Tamiya 1/72 Spitfire I






Two aircraft


Scott Van Aken




The Spitfire is one of those aircraft that will forever go down as one of the great aircraft of all time. Hailed as the plane that won the Battle for Britain (actually, it was the Hurricane, but never mind), it was one of few aircraft that was in continual production from the start to the end of the war. (Another was the Bf-109; what were the others?). The aircraft went through continual modification. So much so that the final Spitfires had nothing in common with the first ones other than the name.

However, it is the early mark Spitfires, the I and very similar II that have gotten all the press. And why not. It is a sleek design that just oozes speed. Its elliptical wings (actually borrowed from Heinkel designs) are a trademark of this neat little fighter. The exploits of those who flew it are legendary, with many of Britain's great aces flying the aircraft at one time or another. Very few early Spits exist and none are flying. As some of you may know, there is an organization in Germany that is currently doing new build Fw-190s and Ar-96s. Can new build Spitfire Is be far away?


It is no secret that Tamiya has embarked upon a plan to reduce most if not all of their 1/48 kits to 1/72. For most of us, this is welcome news. Tamiya kits are probably the pinnacle of mass produced models and to see the superb 1/48 models brought down to 1/72 is good news indeed. The only caveat is that these kits come at a price. Currently, they seem overexpensive, however, I can recall blanching at spending $24.00 for a 1/48 Hasegawa F-4 Phantom II when they first came out. Now that seems cheap. We'll have to let the market decide. If you can't bear to spend the bucks, then I can highly recommend the Airfix Spitfire I. It is probably the best of the rest, and at a much cheaper price!

Like the Bf-109E that I reviewed earlier, when you open the box, you wonder where the rest of the kit is. Well, for the Spit, this is it. There really are not that many parts to the kit, just like its 1/48 cousin. There are no options save the choice of canopy. Others have claimed that these are too flat, but I'll have to hold off judgment until I build the kit. Three of them are provided, though only two are shown as being an option for this kit. I suspect that the other is for the Spifire V that will soon be issued.

As with other Tamiya kits, everything is well detailed and perfect. Also like other Tamiya 1/72 kits, there is no option for lowered flaps. This is not a big deal for the Spit as they were rarely shown lowered on the ground except for maintenance. In fact, pilots were fined for keeping them down. Having them lowered reduced the effectiveness of the radiators and caused them to be damaged by stones thrown up by the prop blast and wheels.

Instructions are perfect, as one would expect. Let me rephrase that to almost perfect. Tamiya keeps insisting on using paint mixes and Tamiya-only paint references. I have no problem with the latter, but find it exceedingly odd that they don't give the common name for colors. I'd like to see a listing for RAF Interior Green instead of, or in addition to, "XF-5 :1, XF-21:3, XF-65:1".

There are decals provided for two aircraft. Both are shown as Dark Green and Dark Earth over Sky. DW*O is from 601 Squadron, while QJ*B is from 92Sq. The latter aircraft has one wing pained black and, though it doesn't say in the instructions, is the mount of RAF ace Robert Stanford-Tuck. Tamiya decals are a bit thick and a bit translucent as well. If you use them, you MUST use warm to hot water to dip them in. This softens the decals and vastly improves their ability to snuggle down into panel lines and such.

It really is a superb model and will undoubtedly build into a superior kit. I expect to see a lot of these at model shows in the coming year!

Review copy courtesy of your free-spending editor!

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