Airfix 1/48 Spitfire I

KIT #: A05126
PRICE: $24.95 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


One of the few aircraft to remain in production from the beginning of the war to the end, the Supermarine Spitfire gained popular acclaim during the Battle of Britain as its pilots bravely fought against the Luftwaffe during the Summer of 1940. Ignoring the fact that the Hurricane was the more numerous of the two and that it did most of the bomber interception, the Spitfire is the one that strikes our fancy of 'the few' who fought during those perilous time.

Designed about the same time as it's adversary, the Bf-109, the Spitfire was a much more elegant aircraft; full of curves where the 109 was all angles. This curvaceous design also meant that it was more difficult to construct and repair, but gave it excellent maneuverability compared to the faster 109E.

Like the 109, the Spitfire was designed as a point defense fighter and not a longer range bomber escort. The Spitfire I and II was never fitted with the bulky long range drop tanks as eventually was the 109E since most combat between the two occurred over British territory and bases. Subsequent Spitfire designs changed that and the Spitfires of 1945, while still obviously a Spitfire, had no parts in common with the 1939 versions.


As usual, our LHS seems to be one of the last ones to get in new Airfix kits. This is entirely because they are shipped from the UK, through the Panama Canal, to Los Angeles, to Hornby USA, to the various distributors and then back east across the country, back towards it point of origin.

The kit has a lot of parts and multiples of all sorts of things. Three different props, three different windscreens, three different canopies, three different upper rear cowling sections, two different exhaust, and two different spinners. The kit can be built wheels up so separate gear doors, one set with partial struts installed for the gear up option. A stand is an extra, but I'm glad Hornby has them for those who want to buy them.

Other options are the ability to have all the gun access panels removed to show the wing mounted weapons. The builder will need to cut open the access doors, but the kit includes spares. One can also have the cockpit door open. This includes a crowbar, which I understand is not correct for early Spits. The cockpit canopy can be posed open if one wishes and there are parts where the canopy is molded with the rear clear section for the closed option. To use this latter option, the fuselage area will need to be trimmed. One can also install an armored headrest. The instructions dictate which markings option uses which of the optional bits so one pretty well has to know what is being built before starting.

The cockpit is very nicely detailed with all he various bits and pieces one needs. There is plenty of sidewall detail and one can install armor with the seat. My seat center section was rather oddly warped so it will be interesting to see if I can get the seat together properly. The fore and aft bulkheads fit into the cockpit side sections making a strong tub. There are decals for the main instrument panel and the entire tub assembly then fits into the two fuselage halves. A pilot is provided so those not using one will have to find a harness somewhere.

One does built up the wheel wells with a circular insert for each well backed by a nice spar. The main gear legs attach to this separate spar. There is another to box in the gear well and short spar sections to fit outboard of the gear wells. There are eleven construction steps regarding the installation of the wing guns so those who wish to finish the kit faster, these can be skipped. Apparently gun barrels did not protrude from the wings as none are included.

Tailplanes are upper and lower, right and left sides with an insert. The elevators are a single piece so can be posed down. Separate also are the ailerons and the rudder. The large radiator has a separate cooling flap that can be posed down. Apparently Airfix has realized after all these decades that Spitfires do not have lowered flaps on the ground so those are not an option.

Apparently all three options have tubular exhaust and none of them use the Rotol prop. Two use the deHavilland and one the Watts. One of the final attachments is the radio mast. Two different styles are provided.

Instructions are very nicely done with the usual Humbrol only color numbers except for the overall camo and markings scheme. All are in green/brown uppers. The box art plane is with 602 Squadron in August 1940. This has a sky underside. The 19 Squadron plane has the Watts prop and black/white underside with aluminum painted lower control surfaces. Finally, with what looks like a zinc chromate yellow nose is a plane with 57 OTU in mid 1941. The decal sheet is very nicely printed and should provide no issues. There are LOTS of Spitfire I aftermarket sheets for those who want something different.

Nice to see this one. Lots of detail and while the molding isn't quite as crisp as Hasegawa or Tamiya it also isn't $40 and I'm sure this will sell very well. I know I plan on starting mine rather soon.

June 2015

Thanks to me for picking this one up.

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