1/48 Tamiya/HiTech Spitfire MkIXc

Conversion: PRE-Hasegawa; PRE-ICM; PRE-Occidental!

by Will Hendriks



In Days of Old:
1/48th Tamiya/HiTech SPITFIRE MkIXc Conversion: PRE-Hasegawa; PRE-ICM; PRE-Occidental!

This model was built several years ago, before the release of the Spitfire MkIX by Occidental, ICM, or Hasegawa. This article illustrates what we Spitfire MkIX fans had to resort to back then!

Until a couple of years ago, the only Spitfire MkIX kit available in 1/48 was the ARII/Otaki Spit MkVIII/IX. While this kit can form the basis of an accurate MkIX, I wanted to take advantage of the higher detail and ease of construction of the then new Tamiya MkVb. I got tired of waiting for the then anticipated rumoured release of a MkIX by one of the mainstream Japanese manufacturers, so decided to do a conversion.

I chose to model the Spitfire MkIX using the excellent Tamiya MkVb kit, which I converted to a MkIXc using the resin and metal conversion set from HiTech of France. I do not know if this set is still available. The set includes a complete resin engine cowl, spinner, underwing radiators, Vokes filter intake, exhausts, and three styles of gun panel blisters. A broad chord, pointed tip rudder is provided for the later variants. Four white metal blades are provided for the propeller.  The resin of this set was very brittle, and some of the parts were broken on arrival in the mail. 

Construction began by replacing the cowling of the MkVb with the resin piece. This was accomplished by simply sawing off the kit portion at the appropriate panel line and gluing on the new piece. Once mounted, a step of about 1mm resulted at the top of the cowling to fuselage joint. This was easy to correct however by sanding the fuselage down to meet the contours of the cowling. 
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The rest of the fuselage went together "out of the box", with no changes to the kit interior except for the addition of seat belts from the Reheat range. 

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The most work was involved in the next step, the wings. This meant converting the "b" wing of the kit to a "c" wing. On the under surface of the wing a fairly large hole had to be cut out to accommodate the replacement resin rectangular oil cooler fairing. Various blisters were removed and others added as per my reference drawings. Panel lines were filled and re-scribed to match those of the "c" wing. The wing upper surfaces then got similar treatment. I did not like the cannon fairings supplied in the HiTech set, so I used fairing blisters from an old Monogram kit, cut out and sanded down to fit the contour of the Tamiya wing. Again, the upper wing panels were filled and re-scribed as required. The 20mm cannon barrels of the kit were removed and replaced by a pair turned on a Unimat lathe from a piece of sprue.

Once the basic assembly was complete, the model was given a light airbrush coat of Floquil Ocean Grey to reveal any surface flaws. Once these were corrected, the airplane was airbrushed in the standard RAF scheme of Dark Green and Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey, using the Floquil Classic Military Colours range of enamels. After a coat of Floquil Crystal Cote was applied, decals from Aeromaster sheet no. 48-123, "Spitfire MkIX Collection, Part 1" were used to represent DN-T, sn MJ832 of 416 Squadron, RCAF in early 1944. After a coat of Floquil Flat finish, the model was weathered with pastel chalks and the landing gear, canopy, propeller, and antenna were added.

A lot of work, but in the end a fine replica of the Spitfire that many who flew her thought was the best of the breed.


(click on the image below to load the full size photo)

Photos and text by Will Hendriks