1/32 Hasegawa & Revell Spitfires

by Brian Cauchi

--------------------

 

Introduction

The Hasegawa kit of the Spitfire MkV in this scale is considered to be the best model available and the starting point for many conversions.  I have built both the Hasegawa and the Revell Seafire Mk1.  The former kit was highly detailed whilst the latter was converted into a Spitfire MkVC.  In order to bring the Revell kit up to the required standard, the fuselage was heavily modified in some areas where even the basic element of contour is completely wrong.  Having both kits at hand, I decided to take up the challenge and complete both models such that the difference between them when complete would not be evident.  Both kits were built together.  Scratch built parts common to both were simultaneously produced.

 In both cases, the construction procedure listed below was followed: 

  • Detailed Rolls Royce Merlin 45.

  • Internal detail such as cockpit, radio and battery compartment and detail on fuselage sides.

  • Gluing fuselage sides together.

  • Installation of tail planes.

  • Construction of wings including all details.

  • Removal and construction of flaps.

  • Installation of wings onto the fuselage.

 CONSTRUCTION

 Powerplant

I had already decided that one of the spitfires would be modelled with an exposed engine.  The top and sides of the engine would be exposed.  The bottom part including the air intake and the propellor spinner would be retained so as not to spoil the beautiful shape of the Spitfire's streamlined nose section.  

The engine of sorts supplied with the Revell kit was used as a basic starting point for the Merlin.  Many parts were removed from it and the basic block retained.  Excess plastic had to shaved off from particular areas to conform to the proper engine dimensions since the kit part was grossly misshapen and oversized.  The resultant shape was then gradually detailed.  This process can be closely followed from the photos.  Up to this time, only large items of equipment and pipes were attached to the engine.

 (clicking on most of the images directly below will take you to larger images)

After studying photos of the Merlin, I decided that I would paint it before going on to attach wires and pipes since detailing and painting these would be impossible at a later stage.  The engine was painted using Testors metallizer paints and buffed.  The fact that no wires and similar details were attached to the engine made this possible.  Successive layers of wiring and piping were then added on, painting them as I went along.  The engine bearers were made from copper tubing and attached to the engine.  

 (clicking on the images directly below will take you to larger images)

 

The firewall behind the engine was made from plastic card and all details scratchbuilt onto it.  Numerous dry fitting runs assured a proper fit.  This is a very crucial part of the model since it has to consolidate the front of the model once all the panels are removed to fit the engine.  The engine and bulkhead were then dry fitted to see what the whole front of the aircraft would look like. 

 (clicking on the images directly below will take you to larger images)

 

Cockpit

 Eduard photoetched sets were used when detailing the cockpits.  The Revell model has a very sparse and inaccurate interior which was totally scrapped.  The Hasegawa cockpit floor was modified and then copied to use in the Revell model.  The photoetched instrument panels were not used because the Hasegawa panel is far more accurate and three dimensional.  This was copied for the Revell model using plastic card and individual instrument bezels.  

The Eduard seats are grossly oversized and the Hasegawa seat preferred and used.  Another was scratchbuilt for the Revell kit.  The control column was completely scratchbuilt.  The fuselage sides were scraped clean and fresh details included which are a mixture of scratchbuilt and photoetched parts.  Some Eduard parts are too flat to look realistic and were therefore scratchbuilt.  The fuel jettison handle which is included in the Eduard set was used on the VC which was in fact equipped with an external fuel tank when ferried to Malta.  One of the instrument panels was also detailed from the backside showing the backs of instruments and their wiring.  Since the VB would have its front open to reveal the fuel tank, this detail would show through.  

 

The frames supplied with the Hasegawa kit were duplicated for the Revell model.  Seat belts were made from masking tape and photoetched buckles and other fittings.  The Radio and battery were scratchbuilt.  The radio details were taken off an original manual loaned from the Aviation Museum.  The Battery shape and measurements were taken off an original also found in the same Museum.  What really pleased me was that both items fitted perfectly in their intended location proving the accuracy of the Hasegawa kit.

 (clicking on some of the images directly below will take you to larger images)

 

  

Fuselage

 Although pretty obvious, the fuselage of the Hasegawa model was checked for accuracy against scale plans.  Unlike this, the Revell fuselage is very narrow behind the cockpit to the tail and a plastic fillet was inserted to correct this.  The Hasegawa fuselage was scribed and sanded down.  The Revell fuselage was sanded down since the panel lines were already recessed. (amazing for an old Revell model  - about the only good point)  The curved area under the fuselage where the wings join is non existent in the Revell kit and this is probably the worst defect since it is a characteristic of the aircraft which also adds to its grace.  I was not duly worried since I replaced the kit wings with a pair of Warbirds resin wings.  This resulted in the removal of most of the centre section on the underside and so with the major surgery, I included some thick chunks of plastic which were later filed and sanded to shape, thus obtaining the right contour which was continuous with the wings.   

Canopy

The Revell canopy was obviously discarded.  The Hasegawa rear cockpit section was unmodified.  To the sliding hood was added a raised oval edge which was a knockout part on the Spitfire hood to be used in case of emergency. The front section was modified to include curved side mouldings which are terribly obvious in photographs.  All these parts were used as the male mould.  These were filled with Milliput so as not to cave in when put in contact with the hot acetate.  Each part (a total of three) was then mounted on a brass rod which set into the Milliput.  This would allow these to be held tightly in a vice until the hot clear acetate is stretched over them.  Finally, the canopy framing was slightly lowered using 1200 gauge wet or dry sandpaper and the entire canopy polished using a rubbing compound. All clear canopy parts were then moulded.

 

Gun Bays 

Each Spitfire has different gun bays.  The VB is equipped with the drum fed 20mm cannon and browning machine guns. All these weapons were scratchbuilt and exposed.  In the case for the browning guns, the wing structure shows along the sides of the gun bays.  In the case of the VC, it was decided to expose the 20mm Hispano cannon and belt feed.  The whole gun bay was exposed but only one gun fitted.  I used a bit of imagination as to what would be in the bay when the second cannon was removed since I could not find any reference photos.  Again, the cannon and shell feed mechanism were scratchbuilt and the shells were turned from copper wire and just painted in the appropriate colours and given a wash.   

Historical Note:

In Malta, the VCs were delivered with two cannon per wing but a pair were soon removed.  There is no fixed rule as to which were removed but most photos show the outer pair missing and so I went along with this.  The main reasons for removing these guns were:

  • To render the aircraft lighter and more maneouverable since its performance was already hampered by the tropical filter.

  • Not enough ammo was available in Malta during those terrible days.

Brian

Part 2  Wings, Undercarriage and painting Part 3  The history of Spitfire Vc BR108

Photos and text by Brian Cauchi