Hasegawa  1/72 “Speed Spitfire”

KIT #: A15
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Simple conversion


The “Speed Spitfire” was a project designed to capture the world speed record just before the outbreak of World War II.  A standard production Spitfire Mk. I, K9834, was taken from the production line and rebuilt by the Supermarine company in order to make the plane competitive with the Messerschmitt and Heinkel contenders.  When the Messerschmitt Bf-209-V1 broke the World’s Speed Record with a speed of 469 mph. in 1939, Supermarine abandoned their attempt, and the plane was later modified for other uses.

 A number of sources provide photos of this aircraft in various stages of its career.  The Dulcimus “Supermarine Spitfire” book by Peter Moss has some good photos on pp. 20-21, while the old Harleyford “Spitfire-The Story of a Famous Fighter” by Bruce Robertson is also useful, with photos on p. 154. Both sources have good text coverage. The old Profile No. 41, “Spitfire I & II”,by Philip J.R. Moyes, also has photos and a color drawing, but they portray the colors wrong, as the trim was silver, not yellow, and the wings and horizontal tailplane were silver, not blue as the Profile indicates. However, a case could be made for painting the tops of the wings dark blue, although a rear view of the airplane is not available.

 Building a model of the “Speed Spitfire” should present few challenges for the experienced modeler.  Although the Airfix kit would be just as appropriate, I selected the Hasegawa kit, mainly because it had the flat canopy that would require only the windshield portion to be replaced, and it is a very simple, basic kit.   A number of changes needed to be made, including the following:

1.      Replace windscreen with a new part, preferably vacuformed, although any suitable form from the spares box will work if properly shaped.

2.      Engine is now 2,160 hp. Merlin IIIM, not externally visible.

3.      Enlarged radiator on right side. This will require replacement.

4.      Wooden fixed pitch four bladed prop.  Spares box should have this. I used old Airfix P-51D prop, suitably reshaped, and the blades are quite sharp and tapered.

5.      Wings need to be shortened slightly, from 36’-10” span to 33’-8” span, or 13” each side. This can be done by merely sanding them down—the wing shape is only slightly more blunt than the standard elliptical wing.

6.      Remove all armament, ejector chutes, etc. Don’t install the gunsight.

7.      Remove the tailwheel and replace with a tailskid. This was done by cutting the tailwheel off and using the strut and wheel housing for the leg and skid.  The tailwheel strut is quite robust, and converts to a tailskid easily.  A no-brainer.

8.      Remove any rivets, as plane was flush riveted.

9.      Remove the radio antenna mast.  Later a VHF whip was installed.

10.  Remove the upper wing reinforcement strakes. Ed

 Otherwise, the airplane is basically a standard production Spitfire.  It  was painted what is described as a glossy Supermarine Blue overall with a silver cheat line. I used glossy US Navy Sea Blue, and it looks convincing enough, although it probably isn’t quite the right shade. (All photos are in black and white).Originally, the prop and spinner were silver, with black rear prop surfaces for anti-glare.  According to photos, the prop was later painted entirely black.  If you are going to model the airplane later in its career, the windshield was shortened to normal size, still without framing, as the P.R. marks had,  and the plane was then painted PRU Blue with a red trim line along the fuselage side, as shown in a photo taken in 1946. By this time, the plane was the personal aircraft of  Air Commodore J.R. Boothman, who had flown one of the Supermarine S-6 floatplanes in the Schneider Trophy Races, and by this time it had been equipped with a normal Mk. V style radiator and a standard Rotol 3 bladed prop such as used by many Mk. V’s. 

During the war years, the plane was converted to a P.R. Mk. III standard and used by the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit at Heston.  Presumably the aircraft was painted PRU blue overall while it operated in this role, although I can find no references or photos to substantiate this.  After its retirement from P.R. work, it served as A.C. Boothman’s personal aircraft until the end of the war, after which it was scrapped.


No information provided.


 The kit can be built almost straight from the box, omitting the propeller.  The radiator housing needs to be removed, and I did this with a  razor saw, and it came off smoothly without any damage to the wing undersurface.  I looked around in my spares box for a suitable shaped piece of plastic, and came up with part of the fuselage nose section from an old Revell Fokker D.VII that I had scrapped many years ago. I cut it down to shape and size,  added the radiator faces, and glued them together.  


Painting is a snap, as the silver goes on first.  After some masking, the blue can be applied.  The only decals required are the “N.17” on the rear fuselage sides.  I used white, although the color could have been silver.  From the intensity of the colors, and after careful examination of all the available black and white photos, I thought white would have been the more likely color.


 The result is a model that stands out in a collection of Spitfires, especially since it is so colorful compared with the usual camouflaged examples.  It was a lot of fun, one of those quick conversions that adds a historically significant airplane to my collection without requiring a lot of extra effort. The old Hasegawa kit worked out very well, although you could probably use an Airfix Mk. I or any of the other Mk. I’s that are available. Just be sure to use the flat canopy, as all Mk. I kits do not supply this.                        

 Brian Baker

August 2012

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