Airfix 1/72 Spitfire PR.XIX
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New mold kit|
The Spitfire was not only an excellent short range fighter, but it was also one of the best photo recce aircraft that the RAF operated. This was especially true for tactical reconnaissance where speed was of major importance. Get the pictures and get back! The final version of the aircraft developed for reconnaissance duties was by general consent the best, the Spitfire PR19. This version saw extensive service after the war in a number of theatres. This version built on all the lessons learnt from previous aircraft, combining the wing of the PR 11 containing 66-gallon leading edge fuel tanks and potential camera installation and was powered by the 2000hp Griffon 65 series engine used in the Mk14. The total internal fuel capacity of the PR19 was 252 gallons, although there was the option of also carrying a 90 gal or 170 gal drop tank, the added drag virtually outweighed the benefit and it was rarely carried.
The camera installation was fairly similar to that used for the Mk 11. Within the fuselage were mounted various cameras, either two fanned or a single F52 36in vertical, two fanned F52 20in vertical or two fanned F24 14in vertical and one F24 14in or 8in oblique. The fuselage cameras were heated by warm air ducted from behind the starboard radiator. Additional cameras could also be carried in the wings in place of the inter-spar fuel tanks and these were also heated by warm ducted air. The installation of a full pressure cabin made life much more comfortable for the pilot during freezing high altitude, long endurance reconnaissance sorties that the type was occasionally tasked with performing. The last operational flight made by any RAF Spitfire was flown by a PR 19 over Malaya on 1 Apr 1954. That happens to be the box art plane and one of the markings options in this kit.
I like Spitfires. I dare say that there are few who do not. Now while I'm not as obsessive as some, I do like the kits I buy to be as true to the real ones as possible. This new kit from Airfix seems to have done a lot right when it comes to this aircraft. The kit is molded in China (and what isn't nowadays) with engraved panel lines that seem a bit overdone for this scale, but I'm sure that the usual 'coat of paint' will lessen the effect. It has few options, one of those being raised landing gear with a suitable piece for the closed tail wheel doors.
The kit sports a full cockpits with fore and aft bulkheads, a correct floor, a seat and control stick. The pilot figure is nicely done with separate arms. Clear inserts are provided for the lower wing and fuselage camera openings. No cameras are provided. The main landing gear legs are molded into the gear doors, providing a very sturdy construct. The one-piece canopy is the correct version for a PR Spit. I should also mention that there is gull under the wing, something many companies have missed over the years. It seems a tad shallow, but then I could easily be wrong about that.
Instructions are huge. In fact, the kit is wrapped up in the large instruction sheet. Usual Humbrol-only paint numbers with no clue as to what the shades actually are. This, to me, is a major bad thing that Airfix and other companies do to modelers. The painting and decal placement guide is an equally large full color sheet with markings for each of the two options on either side of the paper. One is the box art plane from 81 Squadron in Malaya in 1954. This basically anonymous plane is in PRU Blue with upper surfaces in Medium Sea Grey. The other is a Swedish plane from 1955 with Flotilla 11. It is in overall PRU Blue. The small decals sheet is superbly done. It looks as good as any aftermarket sheet and hopefully will be in the vanguard of the end of substandard Airfix decals.
I have already built a PR.XIX using the Fujimi kit, but on the assumption that one can't have enough Spits, and when I saw this was available, I picked it up. It is way less expensive than the Fujimi or even MPM kit and should build into a very nice model.
Of course, you can thank your altruistic editor for picking this one up.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
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