Pacific Coast 1/32 Spitfire XIVc/e

KIT #: 32015
PRICE: $69.95 SRP
DECALS: Seven options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


            Development of the Spitfire to use the more powerful Rolls‑Royce Griffon engine began in late 1940 with the Type 337. The airframe involved extensive modification to absorb the additional power; at one time it flew with a mockup of no less than three 20mm cannon in each wing.  Before the prototype, DP845, flew, it was designated the Spitfire XX to distinguish it from the P.R. Mk. IV.  Plans that only XX‑series Spitfires would be Griffon‑powered were changed when the interim Mk. XII and Mk. XIV types were introduced. 

     In order to gain further experience with the Griffon‑61, six Mk. VIII airframes were modified.  Experience with these showed it would be possible to create a Griffon-powered high‑altitude air superiority fighter in a faster time frame than envisioned with the Spitfire XXI; this was designated the Spitfire XVIII.  However, by mating the Griffon-65 with 2.050 h.p. to a beefed-up Mk. VIII airframe the way the Merlin‑61 had been mated to the Spitfire V, a Griffon-powered air superiority fighter could be created even more quickly (as happened with the Spitfire VIII and IX).  Thus, the third major development of the Spitfire again saw the “interim” type produced in larger numbers and used more widely than the versions developed specifically to use the more powerful engine.

     The first squadron to re-equip with the new type was 610, a former RAuxAF squadron commanded by Squadron Leader Dickie Newbery, which had been among the first squadrons equipped with the original Spitfire.  610 moved to Exeter to take their  Mk. XIVs, which arrived January 4, 1944 and were equipped with the “C” wing.  The squadron entered a long work‑up period to get used to this very different Spitfire, in which the prop rotated the opposite of all previous Spitfires and required judicious application of throttle and with full-right rudder and aileron on takeoff to avoid a torque roll, given the fact the Griffon-65 provided nearly 50 percent more power than the previous Merlin-powered Spitfires; Steve Hinton has told me that when flying a Griffon Spitfire with the 5-blade prop, the throttle cannot be opened more than 3/4 power until lift-off or the torque will throw the airplane on its back.  Additionally, the new type was far more nose‑heavy which required different flying techniques for aerobatics than the Spitfires the pilots were used to.

            While 610 was working up, 91 Squadron exchanged their Spitfire XIIs for Spitfire XIVs in February, while the Dutch 322 Squadron re-equipped in early March.  On March 7, 1944, 610 gave the Spitfire XIV its blooding when P/O Hussey and F/Sgt Harding were vectored on to three Fw-190 Jabos off the Devon coast and gave chase; the combat resulted only in a claim for one “damaged,” but the pilots had found that the Spitfire XIV would outperform and out-maneuver the radial-engined Fw-190 at low level.  With slow deliveries, 610 was only fully equipped with the new type by mid-April, and gave a public display of their new mounts in mid‑May 1944.  With 91 and 322 quickly becoming fully-equipped, the Exeter Wing managed a few fighter sweeps before D‑Day.

    The Spitfire XIV was intended to provide high altitude air superiority, to complement the medium‑altitude Tempest V.  Both types saw their entry into air combat over the Continent following D‑Day delayed by the deployment of the Fi‑103 “buzz bomb,” the first of which exploded in England two days after the invasion.  It was quickly ascertained that the best defense against these robots were standing patrols by the fastest Allied fighters.  Over the course of the anti‑diver campaign, which only ended when the launch sites in Belgium were overrun by the Allied armies in September 1944, the Spitfire XIV emerged as the most successful of all Spitfire types in destroying the “buzz bombs,” being flown by two wings at the time, with a third re‑equipping just at the end of the campaign.  Among the “Diver aces” was 610's leader, Dickie Newbery, who scored seven V-1s.

     The Mk. XIV arrived on the Continent at about the same time the Luftwaffe re‑equipped with the Fw‑190D‑9.  The Spitfire XIV had superior performance above 25,000 feet, but most fights over the Western Front were occurring at lower altitudes, though the Spitfire XIV retained tha ability to turn inside both the Fw-190d-9 and the Bf-109G-10 and K-4.  Thus, as had been the case with the Spitfire since the first introduction of the Fw‑190, the new version just maintained superiority over the latest 190, with pilot quality (declining for the Germans) being the deciding element.  The Spitfire XIVs were based at Volkel, Holland, from the fall of 1944 until the Rhine crossing in March 1945, providing air superiority cover for 21st Army Group on the Western Front.  Their primary enemy was JG 26, the Schlageter Geschwader.

     By V‑E Day, 20 RAF squadrons were equipped with the Spitfire XIV in Europe, and the type had arrived in the Southeast Asia Theater by the late Spring of 1945.  While Spitfire squadrons quickly re‑equipped with the new airplane, the Pacific War came to a fast end before they could enter combat.


            There have been three Spitfire XIV kits released in 1/72 scale and two, by Academy and Hobbycraft, in 1/48.  None have been entirely “right.”  This kit by Pacific Coast Models is the first injection-molded Spitfire XIV in 1/32, and is the only Spitfire XIV kit in any scale to get the external dimensions and lines right.

             As with other PCM limited-release kits, the model is relatively simple in production design, with a nicely-detailed cockpit and good decals by Cartograf for several different aircraft. After the release of the Tamiya Spitfire IX, some modelers said that the PCM kits were superfluous, but in fact I can sit my Tamiya Spitfire IX next to my PCM Spitfire IX, and from a distance greater than a foot there are no obvious external differences.  Yes, the Tamiya kit has greater detail, but the PCM kit is entirely acceptable, and this one is too.  Given that Tamiya is going to be involved over the next few years with the release of a later-version P-51D, the P-51B/C and the “next big thing” (smart money is betting on an F4U-1 Corsair series), this Griffon Spitfire from PCM is going to be what’s there for Spitfire modelers who tire of doing the hyper-expensive Tamiya Merlin-60 series fighters.

             The kit has the best prop blades for a Griffon Spitfire I have seen in an injection-molded kit.  The radiators are the proper size and shape (which has been problematic with other kits).

            The one complaint I have is that the profiles were created by the well-known Richard Caruana, who makes his usual lazy mistakes.  Most prominently, he completely botches the Spitfire XIVe flown by Ginger Lacey, opting to create the restored 1980s warbird originally flown by The Fighter Collection at Duxford and today owned by Cinema Air in Texas.  For the record, Lacey’s airplane was not in Dark Earth and Dark Green, and did not have clipped wingtips.  As with all other “high-back” Spitfire XIVs sent to SEAC, the airplane was in the standard Dark Green/Ocean Grey/Sea Grey Medium, with the standard European national insignia overpainted in Dark Green.  This is obvious to anyone who takes five minutes to look at the several pictures available of this airplane.  The other markings options are all accurate and provide markings for several well-known airplanes.  The decals, which were not designed by Caruana, are excellent and accurate for all the aircraft provided.

             Additionally, the seat is based on that from the Hasegawa 1/32 kit, which is too big.  If that’s important to you, it can be cut down, or replaced with a resin seat from either Greymatter figures or Barracuda Studios.  I personally have never been put off by the seats in my Hasegawa 1/32 kits or the PCM Spitfire IX, which also uses that seat.


          While this kit is limited-run, it fits together very well.  After cleaning up all the joints and with careful assembly, I only needed a very thin coat of Tamiya Surfacer on the centerline seam and wing-fuselage joints to get everything nice and smooth.

             I started by assembling the wing.  I had a left-over long barrel cannon from a Tamiya kit, and used that as a replacement for the kit part, though the kit part would have been entirely acceptable had I not had that.

             I painted the cockpit parts with Tamiya “Cockpit Green,” which is actually “Mitsubishi interior green,” and also a very good match for British “Interior Grey-Green.”  I painted the details, and gave everything a light coat of Tamiya “smoke” to simulate oil stains and to “pop out” detail, then assembled the cockpit and closed up the fuselage.

            After attaching the wing and fuselage sub-assemblies, I attached the horizontal stabilizers.  I cut off the elevators so they could be posed drooped. 



            I first pre-shaded the model with airbrushed flat black.  The spinner and the fuselage band were painted with Tamiya “J.A. Grey” a greenish-grey close to Sky that was very close to the color of the ID letters, and painted the leading edges of the wings with Tamiya Flat Yellow.  These areas were masked off and the lower surface was painted with Tamiya “RAF Sea Grey Medium,” while the upper surfaces were painted with Tamiya “RAF Ocean Grey” and “RAF Dark Green,” new colors that came out with the release of the Spitfire uberkits.  I finished off with a coat of Xtracrylix Gloss.

            The kit decals were used and presented no problems, other than they are thin and must be initially applied with a lot of water on the model surface until you get the decal in position, though you do not want to use much water at all when applying the wingwalk markings.  I then blotted the water with tissue paper and applied a light coat of Micro-Sol, which put everything down very nicely.


            Photos of this airplane show it very clean and polished.  I applied a 50-50 mixture of Xtracrylix Flat and Satin varnishes, then gave light exhaust stains on the side of the fuselage and light oil stains on the underwing center section, using Tamiya “Smoke.”

            I attached the prop blades, the fish-tail exhausts, and the landing gear, then unmasked the canopy.  I posed the sliding section open and attached the side opening access door.


            This kit is definitely the best Spitfire XIV released by anyone.  It is nice and simple, and builds into an excellent model with a moderate amount of “some modeling skill required”.  The model looks very nice sitting next to my Greymatter Conversions Spitfire XII, XVIII and 24 models, and has no problem being compared to the finished Tamiya Spitfires as regards its looks.

             A modeler should be aware that most of the aircraft markings options are for Spitfire XIVe airplanes, which involves some extra work on the wing to close up the outer machine gun openings and also to modify the inner 20mm opening to the other side.  Check your sources for which airplanes are which sub-type.

     Highly recommended for those who like the Griffon Spitfires.

Tom Cleaver

September 2011

Review kit courtesy of Pacific Coast Models.  Order yours at    

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page