Heller 1/72 Spitfire Mk. XVIc

Kit No.: Ref. 282)

Parts: 38 (3 transparencies, 35 gray styrene)

Detail: 8 (ascending scale 1-10)

Accuracy: 5 (ascending, 1-10); see review

(My apologies to Mike for putting one of my kit photos here as his article did not include any.  This is the Heller kit with decals from an unremembered source for a SAAF Spit XVI)

The Mk. XVIc is a bubble-canopied LF. Mk. IX with a Packard Merlin, pointed rudder and the 20mm/0.50 cal. armament. Another of Heller's Spitfire lineup, the Mk. XVIc deleted all the problems with the Mk. V and introduced one of its own. Detail is good on this kit, and the wings and fuselage fit well. Landing gear is also acceptable, with separate scissor links and well-detailed wheel hubs. Exhausts are separate, the cockpit transparencies are thin and distortion free, and the wing has the correct LF clipped-tip planform with outboard cannon and inboard 0.50 caliber machine guns (yes, 0.50 calibers!). The tailwheel - molded to the fuselage - is a little chunky in the yoke area, and some trimming and filing will help this.

The problem comes under the wing, when one notices that the radiator-oil cooler fairings are those from a Griffon Spitfire! Unless you put a Griffon nose and fin-rudder on this kit, the underwing fairings have to go. I suspect the reason for this flaw lies in the choice of Belgian postwar markings for one of the decal options. A picture of some Belgian natural-metal Mk. XIV's (visually close to XVI, the Roman numeral I mean) in Squadron/Signal's Spitfire In Action may have been the reason for this goof. The Matchbox Mk. IX/XVI offers separately molded underwing intake fairings and, being cheap, could provide the save to make this kit an accurate part of your 1/72 scale collection.

- Mike Still

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