|KIT #:||4801 (Brigade conversion)|
|PRICE:||$ 39.95 (Brigade), $51.95 (Hasegawa)|
|DECALS:||Three options with Brigade kit|
After the Second World War, with widespread sales of the Spitfire to newly liberated countries, Vickers Supermarine believed that there was a potential market for a two-seat trainer version of the aircraft. Designated type 502 by the company, a mk VIII from ex RAF stocks was rebuilt as a prototype two-seat training aircraft as a private venture in 1946. The original cockpit was moved forward 13 ½ inches and a second cockpit, slightly raised, was added immediately behind. Each cockpit was fitted with jettisonable sliding hoods, duplicate instruments and controls. The size of the forward fuselage fuel tank was reduced to provide room for the changes required by the cockpits and was offset by the addition of two additional fuel tanks in the wings replacing the 20-mm cannons. The aircraft retained both of the outer Browning rifle caliber machine guns as well as all underwing attachment points. Designated Spitfire T.8, the prototype spent the next five years as a demonstration aircraft to a number of air forces including a demonstration at Baldonnel for the IAC in June of 1950. Due to insufficient numbers of Spitfire mk VIIIs being available, Supermarine instead acquired twenty Spitfire Mk IXs for further two-seat conversions. Designated company Type 509 these Spitfire conversions became the Spitfire Tr.9, and saw ten delivered to India, three to Holland, one to Egypt and six to the IAC.
The Air Corp’s involvement with the type commenced in 1950 when an urgent requirement was identified for an advanced training aircraft to replace the Miles Magister II’s which had been withdrawn from service due to scarcity of spare parts. Following an evaluation of a number of aircraft types by the Air Corps to fulfill this requirement, the Department of Defense ordered six Spitfire Tr.9’s with specialist tools and ground equipment for a total cost of £71,502. These aircraft were to be delivered to the Air Corps in 1951.
The first two Tr.9s (Nos. 158 and
159) were delivered to Baldonnel by Air Corps pilots on
1960, four of the remaining five Tr.9s were withdrawn from use.
The last operational flight by a Spitfire in service
with the AIC occurred on
Beginning in 1963 the remaining Tr.9 airframes
were sold by the Department of Defense. Three of these aircraft were purchased
exclusively for the filming of the movie
The Brigade conversion consists of a pair of low pressure injection molded fuselage halves, a lower front center wing bottom panel, rudder and tail assembly, instrument panel and seat, clear injection molded canopy, large fold out instruction sheet and decals for multiple versions from two different users; Ireland and the Netherlands. Attachment points are large as is typical with limited run kits and there is also a considerable amount of flash. Internal detail is soft and panel lines are fair but consistent and overall fit is excellent.
The Hasegawa kit has been reviewed here by Scott Van Aken and can be studied in detail at this link.
I never intended to build a model of this variant of the Spitfire. In fact, I actually find the two-seater, well, odd. That tacked on second canopy just isn’t how a Spitfire is supposed to look… and this has been rooted deep in my airplane-mania as my very first airplane magazine WAY back in 1974 featured one of the flying two seaters used for the filming of (I believe) the movie Battle of Britain. I thought they looked ‘wrong’ then and I still feel this way today. However, despite my ‘feelings’ about the subject I like to build challenging models; odd balls outside the mainstream, and lately have I have taken up building kits by themes to further that end, and for 2012 I have been focused on aircraft of the Irish Air Corps where the Spitfire T.9 was a staple for many years.
Even though I knew that the T.9
was used by the IAC, I was not really interested, for all of the reasons listed
above in building one-until… A review of the Brigade conversion set appeared in
Modeling Madness earlier this year (you can find Mr. Reynolds excellent build
Huh… a conversion existed, and a quick search on line showed that
it was still available from Hannants in the
Shortly all the boxes arrived and I opened things up to take stock. Having recently been on a Spitfire bender (I got within two (mk XII and Mk 21) of having all the Griffon powered Spits on the shelf) I had a bit of experience with Aeroclub conversions and the like, and I was very impressed with what came from Brigade. Clearly the parts are ‘injection’ molded in a similar fashion to those from Aeroclub-thick (okay, monstrous!) gates, and white metal detail parts; however, the panel lines are exquisite, petit and a good match for those found on the Hasegawa kit. Oh, and the parts fit very well indeed. Also included in the box, which I hadn’t bothered to check when I ordered the conversion were a set of decals to do an IAC Tr.9 in either the green or silver scheme-WOW! I was wondering how I was going to cobble together enough decals to pull this off, and there they were in the box. Brilliant! The only thing that might put off a builder doing their first conversion is the fact that Brigade does not provide all of the parts necessary to flesh out the rear cockpit-not really a problem for me as my Spitfire ‘bits’ box is currently overflowing.
I began construction by attaching the two engine cowling halves to their prospective fuselage halves. In an unusual (I think…) move, Brigade does not mold the fuselage halves full length. This arrangement makes for a potentially tricky attachment; which, in my case proved true as I broke the nose off once during construction. If I were to do another of these conversions I would use some scrap plastic and support these joints from behind-the first time! Next I sprayed all of the interior parts with Model Master RAF interior green enamel and started looking for the extra bits I needed for the rear cockpit. Once things had dried I gave everything a dry brush with various dark shades of pastels to add depth and weathering. Although I did not do an exhaustive search, I could not find any images focusing on the inside of a Tr.9 cockpit, so I just followed the Hasegawa painting instructions and added details where needed. I found a pair of Ultra Cast (I think…) resin seats and painted them up nicely, detailed the two provided instrument panels and joined the fuselage together.
Next I put the wings together. I made panels to cover the cannon blisters and removed the cannon openings in the leading edge of the wings. The fit at the wing roots and lower panel were less than stellar, and I have to admit to not thinking things through too much-I just added more CA glue and sanded. If I was to do another I might try a spreader inside to force the roots out some. Another area that did not fit well was the lower front panel that must be cut away from the Hasegawa wing and replaced with a part from Brigade. Lots of filler and sanding need here. At this time I also cut open the slots for the Hasegawa tail planes and added the vertical tail and supplied rudder. All of this body work was followed by lots of primer, sanding and rescribing-uhhhgggg!
Eventually I got to a point where things were good enough and I moved on to the paint shop with the Tr.9. Along that path I also prepped and painted all of the small bits such as landing gear, wheels and exhaust stubs. The exhaust came from Quick Boost and the three spoke wheels from Ultra Cast. With the plane ready to paint and everything else finished up I had no choice but to decide on whether to have open canopies or closed. The Brigade canopy is injection molded, but very thick and not so clear. As such I opted to open things up front and rear, necessitating the creation of a new vacuformed rear canopy. I carefully cut the front windscreen away from the larger rear portion of the rear canopy and set to making a master to pull a mold from.
Using the original canopy section I mixed and filled it with plaster of paris and allowed it to dry. Because of the bubble shape of the plastic I had to carefully spread and pry to get my new master out. I have found that it is best if I seal my plaster masters with primer, but for this pull I tried just a dip in Future. After a few days drying I set of my vacufom ‘machine’ and set about making a new canopy. I start with 15 thousandths clear K & S sheets and jig it up in a frame and heat it up with a propane torch. Once sagging I quickly set it down on the machine and quickly heat around the edges to help the vacuum pull this tricky shape. To get an acceptable copy took two tries, but the end results are fantastic; crystal clear and scale thickness.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Looking over images of the IAC spitfires it occurred to me that the T.9 looked kind of silly with its black anti-glare panel painted down over the cowling to the exhaust and a rather unorthodox walkway all on top of slightly ratty looking coat of silver paint-a no brainer, really as I have nothing on my shelves that look anything like it. I began the painting process by painting the whole airframe with Floquil Engine Black. At this time I masked off the necessary black areas and painted the whole thing with Floquil Bright Silver. Just as this coat hit tack, I unmasked the black sections and over sprayed the entire model with Testors Glosscoat in a rattle can. The reason to go so quickly to the gloss coat is that it ‘moves’ the silver and with the black underneath, it instantly weathers and highlights the panel lines. This is an amazingly quick method to weather silver airframes, as I seldom need much of a wash to bring out details and the metallic lies down as if the paint has spent years in the sun. After a few days drying time I decaled the model with the kit provided markings. Although of unknown origin, the decals responded well to MicroSol and laid down nicely-but not without a scare as they all originally began to curl up rather than set down. After a day or two to dry, a final coat of semi-gloss was sprayed over everything and it was time unmask and begin final assembly.
After the small bits were attached, I lightly added exhaust stains with pastels. Finally, a small MV lens was added for the lower formation light and the canopies were attached in an open position with CA glue. My Irish T.9 was ready for the shelf.
Overall my impressions of the Brigand conversion are good. Fit was bad, but really no worse than some of the Aeroclub conversions I have done in the past. The canopy is truly bad-it is just so thick, but I was able to make a more than acceptable replacement. The decals worked great, and most of all the model looks just like the images of the real thing! Highly recommended to all but novice modelers because of the fit issues and incomplete cockpit.
Maxwell, Joe and Patrick Cummins. The Irish Air Corps: An Illustrated Guide. Max Decals Publications, Ltd., Ireland. 2009.
Hasegawa and Brigade kits courtesy of my own pocketbook.
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