Tamiya 1/48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb Trop

KIT #: 35
PRICE: AUD$35.00
DECALS: Two Options
NOTES: Aftermarket Seatbelts and Decals


The Supermarine Spitfire would be one of only a few aircraft to remain in front line service from the start to the finish of WW2 (and beyond). The Spitfire Mk V was introduced in an attempt to increase the power and punch of the Mk 1. Main improvements were the more powerful Merlin 45 engine and two 20mm cannons (at the expense of 4 .303 machine guns) mounted in the wings. The Mk V was eventually outclassed by the Focke Wulf 190 in Europe, however it served long and well in North Africa where the distinctive Vokes air filter was fitted to the lower cowling in order to keep sand out of the engine. Although this was successful, the increased drag reduced airspeed.

In the years immediately after WW2 conflict quickly broke out in the Middle East. This saw counties like Egypt, Syria and the newly established Israel scramble for any surplus aircraft they could lay their hands on with Spitfires popular. I could find very little information on the service of the Mk Vb’s in Egyptian service although it appears they saw some limited action, losing several to the RAF and IAF. Outclassed by Israeli Mk 9’s and RAF LF 18 Spitfires, it is probable they were withdrawn from service in favour of Egypt’s own Mk 9’s and newly acquired Macchi 205’s. However these aircraft fared no better against their combat experienced opponents.  Spitfire ‘ER602’ was photographed at Kasfaret Airfield in the Nile Delta, May 1947 along with 4 other Mk Vb’s.


Moulded in light sand and typically flash free, the Tamiya Spitfire looks great in the box. Multiple extras are included; clipped and standard wingtips, alternate wheel hubs, Vokes and Aboukir air filters, large ferry fuel tank, alternate canopies/windscreen and round or square rear vision mirror.  You don’t get the later multiple stack exhausts though and to build some Egyptian Mk Vb’s, you will need these.

The side access door is moulded shut however it is very easy to cut open, with a replacement provided. Decals look good but a little thick with white background decals provided, but I’ve never actually used these on a model.


As usual I started construction with the cockpit. It is quite well fitted out, however as I was planning to cut open the side door I thought some aftermarket seatbelts would look good. I used a set of etched metal RAF seatbelts from Red Roo. Being etched metal, I heated them under a candle until red hot, cooling them in water. This makes them much easier to manipulate. I painted the cockpit with Humbrol 30 green, picked out the details with black, washed and dry brushed the cockpit before gluing the fuselage together. Now, what I forgot to do was paint the bottom of the fuselage green too! I only realised that you could see the bottom through the floor when I took a picture with the flash on...oops.

Not too much trouble was encountered with the rest of construction.  However you must take some care when gluing the Vokes filter together as the panel lines don’t quite match up. The wings fit flawlessly to the fuselage with the only a light sanding needed around the leading and trailing edges.

The oil cooler and radiator fairings both slot into their depressed spots on the wing. I found them both to sit a little too high so I sanded down the mating surface. This resulted in them sitting flush with the rest of the wing. I found the holes for the prop blades were a touch too small and needed to have a #11 blade twisted around inside them so you’re not trying to force the blades into the nicely painted spinner (like I was trying too). Also, give the undercarriage pins a quick ounce over with some sand paper as mine were more than a tight fit.

The prop, canopies, side door and undercarriage were all left off until I finished  the Matt Cote.


Still in my Middle Eastern phase of modelling, I decided on the Spitfire ‘ER602’ or ‘white C’ as pictured in Alex Yofe’s  ‘Spitfire: Star or Israel’. It is mentioned in the text that these aircraft were painted with left over stocks of RAF paint, namely Middle Stone and Dark Earth over Azure blue. This certainly seems to be the case. I used Gunze paints for this, thinned with Lacquer thinners. The demarcation between the upper and lower colours was done with blue tac while the upper demarcation was done freehand.

With the basic colours on, I turned to the fuselage identification band. I masked it by eye and proceeded to paint it and the spinner Gunze white. I left this dry for a day before masking the two black edges, but this met with disaster. When pulling off the Tamiya tape, the Gunze paint had not dried completely and pulled off....ugh! So I sanded back the fuselage and did a partial repaint, masked up and sprayed white again, this time using Humbrol. After this I painted a dark earth section on the band where the serial number would go. I’m not sure what that colour was, but dark earth seemed as good a guess as any.

With that disaster out of the way, it was on the decals and weathering. I used Humbrol gloss cote and while that dried, I started the hunt for decals. The roundels came in some MIG 15 decals, the fin flash from some Macchi 205 decals and I got the serial numbers from a Zero kit and the section of a decal sheet that read ‘PRINTED IN KOREA’. Mr. Mark softener was used and the decals performed very well, settling into the detail nicely.

Weathering was now accomplished with a black pastel wash. I ground up some pastel and mixed it with some water and dish washing detergent. I applied it sparingly to the panel lines and left it to dry for around 20 minutes. I used a damp lint free rag to wash off the excess in the direction of the air flow. Don’t wash it all off, leave a little streaked on the surface to represent grime. Spitfires usually got very messy under the fuselage. To accomplish this, I simply splashed copious amounts of this black wash just behind the Vokes filter, let it dry then smeared it back.  At this stage I also used my silver gel pen to add paint chips to the gun access hatches and engine cowling fasteners along with other randomly placed scratches to the airframe.

Finally I hit it all with Humbrol Matt Cote. Once dry I added some dust to the wheels, gear doors and exhaust stacks along with the exhaust staining on the fuselage.


This was a great model to build, barring my own screw ups. If you are looking at building an Egyptian Mk Vb, please note that my wing roundels may be a touch small, fin flash is a little skinny and my ‘C’ not quite round enough. However it was all I had in the decals box. Also, it appears that the aircraft had its serial written in the white band just about the letters in tiny Arabic script. Lacking a decal and a steady enough hand to paint this on, I’ve omitted this until I can come up with a suitable solution.


Alex Yofe, Spitfire - Star Of Israel, Ventura Publications, New Zealand, 1996


Brad Gaff

November 2009

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