|KIT:||ICM 1/48 Spitfire VII|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Spitfire VII (Type 351) was a more extensive re-design for high-altitude work and was the first of the Spitfire series intended to make use of the two speed Merlin 60 series of engines. These two-stage engines were coupled with a re-designed cooling system which showed itself in the enlarged air intake under the port wing matching that to starboard. The wing outline remained similar to that of the Spitfire VI but the ailerons were reduced in span. The chord and area of the rudder were increased and the elevator horn balance was extended. Structural changes were made to the fuselage to take the increased engine loads and a double-glaze sliding hood was fitted to the cockpit. The retractable tail wheel first developed for the Spitfire III was applied in production for the first time on the Mark VII and the universal C -type wing was employed. Maximum speed jumped by 44 mph to 408 mph and normal loaded weight climbed to 7,875 lbs.
Though an interesting aircraft, the truth is that not many were built. Just over 161 aircraft, some of them from Mk V airframes, were accepted by the RAF. These were divided amongst various high altitude flights and 123, 124, 131 and 616 Squadrons. Apparently one has survived and is part of the NASM collection.
You are probably thinking that you've seen this kit before. You'd be quite correct. The old ICM company went out of business and was purchased by ICM Holdings, which has reissued all the old catalogue and a few new ones to boot. The main difference is that ICM kits have not been as readily available as in the past few years, but this has changed with Testors importing them.
So, what is different about this one compared to the one of years gone by? Well, the biggest one I see is that the vast majority of the production problems are gone. I have looked at several of these kits and while all of them show some sink marks on the wing parts and prop blades, gone are the really horrid ones on the fuselage and the landing gear and just about everywhere else. Those still on the wings are concentrated at the aileron hinge line for the top and on the underside opposite some thick reinforcements near the radiator. The elevators also have some sink on the thickest parts as do the prop blades, but they are nowhere near as deep as before and are easily taken care of.
The other big difference is that the sprues for all of the non-bubble canopy kits are identical. You get the different rudders, elevators, wing tips, gun barrels, bombs, cannon fairings and such. This means that if you buy as Spit VII, you can do a VIII or IX from the kit, though the instructions only show the Mk. VII assembly and parts. The kit includes, as mentioned earlier, a complete engine, though if you show the engine, you won't be able to attach all the cowling panels as they just won't fit well. You can also show the gun bays open as guns are provided. A separate canopy allows the interior to be shown or you can use the one piece option. There is ordnance included as well as a centerline tank that was most often used for ferry purposes. None of these is needed in the Spit VII as it was strictly a fighter and used to intercept high flying German recce aircraft. In fact, the extended wing tips put additional stress on the airframe which made them incompatible with any sort of low level attack missions.
Markings in this kit are identical to what was offered in the past. Both options are Medium Sea Grey over Azure Blue and you get markings for a 131 Sq aircraft as shown on the box art, and one with D-Day stripes from 124 Sq. Both are from 1944. The sheet itself includes full data markings for one plane. The red and blue are a bit off register and I found one of the roundels had the blue smeared. Trimming with take care of both of these situations. I have also found ICM decals to require additional preparation to keep from silvering. Basically, trim each decal right up to the edge so there is no clear decal film. The back of the box shows a full color painting and marking guide using Humbrol colors.
It is nice to have these kits back and generally available. If your hobby shop doesn't have them, they can order them in. ICM Spitfires are still the most accurate in this scale and well worth the effort to build them. There are a number of aftermarket detail sets for these as well.
Thanks to and DLV Company for the review kit. You can find ICM kits at your favorite hobby shop
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