With twice the horsepower of Spitfire prototype K5054 (2035hp as opposed to around 990) the XIV was the ultimate version of the superlative British fighter to see widespread service during World War Two. The XIV married a powerful Rolls-Royce Griffon to a strengthened airframe, including larger tail surfaces, which with a five-bladed propeller helped to absorb the power of the monster engine. The initial production aircraft featured the standard canopy and “high-back” fuselage, but later for better pilot visibility a “low-back”/bubble canopy combination was introduced, and along with clipped wings for tighter turns at low level the XIV reached its final form.
The new engine rotated in the opposite direction to the original Merlin, and as a result several were written off in take-off accidents. But despite such teething problems the XIV proved itself in combat and in use against the V-1 “doodlebug” bomb on so-called “Anti-Diver” missions. Later FR.XIV variants featured cameras so that the aircraft could perform the dual roles of fighter and reconnaissance platform.
Around half a dozen remain airworthy around the world, with more under restoration.
Three words: typical Academy fare. That is, very fine engraved detail everywhere on nice medium grey plastic (two sprues) and one sprue of clear (including rear-view mirror and gunsight).
Thoughtfully Academy have included two canopies: one closed and a three-piece one to be posed open. Not sure how this latter set fits, but good on them for doing it. Additionally, the cockpit entry door is separate to allow you to pose it open if you so desire (although this looks a little short and stubby when compared to photos of a 1:1 Spitfire XIV). Another interesting option is the separate radiator doors, allowing you to pose them open or closed, not something I’ve seen on any other Spitfire kit. The large cowling bulges which make the Griffon marks so distinctive are separate on this kit, but judging by the box photos it looks about right. The locating areas for the bulges are moulded with a rough surface so that they are correctly placed.
To my eye the cockpit detail is superb for a 1:72 kit. The control stick is a very nice representation of the spade grip found in Spits, the detail on the frames is also quite nice, and the instrument panel has very fine raised detail. Some drybrushing will really make this look a million dollars. Armour plating for the seat is included, as are separate (and very small) rudder pedals. Based on my photos of a locally-based Mk.IXc the sidewall detail looks about right, but there are enough reference photos of the Spit online that those so inclined can superdetail. There is very little flash on the sprues.
Being a XIVc the kit features a “C” wing, i.e. two 20mm Hispano cannon and four .303 Browning machineguns. The cannon and stubs are mounted integrally with the upper wing parts, and the MG muzzle holes are already open. The underwing ejector chutes for spent shells are recessed, which suits me fine, but some may choose to open these. The wheel wells are closed in, but are not very deep and feature little detail. According to the instructions the undercarriage doors need trimming for the “Stationary Version”, or can be left as is for the “Flying Version”....of which no further mention is made....This aside, the tyres are moulded with flat bottoms (four spoke wheel rims), and the oleo “scissors” are separate from the main leg. The retractable tailwheel has separate doors, but no detail at all in its bay. The large undernose intake is moulded into the lower wing, but with a separate nose piece. The tubular exhaust stacks look very simple, but should to the job. And, music to the ears of any Spit aficionado, the “gull” is present under the rear fuselage/wing root join.
The only real “glitch” I can see are the prop blades, which have a very wide chord at the root unlike any props on pictures of Griffon Spits I’ve seen. I’m not sure if any aftermarket options are out there, but I would suggest seeking them or sanding down the kit blades. They are supplied individually to be cemented to the backplate, the spinner going on top of this.
Eight unguided rockets, mounted vertically in pairs with separate fins, are included for installation. Locating holes for these must be drilled. In the few reviews of this kit I’ve read on the Internet, everyone says that the subject aircraft (RB159) never carried rockets and thus the kit is somewhat spurious. I have no info on Griffon Spits and, as I don’t intend to build the kit with the included decals, I don’t mind if it is wrong. The decals are quite shiny, and include no stencils except for wing walkway stripes and some wording for the door. Very kindly a representation of the pilot’s harness is included on the decal sheet. Red rectangles are supplied for the doped-over gun covers on the wing leading edge. As the holes for the guns are pre-drilled the result will look very realistic.
This kit is, in
Googling “Spitfire XIVc”
Warbirds Over Wanaka ’94,
Various modelling websites
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