Airfix 1/48 Seafire F.46
KIT #: A06103
PRICE: £18-99
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Frank Reynolds


As World War 2 drew to a close the pace of development of the Supermarine Spitfire and Seafire series showed no signs of abating.

 A series of “Super Spitfires” was conceived, incorporating a modified wing that did away with the characteristically graceful elliptical plan form, in favour of a more blunt wing tip, all in the interests of aerodynamic refinement. The wing incorporated an uprated armament of four 20mm cannon and a strengthened, wider, undercarriage with separate doors over the wheel wells. Enlarged under wing radiators and oil coolers were provided.  A distinctive five-bladed propeller was fitted to a 2,045hp Griffon  61 engine. This resulted in the Spitfire 21, an aircraft that had progressively evolved from the original Spitfire in such a radical way that there was a serious proposal to name it the Supermarine Victor, since it could be considered a new type. However it was late 1944 by the time that this upgraded type began to enter service and the end of the line was in sight, with newer more powerful fighter types coming into service and the advent of jet propulsion. The result was that the later, more developed of the Supermarine fighters were produced in smaller numbers. The next development was the essentially post war Mk.22 which featured a cut down rear fuselage. A new and much enlarged tail assembly was added to improve stability.

 The Royal Navy maintained an interest in Spitfire development throughout World War 2 and from late 1943 it was planned that for almost every Spitfire fighter type, there would a Seafire equivalent. However it transpired the Navy’s Griffon engine Seafires would be built in even smaller batches and would be too late for wartime service.

 Just 24 Seafire 46’s were built, the equivalent of the Spitfire 22 with minimum modifications for naval use. The Navy found that since the Griffon engine was enclosed in an enlarged and lengthened nose cowl, it further restricted forward view in an aircraft type that was already difficult to deck land. The most dramatic feature was a contra-rotating propeller unit, that harnessed the massive torque of the uprated engine and improved the deck landing characteristics to some extent. However the 46 had the handicap of a non-folding wing and was operated as an interim type by land based units. They were delivered by March 1947.



This is a relaxing build since everything for a basic model  is provided in the Airfix Seafire 46/47 kit, including decals, so this is a straight from the box exercise.

 This kit dates from the 1990s and was re-released for the 21st Century in up to date format, with a revised decal sheet and packed in the now familiar new style of Airfix corporate box in the characteristic house colour of red, there are three parts frames in a fairly hard pale blue/grey plastic and one frame of clear. The parts appear to be unchanged from the original issues, in that two of the frames consist of all of the parts necessary to build a Spitfire 22/24 and the third frame is of parts to provide all of the variations applicable to the Seafire 46/47; being a whole new folding wing for the ’47, contra prop components, centre line and under wing slipper tanks. The clear parts frame contains both types of windscreen applicable to late Spitfire and Seafire variants. The parts appear fairly cleanly moulded with just a trace of flash around some of the parts such as the rocket tails. Surface detail on the main components is fine and subtle.

This kit has been minutely analysed over the two decades since it first appeared and there is evidence that the propeller blades have an incorrect profile, and that the rear canopy is too short and too low in profile. These are not major flaws in my opinion and the kit still builds into an effective and convincing Seafire

Compared with Airfix’s new generation of Spitfires there are good and bad points. The surface detail is arguably more delicate than newer offerings. By contrast the cockpit detail is fairly basic and some details, such as the under wing rockets are decidedly clunky. 

The instructions consist of a 16 page A4 style booklet with the 29 stages of construction in a logical pictogram form. Two pages in colour set out the two finishing options with paint colours keyed to the Humbrol range.


I elected to build almost straight from the box and the only addition would be cockpit seat belts fashioned form masking tape.

Holes in the lower wing have to be opened up for a choice of weapons fit. I thought it unlikely that a training squadron aircraft would have much in the way of under wing armament so I restricted the external fit to the centre line drop tank.

Construction is as straightforward as any standard Airfix kit and begins with the interior, this simply consists of front and rear skeleton bulkheads with a moulded instrument panel and a pilot’s seat fitted to an armoured bulkhead. The interior is mainly standard cockpit green, which I airbrushed in Xtracrylix XA1010 aircraft grey green while the upper side walls of the cockpit above door sill level are finished in flat black. A simple instrument panel is provided on the decal sheet and seat belts were added from small strips of masking tape.

 When the fuselage was closed up, some filler was required along the main fuselage join seam, so there is just a hint that the moulds may be ageing slightly.

The wing consists of a full span lower section, with separate left and right upper wing panels. Separate flaps can be set in the lowered position but the ailerons are moulded fixed in place. I fixed the flaps in the up position. As with most Spitfire kits I first glued the whole lower wing to the fuselage then added the separate upper outer wing panels later. This allows the upper wings to be trimmed if necessary to ensure a snug joint at the wing root.

Construction proceeds relatively swiftly by adding the one piece horizontal tail parts, the rudder with lower arrester hook and separate fairings to the upper nose of the engine cowling. The separate drop down door to the cockpit was glued in the closed position and the gun sight added to the cockpit.

Next the pilot’s headrest is fixed and the whole airframe left overnight to dry. While this was going I masked up the windscreen and canopy with Tamiya tape.  Before the canopy is glued down it is necessary to paint the area of the fuselage behind the pilot’s headrest with the finished upper surface colour since this will show through the closed up canopy

The main airframe assembly was completed by adding the under wings flaps in the closed position, the chin cowling and carburettor air intake and lastly the radiator assemblies. The latter components are handed so care has to be taken to ensure that each is glued to the correct wing under surface.

Finally the masked canopy components and wing cannon were glued in place and the basic aircraft was checked ready for painting. Small areas of filler were required on sinkage areas to the upper wings and fuselage sides and along the main joint of the fuselage halves. This was achieved with Squadron Green Putty, smoothed down with sanding sticks from the same company.

The whole airframe and remaining small components on the parts frame were primed with grey auto primer from a rattle can. This also shows up any small scratches and imperfections that need to be cleaned up.


State of the art for Airfix, the decals have good colour density; they are sharply printed and have good adhesion, responding well to decal fixing solutions.

One of the choice of colour finishes is new to this recent boxing of the kit. It is just what I needed, offering a land based Seafire 46 of the Station Flight, Lossiemouth, Scotland in 1948, in the standard scheme of Sky under surfaces and Extra Dark Sea Grey uppers, relieved with a bright yellow rudder and spinner. This displays yet another variation of the Royal Navy’s confusing profusion of post war paint jobs with the Dark Grey carried right down the fuselage sides and covering the tail fin. There is a comprehensive set of stencils and wing walk stripes.

The camouflage finish came from Hannants   Xtracrylix range, applied with my trusty Iwata HP-C airbrush. The Freeman book shows some late Seafires carrying a Dark Sea Grey drop tank so I allowed myself a little artistic licence and adopted this finish for this version. The spinner and rudder were finished in Xtracrylix  XA1011 RAF Trainer Yellow. The undercarriage legs and wheel hubs were finished in Tamiya XF-16 Flat Aluminium and the tyres in XF-85 Rubber Black.

The decals went on well over a brushed coat of Future/Kleer and responded effectively to Micro Set and Micro Sol. The revised decal sheet is a considerable improvement over the 1990s original, both in quality and detail. There was one area of query, however. The Airfix decals and instructions show the upper wings to have “B type” wartime style upper wing roundels in the style of Blue, with a Red centre disc i.e. no white ring. The Freeman book from the Aviation Workshop, detailed below, has a colour thee-view of the identical aircraft with upper wing roundels in the “C1” style, that is with a thin White ring around the centre Red area. Now in this particular era of aircraft colours there was much change under way, so I had a dilemma. Right or wrong I chose the Freeman interpretation for a 1948 period aircraft, the three-colour roundel it would be. Later, I found buried in my archives a dog eared copy on the Aircam book listed below and in that Richard Ward also went for the three colour roundel, so it is two to one in favour of the C1 type. The necessary roundels came from a spare sheet of decals from this kit’s close cousin, an Airfix Seafire 17.

It just remained to add the things that dangle down from a naval aircraft, the undercarriage legs, wheels and doors, the tail wheel guard, pitot tube and underwing aerial. 

The whole was then finished in a misted airbrushed coat of Xtracrylix Satin varnish. This gives just a hint of the semi-gloss finish found on post war British aircraft


The Seafire 46 is pure standard Airfix fun. A good honest plastic kit that is recommended all round and the whole package costs just £19-99 in the UK.


 Profiles 5, Supermarine Seafire Mk.1b – Mk.47, by Jon Freeman. The Aviation Workshop Publications Ltd.

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

Aircam Aviation Series No.8.  Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XII-24/Supermarine Seafire Mk.1-47. By Ted Hooton and Richard Ward. Osprey Publications Limited 1971.

Frank Reynolds

September 2014

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