Trumpeter 1/48 Spiteful F.14
KIT #: 02850
PRICE: 2800 yen at
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


             The Spiteful was an example of what happens when an aircraft designer runs out of power, altitude, avgas, airspeed and ideas all at the same time.  As the ultimate development of the Spitfire line, it was a day late and a dollar short as they say in terms of technological development, and was a disappointment that first pushed Supermarine down the road to oblivion from the glory days of Reginald Mitchell.

            The Spiteful was the result of work initiated in 1942 to improve the critical Mach number of the Spitfire wing, utilizing a laminar flow airfoil and creating a wing planform that was less burdensome on the production process than the pure elliptical wing of the original design, which was the most labor-intensive wing of any aircraft mass produced during the war. 

            As work progressed, Specification F.1/43 was issued for a single-seat fighter with a laminar flow wing.  It was decided to adapt the wing to the Griffon-powered Spitfire XIV, and a contract was issued for the prototype, which was a straight adaptation of Spitfire XIV NN660 with the new wing, which also featured inward-retracting wide-track undercarriage to deal with the single worst part of the original design, the narrow-track landing gear.  NN660 first flew on June 30, 1944 with Jeffrey Quill in the cockpit.  While the speed performance was comfortably in excess of an unmodified Spitfire XIV, the new wing displayed an undesirable stall which, although acceptable, did not come up to the high standards of the earlier elliptical wing. NN660 crashed on September 13, 1944, killing pilot Frank Furlong.

            The design was further refined with a redesign of the Spitfire fuselage to give the pilot better view over the nose, and provide better directional stability by a larger vertical fin and horizontal stabilizer, since this had become a problem since the introduction of the Griffon engine and the 5-bladed propeller.

             150 Spiteful F.XIV were ordered in November 1944, with the first, RB515, flying in the summer of 1945, with a Griffon 85 engine providing 2,375 h.p. All were originally produced with a carburetor intake similar to that seen on the Spitfire XIV, then several, if not all, were modified later with an extended intake similar to that seen on the Seafire F.R.47.

            The Spiteful didn’t fly as nicely as the Spitfire, and the new jets provided superior performance.  After 17 were produced, the contract was canceled.  A navalized version, the Seafang F. Mk. 32, was even less successful, demonstrating a nasty stall characteristic when landed aboard a carrier.  The wing of the Spiteful was used in the further development of the Supermarine Attacker, the first jet fighter used by the Royal Navy.


            There is a 1/48 vacuform Spiteful kit that was released by Falcon Models in the late 1980s, that can be assembled in either the original configuration with the short intake or in the later configuration with the different carburetor intake.  It can also be built as a Seafang. This kit is still available in both versions from Falcon. In 1/72 scale, there was a limited run plastic kit released in differing “what if” versions by AZ Models and a resin kit from CMK, and there was a limited-run 1/72 plastic kit from Pegasus. There was also a truly dreadful 1/48 limited-run injection-molded kit from “Silver Wings,” an offshoot of Pegasus/Blue Max, that most people unfortunate enough to get one found to be truly “unbuildable” with so many problems there isn’t sufficient bandwidth here to record them. This 1/48 kit from Trumpeter is the first mainstream injection-molded kit of the Spiteful in any scale.

             The kit is produced in the original configuration of the Spiteful with the short Spitfire-like carburetor intake. It provides decals for RB518. Additionally there are “what-if” decals for a Dutch and a Finnish version.

             The kit itself is cleanly molded with very petite surface detail, from which the Trumpeter “Mad Riveter” has been successfully excluded from participation.


             On opening the box, the kit looks beautiful, with the aforementioned petite surface detailing and crisply-molded parts.  Assembly is easy and straightforward and I found I only needed filler along the centerline seam of the fuselage.

             That said, the kit has some pretty perverse problems, none of which is fatal if one is willing to put in a bit of effort to fix them.

            I have never seen a photograph or a drawing of the Spiteful cockpit, and none of the “boffins” I know has either. Thus, any cockpit configuration is conjectural.  That said, there are some “educated guesses” one could take, and the most likely would be that the cockpit was “Spitfire-like” in configuration, considering where it came from.  That was the suggestion of Falcon with their kit, and Silver Wings provided  a poor white-metal Spitfire cockpit with their kit.  The designer of the Trumpeter kit has imagined the cockpit to be something on the order of the Martin-Baker M.B.5, the result of which is a cockpit a 1/72 pilot figure would find to be tight quarters.  However, if one is building the kit OOB, this doesn’t particularly matter, given that the bubble canopy is about 1/32 inch thick, with the clarity of the bottom of an original Coke bottle, i.e., you can only see there is “something in there” through it.  The poor design of the canopy means it won’t sit right if you try to pose it open, and the kit is in fact designed for it to be assembled closed.

Spiteful Cockpit:

Here are late-arriving photos of the Spiteful cockpit (thank you Edgar Brooks). As I stated above, this is a "Spitfire-ish" cockpit. A modeler planning to scratchbuild a cockpit for this kit should note the following: you need to sand off the side detail inside the fuselage completely. Use the panel line of the side flap to show you where things should go, specifically, the rear of the seat and the rear of the cockpit should be in line with the rear of the side flap, like the Spitfire cockpit. This involves moving the rear bulkhead forward about 1/8 - 5/32 inch. The cockpit is also deeper than the kit provides, like the Spitfire cockpit, and the floor looks to be just about 1/4" above the upper surface of the wing (these measurements are just "eyeballing" the photos and comparing them with my model). I do think with these photos and a vacuformed canopy, a modeler can create a very nice model from this kit. Note that there is no seat installed in either of these photos.

             This kit was built OOB, and because it is destined to end up inside a glass case out at Planes of Fame where the viewer won’t be close enough to see any interior detail anyway, I didn’t complain more than 20 or 30 minutes to myself on discovering all that, and the air over the workbench only turned a light violet.

             If you, on the other hand, plan to have a more detailed model that can be examined by others at closer range, my suggestion is you raid your Spitfire graveyard and pull out some cockpit parts and use those in conjunction with the kit-provided instrument panel to create a “Spitfire-ish” cockpit. Sand off the detail inside the fuselage halves, throw away those cockpit parts other than the control stick and instrument panel, and “imagine away.”  No one will prove you wrong, and it will look much better.

            You will then need to vacuform or smash-mold a canopy so you have something thin enough to pose open, or pose closed with the ability to see the interior.  Perhaps it will be possible for Falcon to release their very nice vacuform canopy for use here.

             As I said, neither of these two fixes is difficult for most modelers.  Given that the exterior of the kit looks very nice, it’s worth the effort.

             I also found I needed to cut open the area of the engine cowling where the exhausts go, and back that opening with some Evergreen sheet, so that the exhausts would fit correctly.  They do not stand proud of the airframe the way they would if attached per instructions.


             According to the available photos of RB515 that were taken by Charles M. Brown for “The Aeroplane” in the fall of 1945, the kit’s painting profile accurately portrays the camouflage pattern.  I used Tamiya’s new Ocean Grey, Dark Green and Sea Grey Medium, applied freehand over a “preshaded” surface, with the yellow wing leading edges and the Sky fuselage band painted first and masked off.  I finished by giving the model an overall coat of Xtracrylix “Gloss” varnish. 

             To put it politely, the kit decals don’t even rate as good toilet paper substitute, other than using the instrument panel decal. The colors are wrong and, as stated, the one serial number provided is for an airframe with a different configuration. I used Type “C” roundels and fin flashes from an XtraDecals sheet, stenciling from a Lifelike Spitfire sheet, and did “RB515," the first Spiteful, from an XtraDecals letters-and-numbers sheet.   When finished, I gave the model a coat of mixed Xtracrylix “Flat” and “Satin” varnish to give a factory-new appearance as seen in the photos of this airplane.


            I unmasked the canopy, attached the exhausts and landing gear, and attached the prop.  I did not use the oleo scissors, since there are none shown in photos of the airplane on the ground and a bit of fiddling with the gear shows there would be no place for them with the gear retracted, another failure of Trumpeter’s “research.”  I also didn’t use the antenna mast, since that was really a wire “whip” antenna. I left the airplane clean, since the original never accumulated enough hours to get dirty.


            For those Spitfire fanatics who want to have one example of everything from the Mark I to the end of the line, this kit is a valuable addition, and is the best Spiteful available in mainstream injection plastic.  It looks nice when finished and appears accurate in shape outline from comparison with photos and my Falcon vacuform model.  The fixes to bring it up to an acceptable standard are not hard to do, and one cannot really fault designers who knew nothing about the subject matter for making a wrong choice about the cockpit.  The kit overall is a simple project for any modeler and will look nice sitting next to the other Spitfires in your collection.

Tom Cleaver

April 2012

 Review Kit courtesy HobbyLink Japan.  Order yours at:

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