Carrying on from my previous post tackling the PZL P.7a, here is part 2 of this double dose of airplane goodness. And my, what an adventure this has been. But let’s see about that Spitfire, shall we?
The Royal Air Force
The first years of World War II are remembered as a truly challenging time for the British. Being the only piece of western land not conquered by the blitzkrieg meant a lot had to be sacrificed. First thing that comes to mind is surely the heartbreaking series of events at Dunkirk where heavy casualties were coupled with most of their military equipment being left back in mainland Europe. That was shortly followed up by the seemingly never-ending Battle of Britain where Nazi Germany wanted to take advantage of a weakened United Kingdom and force them into signing a peace treaty.
Throughout all this, one vital aspect was the constant presence, wits and courage of the Royal Air Force. With dwindling numbers, they managed to put up a fierce resistance, keeping their homeland a beacon of freedom for the rest of the world in WWII. Their bravery is flawlessly pictured today in a corner of London known as the Royal Air Force Museum. I say this as, even though the place is filled with displays of airplanes from 1918 onward, the focus is on the people operating them, as well as their acts of bravery throughout history.
Now the museum has some awe-inducing pieces, such as the B-17 Flying Fortress, the Avro Lancaster B.I and the Avro Vulcan B.2 – huge bombers of the 30’s – 50’s period. You don’t really get a feel for their size until you walk underneath them and this eerily chilling feel hits. If on the other hand you’re a fighter aircraft fan, don’t fret; this is still the place to be. You can closely observe machines such as the Hawker Hurricane, Hawker Tempest, P-51 Mustang, BF109E and, of course, Spitfires. Lots of Spitfires. They’re basically everywhere. If you visit the place at specific dates, you can even climb on board one as part of The Spitfire Experience. A ticket is £10 per person and, while it is a bit expensive, you get to support an otherwise free-access museum.
The Spitfire Mk. Ia
Walking through the aisles, I managed to sniff out a nicely restored Spitfire Mk. Ia and I remember thinking to myself: “If this isn’t a sign that I have to finish my project back home, I don’t know what is“. I basically only had some final weathering left, so it would have been a shame to keep postponing it.
The kit is the A55100 one by Airfix in 1:72 scale. A great offering, with sharp and detailed tooling despite being made all the way back in 2010. Apart from the sprues and great decals, the box comes with some useless bits like thick Poly Cement, small Humbrol paints and a cheap brush. The fit is good, instructions are fine, it goes together in a couple of hours. The canopy is very shiny albeit a bit thick. All things considered, for €10 you get a decent representation of a Spitfire, given the small scale. If you’re on the lookout for something larger and more accurate, Tamiya put out a fantastic 1:48 Spitfire (61119) that I dream about getting someday.
Now, remember I was saying this has all been a great adventure? Well, the paint-job you’re seeing here is not the first, nor the second, but the third. Why is that? Well, the first one came out way too dark. I know historical color matching is not an exact science, but it was clearly wrong. The second one was perfect. Proper masking, nice paint thickness, pleasant contrast. Too bad I ended up accidentally overspraying it with some aluminum from a different project. Some isopropyl alcohol and elbow grease later, it was back to the drawing board. Ultimately, it came out like it can be seen below. Some panel liner and oils later and it’s done.
And, if you randomly stumbled upon this article and have no interest in modelmaking, but are dying to have your own Spitfire, the RAF Museum has you covered! Check out this sweetie: