Subject: Vickers Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vb

Scale: 1/72

Manufacturer: Heller (SMER)

Kit No.: SE0887 (Squadron Mail Order No. for SMER release)

Parts: 38 (3 transparencies, 35 gray styrene)

Media: Injection molded styrene, info on SMER photoetched parts not known

Price: US$9.98 (Squadron catalogue price for SMER hi-tech release)

Detail: 7 (ascending scale 1-10)

Accuracy: 5 (ascending, 1-10); see review

When Heller first brought out their Mk. V, it was obvious that it was a close relation to that company's Mk. I because it carried over the I's most noticeable flaw - a too-broad vertical fin. Other problems crop up in this kit, and that's a shame because it has the potential to be a sharp little 1/72 scale piece.

The major problem present in the Mk. V, besides the fin - which can be trrimmed down with little effort - is the wing. While accurate in planform, the head on view shows a wing that bends until there is no dihedral at the wingtips. On three copies of this kit, I tried trimming the fuselage roots, clamping the wing parts, bending, cursing, Santeria, nuclear bombardment (don't tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission!), invoking Odin, etc, etc, and the wings failed to cooperate. In that lies the shame, because the cockpit is great for 1/72 scale and the other parts are well molded and detailed. A tropical Vokes option is also included. A three-piece cockpit is provided, and the wheels are the best I've seen among pre-1990 1/72 Spit kits.

If you find the Heller Spit among the collector's trade tables, she will be in a Heller box (duh?), an Aurora/Heller box with the Heller artwork, a Testors box with markings for Clive Caldwell's Mk.Vb in Far East markings and Aussie camouflage, and the current SMER hi-tech release.

- Mike Still

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