Hasegawa 1/48 Spitfire T.9 (conversion)

KIT #: ?
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Frank Reynolds
NOTES: Brigade Models conversion set includes four decal options


At the end of World War 2, hundreds of surplus examples of the Spitfire IX became available to equip the Air Forces of many countries looking for a fast means to re-establish their inventory after the disruption of that conflict. Formerly occupied countries such as the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, France and Czechoslovakia; the newly emerging nations of Israel and India joined the club, Egypt and Italy also fell under the spell of this most charismatic of aircraft. Although later and more powerful versions of the Spitfire had been developed, the Mk IXs were the most successful export as they were easily available in large quantities, spares were plentiful and so was the expertise to maintain them.

 With a potentially large export market, Vickers Supermarine developed a twin seat trainer version as a private venture, by conversion of existing airframes. It required major re-engineering of the fuselage. In order to maintain the centre of gravity, the original cockpit was moved forward by 13” and internal fuel tankage was re-arranged. A second cockpit was inserted in the rear fuselage, with a large bubble canopy giving the rear seat occupant a good forward view but doing nothing for the aesthetics of what was arguably one of the most graceful looking piston engined fighters. Wing cannon were deleted but provision was made for two machine guns in each outer wing position. It first flew in 1946 and the sole prototype was a conversion of the essentially similar Mk VIII airframe. But there was no great interest, since the Spitfire users all looked upon their fleets  as a short term stop gap pending the arrival of newer and more capable machines. The Tr9 was not a great export success. Sales were made to Ireland (6), Egypt (1), India (10) and the Netherlands (3).

 It is nevertheless a significant variant and essential for a comprehensive Spitfire collection.


A T9 trainer has always been something of a Holy Grail for Spitfire fans. The full blown canopy over the rear cockpit is a challenge for any tool maker and the subject is relatively obscure for a mainstream manufacturer, since the subject has no combat history, is post World War 2 and was only operated in small quantities.

The conversion comes in a stout and neat cardboard box that is strong enough to survive the UK mail system. . This set dates from 2004 and seems to be intermittently available in the UK market. I got my latest copy in January 2012 from the excellent Hannants of Lowestoft.

The parts are moulded in a soft pale grey plastic in a decidedly agricultural style with much flash evident. There are eleven parts to the replacement fuselage and a single clear plastic moulding for the rear cockpit’s bubble canopy. The mould gates from the parts runners to the actual components are thick and heavy and great care is required in separating the parts. This is especially true of the awkward way in which the plastic flows into the lower edge of the clear canopy component. The thick canopy has some faintly etched frame detail which is too high up the canopy sides and a paint scheme masked to this line will result in a lower canopy rail that is far too deep. The truly brave will polish the frame line out. I chose to ignore it on the basis that the existing etching is quite faint.

The selling point of this conversion is the use of Hasegawa’s widely available 1:48 Spitfire VIII/IX. There has been plenty of controversy about the fuselage length of the original, so this conversion, providing a complete replacement fuselage, at least offers a solution to that sore point. Incidentally, I find the Hasegawa kit to be the best late Merlin engine version for my collection and any shortfall in fuselage length not enough to bother me, so the eight or so completed versions currently sitting in my collection are un-modified. When I reach for the Hasegawa kit, I currently use the Revell boxing of the IX/XVI  no 04554 ) that is readily available in the UK at present for a very reasonable £16-99, compared to a price of over £30-00 for the original.. 

So Brigade Models supplies a new fuselage complete with engine cowlings and lower cowling air intake, combined tail fin and rudder, a small insert panel for the lower wing leading edge to fair in the lower cowling intake, a floor, seat, rear bulkhead and instrument panel for the rear cockpit and mysteriously a replacement for the perfectly good Hasegawa instrument panel for the front cockpit. The Hasegawa kit provides the wing, complete with radiators and undercarriage unit, horizontal tail and fixed tail wheel, the complete front cockpit interior, the propeller and exhaust stubs. Additional parts required by scratch building or from the spares box are a stick and pedals for the rear cockpit, seat harnesses and new upper wing covers for the redundant cannon bays 

The conversion parts are rather oddly designed in that the engine covers and lower intake from the firewall forward are moulded separately from the main fuselage halves and the fin/rudder are moulded as one separate unit. I guess that this may be due to mould size limitations, but the result is that there are extra joints in the fuselage that will require careful alignment during assembly. Having said that, the surface details are acceptable, with reasonably fine recessed panel lines. The fuselage halves have moulded in sidewall detail that is a close match to Hasegawa’s interpretation and that is good enough for me. Now in my sixth decade of modelling, I have decided that my completed models shall have a standard of detailing sufficient for them to be viewed through the glass of my showcase at a distance of about 12”, so no super detailed cockpits for me, the basic Hasegawa cockpit fit suits me, the only extras being etch seat belts left over from a Special Hobby kit.

The decals are a positive feature of this package, gloss finished and in good register and offer four choices, two from the Irish Air Corps – one in their distinctive overall  mid-green, one in overall silver with black anti glare panel and two from the Royal Netherlands Air Force, one in the RAF-style delivery scheme of Dark Green and Ocean Grey with Sea Grey Medium undersides and one in overall silver with Black anti-glare panel. 

The instructions are more akin to guidance notes consisting of a 1:48 scale 3-view drawing on an A3 sheet of paper with some build hints scattered around. The colour call outs are helpful and cross referenced to the Xtracolor and Humbrol paint ranges.

The conversion parts require careful separation from the parts trees and very careful trimming and fettling while being constantly checked for fit and alignment. This is a time when I find Squadron’s sanding sticks to be essential.

With a little thought and pre-planning, construction is little different from a mainstream kit, in that all components are styrene so there is no need for the blend of  textures and adhesives that might occur with a mixed media kit.

I had my first attempt at this model about 5 years ago, using the ICM kit as a donor for the wings and ancillaries; originally finished as a silver Irish Air Corps version, subsequently repainted as the Netherlands Green/Grey/Grey version..  Over the last couple of years I have been replacing and updating my 1:48 Spitfire/Seafire collection, using mainly Tamiya kits for the early short nose Merlin versions and Hasegawa for the later Marks, VII and onwards.

Although heavily loaded with flash, the conversion parts are moulded in a soft plastic that is easily trimmed back to clearly defined edges and this is a simple matter of carefully paring with a scalpel blade and finishing off with sanding sticks.

The short run parts require some extra work around the nose where a hole needs to be drilled for the propeller shaft and the front of the carb air intake opened out. While the Hasegawa kit has handy recessed slots for precise positioning of the exhaust outlets the Brigade parts only offer a slot in the cowl which needs a plastic card backing sheet and a certain amount of sanding and juggling to ensure that the exhausts sit correctly. The thickness of the rear canopy is such that this kit will be closed cockpit only.

The Hasegawa parts are, as ever, sharply moulded and beautifully engineered with virtually click-tight joints. I have noted on the last five kits I have examined that there is some flash around the four-bladed propeller, so perhaps there is just a hint of mould wear.


Construction can follow the sequence set out in the Revell instruction sheet. The standard single seat interior for the front cockpit will fit into the new fuselage with a bit if juggling and trimming. The inner faces of the exhaust slots in the sides of the engine cowlings were blanked out with strips of plastic card. The parts for the second cockpit dovetail neatly in behind the mainstream kit parts and the new floor bulkhead, seat and instrument panel line up effectively with a minimum  of re-adjustment. The fuselage halves were joined and left overnight to harden.  The joining faces between the fuselage halves showed heavy mould wear and a long shallow trench along the seam line needed a heavy application  of Green Putty. The wings were assembled as a separate unit complete with tips and a new insert to the leading edge of the centre section. At this stage I decided not to join the nose/engine halves together since the entire nose has to be juggled around the wing and onto the engine firewall break and I wanted to leave  the maximum scope  for any extra cutting and trimming that might be necessary.

 To while away the time while the major components were hardening, I painted and assembled the propeller and undercarriage. The kit parts for the front canopy simply fit in place on the replacement fuselage. The blown rear canopy is more of a challenge. The slope of the windscreen is steeper than the fuselage and some robust sanding down was required. The thick moulding sits proud of the cockpit opening to the sides and rear, so some careful thinning of the inside edges was required, along with a concealed cheat since I also filed a shallow groove in the upper fuselage to get it to sit down  more neatly.

When the wing was added to the centre section every joining surface was carefully checked and re-checked before committing to glue. The tailplanes were added next and I found it easiest to trim away the locating tabs and seat the horizontal sections onto the shallow steps provided. The  nose halves were joined and again with much trimming and fettling persuaded to fit onto the forward fuselage and centre section leading edge. The whole unit was left for a further overnight setting, then more filling and blending around the join lines, with each panel line carefully checked and rescribed.


 The kit was finished using  Xtracrylix paints . After a light rub down with an ultra fine sanding stick, the airframe was treated to two brushed coats of Future/Klear. The decals went on easily with the assistance of  Microsol and sealed with as sprayed coat of Xtracrylix flat varnish.


 If you want a 1:48 Spitfire T.9 this is the only game in town. Yes, it requires some care and application but being plastic-only it is a straightforward slog. The conversion parts are a little on the crude side but the outline shapes look OK and the surface detail adequate. The critical bubble canopy for the rear cockpit is thickly moulded and to my eye looks slightly too flattened along the sides for true scale accuracy but it does the job for me. For some, cost will be an issue, for even using the Revell boxing of the donor kit the minimum price of the total package in the UK is a shade over £40-00.

 I was happy with the result, and an important part of the Spitfire story for my collection.


 Air Enthusiast Journal No 112, July/August 2004. Key Publishing.

Spitfire the History, by Eric Morgan and Edward  Shacklady. 2000. Key Publishing

Spitfire International by Terbeck, van der Meer, Sturtivant. 2002. Air Britain.

Frank Reynolds

March 2012

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