Hasegawa 1/48 Spitfire T.9 (conversion)
|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.
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.
conversion comes in a stout and neat cardboard box that is strong enough to
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.
selling point of this conversion is the use of Hasegawa’s widely available
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..
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.
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
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
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.
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.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Spitfire the History, by Eric Morgan and Edward Shacklady. 2000. Key Publishing
Spitfire International by Terbeck, van der Meer, Sturtivant. 2002. Air Britain.
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