1/72 Revell Seafire Mk Vb

with scratch built cockpit

Part 1:  Building the Cockpit and adding gull wing effect

by Len Thomson




Over the last few months, Steve Bamford has been kind enough to show some of my Spitfire models here on ARC. You may have noticed that I always said that the cockpits were detailed, undercarriages re-worked etc. Quite a few folks have asked me for more details of how I go about this. Well, here goes. 

Firstly, let me give you a few details of my modelling philosophy. I (mostly) always add as much detail as I can, especially to the cockpit. This, to me is the focal point of the model. I tend not to use resin and photo-etch materials. I have nothing against these items, and have been known to use them in the past. It is just that I often find that these items are sometimes made to fit the kit and in view of the moulding limitations of the kit parts etc., are not always accurate. I also find that I can make perfectly good replicas using thin plastic sheet (from 5thou upwards), stretched sprue, wire etc. A really sharp scalpel is needed. I swear by my Swann Morton scalpel and use the No 11 blade mostly. 

One of the main advantages of using resin and brass is the time saving involved. I am reasonably blessed in this respect, as I do not build to any deadlines, only my own. I also get the satisfaction that it is my own work, and it is cheaper (don’t forget, I am a Scot!). 

The Model

I am trying to build a collection of all the common versions of the Spitfire (yes, my Merlin series is not yet finished!). I have always liked the later Seafire variants. The combination of short nose Mk V airframe, with the four bladed propeller, is one that I like. I have built up a fair stock of Spitfire parts over the years. This model was based on the Revell 1/72 Mk Vb with parts from various other kits. This kit has nice scribed panel lines but the most glaring error is the lack of gull wing section, which needs correcting. All will be explained as you read on.

This shows the fuselage halves as they come delivered. Note the lack of gull wing and rudimentary sidewall detail.


Click on image to right  to see larger image





Here is the fuselage with all of the sidewall mouldings removed, using the scalpel. I have also thinned the walls a bit using a curved scalpel blade in a scraping motion. Messy, but worth it. I have also removed the pilot’s access door ant he portion of the fuselage where the gull wing will be inserted.




Now we are making some progress. Ribs and stringers have been added from (mostly) 5 thou sheet cut into very thin strips. The main longeron is in fact two strips, one wider than the other, to show the construction of this part.  You will note

 that I have left a slight gap for the later placement of the frame carrying the seat. Various instruments are added using small pieces of plastic card, stretched sprue etc.

 The oxygen hose was from very thin rubber. This used to be marketed by PP Aeroparts in various thicknesses. It is very flexible and is easily glues using CA. I am carefully hoarding my remaining stock of this stuff.

People often ask how I am able to hold such small parts. I do not use tweezers generally. Very small parts can be easily picked up and moved around using the point of the scalpel blade.

The frame with the lightening holes is simply strip styrene, drilled out. I find it easier to drill a straight line of holes, and then cut out the strip to size.

Throttle box and undercarriage control were made from strip styrene, sprue etc as before.




Here we have the cockpit walls painted. I always use Humbrol 78 for Interior Green. Shading has been done with thinned black and highlighting with lightened green. Various details are picked out in very dark grey (again highlighted), with red, white and yellow for other details. The oxygen tanks are painted matt aluminium. When complete, the fuselage halves can be joined.




Click on images below to see larger images

Here is the instrument panel and frame carrying the seat. I have used an instrument panel from an Academy Mk XIV in this case. The detail is good and it fit the model nicely. I have build these from scratch before, using plastic card and various size drills. This saved time on this occasion. The frame below the panel is from 10 thou. I firstly determined the width by dry fitting to the fuselage (from below), and then drew in by hand the shape of the cut out for the pilot’s legs. This was then very carefully cut out using a fresh blade.

The frame carrying the seat was built in a similar manner. First determine the width from the fuselage. When the card has been cut to the correct width, it can then be shaped to fit the upper fuselage contours. This is done by constant dry fitting, trimming, filing etc. Don’t forget to shape the frame where it projects above the fuselage sides. When I am satisfied, I then draw in the shape of the cut out in the middle. Lightening holes are then drilled around the outside. Then very carefully cut out the centre section, using a very sharp blade. The upper (triangular) armour plate is added, using a 10thou spacer, and the voltage regulator is added from scrap at the rear.

The seat was built from 5 thou card, then mounted on a frame of plastic strip, stretched sprue etc. Sometimes it is better to use CA adhesive than liquid poly when using such small parts. I apply mine with a needle mounted in a pin vice. The armour behind the seat is added between the seat mounting frames. I find excellent reference for the cockpit parts in some drawings by G A Cox, published by MAP many years ago. Constant trial fitting to the fuselage is needed during all of these operations.

Here are the cockpit parts painted, highlighted and dry brushed as before. I have also added the rudder control rods and pedals, together with the heel boards. These are 

 simply from rod and strip styrene as before. I fix these directly to the frame carrying the seat etc., ensuring that spacing and angles are right. The control column has been added (I think this time from a Hasegawa Mk IX).


The seat is painted dull red/brown and I have used etched belts this time from the Reheat range. I sometimes use masking tape for these, with the holes in the belts made with a needle.

Click on image below to see larger image


Below we have the lower wing from the kit showing the lack of gull wing. I used a section from an Italeri Spit kit (seen below) to replace this. Simply cut out the correct section from the donor part, and a corresponding section from the Revell wing. Some filling and sanding will be needed, but nothing too hard.

Below is the lower wing with the gull section added. I have also replaced the radiator and oil cooler from Airfix parts. I was not happy with the shape of the kit items. I have also filled all the panel lines relating to the “b” wing, which comes with the kit. I use CA glue as a filler. Easy to apply, spray some accelerator and you are ready to sand. Scribing for the “c” wing panels has also been carried out, along with the wing fold lines.

And so to the upper wings, duly filled and re-scribed to “c” pattern. Bulges over the cannon bays have also been added, from a Fujimi kit. These were later modified as I did not like the shape.

In hindsight, I could have used a “c “ wing from another kit to save all of the re-scribing, and the gull wing would have been there already. However, all kits with the “c” wing are for later variants (MkIX etc) and have twin radiators. I also had these earmarked for future use!    

Progress is now being made with the main airframe together. Do not forget to add the cockpit parts before the wing! (been there, done that!). I do not like the shape of the Revell kit’s upper fuselage spine. I slightly reduced it in front of the fin, and added a smear of Miliput just behind the cockpit. Improves the shape immensely. Strengthening strips have been added along the fuselage from 5 thou. The 6 stack exhausts came from a Hasegawa MkIX.


Click on images below to see larger images

Photos and text © by Len Thomson