Tamiya 1/48 Spitfire Vb trop




$26.99 MSRP


Two Aircraft


Scott Van Aken




The Spit V was basically an update of the earlier Spit I and II versions with a more powerful Merlin. Just about all of the fuselage aft of the engine was identical in all these variants and a number of Mk Vs were re-engined Mk I/II airframes. With the more powerful engine, it was able to briefly best the 109s of the Luftwaffe. That all changed with the introduction of the FW-190, but such is the way of war.

This is a tropicalized version of the Mk V. Basically that means that it has a large filter fitted over the carb intake to keep sand out of it as sand will severely shorten the life of an engine. Initially the Vokes filter was fitted, but this very large filter was not only ugly, but quite detrimental to speed. A much more streamlined and equally effective filter was developed locally in Aboukir, Egypt and fitted to many aircraft in country.


This particular kit has some of the parts in common with the earlier Spitfire I kit reviewed here some years back, specifically the one with the main airframe. It includes a new wing sprue, a smaller one with the various filters, ferry tank, and a pilot in tropical garb. There is also a four bladed prop and spinner included, though I'm not really sure just what that is for as none of the schemes use it and I don't think the MkV ever used this kind of prop. It is also molded in a nice 'desert tan' color. (I've been told that it is an MDC prop for making a Seafire III. One of the benefits of buying kits at swap meets! ed)

No need to talk about the quality of the molding as it is superb and most typical of current Tamiya kits. One thing about the wings is that they not only have clearance bumps for the wheels, but also external stiffening strakes for the wings. Now apparently the B wing was weak in this area so after several wing failures, the strakes were added around early 1942. The C wing was made of thicker aluminum so didn't need these external reinforcements. If modeling an early Spit Vb, you need to remove these strakes. The instructions don't say anything about it, but those I've talked to with a later boxing of this kit says that Tamiya indicates their removal for at least one of the schemes. The wheel bumps are apparently standard, though in photos they are so slight as to be nearly invisible.

The kit offers as options the choice of regular or 'clipped' wing tips. You also have a choice of two types of filter; the Vokes or Aboukir, depending again on the plane you are modeling. There is also a fuel tank for the lower fuselage, but to my understanding, this was basically a ferry tank and rarely used in operations because of the drag that it induced. Finally, the canopy is separate and can be built in the open position along with adding the pilot figure.

Instructions are superb and except for Tamiya's irritating tendency to not tell you colors and having you mix them from Tamiya paints, are all one could want. Frankly, this lack of color information is inexcusable from a company like Tamiya. Decals are for two aircraft, both in Dark Earth and Midstone over Azure Blue (or, as Tamiya calls it; 2 drops of X-16, 10 drops of XF-2 and 5 drops of XF-18). One plane is a Vokes-filtered normal spanned plane from 417 sq while the other has the Aboukir filter and clipped wings with 601 squadron. Actually, the instructions state that you can do either UF*X or UF*F from this sheet, but gives no alternate serial number for UF*F. Apparently UF*F had white code letters. All of the insignia have white background decals to ensure no bleed-through of the paint and the proper density of the reds and yellows, a nice touch. The decals themselves are typical Tamiya in that they are a bit thick and should work fairly well. Use of setting solutions is at your own risk!



I really can't see how you can go wrong with this kit. It should be as simple to build as the Mk.I and be equally trouble-free. Basically, a typical modern Japanese 'shake and bake' kit.

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