Tamiya 1/48 Spitfire Vb

KIT #: 61033
PRICE: CAD $35.00
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Pablo Calcaterra

Condor Decals 48011 (Argentines in the RAF), Aeromaster 48-237, Xtradecals X021-48


Little was known about the involvement of Argentine volunteers in the RAF, RCAF and RN until Oscar Raimondi started his research work a few years ago. Claudio Meunier joined forces, continued and enhanced this project after Raimondi’s death.

There were almost 1,000 Argentine volunteers that joined the flying forces during World War II. Most of them were descendants of British people living in Argentina (i.e. working in the Great Southern Railways) and thus their names are, no doubt about it, British. But there are many other volunteers that have Spanish names and yet joined the RAF, RCAF and RN. They flew in every theater of operations and flew practically all the planes available (from bombers to fighters to transport to trainers). Some of them remained in Europe after the war, but others went back to Argentina.

164 Sqn was created on June 1st 1918 just before the end of WWI. Before planes were delivered to the Squadron it was disbanded (July 4th 1918).

During WWII the British community in Argentina organized the 'Wings for Winston Foundation of Buenos Aires'. This Foundation gathered money with the aim of creating an all-Argentine fighter squadron (planes purchased with Argentine money and flown by Argentina born pilots). The dream finally came true on April 6th 1942 when 164 Sqn was formed.

The first Squadron Leader was Tom Rowland and he arrived in Peterhead on April 12th. There were 18 Spitfires MkVa and a Miles Magister (for communications). The two next arrivals were the Flight Leaders: Flt Lt Powling (A) and Flt Lt Hopkins (B), DFC. On the 15th the ground crew arrived followed by the pilots some days later. Among others we can find Harman, Young, Williamson, Crabe, David Bruce Bridger (born in Lomas de Zamora, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina and a former member of 242 Sqn), Ronnie Sheward (another Argentine). As it can be seen the Argentine element in terms of pilots was quite scarce.

164 Sqn was declared operational early May 1942. Their badge is a mix of Argentine and British icons: The Argentine sun (from the Argentine flag) and the British lion. The motto is FIRMES VOLAMOS (Firmly we fly) and, along with 617 Squadron, it is one of only two RAF mottos that are not written either in English or Latin.

Between April and September the Spitfires types allocated were MkVa and b and included L1013, X4491, R7022, P7309, R6957, W3114, X4421 (called “Olivos” after the city located in the outskirts of Buenos Aires), R7335, K9825, P9536.

From September 1942 till February 1943 only MkVb were flown and the list of planes included EP249, W3426, BM457, W3569, EN904, BL295, E244, BL920, BL655 (“Hurlingham”, another city close to Buenos Aires and the subject of this article), AB133, AD121, EP492, AB133, AD191, BL887, BL920, BL368, BL887, AR454, HM133.

During the “Spitfire times” the Squadron was led by Tom Rowland and was deployed in the following bases:

April-May 1942: Peterhead (Scotland)
May-September 1942: Skeabrae (
Orkney Islands)
September-October 1942: Peterhead (
October 1942: Tangmere (
October 1942-January 1943: Peterhead (
January-February 1943: Fairwood Common (
South Wales)

While based in Skeabrae the Squadron’s tasks were convoy patrol and protection of Scapa Flow (trying to shoot down the German recco planes)

The first loss occurred on August 18th when P/O Schaeffer, an Australian, flew into the water in V4421 during a training exercise with the Army. The next one and last with Spitfires was the Argentine David Bridger on the 23rd when he stalled and crashed in Skeabrae during a gunnery exercise.

When based in Tangmere during October 1942 164 Sqn took part in fighter sweeps and convoy patrols.

In February1943 the Squadron moved to South Wales where it traded their Spits for Hurricane IV. But that will be Part II…

Now moving to the subject of this article (BL655) this Spitfire was part of the 3rd order of 1,000 Spitfires (MkIII) dated October 24th 1940. Then, in:


February 4th: TOC 9 MU and allocated 416 Squadron

April 3rd: Cat Ac damage when Sgt CSG de Nancrede forgot to lower the undercarriage during night flying training

April 8th till the 13th: under repairs on site

July 15th: passed to 602 Sqn

September 11th: Joined detachment of 164 Sqn (Argentine British), coded FJ*B at Tangmere where it is thought the naming ceremony (as Hurlingham) took place. At the center (civilian) Sir Montague Eddy, President of the Great Southern Railways. On his right is Sqn Ldr Tom Rowland. And third from the right is the Argentine Ronnie Sheward.


February 3rd: transferred to 341 Sqn

February 4th: to Scottish Aviation for repairs

March 13th: awaited collection

March 30th: sent to 45 MU and Vickers Armstrong for fuel system modifications and wing stiffening

May 8th: to 33 MU and 129 Sqn

June 11th: back to 416 Sqn

July 1st: Canadian Flying Officer Norman Alexander Watt killed when BL655 spun out of cloud six miles east-south-east of Digby and failed to recover.


Crash sited was excavated.


Wreckage recovered


October 19th: Exhibition opened to the public by Leslie Watt (brother of F/O Norman Watt). Since then on display at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirby.


What a beautiful kit! It is my first Tamiya Spitfire. It has 2 types of windshields and canopies. It can be built with clipped or standard wings. Decals are for 3 versions including Sailor Malan’s plane (AGM). Fit is excellent and no filler is required almost anywhere. My only criticism is the fact that the roundels require a white decal underneath.


It is very straightforward. I painted all interior with Model Master Acryl RAF Interior Green. Seat was made of Bakelite so a mix of red and brown gave an approximate colour. The instruments panel was painted in black with details highlighted with a hand of drybrushed silver, some dials in red and drops of Future for the dials. Seat belt were from Airwaves (AC48-10)

Everything fits very well and in a couple of days I had the fuselage halves closed and with a perfect seam.

I attached the lower portion of the wings to the fuselage and then added the top halves. Fit was excellent. The wheel wells were painted also in RAF interior green.

Radiator and oil cooler went with no problem. It can be said about the cannons.

With a little application of acrylic base paste (cleaned immediately with a damp cloth) the Spit was ready for painting. The whole process only took a week (hard to believe when I compare it to my typical projects that involve modifications, resin parts…)


I used Model Master Acryl 4759 for the inferior surfaces. Once this was masked with Tamiya tape and paper I sprayed the darker gray for the fuselage and wings using Model Master Acryl 4746. For the first time I used a technique I have seen in some Internet and magazine article: make a copy of the Tamiya color scheme instructions, cut the areas to be protected (gray), attach them using tape and make a soft demarcation with worms of Blue tac that were laid over the edge of the paper masks. Once this was done a coat of Model Master Acryl RAF Dark Green finished the cammo. It is worth mentioning that it is clear in the picture of the actual plane that the engine hood came from another plane, as the cammo lines don’t have the same pattern. I took care of properly painting them, as it is not reflected in two different color profiles made by artists.

The yellow for the wings border of attack was MM Acryl 4721.

My usual technique of sanding black pastel and applying it to some areas with a brush delivered some wear and depth (moveable surfaces, guns). A silver pen created an effect of chipped paint especially around fasteners and edge of panels.

The main landing gear was glued in place (minus wheels and doors) as support for the plane during the process of applying Future.

For the first time I was very patient and applied thin layers of Future allowing them to dry properly before adding the following one. I also started by the bottom, moved to the sides and finished with the top of the plane instead of doing all the plane at the same time. It is one of the very few kits to which I had not to eliminate a running Future. It required more time but it delivered a much better surface to apply the decals to.

All decals are Tamiya’s except for the specific legends painted on the right side of the nose (“Hurlingham” and “Argentine British Squadron”) that are from Condor Decals. Fuselage letters are from Aeromaster and “BL655” came from black serials from Xtradecals.

More than a couple of things worth mentioning: I did not like to have to add the white round decals from Tamiya under the colored roundels. The fuselage white roundel is slightly smaller than the yellow ring and therefore if you look closely you will find two tones of yellow. Decals reacted well to many many hands of Sol. Some wrinkles were not removed completely and can be seen if you look to the model from a very close distance. I am amazed at the way that Sol worked on the seemingly untreatable decal that goes over the wing bumps (over the wheels) that read “Not to be walked on” in red. At first it looked like they would never follow the contour of the bump. After 5 or 6 layers of Sol it started to soften and the day after the decals were perfectly following the surface. Magic!

Finally it looks like the sky letters on the fuselage were not spaced the same way on each side, based on the pictures available in Claudio Meunier’s books. Though not showing BL655, pictures of other Spitfires Vb of the Squadron show an interesting spacing of the letters on the right side. Therefore I had to cut the serial numbers on that side to represent the letters painted OVER the serial numbers as the sky letters seem to be really close to the fuselage band. The left side of the fuselage is much easy and straightforward.

A coat of Model Master Acryl semi gloss covered and protected the decals.


From this moment on everything went fine and fast: I glued wheels and doors, cap for the oil tank just ahead of the windscreen, tail wheel, propeller (very nice attaching system without any rubber ring or glue), gunsight with pad painted in brown, opened access door.

The navigation lights (wingtips and tail) were painted. With the silver pencil I “chipped” some decals to represent wear around some access doors (radio in fuselage, machine guns).

Then I came to the only frustrating point with this kit: the rear part of the canopy (the fixed one behind the pilot) would not sit properly. I added instant glue but it would not stay put, I sanded the voltage regulator for the radio…still would not sit with the 3 sides touching the fuselage properly. Finally, as it looked like this part was actually a little bit flattened I tried to get the sides closed so gain some height…and it cracked on the front left side. D…! In searched in the spares box and I had none. In the end with more glue and pressure I got 2 sides sitting and glued properly and a small gap on the left side that I filled with glue and painted with a brush. Done! The sliding canopy sits on top of it so somehow covers these not so nice looking details. This process took me almost 2 hours.

And the last pieces were the windshield, the antenna mast and the rear mirror (painted in black with a drop of aluminum to represent the glass).


Had it not been for the problem with the rear part of the canopy this would have been one of my best and easiest kits. There were many valiant Argentines that flew in support of the Allies in WWII. It is not all about Malvinas (Falklands)

Stay tuned for Part II of 164 (Argentine British) Sqn in the coming months.

 Thanks to:

Claudio Meunier

Andrew Panton (Lincs Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirby)


 Alas de Trueno (Claudio Meunier)

Nacidos con Honor (Claudio Meunier)

Lincs Aviation Heritage Centre




'Gifts of War' by Henry Boot and Ray Sturtivant


Pablo Calcaterra

January 2012

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