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Tamiya 1/32 scale Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX

There have been many kits of Supermarine’s iconic fighter, but few with as much detail and neat engineering as offered in Tamiya’s new 1/32 scale model.
RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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72 scale supermarine spitfire pr.XIX 6
The Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX was intended to be an expedient, more powerful version of the famous fighter to cope with the Luftwaffe’s new Fw 190. As it turned out, the design was so successful that more than 5,000 were built.

Now, Tamiya introduces an all-new 1/32 scale Spitfire IXc that is sure to energize modelers around the world. Details and options abound: two pilot figures (one standing, one seated), two wingtip options, different wing-cannon panels, underwing bombs, a complete engine, separate cowling panels, photoetched-metal parts, two rudder options, deployed or retracted landing gear, vinyl tires, optional air intakes, and an auxiliary fuel tank. There’s even a display stand!

The cockpit is exquisite. Side walls are constructed from mostly separate parts, rendering the busy look of the real Spit’s cockpit. Clear parts and decals make for a convincing instrument panel.

The Merlin engine is a stand-alone gem! Plan to spend some time with it; its 50-some parts occupy four sprues! Test-fit often, as the main engine components will affect the attachment of the cowling panels later on. Be sure to install the large magnet in the intercooler box (parts Y1, 2, 3, 4). The completed engine plugs neatly into the fuselage firewall.

Tamiya has molded the cowling parts as thinly as possible. Small magnets allow them to be removable. Under the cowling, the kit is designed to accept either long or short intakes.

I worried that the lower one-piece wing would be weak, as it has numerous cutouts for the wheel wells, wing panels and flaps. However, once everything is attached the completed wing is a robust structure. The wing-to-fuselage fit was perfect – the best I have ever encountered!

All flying surfaces are movable, thanks to photoetched-metal hinges and a metal rod trapped within the parts. Landing flaps can be posed up or down, but you have to choose because the attachment points need to be removed for the “up” option. An especially nice detail is the small wing door and actuating arm that protrudes when the flaps are down.

The kit lets you choose retracted or deployed landing gear with a clever method of attachment, along with two sets of landing gear legs and covers. The tires are molded in black vinyl. Note that the French version has some variation in the detail parts.

The blemish-free canopy was extremely clear. The sliding hood had a barely perceptible mold seam down the middle; I did not attempt to clean it off.

I painted my plane with a combination of Tamiya, Hobby Color, and Polly Scale RAF colors. Decals are provided for two RAF and one French aircraft. I found the decals performed well enough with some decal solution, but they are brittle. The wing roundels cracked as I worked them over some bumps and sharp surfaces. I would recommend some good aftermarket decals to replace them.

My primary reference was The Super-marine Spitfire, Part 1: Merlin Powered, by Robert Humphreys (SAM Publications, ISBN 978-0-9533465-2-3). Spitfire IX & XVI of Polish Airmen, Vol. 1, by Wojtek Matusiak (Mirage Hobby, ISBN 978-83-88996-05-4) was also very useful for World War II close-up photos. Other than the shape of the large wing cannon covers, I can’t fault the accuracy of the completed kit when compared with the references.

I finished my Spitfire in 35 hours. If my review seems to lack criticism, it’s because I couldn’t find any. I was extremely happy with the end result. Tamiya pulled out all the stops on this kit, with engineering, detail, and innovative design setting a new standard in large-scale aircraft kits. It’s not for beginners, but I highly recommend the kit to all aircraft modelers.

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