Tamiya 1/32 Spitfire VII/VIII
KIT #: 60320
PRICE: $159.95 SRP
DECALS: Three options



Bobby Gibbes was born in a rural community in New South Wales in 1916.  Gibbes was working as a salesman when he joined the RAAF in February 1940, having exaggerated his height, which was below the minimum requirement, to gain entrance.  He was commissioned a pilot officer in June, following flying training at RAAF Station Point Cook, Victoria.  Rated an "above average" fighter pilot, he served initially with No 23 Squadron in Australia. He was promoted to flying officer in December 1940


Gibbes served briefly with No. 450 Squadron RAAF, which arrived in Egypt in May 1941. Shortly afterwards he transferred to No. 3 Squadron, which was flying Hawker Hurricanes. In July, after it converted to the P-40 Tomahawk, the squadron took part in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign. Gibbes claimed his first victory, a Dewoitine D.520 fighter of the Vichy French air force, on 11 July. No. 3 Squadron then saw action against Italian aircraft of the Regia Aeronautica during the North African Campaign. Gibbes had a particularly successful day on 25 November, when he shot down two Fiat G.50s and damaged three more. He took charge of the squadron in February 1942, after the Tomahawks were replaced by Kittyhawks, and eventually became the unit's longest-serving wartime CO.


Gibbes departed North Africa in 1943 with 10 1/2 kills to serve at RAAF Overseas Headquarters in London until October. Returning to Australia, he became chief flying instructor at No. 2 Operational Training Unit, Mildura, in January 1944. That July he was posted to Darwin, in the Northern Territory, flying Spitfires, and later suffered burns in a crash landing following engine failure.  In December he married, in his own words, "a little dark-haired popsy" named Jeannine Ince, a volunteer with the Red Cross who had nursed him in hospital.


In April 1945, now a temporary wing commander and stationed at No. 80 Wing Headquarters of the Australian First Tactical Air Force in the Dutch East Indies, Gibbes took part in the "Morotai Mutiny". He was one of eight senior pilots, including Australia's top-scoring ace, Group Captain Clive Caldwell, who tendered their resignations in protest at the relegation of RAAF fighter squadrons to apparently worthless ground-attack missions.  Gibbes later declared that "... after I myself had been operating for a week or so and had a really good look around and seen the futility of the operations which had been given, I could not see any point in carrying on. I certainly lost all keenness for remaining in the service.”


As a former jackaroo, one sortie that involved attacking cattle especially upset him: "I felt horrible about it, being an ex bushy ... at about lunch time I went out and darned if I didn't have to turn butcher. And Heavens, it was butchering too, in every sense of the word. No--not the Japs. Cattle ... If we are to get the Japs out of this area without loss of human lives, starvation will be our main weapon ... God, I hated doing it but could do nothing else. Felt as sick as hell."


Following his discharge from the RAAF in January 1946, Gibbes was initially employed as a stock and station agent in Coonamble, New South Wales.  He then spent most of the next 30 years in New Guinea, pioneering the island's transport, coffee and hospitality industries. In January 1948, he formed Gibbes Sepik Airways using German Junkers Ju 52 aircraft, one of which had allegedly been the personal transport of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring.  He also served as a member of the RAAF Active Reserve, based in Townsville, Queensland, from 1952 until 1957.  In 1958, he sold his share in Gibbes Sepik Airways to Mandated Airlines, which was later bought out by Ansett Australia. Gibbes then developed a number of coffee plantations in New Guinea, and built a large chain of hotels beginning with the Bird of Paradise in Goroka. In his 60s, he single-handledly sailed a catamaran from England to Australia, braving heavy seas and Malaysian pirates along the way.  He sold his interests in New Guinea in 1972.


Gibbes spent most of the 1970s in the Mediterranean, sailing his catamaran Billabong. He returned to Sydney in 1979, and began building his own twin-engined plane, eventually taking it to the air in 1990.  In 1994, Gibbes published his autobiography, You Live But Once. He continued to fly until forced to give up his civil aviation license at the age of 85.  In 2002, he appeared in an episode of Australian Story dedicated to fellow No. 3 Squadron ace Nicky Barr.  Gibbes was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2004 for his work in New Guinea.  He died of a stroke at Mona Vale Hospital in Sydney on 11 April 2007. Aged 90, he was survived by his wife and two daughters.


Info taken from Wikipedia.



See Tom Cleaver’s preview of the kit.



I did not follow the instruction build order as I began assembling the landing gear, ailerons, stabs and rudder first.  These were a combo of steel wire, PE and plastic.  They seem to be over engineered but they are very useful if one wants the flaps to be dynamically posed.


Next done were the wings.  The inner wheel wells and interior of the wing were painted AS-12 Aluminum from the spray can.   Once dry the wing assembly was put together.  A word of advice, follow the part build order in the instructions or you might have a problem assembling follow on parts.  I kept the flaps up and saved myself a bit of work (also historically accurate.)


The various prop, cockpit and fuselage parts were painted white, red, black, aluminum and XF-71 Mitsubishi Interior Green (Tamiya recommended paint for British Interior Green.)  Most of the cockpit parts were hand painted additional details and/or dry brushed silver.  The cockpit was one of the most complex cockpits I have put together, but it is pretty easy to build if you follow the build order.  The hardest part, but not that hard, was placing the seat belts in place (and it is a bit tricky using only a small amount of CA glue to hold the belts in place.)


When the black paint on the prop was dry, I masked off the tips and painted them white then chrome yellow.  The prop was then glued onto the base of the prop hub (with the polycap) and then the prop hub cone was glued in place.  The prop was left off till final assembly.


The fuselage was glued together (no real issues there) and then mated to the wing without any major adjustments required.  The model was put in the box and left for a couple of weeks so the glue could cure.


A couple of weeks later, I filled and sanded the seams on all the parts.  There were no surprises.  Once done to my satisfaction they were polished with various grits polishing cloths (1800-3600) and any lost/damaged detail was rescribed.


I assembled the engine with most of the parts as I wasn’t sure if I was going to expose the engine and leave the panels off.  I decided to just close it up and added the panels around the engine using the mounting tabs to align everything up.  I added the left engine panel first, then the bottom panel and then the right engine panel.  I made sure that everything lined up before gluing on the top panel.  I ended up using a bit of filler around some of the joins, but nothing too dramatic.


Next I added the guns (after sanding to remove the mold marks) to the wing.


At this point, the various interior sections were masked off and the Spitfire was ready for painting.



The cockpit and fuselage ID light were covered up with cut foam pieces and then it was preshaded flat black along the panel lines.  I wanted to do the markings of Wing Commander Robert Gibbes’ Grey Nurse with the shark mouth and Ocean Grey/Dark Green over Medium Grey camo.  I first sprayed on a thin coat of the underside color (XF-83 Medium Sea Gray) so that some of the preshading showed through.


When the underside color was dry, it was masked off with low tack painters tape at the demarcation lines specified by the paint guide and I sprayed on Tamiya Ocean Grey XF-81 over the areas specified to be Ocean Grey.  In the past I’d just spray over the entire area with the lighter color and then spray on the dark color but I usually ended up covering up the preshading.  I also did some post shading with Medium Sea Grey over the flat areas which would get the most sun exposure.  Once the Ocean Grey was dry, I masked off the Dark Green areas using a combination of low tack painter’s tape and Tamiya Tape.  I also did some post shading after the initial coat of Dark Green using JGSDF Green (which is lighter) to represent sun fading over selected flat areas of the Dark Green.  This time I did not get any bleed through, but I had to do some touch up because I screwed up the masking shapes.


Once the paint was dry, I sprayed on several coats of Tamiya Gloss coat and when that was dry I rubbed the model down with 3600 and 6000 grit polishing cloths to smooth paint down.  I sprayed on a very thin dusting of flat black to represent the exhaust stains.


Tamiya supplies canopy masks that you need to cut out with scissors.  These went on without any issue.  I sprayed on the interior color first and when I painted the Dark Green on the plane I painted the canopies as well.


The last major painting task I needed to do was mask off the wing leading edges and spray on the white ID stripe using Tamiya Flat White.


Tamiya provides both a stencil guide and marking guide for the Mk VII/VIII.  The stencils are a touch more numerous for a 1/32 Spitfire and the shark mouth makes the markings a little more fiddly.  I used MicroSol for the decals and Solvaset if they silvered or did not conform to the detail.  The shark mouth was the most difficult part of the decals.  It took a lot of adjusting to get the various mouth decal pieces aligned.  Then it took a fair amount of Solvaset to get the decals to conform over the details on the engine covers.  The plane was wiped down to remove the excess decal solution.


I used a watercolor wash to bring out the detail, but I tried not to make it took too dirty; the excess wiped away with wet Q-tips.  Next I sprayed on a thin coat of 50/50 thinner/Tamiya Buff over the tires, leading edges, walkways and underside to represent coral dust and sun fading.  Next I did some dry brushing with Tamiya Chrome Silver to show wear and dings and then I used the Tamiya Weathering kit to provide cordite stains.


Finally, I sprayed on a couple of coats of Xtracrylix Flat all over the model for the final coat.



The last bits including the formation lights, bomb shackles and bombs were painted and glued in place.  The only thing that needed to be done was build the stand and the external fuel tank.


I glued together the various plastic and metal pieces of the larger external fuel tank so that it can be mounted on the supplied stand (it is mounted on the Spitfire using kit supplied metal pins) and painted the external fuel tank Medium Grey (no preshading) then screwed the tank onto the stand.



I am quite impressed with the Tamiya 1/32 Spitfire despite its expensive price.  I wonder if Tamiya could provide a version without an engine so the kit would be a bit cheaper and a bit easier to build.


The stand is a nice touch as it helps reduce the rather large shelf footprint of a 1/32 Spitfire.  The pins and the polycaps make it easy to attach and remove the model off the stand.


The Tamiya Spit isn’t exactly a kit I would recommend for a newbie, but I certainly do for someone who has a few kits under their belt, somewhat comfortable with PE and would like to tackle a large scale project.



Dan Lee

March 2012

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