Airfix 1/48 Seafire F. XVII
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The Seafire F Mk XVII was essentially a modified Mk XV; the most important change was the reinforced main undercarriage which used longer oleos and a lower rebound ratio. This went some way towards taming the deck behaviour of the Mk XV, reduced the propensity of the propeller tips "pecking" the deck during an arrested landing, and the softer oleos stopped the aircraft from occasionally bouncing over the arrestor wires and into the crash barrier. Most production XVIIs had the cut down rear fuselage and teardrop canopy (the windscreen was modified to a rounded section, with narrow quarter windows, rather than the flat windscreen used on Spitfires) and an extra 33 gallon fuel tank fitted in the rear fuselage. In addition the wings were reinforced, with a stronger main spar necessitated by the new undercarriage, and they were able to carry heavier under wing loads than previous Seafire variants. 232 of this variant were built by Westland (212) and Cunliffe-Owen(20).
This one is just like every other new Airfix kit that has been released in the last couple of years. The kit has crisp, engraved detail that may be a bit much for some, but looks fine to me. The grey plastic sprues have medium size sprue gates. Again these may be a bit large for some, but they do pretty well ensure that pieces won't fall off the sprues during shipment. The clear bits are separately bagged and it comes with a large and colorful decal sheet.
You might look at what's in the box and think "that's a lot of parts for a simple plane like the Seafire", and you'd be right. This is because Airfix has incorporated a lot of options in with this kit and those options take up space. The biggest one is that you have separate assemblies for both folded and straight wings. I hate having to piece together wing sections when I don't want the folded option and with this kit I don't have to. Other optional bits are separate canopies for the open and closed position, different types of drop tank, different wheels and within that, you can choose a set that is 'flattened' or not. You can build it with gear up if you wish and there are different bits for that. You can also build it with the flaps down. It may be that this would be uncommon as I recall that lowered flaps cause quick overheating engines due to radiator blocking. But it is provided if you wish. The ailerons and separate and so is the rudder. The elevators are one piece covering both sides and separate from the horizontal stabs. Again, check photos as I'm thinking perhaps the controls may have been spring loaded into the neutral position. I should mention that the kit has both compressed and extended struts in case you wish to do a 'coming in for landing' build.
If that is not enough for you, a most complete and nicely detailed cockpit is provided. Instrument panel is raised details and while I'd like to have seen a face decal along the lines of Tamiya and Hasegawa, one is not provided. What is provided is a three piece pilot if you wish to hide much of that detail. Of course, the side door can be posed open. There is detail inside the folded wings so no bare blanking plate for you. The only external weapons are a set of paired rockets.
The large and colorful decal sheet provides markings for three planes. Two are in Extra Dark Sea Grey over Beige Green (which has to be mixed). These are from 800 NAS in 1947 (box art) and the other with a higher fuselage demarcation line, is from 1832 NAS RNVR in 1950. This latter plane has the later roundels. In Extra Dark Sea Grey/Dark Slate Grey over Beige Green, with yellow bits on the wings and elevators, is an aircraft from the Air Warfare School, also in 1947. The Extra Dark Sea Grey soon faded to just Dark Sea Grey after a few months of exposure. The decal sheet is superbly printed by Cartograf so is as good as any aftermarket sheet. It also includes full data markings and a wing walk decal. Instructions are well done with easy to understand construction drawings, but still with only Humbrol paint numbers for most of the build, some colors need to be mixed.
Hey, I like it so it must be a great kit. Naturally, the Spitexperts are already whining about basically inconsequential things, but unless you have terminal AMS, you'll be quite pleased, especially at its most reasonable SRP. Seriously, this is as good if not better than their earlier Seafire FR.46/47 and F.20/22 kits. If you have those, then you must have this one to add to the collection.
Thanks to me for picking this one up.
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