Matchbox 1/72 Spitfire IX/XVI
|NOTES:||Can be made as high back or low back variants|
The Mk.IX was considered the best Merlin Spitfire, being a stop-gap conversion of the earlier Mk.V to take a more powerful engine. The Mk.XVI – essentially a IX with a Packard-built Merlin up front – was the last Merlin-powered Spitfire. For greater detail check out the various reviews of models right here at MM.
Typical of Matchbox, the two main sprues are different colours: one grey, the other is black. The heritage of this kit is obvious: the majority of parts are identical to the original PK-2 Mk.IX Spitfire kit first moulded in 1973, with several additions for the low-back aircraft. The wing for instance now has separate wingtips, allowing a clipped or full elliptical planform (although the “gull” is still not there). The cannon and stubs are both separate, allowing you to do an “E” or “C” wing, although the overwing bulge is moulded as for a “C” wing. A large slipper tank is included for the Mk.XVI, as is a larger undernose intake (the original small intake from the PK-2 kit is also included, for the Mk.IX). The radiators are also separate, look to be the right side, and are moulded with open doors.
This kit allows the modeller to make either a high-back machine or a low-back with a bubble canopy. To enable this not only are the two canopies included (both single piece and quite thick), and the original PK-2 high back fuselage has an engraved depression inside. This line is cut and a spine cemented in its place. With a minimum of filler and accurate cutting it should pose no problem. Compared to photos I’ve seen of preserved low-back Spits the canopy provided seems a little shallow, but I’m aware there are a few vacform replacements on the market.
The cockpit is very basic, being a simple seat shape and a pilot. If you use the kit canopy then merely painting detail on the sidewalls will be adequate. Unlike most current Spitfire kits this one has the rudder moulded with the fuselage halves, and it is the later broad chord rudder. To build the high-back IX option the instructions suggest you sand away the pointed top of the rudder, but for the best result you’d have to source an early rudder from another kit.
The decals are matt, thick, and with a fair amount of carrier film. The Mk.IX option is from 306 (Polish Squadron), BS184/UZ-K. The squadron codes and rear fuselage band should be Sky, but these appear too dark. The XVI is TB900/GE-D “Winston Churchill” of 349 (Belgian). The codes for this one are white, and again I’d have expected them to be Sky. Wing walkway and trestle stencils are included and are common to both. They appear to be quite usable, but most will undoubtedly look to aftermarket companies for replacements, or just raid their spares box.
I’ve built the original Mk.IX kit twice and found it to go together nicely, and I suspect this one will be the same. The high/low-back options are very nice additions and allow for a more unusual subject in the XVI. The true Spitspert will most likely go for a CMR kit for accuracy, but you really can’t beat Matchbox for quick and easy build that “look about right” on the shelf.
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