Airfix/ICM 1/48 Spitfire XIVe
Around £70-00 in total
Robbed from Academy kit
Kitbash using three kits
The Spitfire XIV was an interim type and very much a third generation evolution
of the family. A substantial
redesign of the Mk.VIII, it entered service in early 1944. It was powered by a
2,000 hp Rolls
Royce Griffon engine and introduced a very distinctive 5-bladed
propeller. This was a wholly new style of Spitfire, heavier and more rugged, and
competitive with later generations of fighter aircraft form the World’s major
manufacturers. Late production versions introduced a cut down rear fuselage and
bubble canopy providing its pilots with greatly improved all round vision. 957
were built, so it represented barely 4% of the total production run of the
Spitfire family. A versatile aircraft it could be equipped with oblique cameras
in the rear fuselage to undertake a fighter reconnaissance role. The XIV would
see post war service in RAF Germany and the Far East and become part of the
inventory of the Air Forces of Belgium, India and Thailand. Thailand received 30
reconditioned ex-RAF aircraft that served from 1951 to 1955.
This is number 56 in my current collection of 1:48 scale aircraft from the
Spitfire series, just one more step on the road of my seemingly never-ending
project. It is the last of the
sub-series that sets out to represent the 29 air arms that operated the Spitfire
/Seafire family in squadron service. One variant that consistently proves a
challenge is the Mk.XIV and its close cousin the Mk.XVIII. The only current
mainstream kits of the Spitfire XIV, both high back and low back, in 1:48 scale
come from Academy. They are neatly tooled, with good decals, but rather poorly
executed in that the nose area is too bloated and to my mind it does not
accurately capture the deadly beauty of the subject. However, since one of the
Academy kits remains in my collection, a review is included below to complete
One of the by- products of this major undertaking is a massive amount of spare
parts that I have amassed from all of the kits built, a collection swollen also
by the number of scrapped airframes that I have accumulated as I have replaced
and updated some of the subjects in my showcase.
However it was by the good grace of my LHS, Spot on Models and Hobbies of
Swindon in the UK, that this latest project emerged. A careless courier had
delivered a consignment of Airfix models that really were kit bashed, the boxes
were broken and crumpled, so I was offered a couple of
PR.19s and a Seafire 46/47
on terms that I could not refuse. This gave me the confidence to try what
would normally be an expensive exercise – to combine the parts from three kits
to provide the missing link in my collection.
The plan was to use the Seafire 46/47 to provide the low back main
fuselage, the whole tail section from the Spitfire PR.19, married to the wing
and undercarriage from ICM’s Mk.IX/XVI.
A kit bashing exercise of this kind always begins as a theory that the
parts from the different sources can be combined satisfactorily and requires a
certain amount of dry fitting, taping sub-assemblies together to see if is
practical. The Spitfire PR.19 is state of the art Airfix, with crisp engineering
and recessed panel lines. The Seafire 47 is a 1990s kit, a little less refined
than current standards but still reasonably well moulded and with recessed
detail. ICMs IX/XVI can have moulding
issues but my sample, in a Revell boxing, was clean and sharp although the parts
are more thin and fragile than Airfix mouldings.
The first trial required the Seafire 47 tail to be cut away along the
prominent diagonal line through the rear fuselage just forward of the fin and
tail unit then discarded. The remaining fuselage and nose would provide the
foundation of the model. From the PR.19 the tail fin was separated along a
similar cut line but keeping the fillet between the fin and rear fuselage; the
unwanted fuselage goes into the spares box.. The
two kits are almost 20 years
apart and the different tool makers have different ideas as to the exact cross
section of a Spitfire fuselage in this area, but it only required the tail parts
to be packed out slightly along the joining faces with a sliver of plastic card
and the new tail fitted to the fuselage reasonably well, requiring minimal
filler. The prominent camera windows to the rear fuselage sides were drilled out
at the same time.
Although the Airfix Spitfire
PR.19, is effectively an unarmed high back Mk. XIV,
a cannon armed wing is required and
although it has the potential to be converted to an armed version I chose to use
the ready-made detail of an armed wing from the ICM
I first built the wing from the ICM parts, consisting of the one
piece full span lower section, left and right upper wing panels and clipped wing
tips. ICM provide inserts for the correct cannon bay covers for the “e” wing
armament where the cannon occupy the outer of the two wing stubs and the inners
are blanked off with two small hemispherical plugs. A further advantage of the
ICM kit in this context is the useful alternative parts for the wing tips and
ailerons which include the smaller inset ailerons applicable to the Mk.XIV and
matching clipped wing tips.
For the fuselage, I followed the sequence set out in the Airfix
instructions. Commencing with the cockpit interior, the fuselage was assembled
and allowed to set hard over a couple of days. The interior came from standard
Seafire parts, with seat belts from painted masking tape. The interior is in a
style common to most state of the art Spitfire kits with skeletal bulkheads to
the front and rear of the cockpit, rudder pedals and seat. The instrument panel
came from the kit decal sheet. The interior was first painted RAF Interior
from the Xtracrylix range with details such as the control stick , rudder pedals
and head rest picked out in Flat Black.
Once everything had set the wing
was offered up to the fuselage halves to check where any fiddling and fettling
was required. The upper wing joint was reasonable, requiring small strips of
plastic card to close the joint with the fuselage fairings. The gull wing rear
section of the underwing fairing came from the Seafire mouldings and the
corresponding part on the ICM wing was cut away.
The lower nose fairing required a little creative hacking in that the
front half came from the Seafire mouldings so as to align with the propeller.
The rear half came from the PR.19, enabling me to use the PR.19’s carburettor
intake faired into the leading edge of the ICM wing.
The tail assembly was all from unmodified Airfix PR.19 components
complete with tail wheel doors. The underwing radiator assemblies came from the
PR.19, requiring a little fettling along the flanges at the base of the side
walls that fair into the wing lower surfaces.
As a last detail I indulged myself by gluing on pair of the bulged upper
nose fairings from a Seafire XVII onto the engine, since I believe that they
look better, but the Seafire 47 fairings are probably just as acceptable.
So I now had a basic airframe in the configuration that I wanted. The canopy and
came from the Airfix Seafire 46 mouldings.
Left to settle for 24 hours and with transparencies masked, the whole airframe
was sprayed with auto primer from a rattle can to show up any dings and
scratches which were treated with Revell Plasto filler and the primer then
The main undercarriage came from the ICM parts, so as to give a strong
assembly integral with the wing. The retractable tail wheel assembly, from the
PR.19, is easy to install since Airfix
have moulded interlocking base plates that ensure that the doors are correctly
aligned – a small point but one that will be appreciated by anyone who has tried
to fiddle tiny Spitfire tail wheel doors into alignment on kits that do not have
such a feature.
The missing subject in my collection was the Air Force of Thailand, a subject
long overdue but one that I had been putting off due to the complexity of the
project. . Ironically, the very decals that I needed came from Academy, in a
Spitfire XIVe kit that I have now rejected as being too inaccurate for long term
use in my collection. Academy produced a “Special Edition” boxing that went into
my stash a few years ago, kit No. 12211. It includes a fabulous A4 size decal
sheet by Cartograph with seven options for exotic and unusual Spitfire XIVes,
being the Indian Air Force in two roundel styles, RAF Germany 1946, Belgian Air
Force, Royal Thai Air Force and even a Canadian civil registered aircraft form
the Cleveland Air races in 1949.
The decals are perfectly printed in good register with strong colours and
include full stencilling for one airframe.
After a final aerosol coat of auto primer, painting could begin. The
overall colour of the airframe is a plain silver, air brushed with my Iwata HP-C
in Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminium, with the propeller spinner and wing tips picked
out in Tamiya XF-1 Flat Red.
The decals went on well over two brushed coats of Future/Kleer and
responded effectively to Micro Set and Micro Sol.
The Thai aircraft are not well documented and are fairly anonymous, even lacking
codes and serial numbers so the paint scheme is stark and simple, but presents
one dilemma that occurs with other Spitfires in my collection, that of airframe
stencilling. Is it worded in the subject’s language?
With poor photo references available I have no real idea, even if such decals
were available, which is highly unlikely, so I contented myself with a few
electrical earth stencils, the “No step” messages around the wing walk lines and
the under wing trestle markings. Just to add a touch of contrast I used a wing
root walkway decal from the PR.19 sheet. The final touch was to complete the
airframe with two misted coats of Xtacrylix Flat varnish.
This has to be an exercise for a seriously obsessed Spitfire collector. If I had
not been “gifted” two damaged kits this would have been an expensive exercise.
It involves the sacrifice of an Airfix Seafire 46/47; an Airfix Spitfire PR.19;
an ICM Spitfire IX/XVI and the purchase of an Academy FR.XIVe for the
make that around £70-00 at UK prices.
Yet, this is another tick in the box for the Spitfire and Seafire
collection. It’s crazy, but I like it.
The 29 international air arms now
represented in my collection are from: Australia, Belgium, British Royal Air
Force, British Fleet Air Arm, Burma, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt,
France (Air Force), France (Navy), Greece,
Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South
Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Soviet Union, , Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey,
United States of America, Yugoslavia.
Spitfire International by Helmut Terbeck, Harry van der Meer and Ray Sturtivant,
Air Britain (Historians) Ltd 2002
Spitfire, the History by Eric B. Morgan and Edward Shacklady, Key Publishing,
courtesy of my LHS, Spot on Models & Hobbies of Swindon, England.
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