PCM 1/32 Spitfire XVIe

KIT #: 32009
PRICE: $89.95 SRP
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Lee Kolosna
NOTES: Kit includes Cammett Ltd. resin conversion

The Spitfire XVI (sixteen) was a variant of the IX (nine) series that incorporated a US Packard-built Merlin engine. Most of these aircraft sported a cut-down rear fuselage section with a bubble canopy, pointed broad-chord rudder, and the “e” wing configuration containing a Browning .50 caliber machine gun inboard of a Hispano 20 mm cannon. Deployed to the European continent during the winter of 1944/45 and assigned the task of close air support, most XVIs sported clipped wings and bomb pylons underneath the wings. Note that “most” is the operative word here because the XVI was a rather confusing variant, first being referred to as a LF IX in Air Ministry records and sporting a variety of fuselage and wing configurations. Finally acquiescing to appeals from the operational units for a different designation in order to keep the spare parts from becoming intermingled with regular Mark IX aircraft (the American Merlin engine was sufficiently different that parts were not interchangeable with the Rolls Royce built Merlins used in regular IXs) the Air Ministry bestowed the mark number XVI on these Spitfires in August 1944.
RAF squadrons with the 2nd Tactical Air Force were kept segregated to keep all the XVIs together in order to simplify the supply lines. The Spitfire XVI became the primary air-to-ground instrument of the 2nd TAF until the end of the war, with Griffon engine powered Spitfire XIV (fourteen) taking the role of medium and high altitude air superiority. After the war, the XVI was phased out of the RAF mainline inventory in favor of later marks of Spitfire (21, 22, and 24), and were sold or given to the resurrected Greek, Belgian, and South African air forces, where they continued to operate until the early 1950s before being retired.

Pacific Coast Models worked with Sword in the Czech Republic to produce a set of 1/32 scale kits of the Spitfire IX. PCM issued “c” and “e” wing versions of the IX, which Tom Cleaver has previously reviewed here on Modeling Madness
. They followed the first two kits up with this ambitious XVIe offering which matches the IXe kit with a Cammet Ltd. resin conversion set that modifies the standard fuselage into a low-back variant with bubble canopy. Of course, Tamiya crashed the party about a year later by releasing a magnificent injection-molded XVI, so using the PCM kit to get a Spitfire XVI in this scale is now mostly an exercise in doing things the hard way.
In the box, you get a complete PCM IXe kit (including instructions, profiles, and decals) along with the Cammett Ltd. conversion set thrown in along with another set of color profiles and a large sheet of XVIe decals. Despite Tamiya’s alternative, the PCM kit still has a lot going for it. It is a limited run production model with a low number of parts and it includes a nicely detailed resin cockpit, two kinds of resin exhausts, resin wheel wells, two sets of wheels, and beautiful color photo-etch for the instruments, radiator screens, and pilot harness. The Cammet Ltd. conversion set provides a hefty solid resin rear fuselage section, two more sets of wheels, a clear resin bubble canopy, and small pieces for the headrest brackets.
Here are a few of points for the modeler’s attention:
Being a limited-production model kit means no alignment pins, relatively thick sprue gates, some flash to clean up, and so-so fit. The wing root is particularly problematic, so expect to spend time there filling a large gap. The horizontal stabilizers attach with a butt joint and are slightly thicker than the attachment points on the fuselage. The pointed rudder is also thicker than the rear tail fin.
Due to the Tamiya offering, this PCM kit will probably disappear into the bowels of the stashes for the few hundred modelers who originally purchased it, like I did. It’s currently out of production and I don’t expect it will ever be released again. That said, it still is a worthwhile project: it is about 40 bucks cheaper than Tamiya’s kit, has less parts to mess with (no engine), and builds up to a nice replica of a lesser-known variant of the Spitfire.

The first order of business is to hack away at the Mark IX fuselage pieces according to the instructions in the Cammett Ltd. conversion set. These cuts are on existing panel lines and are pretty easy to do with a razor saw. Having built the PCM IXc kit a couple of years ago, I knew that getting the cockpit together and properly wedged inside was a little tricky, so I used a different sequence: first I painted all the parts Polly Scale British Interior Green and did the necessary drybrushing and wash application to insure the details stood out. The resin seat was painted Polly Scale Panzer Red Brown with a black leather padding. I then glued the rear bulkhead, head armor, and seat to the large resin rear fuselage piece and added the photo etch harness. I glued the resin side consoles to each front fuselage half. The instrument faces were sanded off the plastic instrument panel and the color photo-etch panels were added. The bottom of the instrument panel bulkhead was notched slightly so that the rudder pedal actuators would sit down flush with the bottom of the bulkhead. I stuck the instrument panel/rudder pedal actuator assembly loosely up into the cockpit and then clamped the two forward fuselage halves together and ran some plastic cement along the seams. After this was dry, I used CA glue to attach the plastic front fuselage section to the resin rear fuselage piece, paying very close attention to overall alignment. This left gaps at the joint, which were filled with CA glue and sanded smooth.
I glued in the resin wheel wells in the wing bottom and then glued the top halves on. The clipped wing tips were added and noted that these fit much better than the elliptical wing tips that I used on the earlier IXc build. I notched out the navigation lights and replaced them with clear red and clear green resin pieces that were sanded to match the wing profile and polished back to clarity. The radiators don’t fit well at all. I cut down the plastic inserts as well as the photo-etch screens in order to fit the actual space. This still left significant gaps around the outside of the radiator that had to be addressed by filling and sanding.
I knew from my prior experience that the wing attachment was going to be a challenge and this kit was no exception. I filed the wing root mating points enough to get the wing on with the proper dihedral angle and filled the gaps with thick CA glue. The biggest gap of about 2 mm was on the forward portion of the port wing. The gull wing insert was glued on and it too had gaps that had to be filled. The gun blast tubes were added and blended in with Mr. Surfacer and the barrels drilled out. The stubby machine gun blast tube face was filed down flat. I swiped the bomb pylons from a Tamiya Spitfire VIII kit and attached them to the underside of the wing.
The elevators were cut out of the horizontal stabilizer pieces so that I could pose them with the necessary downward deflection. This required a strip of sheet styrene to be added to the front of the elevator, which I sanded to a half round shape. I used a round file to fashion a notch in the rear of the stabilizer so it would mate with the round profile of the elevator. As stated above, the horizontal stabilizers are thicker than their attachment points and are a relatively weak butt join. I added a pin to help strengthen the joint and I beefed up the filet on the fuselage to make it match the stabilizer.
On my kit, the resin tail fin was short shot, so I grafted a piece of the discarded plastic tail onto it. The pointed rudder pieces were sanded down to make them less thick but I didn’t go far enough, so I attached it with a slight deflection angle to hide that mismatch. Like the elevators, I added sheet styrene to the front of the rudder and sanded it to a half found shape to mate with a notch filed into the back of the fin.
The windscreen was glued on and carefully faired into the surrounding fuselage. The fluted extensions to the framing were fashioned from very thin plastic card and added after sanding off the clunky kit depictions. I re-scribed the engraved panel lines lost in the sanding process and washed off all the dust in preparation for paint.
Because of the oversized roundels for the wing tops, the Canadian and RAF options were out. I decided to do aircraft TD321 (MN-J) from No. 350 Squadron of the Belgian Air Force as seen in Bassburg, Germany in 1946. It sported a standard day fighter scheme of Dark Green and Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey. I used Testors Acryl Neutral Gray FS36270 as a reasonable match for the undersides, with Polly Scale RAF Dark Green and Ocean Grey for the top colors. The topside camouflage pattern was sprayed freehand using my airbrush without any masks. The spinner was painted with Polly Scale Signal Red. A coat of Polly Scale clear gloss prepared the model for the decals which went on reasonably well; although as usual I had a number of markings that silvered and had to be dealt with. Repeated stabbings with a sharp X-acto knife tip followed by a flood of Micro Sol eliminated most of the offending silvering, but I did have to use Solvaset for the more stubborn decals.
Weathering was achieved first by applying a wash of Paynes Gray and Burnt Umber artist oils thinned with Turpenoid in all the panel lines. The camouflage paint was diffused by randomly spraying a highly thinned and lightened solution of the base color. Chalk pastels were used to portray the accumulated dirt on the wing roots, and the substantial paint wear seen on Belgian Spitfires was achieved by pecking away with a silver artist’s pencil followed by a light dry-brushing of Floquil Old Silver. The same artist’s oil wash was used to simulate the oily belly of the airplane. The engine exhaust stains were done by spraying a very thin red-brown and black mix, followed by a dusting of dark gray chalk pastels. More paint chipping was done on the leading edges of the prop blades and the wings. Note that Spitfire propeller blades were wooden with just a thin metal strip on the leading edge, so don’t go crazy with the simulated wear.
The prop was assembled, making sure everything was aligned properly. There is no real axle provided for the spinner, so it was glued onto the front of fuselage in a fixed position. I used the bulged landing gear doors from the Tamiya Spitfire VIII kit and attached them to the spindly struts. As mentioned earlier, I gave up on trying to make the oversized photo-etched torque links fit. The wheels went on with lots of fussing to get the proper slightly tipped in (positive camber) alignment. Because of the solid resin rear fuselage, this is quite a heavy model. The attachment point between the resin wheel well and the plastic strut really isn’t robust enough to stand any kind of repeated handing of the model. I ended up adding a pin between the two pieces for strength.
The rest of the fiddly bits (pitot tube, bomb brackets, signal lamp, tail wheel, cockpit door, gun sight, control stick) went on with the routine drama of dropped tiny parts resulting in long searches on my hands and knees underneath the work table, stray glue marks, and more than a few swear words. The whip antenna was made with fishing line. The rear view mirror was punched from a piece of shiny Mylar. A final coat of Polly Scale clear flat brought the model together under a unified finish. The canopy was tacked on in the open position with white glue and the model was done.
That is, until it fell it off my work table and crashed to the floor.
It was just a few hours old when the most unfortunate accident occurred and I found myself facing a model broken in two with the entire resin rear fuselage separated from the styrene front. The seat and bracket went flying off, as did the starboard horizontal stabilizer. The spinner, propeller, canopy, rear view mirror, and one landing gear assembly were also victims of the violent event.
Awww, fudge! Except I didn’t say “fudge”.
After I calmed down, I made an assessment of the damage and figured that I could get it mostly back together, but the markings were going to be a problem since the break point went right through the MN aircraft codes on both sides of the fuselage. After weighing my options, I elected to keep it as a Belgian Air Force aircraft rather than strip off all the markings and probably most of the paint if I picked another scheme.
It took a bit of creative work, but I managed to glue everything back together in more or less alignment, filled the seams around the break, repainted, and put new markings on. I decided to make a fictitious airplane with codes MR-J (taken from the JM-R scheme of SL721) and be done with it. The fin flash is still backwards. (Darn you, Richard Caruana!)


I expended 46 hours over six weeks to initially complete this model, with another six hours required to repair the damage from the accident. I like the PCM Spitfires very much and will most likely get the newly released XIV kit. What I like most about them is their overall simplicity, low parts count (I really have no interest in aircraft engines, which Tamiya includes in their much more expensive kit), nicely detailed resin cockpits, and high quality decals. I wish they would spend more time proofing their color markings profiles and decal artwork to avoid the sloppy mistakes that prevented me from doing an accurate aircraft.
As I have stated earlier, this model will most likely be relegated to an interesting footnote in 1/32 scale Spitfire kit history. It still makes for a very handsome model of a beautiful airplane and I enjoyed my time building it.

Humphreys, Robert: The Supermarine Spitfire, A Comprehensive Guide for the Modeller, Part 1: Merlin Powered, Modeller’s Datafile No. 4

Lee Kolosna

January 2012

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