"Family Portrait"

Various 1/48 Spitfires

by Phil Golding

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I had a bit of a "Spit Fest" recently, and found myself with five of the little suckers finished.  I decided that I would write this little article for ARC, and all those who love this most beautiful of Classic Aircraft.  I won't go into the history of the Spitfire too much, as it's probably quite well known; it must be the most written about aircraft in the world.  My article will start with the Mk.V, the most numerous variant of the family (if all versions of the Mk.V are taken into consideration).  It served in nearly every theatre of operations during the Second World War, with the exception of the Pacific. The Mk.V was also supplied to Portugal, Russia, Turkey, Egypt and the USAAF.  Initially designed as a stop-gap, by December 1941, nearly every one of Fighter Command's squadrons was equipped with the Mk.V!

My Mk.Vb is the well-known Tamiya kit, with Eduard detail set.  It depicts BL479, a Mk.Vb, SZ-X of No. 316 Sqdn. RAF. 

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The two Mk.VIIIs are both Hasegawa kits, the first being AB58-672, ZP-Y of No.80 fighter wing, No.1 TAF, RAAF, based at Morotai, in 1945.  I have caused a little controversy with this one, as my colour scheme has been claimed to be inaccurate, in that it should be Grey/Green on the upper surfaces.  However, my own research shows that the machine operated over jungle and the Brown/Green is more appropriate.  I have also found profiles of  'planes from the same squadron with Brown/Green camouflage.

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The Mk.IXc is the new Hasegawa "Kenley Wing" boxing of James Edgar "Johnny" Johnson's machine, EN398.  By the end of the war, his tally stood at 34 enemy aircraft destroyed (27 while flying Spitfire Mk.IXs), 7 shared destroyed, plus a further 3 and 2 shared, probably destroyed, 10 and 3 shared damaged and 1 shared destroyed on the ground.  With the exception of one Bf110, all his victories were against single engined fighters.

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Second part of the "Family portrait"

The Second Mk.VIII is 'Lonesome Polecat'.  HL-MM of the 308th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter group, USAAF.

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Finally, The Seafire is the Airfix FR.46, LA561, No.104, of 1832 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, RNAS Culham 1947.

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All of the kits were a delight to build, especially the Tamiya and (surprisingly) the Airfix offerings. 

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The Seafire, of course, was powered by a Rolls-Royce Griffon engine, with contra-rotating props to counteract the huge torque of the massive engine.  The wing, although still recognisable as a 'Spit', was redesigned, as was the rest of the airframe.  Although only some 6 years separate the Mk.V and the Seafire FR.46, the changes are huge...doubled all-up weight, twice the power, over 100mph faster etc.  The only thing that did not change during the Spitfire's lifetime was...the flap area!  Apparently, upon seeing the Prototype, someone commented to R.J. Mitchell that the flaps seemed too big for such a small aircraft.  Mitchell is said to have replied, " I expect they'll hang lots of silly things on her, making her heavier.  Better to make them too big now, than try to change them later".  A man with insight, and a Genius! 

All the best, 

Phil

Photos and text by Phil Golding