yes, the wheel wells are two voids without any detail inside.

Secondly, I’d like to add a few more comments which are appropriate when examining the kit from advanced modeller’s perspective. What’s most welcome is the generally accurate outline, or at least so it seems judging the shapes from the video. Even with its relative lack of detail, it appears to be the most accurate mainstream 1/72 Spitfire IX kit currently available, with possible exception of the Hasegawa’s Mk. VIII/IX series.

With regard to decal options, Airfix have used a bit of creative license there. I’m aware that D-Day markings for MK392 JE-J are speculative; available later photos of this aircraft show different style of lettering (with “squared” Js) and no maple leaf emblem. The markings for ZX-6 look fine, although they do not match the kit without doing something about the wing bulges.

What struck me most about the kit was that Airfix got together such a seemingly random mixture of features – narrow wing bulges are accompanied by two cannon ejector chutes at the bottom wing and cigar-shaped cannon barrels typical of the E-wing. However, the latter cannot be produced without repositioning the blisters…

The short carburetor intake is reminiscent of the Mk. V, which makes it rather unusable.

There are spurious panel lines on upper wings plus those blisters over wing wells, but to be honest, most other Spitfire kits and popular Spitfire drawings suffer from the same two blunders.

Link-type undercarriage legs and four-spoke wheels are indicative of the 1944 production, reinforced undercarriage for Spitfire fighter-bomber. Also the enlarged horn elevators are there, but sadly no pointed-tip rudder which would be an appropriate option for such a late-series machine.

On the other hand, exhausts are of fishtail type, no later rounded exhausts are provided.

I don’t know which drawings Airfix used as a basis for their kit, but they must have come from… yeah, any modellers’ book out there (sigh). Airfix seems to have replicated many common misconceptions.

Click on the images to enlarge
[Airfix photo]

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