Tamiya 1/48 Supermarine Type 300 (conversion)
Following the failure of the F7/30 Type 224 fighter, Vickers-Supermarine Chief Designer R.J. Mitchell determined to design what he believed would be the answer to the need of a short-range high speed intercepter. When the design was submitted to the Air Ministry in July 1934, it was rejected for being too radical.
Mitchell then revised the design and in November 1934 convinced the Board of Directors of Vickers to fund construction of the project as a private venture. Freed of the obtuseness of official specifications, he had created the most modern fighter design then in existence, to be powered by the new Rolls-Royce PV-XII V-12 engine, later named the "Merlin". The design was designated the Type 300. Many of us believe it to be aesthetically the most beautiful airplane ever made.
The director of Vickers-Armstrongs, Sir Robert MacLean, had guaranteed production of five aircraft a week, beginning 15 months after an order was placed, when the prototype contract was finalized in February 1935. On June 3, 1936, the Air Ministry placed an order for 310 aircraft, for a cost of £1,395,000. While full-scale production began at Supermarine's factory in Southampton, it quickly became clear the order could not be completed in the 15 months promised, since Supermarine was a small company, busy building Walrus and Stranraer flying boats, and Vickers was busy building the Wellington. As a result of the delays in production, the Air Ministry suggested that production of the Spitfire be stopped after completion of the initial order for 310, after which Supermarine would build Bristol Beaufighters. The compnay convinced the Air Ministry the problems could be overcome. On March 24, 1938, a second contract for 200 Spitfires was signed, the two orders covering the K, L and N prefix serial numbers. The first production Spitfire rolled off the assembly line in May 1938, and was flown by Jeffrey Quill on May 15, 1938, almost 24 months after the initial order. The final cost of the first 310 aircraft, after delays and increased costs, came to £1,870,242 or £1,533 per aircraft more than originally estimated. A production Spitfire I cost £9,500; the most expensive components were the hand-fabricated and finished fuselage at £2,500, the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine at £2,000, the wings at £1,800 a pair, guns and undercarriage at £800 each, and the propeller at £350.
Modelers who like the Spitfire have always been interested in K5054, and over the years there have been various aftermarket conversion sets made to modify Spitfire I kits to the prototype. The best of these is the one that was released by Alley Cat last year, just before the company closed its doors. Alley Cat is now under new ownership, and this conversion should be available again in the near future.
Review kit and conversion set courtesy my billfold.
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