Eduard/Airfix 1/48 Spitfire XIVc
|NOTES:||New tool kitKitbash using Airfix PR.XIX and Eduard IXc (early). Xtradecal 48127|
Development of the Spitfire to use the more powerful Rolls-Royce Griffon engine began in late 1940, with what was first known as the Spitfire IV, which was to use the Griffon II and was known as the Type 337. The airframe involved extensive modification to absorb the additional power; at one time it flew with a mockup of no less than three 20mm cannon in each wing. Before the prototype DP845 flew, it was designated the Spitfire XX to distinguish it from the P.R. Mk. IV. Plans that all XX-series Spitfires would be Griffon-powered were changed when the interim Mk. XII and Mk. XIV types were introduced.
The Mk. XII was an emergency creation to deal with the low-level "tip-and run" raids by Fw-190s and involved mating the Griffon II engine to a Mk. Vc airframe. The more detailed development utilized DP851, which was used to develop the Griffon 61 series. DP851 was further developed into the Spitfire XXI. In order to gain further experience with the Griffon-61, six Mk. VIII airframes, JF316 to JF321 were modified to take the Griffon engine. Experience with these airplanes showed it would be possible to create a Griffon-powered high-altitude air superiority fighter in a faster timeframe than envisioned with the Spitfire XXI by mating the Griffon to the Mk. VIII airframe the way the Merlin-61 had been mated to the Spitfire Vc. Thus, third major development of the Spitfire saw the "interim" type produced in larger numbers and used more widely than the version developed specifically to use the engine change.
Like the Spitfire V and Spitfire IXC, the Spitfire XIV was an "interim" type pending production of the "definitive" Spitfire XVIII, which utilized a "beefed-up" Mk. VIII airframe with larger radiators and first appeared with the "C" wing. The first squadron to equip with the new type was 610, a former RAuxAF squadron which had been among to equip with the original Spitfire. The Mk. XIVs arrived in January 1945. By March, 350 (Belgian) Squadron was also equipping with the type, as was 130 Squadron. These three would form the Newchurch Wing, which became operational in May 1944, just before the invasion. The thre squadrons were in a long work-up period to get used to this very different Spitfire, in which the prop rotated the opposite of all previous Spitfires and required judicious application of throttle and rudder on takeoff to avoid a torque roll on takeoff, not to mention the new type was far more nose-heavy than the Spitfires the pilots were used to. A few fighter sweeps happened before D-Day.
The Spitfire XIV was intended to provide high altitude air superiority, to complement the medium-altitude Tempest V. Both these types delayed their entry into air combat over the Continent due to the deployment by the Germans of the Fi-103, the first of which exploded in England two days after the invasion. It was quickly ascertained that the best defense against these robots were standing patrols by the fastest Allied fighters. Over the course of the anti-diver campaign, which only ended when the launch sites in Belgium were overrun by the Allied armies in September 1944, the Spitfire XIV emerged as the most successful of all Spitfire types in destroying the "buzz bombs."
The Mk. XIV arrived on the Continent at about the same time the Jagdflieger were re-equipping with the Langnasen Dora, the Fw-190D-9. The Spitfire XIV had superior performance above 25,000 feet, but most fights over the Western Front happened at lower altitudes. Thus, as had been the case with the Spitfire since the first introduction of the Fw-190, the new version just maintained superiority over the latest 190, with pilot quality being the deciding element.
By V-E Day, 20 RAF squadrons were equipped with the Spitfire XIV in Europe, and the type had arrived in the Southeast Asia Theater. While Spitfire squadrons quickly re-equipped with the new airplane, the Pacific War came to a fast end before they could enter combat.
There is no really accurate Spitfire XIV kit in 1/48 (the only really accurate kit being the PCM 1/32 Spitfire XIV). Over the years, Aeroclub released limited-run Griffon Spitfire fuselages to use with the Hasegawa Spitfire IX kit, and I previously did a kitbash using the Planet Models resin Spitfire 21 fuselage with the Hasegawa wings and horizontal stabs.
This model came about when after I had built an Airfix Spitfire P.R. XIX and seen how good that kit's fuselage was. I had also purchased a weekend edition Eduard Spitfire IXc (Early) which had two sets of wings: one with the large "universal" cannon cover and one with the narrow-chord cannon cover. I had the later wing left over from that project. I sanded the wing lightly after assembling it and the very petite rivet detail promptly disappeared, leaving me with a wing that would possibly work with an Airfix (unrivetted) kit.
I bought another Spitfire XIX and taped the fuselage halves together and tried mating that with the Eduard wing. The rear fuselage/wing join on the Eduard kit was a bit longer than that of the Airfix fuselage, but that was easily solved with a razor saw cutting out the fuselage area to fit. The upper wing/fuselage joint had some gaps, but that could be easily solved with the application of some putty and judicious sanding. I would also have to cut off and fill in the Aero-Vee air intake so I could use the Airfix air intake.
The big thing was that the Spitfire XIX did not have the same windshield as the Spitfire XIV. I solved that problem by taking an old ICM kit and cutting out the gas tank and forward cockpit area above the fuselage centerline, and mating that with the fuselage. I was able to use the Eduard closed canopy, which I cut open to get the windshield, then used the Airfix canopy and rear glass, which had to be puttied in so it could be painted to have the elevated lower line for the glass.
All the cutting, puttying and fiddling was easy once I had assembled the cockpit and installed it. I used the extra Eduard side flap so I could open the cockpit. Once I had the airframe assembled, attaching the larger Airfix radiator housings proved not to be a problem at all.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
I decided to
do a 350 Squadron F.XIVc from the Xtradecal sheet 48127 "Spitfire XIV - XVIII",
so I first painted the white area of the D-Day stripes on the lower surfaces,
masked those off, painted the black stripes and masked those off, painted the
yellow wing leading edge and masked that off, painted the Sky fuselage band and
masked that off, then pre-shaded the rest of the model and gave it an "A-scheme"
pattern frehanded with Tamiya RAF Dark Green, Ocean Grey and Sea Grey Medium.
I then gave the model a coat of Future.
The decals went on without problem.
The two Xtradecal sheets for Griffon Spitfires are very
I attached the prop and landing gear and unmasked the canopy, posing it in the open position.
Kits provided courtesy of my billfold. Decals courtesy of Hannant's.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Review Index Page