Airfix 1/48 Spitfire XII
KIT #: 5117
PRICE: 1,920 Yen (US$23.00) at HobbyLink Japan
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: New tool kit


             Developed specifically to combat the low-level cross-Channel “tip and run” raids by Fw-190 fighter bombers against the southeast coast of England, the Spitfire XII was the first Griffon-powered version to see combat.  100 were produced in 1942-43 and served with 41 and 91 Squadrons.  With a single-stage, two-speed blower, the Griffon was maximized for low altitude performance.  The Spitfire XII saw combat from early 1943 until September 1944, when 41 Squadron turned in their well-worn survivors for Spitfire XIVs. In addition to intercepting low-level fighter-bombers, the Spitfire XII was also used for “anti-diver” patrols in the summer of 1944 against the V-1 “buzz bomb.”


            Over the years, there have been several conversion sets made to allow a modeler to put a Spitfire XII in the collection.  This being one of my favorite marks of Spitfire, I have done them all: the hack-and-glue conversion using a Hobbycraft Seafire XV and the Classic Airframes set with replacement nose and outer wings in resin - both used with the

Tamiya Spitfire Vb - and the Aeroclub full-fuselage conversion for use with the Hasegawa Spitfire IX kit.  When I participated in developing the Victory Productions decal sheet “Spitfire: Aces of the Empire,” we made sure to include two Spitfire XIIs.  I am even now preparing to do the 1/32 conversion with the Greymatter nose and wings, and a Hasegawa Spitfire Vb kit. 

             While there have been several announcements over the past few years of a coming injection-molded Spitfire XII from differing companies, this new kit is the first time any manufacturer has actually made good on the threat.  After going on the ropes in the past few years and nearly being given up for dead, Airfix has returned over the past year since their acquisition by Hornsby, with some interesting new releases of varying quality levels.  While this new Spitfire is not up to the sublime heights achieved by the Spitfire 22/24 and Seafire 46/47 kits from 1995, it is head and shoulders above every other 1/48 Spitfire kit Airfix has ever released otherwise.

             The kit comes on two sprues of light grey plastic, with a nicely-detailed cockpit - not as detailed as that found in the Hasegawa Spitfire IX, it is certainly the next-best to that, and more than adequate in this scale.  One needs only to get a set of 1/48 photoetch seatbelts to “seal the deal.”  Unfortunately, the kit does not include an instrument panel decal, its one failing; fortunately, I have an Eduard photoetch panel, which will be put to use here.  Both tailwheel alternatives - fixed and retractable - are catered for here. All control surfaces are separate, allowing them to be posed dynamically, while the elevators are connected to insure proper alignment.  Fabric detail on the rudder and elevators looks very appropriate.  Do be aware that while the flaps can be posed down, any Spitfire pilot who did not immediately retract the flaps on touchdown was liable to a 50-Pound fine (not insubstantial when the monthly pay of a Pilot Officer was 70 Pounds).

             For some reason, the elusive shapes of Griffon prop spinners have frequently eluded manufacturers, but Airfix got this one right, as they also did with the even more elusive shape of the Spitfire XII prop blades.  

             The clear canopy parts are very clear and quite thin.  Airfix has done something clever for the open canopy alternative, molding the rear cockpit glass integrally with the canopy, so it can be seen, while not resulting in the canopy sitting too high as is frequently the case with injection-molded parts.

             While the engraved panel surface detail is less petite than on the Spitfire 22/24 and Seafire 46/47, it is not so bad as was the case with the Godawful Seafire III kit, and looks like all will be well under the proverbial “coat of paint” from what I have seen so far of built-up models from this kit.

            The decals provide markings for the Spitfire XII flown by Squadron Leader Ray Harries of 91 Squadron, the top-scoring pilot on the type, which has the early fixed tail wheel, and the much-photographed EB-B of 41 Squadron, which uses the later retractable tailwheel.  


            I do believe one can say “Airfix is back!”  As someone who built his first Airfix Spitfire waaaaaaaay back in 1958, this is good news.  It may not compare totally with the Spitfire 22/24 and Seafire 47, but it certainly can go toe-to-toe with the F.1 Lightning series, the last good Airfix kits.

Highly recommended.

Tom Cleaver

February 2011

Review Kit courtesy of HobbyLink Japan.  Get yours at the link

 If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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