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1/48 scale Hasegawa
Spitfire FR. Mk.IX

by Jim Kiker


Supermarine Spitfire PR. Mk. XIX


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Spitfire IX is available online from Squadron.com




I have a deep and abiding interest in photo reconnaissance aircraft, and being a great admirer of the Spitfire, I returned to the recce Spits for the second of several helpings. I also like unusual camouflage schemes, so when I read an article about pink FR IX Spits that were flown by 16 Sq during Operation Market Garden in the fall of 1944, I knew I had my subject!. These pink Spitfires were used to take low-level oblique pictures on days when there were some clouds, near sunset or sunrise. Although I do not have one mounted here, these aircraft were also used for dropping pictures and messages to field headquarters by placing them into the old 44 gallon-size drop tanks, and dropping the tank from just above the ground.





Thanks to the Spitfire boffins on Hyperscale, I knew the in’s and out’s of the various Spitfire kits on the market when I started this project. I prefer the ICM kits, but having acquired a Hasegawa kit I decided to make use of it. I did not have the desire to do a complete fuselage correction, but I did choose to do most of the length correction on the Hasegawa kit’s fuselage. I used the rear fuselage from an ICM kit to do the lengthening. To do this, I picked a spot on the rear fuselage of the Hasegawa kit and matched it to a spot on the ICM fuselage where the contours (especially the top and bottom edges) would meet. This gave me almost 1/8” in added length, and proved to be a fairly simple mod. As a buddy of mine recommended, I added the strengthening bits inside the fuselage from a number of small pieces of plastic strip; this was much easier than fitting a single long piece and gave a much stronger joint. Thanks, Gary!



In this particular instance, the reconnaissance modifications were dead simple to do. I drilled out the oblique camera port on the battery access door (visible above) and chamfered the hole from the inside to take a clear plastic cover. I used a camera from one of Roy Sutherland’s resin 1/48 scale Spitfire camera sets.

Then it was on to the interior.

I used many of the kit’s pieces for the interior. I substituted an Ultracast seat with Q-type harness for the kit seat, and added the rear section of the shoulder straps that pass through the head armor, as well as the shoulder harness restraining line.
I used the kit instrument panel. I painted the panel in a very dark gray, painted in the instrument dials, and added a drop of clear epoxy to represent the instrument faces.

I assembled the fuselage without further incident and moved on to the wings. I added blanking plates for the outer cannon shell chutes and pre-finished the insides of the radiators, including dropping open the outlet doors and adding new side pieces since this is often seen in photographs of Spits sitting on the ground.

Having visited Duxford a year or so before I started this project, I was keenly aware that Spitfires have a distinctive “hunkered down” stance when fueled up. I haven’t found a 1/48 scale kit yet that gets this right. Mostly, they are modeled with the landing gear oleos fully extended, instead of mostly compressed. Many kits also have the main gear molded with a lot of sections (different diameters of rod), which does not compare well to photos. I chose to make new main struts from nested brass tubing (1/16” for the main gear and axles, 3/32” for the upper shock struts). These were further detailed with bits of tape, fine wire, and brake lines later on.



I found that I had a gap all around the wheel wells, so after assembly of the wings I filled it in using Aves epoxy putty (it is similar to Milliput, but easier to work, and also can be thinned and feathered with water if done before it sets up).

At this point I committed a major boneheaded error. Since everyone spoke about this kit and it’s wonderful engineering and fit, I believed the press and assembled the wings and the fuselage without checking their fit. When I tried them together the first time, I was chagrinned to find I had about an .030” gap along both wing roots. I will note that this problem seems rare in the Hasegawa 1/48 scale Spitfire IX kits; mine may have been taken out of the mold a bit early, or some other factor may have caused it in this particular pressing. But since I didn’t check it out first, I wound up needing to fix the problem “after the fact.”



I used Aves two part epoxy putty in the joints, followed by a couple of layers of Mr. Surfacer and some sanding and rescribing of panel lines. How many times must I relearn the obvious? Check the fit of major components before gluing them up!

With all that done, I also added new cannon bay covers from Ultracast, and I also cut away the kit elevators and added Ultracast ones in the dropped position. As you can see in the pictures, I usually paint the upper canopy frames (using a complete Falcon vacuformed unit this time) of the fixed sections and glued them in before painting. When I mask off the cockpit, I mask and paint the lower frames at the same time, starting with the interior framing color.



By the way, please note that the kit rudder was fixed cocked slightly to the left, making the elevators look over-drooped in the picture above.



Painting and Markings


With all the major work done it was off to the paint shop. I decided to try preshading on this model, so I painted all the panel lines with dark gray. The pink was originally from the Xtracolor enamel line, but my references indicated that PRU Pink faded quite rapidly to a very pale shade. I lightened up the basic shade a great deal- almost too much- with white and a touch of gray to keep it from looking like cotton candy pink. As it turned out, the dark gray preshading took a lot of pink to cover, and I mostly lost the preshading. I think that most preshading winds up looking like a grid pattern, which in my experience is pretty rare on real aircraft. I prefer to build models as realistically as I can, and that grid effect was not what I was after. After adding a clear acrylic gloss coat to the model, I did my usual panel line washes with artist’s oils, using Payne’s Gray for the major panel lines (flying control surfaces, removable panels such as the engine covers, and so forth), and a much lighter and slightly brownish gray for all the other panel lines.


The two pictures I have of MK716 were taken in the fall of 1944. They show a color/tone for the individual aircraft letter “X” similar to the dull red center of the roundels, so I used small dull red letters. There is also a smaller red X under the nose, just behind the spinner. For you Spitfire boffins out there, can you figure out where the spinner came from? The roundels are standard for the PR/FR Spitfires; 40” diameter ones on the upper wings and 30” ones for the fuselage. The fin flash is cut down from the standard size, and the serial number (unusually) is in very small black characters on the fin, per the available photographs. I used tiny black dry transfer lettering for these. The D-day invasion ID stripes were painted on the lower fuselage only, using off-white and dark gray to simulate worn stripes. They are purposely not perfectly lined up, as was often the case in reality. After partially filling the machine gun openings, I added strips of dull red decal for the red-doped fabric covers, and painted the covers on the cannons (no drilling necessary!).

In the following picture you will see a great amount of streaking on the belly of the model. On Spitfires the oil streamed back from the bottom edges of the cowling and was soon covered with a fine layer of dust and dirt. I used oil paints for this, putting just a touch near the bottom rear edges of the cowling and pushing them backward, allowing them to thin out to next to nothing.



I added dull silver paint chipping on areas frequently walked on and on the leading edges of wings and tail, as well as some dry brushing to show larger areas of wear. At the end I added a final clear flat acrylic coat, and the silver chipping/wear looks a lot like a light dirt color. Lucky for me I like the effect! I added on the final bits, including Ultracast exhausts and main wheels. Did I mention how much I like Ultracast detail parts? They are outstanding! The exhaust stains were done with very thin Tamiya ‘smoke” acrylic paint, done with the airbrush in several light passes.

So now I have two PR Spitfires, both in unusual schemes, and likely a few more to go!



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2006 by Jim Kiker
Page Created 11 May, 2006
Last Updated 21 February, 2007

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