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.  

CONCLUSIONS

Overall, it is a very nice looking kit. While I know it will be fiddly to build and perhaps even frustrating, it is how Eduard is able to provide the greatest level of detail and accuracy. If one takes one's time, it will produce an excellent replica.

REFERENCES

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

May 2022

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Thanks to Eduard via Tom Cleaver for the preview kit.

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