Tamiya/Bringuer 1/48 Spitfire XII


61033 + ?


$26.00 + $20.00


See review


Tom Cleaver




Much of the developmental history of the Spitfire during the Second World War revolved around attempts to outperform the Focke-Wulf Fw-190. In addition to leading to the development of the Spitfire IX, this need to combat the German fighter in its low-level fighter-bomber version led directly to the creation of the Spitfire XII, the first of the Griffon-powered Spitfires.

In 1942, with the Luftwaffe largely engaged on the Eastern Front, with other bomber units in the Mediterranean, there was almost no offensive capability left among the units stationed on the Channel Front. The arrival of the Fw-190A-4/U4 jagdbomber gave JG-26 and JG-2 the capability of mounting low-level raids on southern England. Each unit had a Jabostaffel, giving a total of 24 aircraft for attacking England. These 24 aircraft gave the RAF fits - their tactic was to cross the Channel at wave-top height, under the radar, and hit various towns and other targets in southeastern England with two to four aircraft; after dropping their bomb, each Wurger would dive back to wave-top height and fly full-throttle back to northern France. They were called "tip and run" raids. While they did little real damage, the raiders gave the RAF fits and forced it to employ a much larger force in response.

The only defense was to mount standing patrols over southern England, which meant using a far larger force of aircraft on these duties than the Germans were using for the attacks. The Spitfire V, which was the main equipment of Fighter Command, was no match for the Fw-190 in conventional combat, and was nowhere near fast enough to catch its opponent at low level. At the time, there were only a few squadrons of Typhoons available, this being the only RAF fighter with any chance of catching up to the Fw-190 jabos in a low-level stern chase once the German fighter was free of its bomb, provided the controllers had positioned them well. Something else was needed, and needed fast.

The single-stage Rolls-Royce Griffon II engine had become available in late 1940, offering a considerable increase in power over the Merlin at low altitudes. The Spitfire IV (Type 337) - later renumbered the Spitfire XX after the arrival of the photo-recon P.R.IV series - had been developed to use this power plant, with first flight of the prototype DP485 in 1941. Further development was desultory until the arrival of the German Jabos in early 1942. With focus on a low-altitude fighter capable of chasing the Germans, the Type 366 Spitfire XII quickly appeared, this being a Mark Vc airframe to which was mounted a Griffon II. Top speed at 5,000 feet was 393 m.p.h., sufficient to catch the Fw-190s. One hundred were eventually built, based on the Mk.V and Mk.VIII airframes; originally these were visually distinguished by having either a fixed (MkV) or retractable (Mk.VIII) tail wheel, though all were modified to have the retractable unit during the course of 1943.

In February 1943, 41 Squadron exchanged its Spitfire Vbs for Spitfire XIIs. For the pilots, the primary difference was that the Griffon rotated in the opposite direction to the Merlin, giving a strong swing to the right on takeoff rather than the previous swing left. 41 became operational in April 1943 and moved to Hawkinge in southeastern England. Their first victory was a Ju-88 shot down off Calais on April 17. That same month, 91 Squadron began their conversion, and joined 41 at Hawkinge in May.

The worst problem the pilots faced at the outset was convincing the Typhoon pilots that the Spitfire XII, which had clipped wingtips, was not a Bf-109. If the Spit pilot spotted the diving Typhoon in time, they could just outrun the big Hawker fighter.

On May 25, 1943, six Spitfire XIIs of 91 Squadron intercepted a force of Focke-Wulf jabos attacking Folkestone and claimed six in the cross-Channel chase that ensued, two being claimed by 91's OC, Sqn Ldr Ray Harries. That August, Harries was promoted to Wing Commander and led the two squadrons, by which time he had become the first pilot to score more than five victories in the Mk. XII.

The Hawkinge Wing fought its most successful action on October 20, 1943, when the two squadrons mounted a fighter sweep over northern France. Near Rouen, they were attacked by 25 Fw-190s and Bf-109Gs of JG26. In the battle that followed, the Mk.XII pilots claimed eight Germans for no losses to themselves.

The Mk.XII remained in service through the summer of 1944, when it was used against the V-1 "buzz bombs." 41 and 91 converted on to the Spitfire XIV before moving to the Continent that fall.


There has never been a kit made of the Spitfire XII. In the 1980s, Falcon made a good vacuform conversion that provided a fuselage, spinner and prop, for use with the Airfix Spitfire Vb kit, which makes up into a good looking model. (Editor's note: Falcon still makes all of its conversion sets, including the one with the Spit XII fuselage.) In the mid 1990s, Jules Bringuer produced a resin Mk.Vc wing for use with the then-new Tamiya Mk.V kit, and followed it with a further conversion that provided the wing, cowling, prop and spinner in resin to create a Mk.XII from the Tamiya kit. These sets are long out of production, though I was fortunate enough to find one on the half-price table of one of the dealers at this year's IPMS-USA convention in Chicago, which I immediately snapped up.


This is a kit-bash. The first thing the modeler needs to do is to cut off the engine cowling of the Tamiya kit, right along the panel lines. The second thing is to cut off the outer parts of the lower wing section, just inboard of the cannons. The instructions in the Bringuer conversion set are clear as to what needs to be done.

Once this is done, the resin "c" wings are attached to the lower center section of the Tamiya kit. I covered the joint with Mr. Surfacer 500, then rescribed the detail that was lost during the sanding process.

Moving on to the fuselage, I also cut off the rudder, and cut out the section of the rear fuselage where the tail wheel would go. I had the Mk.VIII retractable tail wheel section and pointed rudder from the new Hasegawa Spitfire IX kit, which fit perfectly to the Tamiya kit. After painting and assembling the cockpit per the instructions by Tamiya and mounting it in position, I glued the fuselage halves together, then attached the resin engine cowling, which fit perfectly. The Hasegawa rudder also fit perfectly. After attaching the wing subassembly to the fuselage sub-assembly, I used Mr. Surfacer 500 to get ride of all the seams.



I started by preshading the panel lines lightly with Tamiya semi-gloss black. I then painted the spinner and the rear fuselage with Tamiya "Sky" XF-21, and the leading edge of the outer wings with Tamiya "Flat Yellow," XF-3. These were masked off, and the underside was painted with Tamiya "Medium Grey" XF-20, which is a perfect match for the World War II shade of "Sea Grey Medium" used by the RAF. When that was dry and masked, I shot an approximation of the "A scheme" camouflage pattern on the upper surfaces, using Gunze Sanyo "Grayish Blue" H-337 for "Ocean Grey," which I followed by adding a bit of Gunze-Sanyo "Dark Sea Grey," H-331, to the paint - this color has a violet hue, which when used over the original color gives the sensation of UV-fading, which is the way aircraft faded in the ETO due to the cloudy weather conditions. When that was dry, I masked it to do the A-scheme pattern. I wanted a "hard" edge without a ridge of paint which would happen if the tape was applied directly to the surface, so I ran thread around the pattern cut of each piece of tape, about 1/16" in from the edge - this raises it enough that the next color applied will not pool along the tape into a ridge, while allowing enough "scale overspray" to look accurate. I then did the Dark Green pattern using Gunze-Sanyo "RAF Dark Green," H-73; when this was done, I added in a bit of Gunze-Sanyo Olive Drab 1", H-78, and went over the panels to again simulate high altitude UV fading.

Once all the tape was stripped off, the model was beginning to look good. I attached the main landing gear (but not the wheels), the tail wheel doors, and the propeller. I then gave the model two thin coats of Future.


I had thought of doing an airplane from 91 Squadron, but they all had a Squadron insignia I could not replicate, so I settled for an airplane from 41 Squadron. Using a well-known photograph of 41 Squadron aircraft in formation, I decided to do EB-D/MB858, primarily because it was a Mk.XII with the retractable tail wheel, and because I could find the squadron code letters and serial number and letters on two old Modeldecal sheets in the decal dungeon. The national markings and stenciling came from a SuperScale Spitfire decal sheet.

Final Finish:

From the photograph I was using, EB-D had quite a bit of scuffing along the wing root, and some "dings" around the cowling and the wing and tail leading edges. I drybrushed Model Master Metallizer "Aluminum Plate" to replicate this. After that was done, I gave the model another coat of Future. When that was dry, I followed up with two thin coats of thinned Testor's Dullcoate. I used thinned Tamiya "Smoke" X-19 for the engine exhaust and oil-stains on the lower fuselage.


This makes up into a good-looking representation of what I think is the best-looking Griffon Spitfire of all. If you run across the Bringuer conversion, which used to retail for $20, I suggest you grab it.

Perhaps, when Mr. Bringuer makes his daily perusal of Modeling Madness, it will occur to him that re-releasing the conversion set to create this model would be a good business decision. One can only hope.

Tom Cleaver

Kits provided courtesy of my billfold.

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