Merlin 1/72 Spitfire XII

Kit Number: 019

Price: $13.00

Media: Short Run Injected Plastic with white metal

Decals: One set for EB*B

Reviewer: Scott Van Aken

Date of Review: 27 August 1997


The Spitfire XII is the first production version to have the much superior Griffon engine replacing the Merlin that had powered so many Spitfires.  As with any new engine, the Griffon was very powerful, but prone to problems.  This increase in speed was very helpful when it came to chasing V-1 flying bombs, a job that the Griffon Spits did quite well.

Merlin's kit of the Spitfire XII is all one would expect from Merlin.  The parts are a soft, grey plastic and have large gates on the sprue. White metal parts are supplied for the propeller, spinner, landing gear, wheels, exhaust stacks, carburetor intake and a few bits in the interior.  As with all Merlin kits I have built, the white metal is a disappointment as it is poorly cast with many pits.  The landing gear especially is very weak, a trait not usually attached to white metal.  In addition, the propeller is undersized and the spinner oversized.

The canopy is particularly thick, opaque and poor fitting, as are a number of other components. In Merlin's favor is the subject matter, the decals, and the fine engravings on the parts themselves.  It is too bad that much of this engraving will be destroyed building the kit, although it can be rescribed. Merlin also managed to get the gullwing shape of the underwing area, an area missed by many mainstream model companies. Like other short run kits, the wings and horizontal stabilizers are one piece and butt joined, so care does need to be taken to ensure the mating surfaces are well sanded.

 Once the interior is built and installed, ensure the fuselage halves are well sanded before gluing. Again, due to the poor canopy, don't waste any effort on the interior. Once the fuselage is joined, the fin and stabilizers can be added. I needed quite a bit of putty to get the fin to have a smooth join to the fuselage.  The stabilizers fit well.  The wings are another story.  They are actually  thicker at the tip than at the root.  There is really no fix other than massive sanding.  A result of this thickness is that the 20mm canon barrels are actually oval instead of round.  Part of this is because on my kit, the upper and lower wings did not match.  Probably due to a shift in the mold.  I had to do a lot of work removing plastic around the edges to get a wing that looked decent. The underwing radiators also had large sink marks on them that had to be filled.

The rest of the bits (wheels, gear, antenna) fit without any real fuss.  The spinner and propeller also fit well although they are not right at all.  I think that the reason the spinner is so large is that the nose of the kit is not the proper contour.  It just does not look right to me.  As for why the prop is undersized, there is no excuse for this. Of course it could be that it is the right size and that all the other Spitfire kits I have with four-bladed props have propellers that are too large.

It was painted in typical mid-war scheme of green and ocean grey over light grey with sky fuselage band and yellow wing recognition stripes.  I used Gunze paints on this.  The decals are from the kit and are first rate.  They snuggled right down with no need for setting solutions.

The result is a Spitfire XII.....sort of.  I would not recommend this kit unless you are willing to put up with a lot of problems and frustrations.  It would also help to have a bunch of spare parts.  Like propellers, spinners, and a new nose section.  New wings would be a help as well. To repeat what I said several times during construction....AARRGGHH!!

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