by: Tim Hatton [ ]
With the introduction of the Fw 190A the use of the RAF Spitfire Mk.V was seriously restricted over France. Comparative studies between the Spitfire Mk.V and a captured Fw.190 only reinforced the reports back from combat pilots of the superiority of the Fw 190 over the Spitfire. Work to create a superior Spitfire moved at pace with the Merlin 61 powered Mk VII and Mk.VIII, but an interim answer was required. So the airframe of the Mk.Vc was mated to a Merlin 61 engine and the Spitfire IX was born. The success of the Mk.IX had a notable effect on the production of the pressurised Spitfire MK.VII and the unpressured Mk.VIII. The HF MkVIII high altitude variant was easily identified in its early production phase by the extended pointy wing tips. The value of the wing extensions was questioned noticeably by test pilot Geoffrey Quall as a result the extended wing did not feature on further builds and the standard ĎCí wing was utilised. The HF Mk.VIII was eventually powered by the Merlin 70 engine allowing a service ceiling of 44,000 ft (13,000 m). The Spitfire Mk.VIII was the third most produced Spitfire produced, with around 1,658 examples being built. It went to serve predominantly overseas being used around the Mediterranean with the RAF, the south west Pacific with the USAAF and with both the RAF and RAAF in south east Asia. A Mk.VIII was used to trial the new cut-back rear fuselage and a "tear-drop" canopy in a effort to improve pilot visibility. The canopy would become a standard feature on later Spitfire variants..
To their credit Eduard do like to cover as many types as possible with their releases. This is evident with the number of parts that are not used for this particular release. The detail both raised and recessed is quite superb. The panel lines are delicately done and the rivet detail is fine and consistent. Included in the top opening box are:
●5 x grey plastic sprues of various size.
●1 x clear plastic sprue
●1 x Pre-coloured photo etched fret
●1 x Set of paint masks
●2 x Decal sheets
●1 x A5 format twenty page instruction manual.
The cockpit initially looks quite complex, but Eduard has broken down the construction using eleven separate diagrams. The seat is built up from three parts and this is fitted to the armour plate. There is some good detail on the seat including the cushioning, hollow for the parachute and seat adjusting handle. There is a pre-painted [PCPE] Sutton harness and lap straps to fit. The seat is then fitted to a frame that forms what you would loosely call the floor. The plastic control stick and undercarriage selection switch [PCPE] are fitted to the floor. Frame eight is moulded completely and the instrument panel is moulded onto it. There are decals to represent the instruments if you donít fancy painting them. There is an alternative frame eight which is without any instruments making it easier to attach the PCPE instruments. The PCPE instrument panel is made up from three parts and the blind flying panel is separate. There also a neat PCPE compass to add under the instrument panel and a clear plastic gun sight. Frame eleven is nicely moulded and there is another piece of protective head armour [photo etched [PE] or plastic] mounted on this. The plastic option for the armour plate needs a slot cutting through it so you can pass the harness through. The PE part already has the slot etched in. The seat unit is also attached just in front of this frame. There is no detail on the inside of the fuselage walls of the cockpit. Instead Eduard has gone for inserts that make up the side walls. The moulded detail is very good and there is additional separate plastic detail including oxygen bottles. The cockpit detail is finished off with frame 12 and the rudder pedals. The cockpit door is a separate part and can be modelled either open or closed.
The clear parts for the windscreen and canopy are moulded on Eduards now familiar circular sprue. Eduard has provided the option of either displaying the canopy open or closed. If you want the canopy closed, then the canopy comes with the rear perspex section attached. The windscreen has a PE mirror to attach and there is a PE catch for the canopy. There are paint masks for the canopy and windscreen.
The fuselage is moulded in left and right halves. The detail is exquisite and Eduard has even reproduced the fasteners around the engine rather than just showing them as rivets. The separate rocker cover is made up from two parts. There are two types of exhaust pipes and they are nicely moulded. The exhausts with the fishtail ends are used with this kit. The air intake fairing under the nose is a two piece item and there is a PE flap and guard that fits at the entrance to the intake. The rudder is a separate one piece part; the tape is a tad over done perhaps.
The four blade propeller will need a bit of care when removing from the sprue. Although the four attachment points are narrow they are very close together. The shape looks good and the trailing edges of the props are fine. The spinner and back plate are separate.
The wings are minus the wing tips so as to accommodate as many variations as possible. The lower wing is one piece and has the dihedral set. The detail on both wing surfaces is exquisite. There are walls, one of which is a wing spar, to line the main undercarriage bays. Eduard has made the forward part of the wing root a separate part. I thought this odd at first, but there are variations in the look of this area. So Eduard has gone for accuracy rather than ignore this detail. The wing tips are one piece and there is a tab that slot into the wing to aid location and strengthen the joint. The elevators are separate one piece items. They donít look positionable, but Iím sure you can offset them slightly if you wished. I was a little surprised that the radiator fairings under the wing are not one piece items. They are made up from three parts. There are PE parts to represent the radiator faces, but no plastic radiator faces. The radiator door is separate and can be displayed in the open or closed position. There are a couple of extended cannon barrels to fit, the two inboard cannon muzzles are blanked off.
The tail planes are each one piece with the elevators attached.
The under carriage is beautifully represented: the doors of the main gear are nicely curved. There are five different styles of hub on the sprues. The instructions suggest you use the four spoke hub on one side and the spoke less hub on the other side of the wheel. The tyres are split in two. There is no need for masks as the hubs are separate. The oleo legs have slightly soft detail and the torque links are separate. There are plastic and PE versions of the torque links and they are tiny so handle with care.
The tail wheel is one piece and slots into the fuselage once the fuselage halves are joined. Despite them being one piece the detail is very good. I like the design of the tail wheel doors as they seem to provide a positive fit and plenty of gluing area.
The single pre coloured photo etched fret contains in the main parts for the cockpit. It would appear that the painting is restricted to the instrument panel and seat harness, the rest is bare steel. The painted detail is sharp but there is the rather textured paint surface to contend with. The quality of the etched detail particularly the radiator faces is first rate. Obviously there is some fine bending to be done to create things like the gun sight
The small sheet of Kabuki masks are for the canopy, windscreen and navigation lights on the wing tips. The masks fit around the framework of the windscreen and the canopy, but you will need to fill the vacant areas with liquid mask or the spare masking material on the sheet.
Decals are printed by Eduard and they all have good colour registration and definition. The smallest of the stencils is quite legible. The carrier film is kept to a minimum.
There are five choices providing three different styles of camouflage. The marking options include:
[A] JF476, No. 92 Squadron, Triolo, Sicily, November 1943
[B] JF519, No. 1 Squadron SAAF, Trigno, Italy, February 1944
[C] JF630, flown by F/O L. Cronin, No. 81 Squadron, Palel, India, March 1944
[D] JF404, No. 32 Squadron, Foggia, Italy, early 1944
[E] 308th Fighter Squadron, 31st Fighter Group, Castel Volturno, Italy, 1944
The twenty page A5 formatted instruction manual is up to Eduards high standards. The build section is tackled in many stages. The diagrams are easy to follow. There are mask and stencil placement guide. The colour painting and decal guide is really helpful providing four view illustrations of each of the five marking options. The last page advertises the aftermarket products that Eduard has produced for the Spitfire Mk.VIII.
This is a lovely looking release from Eduard and good to see particularly if you have missed the previous releases of this kit. The detail is first rate and Eduards attention to detail is impressive. There are plenty of build vlogs out there to testify how good the build is. It will certainly be an interesting looking subject with the extended wingtips on your Spitfire flight line.