1/48 ICM Spitfire MkVII

by Drewe Manton

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Okay, we all know my heart is with 1/72nd fast jets, but here's proof that I CAN turn my hand to other subjects on occasion!  This is ICM's recently released Spitfire HF VII, one of my favourite Spitfires with it's extended wingtips and two colour camo. . a nice change from all the disruptive schemed Spitfires we always see!  

The reason I built this model was two fold;- one was that, as I said, the subject matter has always appealed to me, which made it an easy choice. The other was that this model has had a pretty mixed press since it was released, most generally positive, but one well known modeller has dismissed it as little more than junk, and I was determined to form my own opinion of it, with the only real way to do this being to build one of them!
   

 There were all the sink holes that people referred to to deal with, and I appeared to have benefitted from the whole lot of them. . . in front of the Ailerons, rear fuselage and below the windscreen. Whilst hardly desirable, I found a little Acryl Blue filler and some patience cured all very quickly , and really consider it practically a no-brainer to deal with. The other well reported problem is unusabe main wheels, but I'm happy to report the examples in my kit at least were pretty much perfect, with no sinkage/mould misalignment to deal with. People have also reported some problems getting all the engine parts under the cowling if you want to have it closed up, and I've discovered that with a little lateral thinking you can avoid using *any* of the engine parts bar the exhausts.  I backed the exhaust slots with a little plastic card packed out to the correct depth for the exhausts, which eliminated the main engine block. The cowling underside was added to the main wing before adding the wing to the fuselage. With the main fuselage joined the wing can be added and the lower side cowling parts pushed and tweaked to meet the lower cowling before tacking them with superglue. Once set, plenty of superglue and accelerator was introduced into the join the fix and re-inforce it before adding the upper cowling piece, which was tacked into place with Tenax. Some filling and re-scribing was necessary at the rear of the upper cowling, but nothing major. The lower cowling received little more than a swipe with scotchbrite to be perfect, and there you have it, a minimum trouble great looking Spitfire nose with no nasty engine underneath to get in the way!  Once all dry, the cowling nose piece was bevelled until it fitted nicely into the hole at the nose and dropped and superglued into place, a little work with a sanding stick and I also had a place for the prop to locate! 
  

 The wings needed a little work, with the wingtips requiring quite a bit of filler and the wing roots needing work- next time I'll glue the upper wings to the fuselage before adding the lower wing and transfer any fit problems to the leading and trailing edges, but as it was a little elbow grease and some re-scribing saw the wingroots right.
    

The model is painted with Xtracolor Medium Sea Grey and PRU Blue, which being gloss needs no preperation for the decals. Beware the decals!  They didn't really respond to any of my setting/softening solutions, and after the wing walkways silvered I applied the rest sandwiched between Future coats, which pulled them down beautifully and ensured *NO* silvering whatsoever. Those walkways still needed dealing with tho', and in the end I had to resort to applications of liquid cement (yes, really!) to melt them into the paintwork. Liquid cement is my decal softener of last resort, and can cure problems that otherwise would ruin a model, but it almost goes without saying that it needs extreme care and not a little bravery to use! Final varnish coat is Testor Dullcote, from my jealously guarded stash brought back to the UK with me after my trip to California in February. I removed some of the flatting agent to impart a slightly shiny finish typical of these high altitude Spits. Weathering was done with an airbrush and heavily thinned matt black paint.
    All in all I have to say I really like this model and would have no hesitation in building it again, and ICM are doing some great variants!  The new Hasegawa kit may well turn out to be better, but I have my doubts if it'll be *THAT* much better, and I also doubt very much that Hasegawa will do a bubble top XVI, which ICM have in the pipeline!
    Try one. . .it's cheap and the shape looks great, not to mention good overall levels of detail the equal of the Japanese Spitfires of the last few years.

Drewe

Photos and text by Drewe Manton