Eduard 1/48 Spitfire IIa

KIT #: 82153
PRICE: ~$50.00 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Profipack

HISTORY

In the summer of 1939 an early Mk I K9788 was fitted with a new version of the Merlin, the XII. With the success of the trial it was decided to use this version of the Merlin in the Mk II which, it was decided, would be the first version to be produced exclusively by the huge new Lord Nuffield shadow factory at Castle Bromwich.

Chief among the changes was the upgraded 1,175 horsepower (876 kW) Merlin XII engine. This engine included a Coffman engine starter, instead of the electric system of earlier and some later versions of the Merlin, and it required a small "teardrop" blister on the forward starboard cowling. The Merlin XII was cooled by a 70% to 30% water glycol mix, rather than pure glycol used for earlier Merlin versions.

In early 1940 Spitfire Is of 54 and 66 Squadrons were fitted with Rotol manufactured wide-bladed propellers of 10 ft 9 in (3.27 m) diameter, which were recognisable by a bigger, more rounded spinner: the decision was made that the new propeller would also be used exclusively by the Mk II. This engine/propeller combination increased top speed over the late Mk I by about 67 mph below 17,000 feet (5,200 m), and improved climb rate. Due to all of the weight increases maximum speed performance was still lower than that of early Mk Is, but combat capability was far better. The Mk II was produced in IIa eight-gun and IIb cannon armed versions. Deliveries were very rapid, and they quickly replaced all remaining Mk Is in service, which were then sent to Operational Training Units. The RAF had re-equipped with the new version by April 1941. The Rotol propeller units were later supplemented by de Havilland constant-speed units similar to those fitted to Mk Is.

A total of 921 Mk.IIs were built, all at Castle Bromwich.

THE KIT

This particular kit is based on their Spitfire I offerings and so you will find many of the same sprues provided for this boxing. This is SOP for Eduard, and as a result, you'll end up with a lot of spare parts. Just looking at the parts layout shows all the unused pieces.

The kit has a very nicely appointed interior and since this is a Profipack kit, there are a number of photoetch pieces to replace or enhance plastic bit. Some folks will use all of these while others will concentrate on the larger bits. I find that some parts to be replaced by p.e. are actually more prototypical when left in plastic, such as the connecting tube between the two oxygen bottles. Others, such as the armor plating are more scale in p.e. and in some cases you have to use p.e. as there is no plastic equivalent. One note is that for this variant, the seats were in bakelite so will be left in a russet color.

Before installing the cockpit assembly, the modeler will need to decide between open or closed canopy. For closed, some cutting is needed on the fuselage that includes opening holes for the Coffman starter bulge. With the fuselage halves closed, the main gear wells are built up of multiple pieces. This is followed by the installation of eight gun barrel pieces and the addition of the upper wing sections.

All the flight surfaces have separate controls and the wing has separate tips to accommodate later clipped wing Spits. Fortunately, Eduard does not have the option for lowered flaps as these were almost never seen extended on the ground as they blocked cooling through the radiators when lowered.

Main wheels have separate hubs to make it easy to paint the tires. The gear is well done and one can leave these off along with the tail gear until after painting. There is a separate cockpit access door and this may be posed open or closed with separate parts for each option. Eduard provides canopy masks to help you with painting the clear bits. You are also provided with different props and spinners depending on which markings option you are using. It appears one prop is a Rotol and the other a deHavilland. While these planes had VHF radios with no long wire antenna, they did have the IFF antennas if you wish to add those.

Instructions are standard Eduard booklet in color. There are five options in a variety of camouflage schemes for planes from 609 Squadron, 315 Squadron, 452 Squadron, 312 Squadron, and 340 Squadron. All are from the 1941/42 time frame. Decals are very nicely printed and you are provided a complete stencil suite. The decals do not appear to be the new 'stick and peel' type which I am growing to detest.  

CONSTRUCTION
As I've not built an Eduard Spitfire before, I thought I'd actually follow the instructions. This started by putting all the little bits onto the sidewall pieces. Then I moved to the bulkhead onto which the pilot's seat is attached. There are two options here. One with the upper seat armor attached, and one where you use the p.e. bit. I chose the latter and found it quite difficult to glue in place. It fits atop four very small posts and there is no guide in terms of indentations on the back of the plate. Took quite a while to get into place. However, it saves from having to open the slit through which the upper harness fits. Not wanting to remask things, I broke out the brush and hand painted all the brown areas.

I tried to use as much of the p.e. as I could, though I wasn't always successful. In several cased during cockpit construction, I found that later down the page was something I should have added earlier. Airfix seems to have no issues providing easy to follow instructions and I think it would help if Eduard did the same. As a note, I used AK Interactive's RC 293 RAF Cockpit Grey-Green paint for much of the interior.

Once the cockpit was finished, it was installed. I have to say that I had to use clamps to get it to stay in place. This was particularly the case when I closed the fuselage halves. Before that was done, the tail gear receptacle was installed. This sort of thing should have been done on the 109 kit as it allows you to install the gear after painting. There were a few other bulkheads including one for the prop shaft to install. Getting the fuselage halves together required sequential gluing as one had to ensure that everything sealed up properly.

As that was occurring, the wings were dealt with. One has to open some holes near the wing tip for a vent to later be installed. Eduard provides an etched mounting plate for this, but looking at the few photos I found of this area, this plate does not seem to actually be there. The wheel wells were then installed. There is a short spar piece onto which some of the six well pieces per side are attached. With that done, the wells are painted silver and the individual gun barrels are glued in place. Then the upper wings are glued in place.

Next step was to attach the wing to the fuselage. Test fitting showed the front might cause some fit issues, but the rear was very nice so that was glued first. Then the upper wing surface, which fit fairly well. Meanwhile the horizontal stabs were glued together.  I later discovered that the wings are not square with the tailplanes so next time, I'll attach the tailplanes first.

After getting the flight surfaces in place, I attached the windscreen and the rear quarter section after masking them with the enclosed masking material. I temporarily attached the closed fuselage door piece, taped the opening for the cockpit and headed for the paint shop .
COLORS & MARKINGS

For this one, I used Hataka lacquer paints. I've had good service from them and like how smoothly they flow on. I had a set of Top Notch camouflage masks so after painting and masking the underside (along with the fuselage band and prop spinner) in sky, I painted the upper surface dark earth and masked it. The set I used was for a Spitfire IX, but the pattern was the same. I then painted on the dark green. Unfortunately, when I removed the masks, it pulled up the paint. This took me by surprise as I'd used these masks with Hataka paint before with no issue. One thing I did notice was that the surface under the mask where the paint wasn't pulled up was sticky. This leads me to believe that as the masks had gotten older, they had become more sticky so I've tossed the others that I have to keep this from recurring. As a note, those areas that had Tamiya tape on them did not pull up so the issue was the masks. 

Once the kit was painted and on its legs, I applied the decals. I did the markings for 315 Squadron at Northolt in 1941. The decals are very thin and I had at couple of small ones fold on me. I also found that the underwing ones needed multiple applications of Mr.Mark Softer in order to conform over the vents that are there. I also discovered that the fuselage codes (which I guess are supposed to be sky or some light grey), nearly blend in with the camouflage. Not at all the stand out shade shown in the instructions. Otherwise, they work well. (Oh yes, I also discovered too late, that I got the Polish insignia wrong. It should be white in the upper right. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union the the insignia switched. However, I had a slightly oversize one in the stash so was saved).

With the decals in place and the airframe given a matte clear coat, I attached the final pieces. First was the open door followed by the canopy. Then the clear upper light and radio mast were installed. Then the main gear doors and a set of BarracudaCast wheels (BR48445). The lower wing pitot was glued on followed by the exhaust. These were a pain to get in place and I had to sand down the attachment points to get them in place. Finally the prop was installed and that was it. 

CONCLUSIONS

I expected it to be a fussy build and in many areas it was. However, it generally fit quite well and the end result is pleasing. One certainly cannot fault Eduard for a lack of accuracy. I have a couple of other Eduard Spits, but I won't be rushing to build them. For those of you who don't like fiddling with small pieces and think that having 6 pieces for a gear well is too many, there are other brands (Airfix or Tamiya), that will do quite nicely for an early Spitfire.

REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermarine_Spitfire_(early_Merlin-powered_variants)#Mk_II_(Type_329)  

29 July 2022

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Thanks to Eduard via Tom Cleaver for the kit.

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