Airfix 1/48 Seafire XV (conversion)

KIT #: See notes:
PRICE: about £38.00 total
DECALS: Several options
REVIEWER: Frank Reynolds
NOTES: Combination of Airfix A05117, Spitfire XII and A06102, Seafire XVII


 The Seafire XV is a part of a small specialised branch of The Spitfire/Seafire family tree, one of only three versions that are characterised by having a short-nosed Griffon engine. The XV emerged as a navalised development of the Spitfire XII, itself essentially a Spitfire V adapted for a Griffon engine. Compared with earlier, sleeker Merlin engined Spitfires the short nose Griffon types have the very obvious upper bulges around the nose to accommodate the cylinder banks of the mighty Griffon engine. The third version, the Seafire XVII, was a modernised version of the XV, with a strengthened undercarriage and a cut down rear fuselage with bubble canopy. All three also feature a 4 blade propeller and a large spinner. The XV was the first Seafire variant to feature two symmetrical under wing fairings for the radiators and oil cooler. Chronologically, it could have been the Seafire IV, but a change of  policy in service designations led to the Seafires being integrated into the Spitfire numbering series.

 There are two distinct variants of the Seafire XV, although there was no change of service designation to identify the differences, in that early versions featured an A-frame arrestor hook that dropped down from  a fairing in the lower rear fuselage forward of the tail wheel. This version employed the smaller type of rudder as fitted to the Spitfire XII and a handful of this variant featured an enlarged rudder trim tab -  this small variation is found on some French Aeronavale aircraft and Canadian Navy versions. The second variant has a sting-type arrestor hook built into a much larger rudder and this is a straight lift from the Mark XVII. A feature to this sub-variant is an external triangular framework forward of the tail wheel to prevent the arrestor cable from fouling.

 A third option is a unique hybrid Seafire XV, one of a small batch that was refurbished for export to Burma. Wholly land based, all naval equipment was removed and Spitfire 18 wings were fitted, so this variant has the appearance of a Spitfire XII, yet with twin under wing radiators. This hybrid also had provision for under wing and centre line bomb racks.


 In 2011, Airfix released new tool kits of both the Spitfire XII and Seafire XVII, each kit having been separately reviewed in MM. The Spitfire XII by Tom Cleaver in March 2011 and the Seafire XVII by Scott Van Aken in September 2011 A comparison of the two kits shows that each has been separately tooled and the parts frames are markedly different kit to kit, but thanks to the miracle of 21st century CAD tooling, many parts are interchangeable from one to the other. The result is that modelling a Seafire XV is a realistic proposition; just build a Seafire XVII and where the instructions call out the fuselage assembly, use the basic parts from the Spitfire XII. There is some modification to do, but it is very minor. This is one all plastic conversion that requires little more than mixing and matching parts from the two boxes. The only possible downside is that the unused Seafire XVII fuselage is unique to that variant and so is of limited use in the spares box.


The Mk XII fuselage can be assembled complete with its interior and requires the retractable tail wheel option. Small holes are required in the lower rear fuselage sides for the insertion of the catapult spools provided on the Mk XVII kit, this is a simple matter of using a mini drill and copying the position from the Mk XVII fuselage mouldings. There is a small hole to be plugged on the centre line of the nose between the cylinder head bulges, since the XV does not have the small acorn shaped fairing the features on the XII.

 If the early A-frame arrestor hook is chosen, the rear fuselage underside needs to be modified by scribing the outline of the hinged frame and adding the beak of the arrestor hook. Alternatively, if the sting hook option is chosen, three small dimples should be marked out forward of the tail wheel for the wire deflector again using the Mk XVII fuselage mouldings as a pattern.

 The wing assembly is exactly as the standard  XVII kit, to include the undercarriage and pair of radiator housings, while  the centre line drop tank is available as a useful option.

 If required, the early version rudder can be modified to the extended trim tab by simply cutting away the existing tab and substituting a small rectangle of plastic card, trimmed to allow for the tapered thickness of the rudder.


The XVII decal sheet and instructions provide a useful source of stencils and walkways.  My Royal Navy Pacific Fleet version, with sting-type arrester hook, features Aeromaster decals as described below. It features the early post war colour scheme of Sky undersides extending to the fuselage sides and fin/rudder with upper surfaces of Extra Dark Sea Grey

 The French Aeronavale version, with A-frame hook and enlarged rudder tab,  comes from the Carpena/Colorado sheet listed below and again features the Royal Navy style of finish in Sky and Extra Dark Sea Grey.

 The Burmese aircraft is overall aluminium silver with black anti-glare panels and walkways; the national markings came from a Carpena/Colorado sheet no 48.84 ( intended for a Spitfire IX)  and the serial numbers from a generic sheet.

 Paints come from the Xtracrylix range.

For what is essentially a minority series of aircraft the Seafires XV and XVII are quite well served with after market decal sheets. Good quality decals  featuring the Mk.XV are available as follows:

 Aeromaster 48-697; includes two Mk.XVs: “12*2” of 806 Sqn, Royal Navy, HMS Glory 1946 and PR464 “Q” Royal Canadian Navy, HMCS Warrior 1947.

Carpena/Colorado decals sheet 48.83 features PR397 “54.S-22” of France’s Aeronavale on the carrier Arromanches 1950

 Model Alliance MA-481118, includes three Mk.XVs: SW912, “134/T”,804 Sqn., Royal Navy, HMS Theseus, 1947; PR479 “L”, 803 Sqn., Royal Canadian Navy, HMCS  Warrior 1947; SR530, “AA*K”, 883 Sqn, Royal Canadian Navy, RCNAS Dartmouth 1948.


This is quite the most logical and straightforward cross-kitting exercise that I have come across in years. If there is any down side it is the fact that it is not cheap, since the price of two kits and a decal sheet can push the cost past £45-00 at UK prices; although this runs out at the price of a good resin kit, yet this all-plastic exercise is much easier to complete. It yields a large haul of material for the spares box and it fills a gap in a collection. It works for me.


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, 2000

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

Frank Reynolds

March 2012

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