Tamiya 1/48 Spitfire IIa(LR)
KIT #: ?
PRICE: £20-50
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Frank Reynolds
NOTES: SModel Alliance decals. Pavla conversion.


In the Spring of 1941, Great Britain stood alone. The previous September, the Royal Air Force has fought the Luftwaffe to a standstill in the Battle of Britain and avoided an invasion of the British mainland. The majority of Europe had fallen under the control of the Nazis and there was little that British forces could do to take the war back to the enemy. Plans were made to carry out limited interdiction operations over France and the Netherlands, but it was acknowledged that escort fighters would suffer the same limitations that hampered the Luftwaffe over England, that of limited combat radius and little time over the target.

A short term experiment was trialled on a handful of Mk.IIa Spitfires, by the installation of a fixed overload tank of 66 Imperial Gallons capacity. It was located under the port wing, outboard of the undercarriage and between the inboard and three outboard machine guns. The variant was referred to as the Mk.IIa (LR) (for Long Range). Several aircraft undertook limited operations with Nos. 66, 118 and 152 Sqns of the RAF. The non- jettisonable tank was found to be a handicap in combat and not liked by the pilots and the type was quickly withdrawn from use. It certainly seems to be a development blind alley, since I am not aware of any aircraft other type utilising a similar system of asymmetric underwing tanks.

The Project

This is just one more step on the road of my never-ending project of modelling the Spitfire series in 1: 48 scale. After six years and around 60 models into it, I am always on the lookout for unusual variations on the theme.

The basis of the project is one of the simplest kits in the modelling firmament. The Tamiya Mk.I , Kit No: 61032*2500. Simple, straightforward to build, reasonably well detailed, well engineered and with a deservedly good reputation over the more than 20 years that it has been available. It sells in the UK for around £20 

Pavla have produced a dedicated conversion set for the Mk.IIa(LR,) no. 48009, available from Hannants in the UK at a reasonable £8-70, in a package that includes a one-piece underwing tank, the tiny bullet fairing on the forward right hand side of the nose that distinguishes the Spit II from a Mk.1, a Rotol type 3-blade propeller and spinner, a new seat and seat armour plate. All of these components are cast in flash-free dense dark grey resin. The package is completed with two vacuform clear canopies and a small sheet of construction drawings.

From the references that I could find on this, admittedly rather obscure, subject, it seemed that the Spitfire IIa(LR) was most likely to have been fitted with the blunt-nosed DeHavilland Propeller/Spinner combination, not the Dowty- Rotol type provided in resin by Pavla and in styrene by Tamiya, so a suitable DeH unit was stolen from an Airfix SpitfireI/II. I believe that the Tamiya propeller could be cut down and trimmed to provide the same result, but I went for the lazy option. 

I consider that the Tamiya kit is good enough straight from the box, so I had no plans to use Pavla’s seat, armour plate or vacuform canopies and all I took from their conversion were the underwing tank and the small acorn fairing. These simply glue to the exterior of the airframe, so this is one of the simplest conversions going.


No information supplied. Check the archives 


This really is the closest to a shake and bake kit. The parts almost click together. There was the slightest hint of flash around the tailplane sections, easily dealt with by a swipe from a sharp scalpel blade. The kit has few parts and all of the interior fuselage areas and fuselage detail parts were spray painted while still on the sprue frames, using Xtracrylix  RAF Interior Green. When dry the instrument panel was picked out in Black, as were the seat back cushion and ring grip to the pilot’s stick. The interior is built up as a series of sub assemblies with well detailed bulkheads to the front and rear of the cockpit. Small details such as the  rudder  pedals, levers and oxygen bottles serve to equip the cockpit, which only requires seat belts from strips of masking tape and an overall wash of dirty thinners to provide some weathering and bring out the moulded detail, especially to the fuselage sides.

 The fuselage halves are cemented together and the cockpit interior can be slipped in place from underneath. The wings consist simply of a one piece lower section from tip to tip and separate right and left upper surfaces. Again the parts are virtually a click fit and with the addition of the one piece left and right tailplanes the main airframe is completed in short order.

 The three part canopy fits snugly into place and the glazing masked of with strips of Tamiya masking tape trimmed with a fresh scalpel blade.

 The airframe was then left to settle for a couple of days and the resin parts added. They required a minimum of cleaning up, only where the mould pour stubs occurred. The long range tank was secured with superglue, its correct position identified from Pavla’s instructions. The tiny acorn fairing was attached to the right nose cowling, between the exhaust pipe and propeller spinner. The under wing radiator,  carb. intake and oil cooler were added, the standard Tamiya parts having clear and positive locations.

 Once dried, the airframe was sprayed over with grey auto primer from a rattle can and the few tiny gaps filled with a smear of filler.


 A couple of years back I stashed away the Model Alliance decal sheet MA-48114, “Supermarine Spitfire Mks.I-VI, European Theatre of Operations.” Of the eight choices on the sheet, one is a Spitfire IIa(LR) of No.152Sqn RAF Portreath, July 1941. Just what was needed and it was a happy co-incidence to discover that two aftermarket producers offer the decals and parts that, when combined, result in an obscure, but significant, aircraft. It is unfortunate that the Aviation Workshop/Model Alliance decals and books are no longer produced,  but  Hannants in the UK still list reasonable stocks of these products at the time of writing.

Hannants’ Xtracrylix paints provided the camouflage scheme, applied with my long serving Iwata HP-C airbrush. The under surfaces are XA1007 RAF Sky, upper surfaces shaded in XA1001 RAF Dark Green and XA1002 RAF Dark Earth. The shading on the upper surfaces was executed by painting overall in Dark Earth, masked out with rolls of BluTack and masking tape, then the Dark Green shading is applied. The airframe was brushed over with two coats of Future/Klear ready to receive the decals.

I elected to use Tamiya’s decals for the main national markings and the fuselage band, since the national markings have a white decal underlay to prevent the camouflage colours from bleeding through. Tamiya also include the Sky fuselage band and basic stencilling. The gun port patches were cut out from the red sections of a spare decal sheet of RAF markings. The code letters and serial numbers came from the Model Alliance sheet. Thin and in good register they sat down well with minimum assistance form Micro Sol and Micro Set.

Two misted coats of Xtracrylix XAFF flat varnish blended the paintwork and decals together. 

The main and tail undercarriage legs plug into positive locations. Thankfully the main wheels have separate hubs, an arrangement welcomed by those of us who repeatedly paint tyres, hubs, retouch tyres, retouch hubs and repeat until all the paint splashes have subsided. Then it was just a case of adding the spine aerial and underwing pitot tube.


This is hardly more than a click and fit exercise throughout; the Tamiya kit is predictably excellent and the Pavla parts are a simple external fit. No major cutting or sanding is required. It is an ideal first conversion project and the result is an unusual version of a classic fighter.


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

Supermarine Spitfire by Peter Moss. Ducimus Books Ltd., 1970

The Supermarine Spitfire I & II by Philip J.R. Moyes. Profile Publications Ltd. 1965. 

Camouflage and Markings No. 1, Supermarine Spitfire, by James Goulding. Ducimus Books Ltd., 1970.

Frank Reynolds

June 2014

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