Hobby Boss 1/32 Spitfire Vb
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New Tool Kit|
Late in 1940, the RAF predicted that the advent of the pressurized Junkers Ju 86P bomber series over Britain would be the start of a new sustained high altitude bombing offensive by the Luftwaffe, in which case development was put in hand for a pressurized version of the Spitfire, with a new version of the Merlin (the Mk VI). It would take some time to develop the new fighter and an emergency stop-gap measure was needed as soon as possible: this was the Mk V.
The basic Mk V was a Mk I with the Merlin 45 series engine. This engine delivered 1,440 hp (1,074 kW) at take-off, and incorporated a new single-speed single-stage supercharger design. Improvements to the carburetor also allowed the Spitfire to use zero gravity maneuvers without any problems with fuel flow. Several Mk I and Mk II airframes were converted to Mk V standard by Supermarine and started equipping fighter units from early 1941. The majority of the Mk Vs were built at Castle Bromwich.
Three versions of the Mk V were produced, with several sub-series:
The VB (and subject of this kit) became the main production version of the Mark Vs. Along with the new Merlin 45 series the B wing was fitted as standard. As production progressed changes were incorporated, some of which became standard on all later Spitfires. Production started with several Mk IBs which were converted to Mk VBs by Supermarine. Starting in early 1941 the round section exhaust stacks were changed to a "fishtail" type, marginally increasing exhaust thrust. Some late production VBs and VCs were fitted with six shorter exhaust stacks per side, similar to those of Spitfire IXs and Seafire IIIs; this was originally stipulated as applying specifically to VB(trop)s. After some initial problems with the original Mk I size oil coolers, a bigger oil cooler was fitted under the port wing; this could be recognized by a deeper housing with a circular entry. From mid-1941 alloy covered ailerons became a universal fitting.
Hobby Boss has been joining in the move to 1/32 scale for some of its kits and has chosen the Spitfire Vb as one to add to the growing list. Previously, the only Mk V Spitfire in this scale that I'm aware of was the old Hasegawa kit, a raised panel line and limited detail kit from the 1970s or perhaps even earlier.
This one basically reduces that kit to the sales piles as the Hobby Boss version is everything one would want in a modern 1/32 kit and one won't have to pay Tamiya prices for it either. Detailing is superb and in line with other kits of this scale, there is finely done engraved panel lines and the rivet detail that seems to be the big trend nowadays. A photo etch fret is included for some of the cockpit bits, like the harness and armor plate as well as for a radiator screen. I'll state right off that this kit has wheel bumps on the upper wing and I'm not enough of a Spitfire boffin to know if this is correct or not. I do know that there are no external reinforcements as you'll find in some other Spit V kits.
A very complete cockpit and aft radio compartment are part of the kit and much of the small detail is destined for these areas. The kit comes with the obligatory full engine and it has a suite of wing guns. Interestingly, the cover sections in the wing for these guns are molded in clear plastic as is the ejection chute for the cannon. I really don't know why these sorts of things are included in some kits, but obviously there is a perceived need for them. There are also engine covers that can be left off. These are in standard styrene. There are separate flight control surfaces and these appear to be molded in the neutral position. The three piece canopy has a separate armor plate section for the windscreen. The kit includes rubber tires, another trend. I do wish they'd include plastic ones as well for there are times when the model gets old, that the rubber splits. A bomb is also provided for the center fuselage, though I'm not really sure how frequently Spit Vs were used as fighter bombers.
Markings are for two planes. One is the box art aircraft as shown in the color photo in the history section. This is S/L Jan Zumbach's plane from 303 squadron in late 1942. The other is a 'sand and spinach' painted Mk V from 616 squadron in late 1943 a flown by F/Lt Les 'Buck' Casson. The large decal sheet is well printed and should work very well with your favorite solvents.
I'm pretty pleased to see this one produced. I've not yet built a modern big scale Spitfire and shall have to add this one to my 'to do' list once some other projects get cleared away. It is competitively priced and durn cheap when compared to the Tamiya kit. I'm sure this one will sell like hot cakes so get yours while you can.
Thanks to Squadron Products for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or ask them to order it for you.
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