Airfix 1/48 Seafire FR.47

KIT #: A06103
PRICE: Around £18.99
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Frank Reynolds


 The Seafires Mk 46 and 47 are closely related to the last versions of the Spitfire line, the Mks 22 and 24. Each has the characteristic new wing with a blunter tip profile than the original Spitfire’s elliptical form. Each has markedly enlarged horizontal and vertical tail surfaces. Each has a cut down rear fuselage and bubble cockpit canopy. This pair of Seafires is characterised by the very noticeable twin contra rotating propeller unit and a sting-type arrestor hook built into the lower part of the tail fin. The short-lived Seafire 46 was little more than a semi-navalised, hooked, Spitfire 24 that, having a non-folding wing, was mainly limited to shore based service with training units.

The Seafire 47 is the last and surely best of the Spitfire/Seafire line. It had yet another variation of wing form, with the outer panels folding to a near vertical position for shipboard storage. Yet this most powerful, most capable version of all is somehow close to being a footnote in history.  It first flew in April 1946, entering service in 1948. At the dawn of the jet age, it was on the verge of replacement when fate thrust it into the front line on the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950. The air group of the Royal Navy’s carrier HMS Triumph would become heavily engaged in fleet defence and ground attack in a fast moving war that stretched resources to the limit. The intensity of operations took a heavy toll of all the front line and reserve Seafires in theatre. By   mid September 1950 the HMS Triumph disengaged for return home with just three airworthy Seafires remaining, the rest honourably worn out

Contemporary reports say that with its contra rotating propeller cancelling out the effects of torque and a reasonable view from its bubble canopy, the Seafire 47 was more straightforward to deck land than earlier Seafires although the swollen nose housing the mighty Griffon engine was a handicap.


In the 1990s  Airfix caused a minor modelling sensation with the release of two kits in 1:48 scale – the Spitfire 22/24 and Seafire 46/47.

 Sharing many common parts, the two kits were well received and many commentators suggested that Airfix were achieving standards to compete with the best of the Far Eastern manufacturers.

 Re-released for the 21st Century in up to date format, with a revised decal sheet and packed in the now familiar new style of Airfix corporate box in the characteristic house colour of red, there are three parts frames in a fairly hard pale blue/grey plastic and one frame of clear. The parts appear to be unchanged from the original issues, in that two of the frames consist of all of the parts necessary to build a Spitfire 22/24 and the third frame is of parts to provide all of the variations applicable to the Seafire 46/47; being a whole new folding wing for the ’47, contra prop components, centre line and under wing slipper tanks. The clear parts frame contains both types of windscreen applicable to Spitfire and Seafire variants. This either/or packaging represents a subtle change from earlier boxings of the kit that I have in my collection, in that previously the Spitfire 5-blade prop was omitted from the Seafire kit. What we now have is a complete set of parts included in the box for a Spitfire 22/24 (less decals), which is welcome news for Spitfire nuts looking for a ready source of the Spit 22/24 at non-collectors prices.

The parts appear fairly cleanly moulded with just a trace of flash around some of the parts such as the rocket tails. Surface detail on the main components is fine and subtle. This kit has been minutely analysed over the two decades since it first appeared and there is evidence that the propeller blades have an incorrect profile, that the lower nose profile of the’47 version is too deep and that the rear canopy is too short and too low in profile. These are not major flaws in my opinion and the kit still builds into an effective and convincing Seafire

Compared with Airfix’s new generation of Spitfires there are good and bad points. The surface detail is arguably more delicate than newer offerings. By contrast the cockpit detail is fairly basic and some details, such as the under wing rockets are decidedly clunky.

The instructions consist of a 16 page A4 style booklet with the 29 stages of construction in a logical pictogram form. Two pages in colour set out the two finishing options with paint colours keyed to the Humbrol range. Decals are state of the art for Airfix with good colour density; they are sharply printed and have good adhesion, responding well to decal fixing solutions.

 Revised from the original kit release, there is a choice of markings for the classical Seafire 47 in full Korean War trim for 800 Naval Air Squadron on HMS Triumph in May 1950, with full identification striping, or the option of an earlier 1950 finish without stripes. The second main choice is new to this kit, being a land based Seafire 46 of the Station Flight, Lossiemouth, Scotland in 1948, in the standard scheme of Sky under surfaces and Extra Dark Sea Grey uppers, relieved with a bright yellow rudder and spinner. 

The decal designers deserve credit for a thoughtful layout. Full black/white stripes are included on the sheet and the jewel in the package, where the massive under wing serial numbers are provided in two versions. Standard one piece decals can be used for a retracted undercarriage version but the serials are also supplied as four-piece units for each wing, comprising separate sections for the outer wing panels, the main gear doors, outer gear doors and wing centre section. The decals fit well to each component with a little help from some Micro Set, so it is goodbye to slicing the decals by hand for what can be a tedious job. There is a comprehensive set of stencils and wing walk stripes common to both versions and some 18 tiny decals alone to decorate the propeller assembly.


I elected to build almost straight from the box and the only aftermarket that I used was a set of Eduard PE seat belts. Flashed over holes in the fuselage sides and belly have to be opened up for the camera ports and this is called out at the appropriate stage in the instructions. Construction is as straightforward as any standard Airfix kit. Some filler was required along the main fuselage join seam, so there is just a hint that the mould may be ageing slightly.

 I chose the folded wing option, which transform the elegant aerodynamic form of the Seafire into an awkward looking bird and went for the open cockpit look which tends to divert attention away from any shortcomings in the canopy shape. The wing fold detail is rather basic and the joint potentially weak, so it was reinforced with two “L” shape brackets from soft wire fitted into holes drilled into the inset wing ribs.

 The interior is mainly standard cockpit green, with the upper side walls of the cockpit above door sill level finished in black. An instrument panel is provided on the decal sheet. Camouflage finish came from Hannants   Xtracrylix range, applied with my trusty Iwata HP-C airbrush.  The decals went on well over a coat of Future/Kleer and responded effectively to Micro Set and Micro Sol.


Time has been generally kind to this kit. It still builds well and the fit of parts belies its age. For those who wish, there is scope to update and improve, but for my money it is fine when built straight from the box. The updated decal sheet is a welcome improvement and the inclusion of a full set of Spitfire 22/24 parts means that it can be built in this version with just the addition of an aftermarket decal sheet.

Standing in at position number 49 on my showcase shelves in my display of 50 or so Spitfires and Seafires in 1:48 scale, this one works for me. Recommended for its overall quality and at a bargain price.  To get a comparison with the earlier Seafire XVII from the Airfix range, I set up a photo call with two of the XVIIs already in my collection. Compared with the Mk.47, the XVII has noticeable differences: The earlier elliptical wing form with a different folding system. A shorter nose with a 4-blade propeller. A smaller tail unit. Not all Seafires are the same. And that is part of the fun.


 Spitfire International by Helmut Terbeck, Harry van der Meer and Ray Sturtivant, Air Britain (Historians) Ltd 2002.

Spitfire, the History by Eric B. Morgan and Edward Shacklady, Key Publishing, 2000

On Target Profiles 5; Supermarine Seafire  Mk.1b – Mk.47 by Jon Freeman. Aviation Workshop Publications Ltd.

 Frank Reynolds

April 2013 

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