Academy 1/48 Spitfire XIV

KIT #: 2161
PRICE: $18.75
DECALS: Several options
REVIEWER: Fernando Rolandelli
NOTES: Academy’s grossly inaccurate fuselage needs replacement if you are so inclined; otherwise, builds up nice.


Supermarine Spitfire F Mk XIVc, RM787, Wing Commander Colin Gray, Lympne, September/October 1944. 

The Spitfire F.XIV was the result of mating the fuselage of the Mk VIII and the two speed, two-stage supercharged Griffon 61 or 65 at 2.050 hp, driving a five-blade propeller. It weighed 8.500 pounds, a full thousand more than the IX. Fuselage was lengthened by 32 in, and they were the firsts to show the distinctive “cranked” firewall. Fuel tanks were incorporated into the wing’s leading edges, to cope with a slightly reduced main tank capacity (the oil tank had been repositioned behind the firewall) and the increased thirst of the Griffon. The throttle was also modified, increasing the arc of movement, vertical tail surface was bigger and the radiator ducts were widened (both had a radiator element, complemented by an intercooler under the starboard and the oil cooler under the port wing). First seria had a “c” armament of two 20 mm Hispanos and four .303 Brownings, but later ones had an “e” armament of two of the former combined to two .50s of the later. Bubbletops had invariably this later armament.

Though it was seen as an “interim” version, pending development of the “definitive” F.21, the F.XIV was certainly one of the finest air-superiority fighters of the day, easily surpassing the Bf 109G and Fw 190A, having an overall advantage over the Mk IX and complementing perfectly the Tempest.

One of twin New Zealander brothers entering the RAF in 1937 as officer pilots, Colin Gray survived the war to publish, in 1990, “Spitfire Patrol”, as his autobiography. An ace credited by Christopher Shores with 27.7 victories, he wasn’t too serious about that, stating “they were mostly just claims”. His last victories occurred on July 25th, 1943, in the MTO, when he bagged two Ju 52 in a Spit IX, as 81st Sq. leader. Later, he went on to command 322nd Wing (41, 130 and 610 Sqns), where he flew RM787. There is a picture of this very machine in the Ventura book, “Spitfire, the ANZACS”


-         The base of the kit is the excellent Aeroclub Spitfire F.21 fuselage, mated to the wings as well as the small pieces in the Academy FR Mk XIVe. Aeroclub radiators were used, as Academy’s are misshapen.

-         Interior was provided by an Aires set for the Spit Mk IX.

-         Canopy is an Aeroclub vacuformed.

-         Paints are Xtracolors through and through

-         Specific decals (serials and codes) were taken from Superscale sheet no., while roundels were sourced from Eagle Strike generic sheets.


Though hardly a non-eventful assembly, the Aeroclub fuselage and Academy wings can be mated without undue trouble; in fact, they assemble better than many kits! The Aires cockpit needed some coercion, and the fuselage halves to be thinned with a Dremel, but the results are worth of the effort. You cannot use the excellent Eduard Spit XIV PE set “as is”, because, made for the Academy fuselage, it is way too deep for the Aeroclub’s, though of course you could adapt it. The single canopy included in the conversion set is like smallish, and having a spare always reassuring, so I used another, an Aeroclub vac made for the Spit IX; a lot of cleaning up of the cockpit lips has to be made. I also used the “round” exhausts stacks present in Hasegawa’s Spit IX kits, duly hollowed out; I glued them after painting, providing a plastic sheet backing in the inside of the fuselage. Propeller is a hair-raising affair: you cannot glue the blades to the backplate and then glue the spinner. You have to first glue spinner and backplate and later carefully glue the blades, keeping the incidence angle by eyeball. Nope, the Quickboost prop (which includes a clever jig for assembly) cannot be used: it is mated to the Academy fuselage. The usual R/T inspection door, present on the left side of the fuselage, should be erased and replaced by a similar one on the right side. The fuselage surface was cleaned up and polished.

Compared to that, the wings were a breeze, even considering the replacing of the radiators. The mounts of the Academy radiator housings was severed and glued to the recesses on the wings. Then, the Aeroclub housings were glued in position. Ah, the Aeroclub radiator faces were adapted to the smaller baths in the Academy wing. This wing has been criticized as inaccurate, especially in profile, as well as in surface detail. Certainly, it seems a bit thin in profile, wheel wells are a bit shallow (a problem common to many kits) and it lacks some surface detail, like the proper underwing little bulges (in this model they were made from Parsecs epoxy), but IMHO it fills the bill. It has to be said that Hasegawa’s Spit IX’s is much better, though, and using it should improve the looks of the final model. But in this way you can use at least part of the Academy kits you bought in that overly optimistic mood!


Interior parts were painted in Interior Grey-Green, from the Xtracolor range. Though later Spit cockpits were painted Black, there is no indication than this one, being an early series XIV, had anything else.

A standard Day Fighter Scheme machine, the exterior was painted in DG/OG/MSG, also from the Xtracolor range. The Sky band and the remnants of the invasion bands were painted first and masked (the Black in the latter was mixed with a bit of Sand, for scale effect). Weathering was achieved by the combination of extensive preshading, lighter postshading and some stains by oils washes and airbrushing a dark concoction. I went relatively light on this, for the model represents a Wing Commander’s mount, usually clean and polished.

Gloss varnish coats were applied in preparations for decals. After these, I use to even out the shines with an acrylic gloss coat, which has the benefit of being impervious to oils and washes. Subsequent acrylic flat varnish coats were mixed with an artist’s flattening fluid, which, if pushed enough, renders a truly dead flat look. Not on this model, for much the same reasons as above.

Decals were sourced from generic Eagle Strike roundel sheets, while the codes and serials came from an old Superscale sheet. Both performed flawlessly.


An aircraft both handsome and powerful-looking, it is a shame that the modeler has to make such a mix-n-match of different items to get an acceptably accurate model. Academy kit is really hopeless: it builds up fine, but looks nothing like the original. Some pictures of the Aeroclub and Academy fuselages put together are included to further illustrate the futility of undertaking any correction work on the later by itself. On the other side, the look of the Aeroclub pieces is very crude and possibly frightening, but the results are worth the pain.


 -         “Spitfire, the ANZACS”, Ventura Publications

-         “Supermarine Spitfire: the Griffon powered variants”, SAM Publications.

-         “Spitfire at War”, Ian Allan.

-         “Combat Legend: Spitfire Mk. VI- F.24”, Peter Caygill, Crowood Publications

Fernando Rolandelli

November 2010

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