Airfix  1/72 Spitfire I/II

KIT #: A02010
PRICE: $7.99 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit


Most of us know about the first version of the Spitfire. Here is a brief look at the Mark II.

In the summer of 1939 an early Mk I K9788 was fitted with a new version of the Merlin, the XII. With the success of the trial it was decided to use this version of the Merlin in the Mk II which, it was decided, would be the first version to be produced exclusively by the huge new Lord Nuffield shadow factory at Castle Bromwich.

Chief among the changes was the upgraded 1,175 horsepower (876 kW) Merlin XII engine. This engine included a Coffman engine starter, instead of the electric system of earlier and some later versions of the Merlin, and it required a small "teardrop" blister on the forward starboard cowling. The Merlin XII was cooled by a 70% to 30% water glycol mix, rather than pure glycol used for earlier Merlin versions.

In early 1940 Spitfire Is of 54 and 66 Squadrons were fitted with Rotol manufactured wide-bladed propellers of 10 ft 9 in (3.27 m) diameter, which were recognizable by a bigger, more rounded spinner: the decision was made that the new propeller would also be used exclusively by the Mk II. This engine/propeller combination increased top speed over the late Mk I by about 6-7 mph below 17,000 feet (5,200 m), and improved climb rate. Due to all of the weight increases maximum speed performance was still lower than that of early Mk Is, but combat capability was far better. The Mk II was produced in IIA eight-gun and IIB cannon armed versions. Deliveries were very rapid, and they quickly replaced all remaining Mk Is in service, which were then sent to Operational Training Units. The RAF had re-equipped with the new version by April 1941.The Rotol propeller units were later supplemented by de Havilland constant-speed units similar to those fitted to Mk Is.

A small number of Mk IIs were converted to "Long Range" Spitfires in early 1941. These could be recognized by the fixed 40 gal (182 l) fuel tank which was fitted under the port wing. With a full tank maneuverability was reduced, maximum speed was 26 mph (42 km/h) lower and the climb rate and service ceiling were also reduced. Several squadrons used this version to provide long-range bomber escort. Once the Mk II was taken out of front line service, 50 of them were converted for air-sea rescue work, at first under the designation Mk IIC (type 375) but later referred to as the A.S.R Mk II. The Merlin XII was replaced by the Mark XX, a "rescue pack" was fitted in the flare chute and smoke marker bombs were carried under the port wing.

A total of 921 Mk IIs were built, all by Castle Bromwich. A small number of Mk IIs were converted to Mk Vs.


Late in previewing this one due to the lack of local availability, but I am quite pleased with the kit so the wait was worth it. I will mention that this, like all recent Airfix new tool kits has rather large engraved detail. The options are to whine about it, fill it in, or just enjoy the kit as it comes.

One is provided with a nicely detailed kit with a number of optional bits that were not available on the earlier, but still nice near-snap Mk I. As you can guess from the history section, this does include bits to make a Mk.II which is basically a Rotol prop, blunter spinner and the bulge for the Coffman Starter. One does have to drill out the placement hole for the latter prior to starting construction.

You also get a nicely done cockpit with a decal for the instruments. The two bottles for what I guess are pneumatic cylinders for some of the various systems are included, something not found in most other injected Spitfire kits. Sidewall detail is also nicely done, considering that the canopy bits are one-piece. For those wanting to do a very early Mk. I, you have the two bladed prop and the flat topped canopy. Most Mk. Is will be using the deHavilland prop and more pointed spinner as well as the bulged canopy. Though no stand is provided, it is available from Hornby so a wheels up option is included, using separate bits for this. Speaking of landing gear, the main gear legs are molded with the doors and five spoke wheels are provided.

Instructions are nicely done using only Humbrol paint number references. Markings options are for two planes both in Green/Earth upper surface camouflage. One is a Mk. I from 19 Squadron in August 1938. This has a black/white underside with the color demarcation line straight down the centerline of the fuselage. Control surfaces are aluminum dope on the underside. The other is a Mk.II from 118 Squadron in May of 1941 with the Sky underside and Sky Blue tail band and spinner. Decals are well printed and previous experience with these sorts of decals has been good. There are full color painting instructions provided.


I like it. It is an inexpensive kit that provides a lot of options and previous new tool Airfix kits have built quite well with minimal fuss. Since this is now a series 2 kit, you get two markings options and a regular box. There are already quite a few aftermarket bits and decals for this kit so you should have no troubles doing something you really like.


My thanks to, well, me for my patience in waiting for Hornby USA to finally get enough in to fill the LHS' long outstanding order.

January 2012

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