Airfix 1/48th Seafire XVII
So here it is, Airfix's second 1/48th scale release of 2011 in their continuing assault on chez Spitfire! And for this one they have chosen to go with the Seafire XVII, an aircraft which, as with so many other Seafires, was a bit of a mish-mash! Full span folding C type wings, short Griffon nose with four blade prop (ala Spitfire XII) and a cut down rear fuselage with bubble canopy. As with the Spitfire XII, the combo actually goes quite well and gives it the mean, lean look of a real thoroughbred. The aircraft also had new undercarriage legs, finally going some way to curing some of the vicious deck handling characteristics of earlier Seafires, and particularly the Mk. XV, although as with previous Seafires (and, for that matter, later ones!) the inherent fragility of the Spitfire airframe for the rough and tumble of carrier ops was never fully cured. Records indicate that 212 Mk.XVII's were built by Westlands and another 20 by Cunliffe-Owen, and one remains airworthy today with the Royal Navy Historic Flight at RNAS Yeovilton.
As you can see, the box has another of Adam Toobey's wonderfully evocative pieces of artwork, which should hopefully catch the eye on the shelf. The kit itself comes on two grey and one clear sprue. Anyone familiar with the Spitfire XII from earlier in the year will know what to expect. . pale grey plastic, well moulded with very well defined recessed detail (the arguments rage over whether it's too heavy or not. . I like it this way, deep but sharp, less work to restore, retain and wash panel detail later, others want it much finer. I'll not argue the point other than to say I like it and leave it there!)
You can see that all major control surfaces are separate to allow the modeller to pose them as desired, and the model has thesistictive large rudder that equipped this variant. Detail is nice, and Airfix have captured the extra Dzus cowl fasteners that were unique to the Seafire. Indeed, these details were, for me, the standout on the Spitfire XII, and as the photograph below shows, are equally well done on this model! The prop is well shaped, possibly a little thick like the earlier kit but nothing the average modeller can't cure in a very few minutes with some abrasive if the fancy strikes. The overall curve of the nose looks a little odd without the rocker covers in place, but once attached it all comes together to give the predatory look of a Griffon cowl nicely, in spite of some (at least one!) modeller who is convinced it is wrong and too curved, I'm firmly convinced it's absolutely fine. If you feel otherwise then break out the milliput, but I'm happy that Airfix have pretty much nailed it.
Note the Dzus fasterners, and other rivets. Very nicely done!
Obviously one of the major features of the Seafire was the folding wing, and here Airfix have played a blinder! They have included two entire wings. . . both "C" type, but one is complete and one is folded! Personally speaking my heart sinks whenever I open the box of a subject that has folding wings and it's all chopped up for folding. . . it's invariably a nightmare to match the parts up if you want the wings spread, and if like me you like your models to look like the aircraft in question, not all folded up and losing the lines of the original, it's just a pain. Airfix have neatly avoided this with just THREE additional parts. . . one piece lower and two upper wings in addition to the folded option. We're all catered for! If I were to make any criticism it would be in the inclusion of separate flaps. . . Spitfire and Seafires were almost never seen with flaps deployed unless they were actually taking off or landing, so it's a detail that I could have lived without. That's not to knock the tooling, which is fine, and I suppose is just another personal preference thing, but if they were to ditch the flaps for future kits I wouldn't mourn their passing. . .
Other details include half moulded undercarriage legs if you want retracted undercarriage (along with half wheels to match!), and two styles of main wheel with separate hubs. Stores include 60lb rockets and several styles of drop tank including the centreline tank and the flush mounted wing tanks.
The kit comes with three decal options. The sheet is again printed by Cartograph and is beautiful. All three options are in differing schemes, giving the modeller plenty of choice. The first is from 800NAS at Hal Far, Malta in 1947 and has Sky undersides and EDSG uppers with a low division line and wartime coloured roundels. I know there is some question over whether this aircraft had Dark Slate Grey as well, and the artist has spent many hours looking at the evidence before deciding on this interpretation. . . if you decide different then applying the camo will be the only variation, and you can use the artwork from scheme B for a guide to applying it.
Scheme B is from 714NAS at St Merryn, Cornwall in 1947, and has sky undersides with a DSG/EDSG disruptive uppers. The aircraft also has yellow elevators, ailerons and wing tips which will make a nice contrast and is certainly my first choice of the schemes provided!
Scheme C is the scheme most associate with the Seafire XVII, Sky underside with EDSG uppers and a high division line, with post war D type roundels in the brighter blue and red as opposed to the wartime colours.
Full stencilling is supplied for all schemes, and what's in the box will be more than adequate for most requirements, although aftermarket sheets will doubtless be along in due course to cover other options should the modeller desire them.
Well, as I said at the start, the assault continues, and with this release Airfix's statemnt of intent with regard to the Spitfire series is reinforced. Generally a very clean, nice moulding, the more discerning among us will know where to look for aftermarket parts to guild this partilcuar lilly (I know I'll be searching out some Ultracast seats and exhausts, and probably some aftermarket brass turned gun barrels as well) but the average modeller will find everything in the box to produce a very nice replica of this most attractive addition to the family. Now, Airfix, how about a Spitfire XIV like this?
©2010 Drewe Manton.