1/24 Airfix Spitfire Mk.IA Part 2

by Massimo Moruzzi

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WINGS

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The main work I did on wings was building gear wells that are simply holes in the kit. I used thin plastic card to create the wells and the stiffeners.

I also added a few details to the water radiator (underside right wing). I did not lower the flaps,  because Spitfire flaps are spring loaded and are always in the up position when the plane is parked.  

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CANOPY, GEAR, GUN BAYS, PROPELLER

The canopy frame is painted black inside; the rear part is attached with white glue, the front part is attached with cyanoacrylate and junction has been heavily filled with putty and sanded to provide smooth junction (I later discovered that on the real thing junction is not so smooth…!).  

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The landing gear is out-of-the-box; I only added a hydraulic tube made with copper wire; after painting Silver (#11), I washed the legs and wheels with extra-thinned black enamel. I think it might be worthy to detail further the gear, since kit standard is quite low here. Rubber tires need heavy sanding to eliminate molding residue in the center.

Gun bays are another item that would have required massive detailing; I only added air tubes.

The propeller is also out-of-the-box, except for the tips of the blades which I rounded with a file to match correct shape of the real item.

 

PAINTING

After puttying and sanding, I washed the plane with soap and warm water and let it dry overnight. Then I applied one coat of Silver (#11) as a primer; this is useful to spot imperfections, and also to provide a base to simulate color chipping (although I did not use this technique on the Spitfire). Underside color is White (#34) slightly darkened with Black (#33) and Dark Earth (#29); camouflage is early WWII scheme with Dark Earth (#29) and Dark Green (#30); both these were scaled with Sand (#63).

 

MARKINGS

I discarded the kit decals and painted all the roundels, tail three-color flag and squadron markings “RN-D”. I produced roundel masking with self-adhesive labels cut with a sharp blade guided by a circle shape for designers (it is plastic, and was not easy to avoid cutting it as well as the label). Painting was done again with bristle brush; I started with roundels on top of the wing: a circle of Oxford Blue (#104) and later the Insignia Red (#154) center. 

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The roundels on the fuselage sides are more difficult, being four colors. I started masking for the yellow edge and white center; using bristle brush, I had to re-coat these colors 4-5 times; I used masking for the first coat only; applying further coats freehand; this to avoid heavy paint built-up at masked edges. Then, I added the blue belt, again freehand, and finally the red central dot. It is necessary to pay a lot of attention in order to avoid incorrect alignment of different colors (you see that some defects can be noticed on my Spit). Later I drafted squadron code letters “RN-D” with a CAD program to suit the correct shape, printed them on a label and cut it with knife; with these masks I painted letters using Matt White (#34) darkened with black (with a ratio of approx. 10 drops of black in 14 ml of white). Of course, to prove Murphy’s Law, I found a RAF True Type font two days after I had drafted my letters!

Aircraft code “P9444” is not painted: I used dry transfers for this. Stenciling of underside wing are kit decals, applied on a local gloss clear coat and then coated with flat paint after drying. I must say I am not satisfied with the result (you can see too much that it is a decal, although I smoothed this effect with weathering), I will try something different next time. For the other small stenciling I discarded kit decals and I am still wondering how to complete this (I could not find dry transfers small enough).

 

WEATHERING AND FINISHING.

To me, this was really a new field to explore! The aircraft I saw at the Science Museum in London was in pretty good condition, although it may have been restored; I tried to reproduce a plane with slightly heavier weathering. I mainly adopted washes in two colors: black (using ink diluted with water) and brown (using Italian espresso coffee, i.e. very strong one compared to the drink that American people call coffee). I started applying one or the other color with a soft bristled brush, then spreading the wash with a soft paper towel; after this, I smoothed the edges of the portion colored by the wash with the brush dipped in clean water, and again with a clean towel (or even with a finger). I weathered the underside mainly, until I felt it was enough.

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Finally I glued on all the moving parts, except for the propeller that was already a nice fit so it wouldn't produce a rattle.

Antenna cable is stretched sprue glued with cyanoacrylate and painted Black #33): to obtain very thin stretched sprue wire, I heated much a small portion of sprue over a candle (until it almost started burning in a point), then gently stretch it; pay attention to use a portion of stretched sprue that has appropriate and constant diameter.

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CONCLUSION

It’s wonderful having started modeling again, although I am aware I have a lot to learn, try and improve, in detailing, painting (I must decide using an air brush!), weathering and so on, including, for each model, researching better and better about the real thing.

Photos were taken with a Sharp digital camera, I hope quality is sufficient.

I thank you for patience in reading this long article and I will be glad in receiving any comments, hints and suggestions.

Massimo 

Photos and text © by Massimo Moruzzi