Airfix 1/48 Seafire 45

KIT #: ?
DECALS: Spares
REVIEWER: Frank Reynolds
NOTES: A challenging kitbash, using Airfix Spitfire PR.19 and Airfix Seafire 46/47


As World War 2 drew to a close the pace of development of the Supermarine Spitfire and Seafire series showed no signs of abating. A series of “Super Spitfires” was planned, using a modified wing that did away with the characteristically graceful elliptical plan form, in favour of a more blunt wing tip, all in the interests of aerodynamic refinement. The wing had an uprated armament of four 20mm cannon and a strengthened, wider, undercarriage with separate doors over the wheel wells. Enlarged under wing radiators and oil coolers were provided.  A distinctive five-bladed propeller was fitted to a 2,045hp Griffon  61 engine. This resulted in the Spitfire 21, an aircraft that had progressively evolved from the original Spitfire in such a radical way that there was a serious proposal to name it the Supermarine Victor, since it could be considered a new type. However it was late 1944 by the time that this upgraded type began to enter service and the end of the line was in sight, with newer more powerful fighter types coming into service and the advent of jet propulsion. The result was that the later, more developed versions of the Spitfire were produced in relatively small numbers.

The Royal Navy maintained an interest in Spitfire development throughout World War 2 and from late 1943 it was planned that for almost every Spitfire fighter type, there would a Seafire equivalent. However it transpired the Navy’s Griffon engine Seafires would be built in even smaller batches. The Griffon engine was enclosed in an enlarged and lengthened nose cowl, which further restricted forward view in an aircraft type that was already difficult to deck land.

The Seafire 45 is a navalised Spitfire 21, built as an interim type with minimal alterations. It lacked folding wings, but was capable of deck landing by virtue of a stinger type arrester hook. The 50 or so built were delivered from mid-1945 and were distributed between three land based training squadrons, never seeing front line carrier based service.


 Although the Seafire 45 is  little more than  a footnote in history, for anyone who aspires to have a comprehensive collection of Spitfires and Seafires it should not be overlooked. Airfix provides much of what is needed for a Seafire 45 in its kit No AO6103 “ Supermarine Seafire FR.46/FR.47. It needs to be back dated to the earlier high back configuration. This kit was first released in the mid-1990s, but is still acceptable today. It is currently widely available in the UK, priced at around £18-99. Even more recently a state of the art Spitfire PR.19 has joined the range, providing a useful high back Griffon engine variant. So the  ingredients exist to make a Seafire 45, with a bit of planning and  here is the theory.

 Take the fuselage from a Spitfire PR.19, mate it to the wing of a Seafire 46 and modify the fuselage with naval fittings. Careful and methodical work will result in a missing link from the Seafire series that is not available as a mainstream kit. A resin model has been available periodically from Planet Models but at a premium price and some internet sources suggest that its nose contours are too bulbous.

 The wing is available in the Airfix Seafire 46/47 kit, which, if finished as a stock Mk.47 yields a spare  wing of a type that is applicable to a Spitfire 21 or 22 and a Seafire 45 or 46, perfect for this project. The entire wing including its undercarriage and radiators is required for this build, so even if the wing is “spare” after completing an original Airfix Seafire 47 everything that dangles from that wing has to be sourced in some way so I chose to sacrifice the rest of the kit to the spares box.

 The fuselage from the Airfix PR. Mk.19 kit needs to be stripped of the essential characteristics of the PR version – the unarmoured, rounded one-piece windscreen, the intake on the lower cowl side for the cabin pressurisation system and filling the camera ports in the fuselage sides. The drop down cockpit access flap on the port side should be scribed in since this feature was omitted from the pressurised Mk.19.The resultant holes in the cowl side, the aperture for the fuselage camera and some minor sink holes under the edge of the cockpit were filled with Green Putty.

I find it easier to build a kitbash of this type by treating the sub -assemblies as separate models for as long as possible before the major units are joined, even to the extent of keeping the groups of components in separate boxes on a shelf next to the workbench.


For the fuselage, I followed the sequence set out in the Airfix PR.19 instructions. Commencing with the cockpit interior, the fuselage was assembled and allowed to set hard over a couple of days. When building the interior I used the standard kit parts but added a gun sight from the spares box and omitted the redundant bulkheads and equipment from the camera bay. Seat belts are simply made from masking tape. .The interior was painted in Xtarcrylix Interior green with the upper side walls of the cockpit picked out in night black. An instrument panel decal came from the Seafire 47 sheet.

Next came a visit to the Seafire 47 box, from where I plundered a wing and undercarriage assembly, based on the non-folding wing parts. This is a relatively simple structure of a one piece full span lower section and separate right and left upper panels.

Once everything had set over a couple of days the one piece full span lower wing was offered up to the fuselage halves to check the fit and the upper wing panels taped in place. Some adjustment was necessary since the wing to fuselage fairings on the PR.19 fuselage were shorter in chord by about 1mm so the trailing edge of the lower wing was shaved back to fit. Crude, probably not absolutely true to scale, but effective. The upper wing panels similarly needed to be reduced by about 1mm at the root to obtain a comfortable fit.  Small strips of plastic card were fixed into the wing/fuselage joint to pad out small gaps. The lower wing was then glued in place and left to dry overnight.

.The only dramatic mismatch of parts was a large gap where the under fuselage cameras would have been on the Mk.19. This could be filled in with scrap plastic and filler – I chose to use an offcut from the rear of the PR.19 lower wing, adjusted with a sliver of plastic card and some careful sanding and carving. The under wing radiators were blended into the lower wing, requiring a little fettling along the flanges at the base of the side walls that fair into the wing lower surfaces. I  then added the underwing flaps, trimmed to fit the modified trailing edge and the wing tip lights. 

The PR.19 lower nose section and carb air intake could be added unmodified, but a little filler was required to blend the intake assembly into the wing leading edge. The main tail assembly was all from unmodified PR.19 components, although the rudder was cut back to accommodate a sting type arrester hook taken directly from the ‘47. The armoured windscreen and rear view mirror were taken directly from an ICM  Spitfire IX kit and fitted reasonably  neatly onto the Airfix underpinnings with a little trimming.

Left to settle for 24 hours and with transparencies masked, the whole airframe was sprayed with auto primer from a rattle can to show up any dings and scratches which were treated with Revell Plasto filler and the primer then touched in.  The main undercarriage and doors came from the Seafire, the tail wheel and associated doors from the PR.19. The propeller assembly comes directly from the PR.19 and is unmodified.


 Early post war Seafires pose a challenge in research since the Royal Navy used a bewildering variety of detail changes to colour schemes in this period especially in the scheme that offers Sky coloured fuselage and tail fins with Extra Dark Sea Grey upper surfaces. Sometimes the engine rocker box covers are Grey, sometimes Sky; similar “and/or” finishes exist with the wing/fuselage fairings; the grey spine sometimes extends to the front lower corner of the tail fin, sometimes not. The most detailed scheme that I could find was illustrated in the Jon Freeman Seafire book noted in the reference section below. It belonged to771 Naval Air Squadron at Lee on Solent in 1949.

 Hannants’ Xtracrylix paints provided the camouflage scheme, applied with my long serving Iwata HP-C airbrush. The main airframe is finished in RAF Sky to the under surfaces and fuselage/fin sides, with upper surfaces in Extra Dark Sea Grey. The propeller spinner was painted White, the blades Black with the tips picked out in Yellow.

Decals were a challenge and certainly taxed the resources of my decal dungeon and spares box. Although Seafires are increasingly covered by aftermarket producers, there are no Mk.45 sheets available to my knowledge. Even generic sheets are a problem since the Royal Navy used a different font and size from that of the more commonly available RAF codes and serials. .However, using the Freeman colour notes, I concocted the various black serials and codes from an Aviaeology sheet  of serials no AOD48CO5; Colorado Decals serials sheet 48.48;  Xtradecal Sheet X48044.  Roundels and small serials came from Kits-World sheet KW148092 “Post War Supermarine Seafires”, which does not cover the Mark 45 as such but provides useful common decals. The massive underwing serial numbers came from the same Kits-World sheet and with letters “L” and “A” bodged together from cut up sections the letters “I” and “V” on the same sheet. Airframe stencils came from the standard Airfix decal sheet.  It took me about as long to sort out all the decals from different sources as to make the whole model. The challenge continued since the under wing serials have to be cut and sliced to fit around the wheel wells and undercarriage doors. Decalling took place over three days, allowing my plenty of time for breaks to catch my breath. A final brushed coat of Future/Klear  liquid polish settled the decals and the airframe was finished with a sprayed coat of Xtracrylix matt varnish.

 The finishing details of the undercarriage assembly and propeller were  added to finish the project.


The Seafire 45 is a challenge, but a satisfying one. I have previously tried a similar cross-kitting exercise to produce a Seafire XV from a Spitfire XII and a Seafire XVII. The Mk.45 project was a little more complicated since a certain amount of filling and scribing is necessary and careful work to blend in the rear lower section of the wing to the fuselage.  The cost is £19-99 for the Seafire 46/47, £18-99 for the Spitfire PR.19, and about £30-00 for the decals, although there are plenty of spares left over for future projects. Overall, I am reasonably satisfied with the result and the cost is not too bad compared with the amount of money that is charged for some short-run kits.


Profiles 5, Supermarine Seafire Mk.1b – Mk.47, by Jon Freeman. The Aviation Workshop Publications Ltd.

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

 Frank Reynolds

September 2014

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page