Now let’s return to the remaining wing and undercarriage components. Note the tyres moulded in black rubber, the 30-gallon slipper tank (commonly used in operations over Europe), bomb shackles and bombs for a fighter-bomber variant. The undercarriage options include 5-spoke, 4-spoke or solid wheel hubs, plus two variants of the wheel covers – early Mk. V-style and later, slightly enlarged for link-type undercarriage leg.
As mentioned previously, there is a choice of early wide cannon blisters (appropriate for JE-J and ZX-6 marking options) for the wing or narrow ones. Both are visible on the lower right sprue. Having myself spent considerable time drawing and researching this variant of the Spitfire, the wide blisters were the only parts of the kit that got me thinking with regards to their accuracy.
Notably, none of the Spitfires preserved today carry this type of blister; any the assertion of its true shape must be based on a few period photos which show it to advantage, which is a patently difficult task. Conventional wisdom says that they occurred in two guises, one teardrop-shaped and one more square and squat in appearance, but I have yet to see conclusive evidence to support this theory. And while Tamiya has opted for the squarish blisters, I’d be rather inclined to believe that those on JE-J and ZX-6 should have been more elegantly streamlined, like the ones found on this photo of one of the earliest C-wings produced.
Early C-wing cannon blister
[Barry Gillingwater coll.]
Here is a photo of the assembled wing – again it’s the shape of the wide blister (on the port upper surface) that I find somewhat disturbing… but everything else looks commendably good, especially the depth of the wheel well and detailed flap interior.
The last of the many sprue shots in this review reveals a miscellany of other interesting parts. The propeller follows the now-standard Tamiya approach of moulding it as a pair of separate “two-bladers”. The spinner has a separate backplate. Two underwing coolers are provided with separate, poseable outlet flaps.
Another highly interesting detail is the provision of optional wing root fairings. There is one for the port wing with gun camera opening and access panel, and another for the starboard wing root with a protruding oval blister, characteristic of the late production aircraft. This, again, is very good, but for full coverage of the Mk. IX you’d need one more option: port wing root with a circular fuel cooler intake for early Merlin 63-powered Mk IX. I’m not positively sure that Tamiya has not covered it somehow in the instructions, but please be aware that it’s needed. Fuel cooler is applicable when modelling the JE-J (see the article Johnnie Johnson’s Spitfire – Revisited for more details on his aircraft).
Decals and markings
The kit provides three choices of markings:
- Spitfire Mk. IX, serial no. EN398, JE-J, personal aircraft of W/Cdr Johnnie Johnson, commanding officer of the Kenley Wing, 1943
- Spitfire Mk. IX, serial no. EN315, ZX-6 from Polish Flight “C” No.145 Squadron RAF, the famous “Skalski’s Circus”. The aircraft was regularly flown by Sqn/Ldr Skalski.
- Spitfire LF Mk. IX, serial no. TD202 “P” in Armee de l’Air markings, operating in French Indochina, 1945.
Two decal sheets are provided, which include all markings, tail bands, instrument faces and stencil detail. Another nice touch on the part of Tamiya is providing the Canadian leaf badge on Johnson’s aircraft in two colours – red and green. Controversy is still raging which of these colours was the “right” one, now you can make your very own choice in this matter.
Wow. We used to have high expectations with regard to new Tamiya releases of this magnitude, and this one hasn’t been an exception.
And what a kit it is. Although it really is too early to deliver any definitive judgement on its dimensional and shape-wise accuracy, in terms of detail the Tamiya’s effort is first-class. The Taamiya 1/32 Spitfire Mk. IX is the best plastic Spitfire kit to date, any scale. As such, it deserves my wholehearted recommendation.
Due to the multitude of options, modellers choosing different marking options than those provided with the kit should be mindful of the configuration of the particular aircraft of their choice. Also, this is not a kit for beginner – although Tamiya’s exquisite engineering will help you at each construction step, you will need time and patience for this model. But chances are that the result will be all worth it.
Review kit kindly provided by HobbyLink Japan