Bigger might be better

My next model, I decided, would be the one model that I always remember wanting to make when I was a young lad but never did - a Spitfire.

My next choice was scale and I settled on 1:48 which might make it easier on the model given my ham fists.

This would be the first model to try out some enhancements available through the world of after market parts and I decided to use photo-etch metal for the cockpit .

I decided to do the model, except for the photo-etch, out of the box and chose to use the colour scheme and markings of the Polish ace Aleksander Gabszewicz.

The first steps, as with most scale model aircraft, is the cockpit. I started by getting the photo-etch sorted and installing it into the other kit parts.

I assembled the fuselage, cockpit and wings and found that the wing roots had a large gap that needed some work. I filled the worst of the gaps with styrene (0.5mm)

After much work, filling & sanding, the elevators were fitted, some photoetch detailing for the radiators was added and the canopy was masked and fitted. The canopy is in three parts that allow for it all to be posed with it closed or open - I think I'll be going for an open canopy. Next then came the serious task of trying to make seams disappear. The technique I have employed in the past followed the teachings of the aforementioned Mr. Werner Jr. but this time I thought I might experiment a little.

Instead of filling seams with superglue and the using a setting agent (accelerator) I decided to try putty instead. The one I purchased is called Vallejo Plastic Putty. In combination with the styrene used to fill the majority of the gap at the wing roots this turned out to work quite well. It is easy to use and easy to clean up to a state where very little sanding is required to get the desired finish.

Next I applied a primer coat but found that I had a problem with coverage. I had used Tamiya X1 (acrylic paint) to check my seams and when I applied the primer (lacquer paint) the two reacted with each other. The lesson here is lacquer first and once it is dry, then acrylic! Following on from this was the job of pre-shading. In the previous model (the FW190A-5) I used an airbrush with a Dark Grey in it to accentuate the panel lines. This time I chose to try a bottle of Tamiya Black Line Accent which comes in a bottle with a brush attached to its screw top. After I highlighted the panel lines I assembled and painted the landing gear and the propeller.

Paint! Finally the model gets to have a little character added. First I started with the underside, which I painted using Tamiya XF83 Medium Sea Grey 2 (RAF). I tried to airbrush the paint so as to cover the surfaces and change their colour but not so much as to completely cover the panel line accenting. I tried to leave enough so as to give the impression of depth and highlight characteristics that might otherwise have been obscured by everything being a uniform colour.

For the topside I started by using Tamiya XF82 Ocean Grey 2 (RAF). Again I tried to apply the paint so that some of the panel accenting would still show through.

Once all the paint had cured, I then applied the AML Camouflage Masks (AMLM 49 013) that I had purchased to help me have a reasonable chance of painting the scheme for this particular Spitfire. They simply lifted off the sheet of pre-cut shapes and with a little patience fit the model so I could paint the other half of the camo layout.

The last camo paint colour, Tamiya XF81 Dark Green 2 (RAF) was the airbrushed over the topside of the model and when the masks were removed, voila!...

I removed the canopy masks to check for leaks to the paint onto the clear parts before reapplying them to carry on with the rest of the work.

The wheel wells had to be painted the same colour as the cockpit base colour so I masked off the wheel wells and painted them. 

In order for the decals to be applied successfully I clear gloss coated the entire model. The gloss coat gives a smmoth surface for the decals to adhere to. After the gloss coat had cured I set about laying on the decals - now the model really takes to have a sense of presence.

The home stretch...

Once the gloss sealing coat over the decals was dry I sprayed the entire model with a flat clear coat. This gives the model its real look and feel back. On went the landing gear and once that was dry I was able to stand the plane on it's feet. The push to the finish line was about putting on all the fiddly bits that I decided to leave off up until this point as I would probably have broken them off handling the model, this included the upper and lower identifying lenses/lamps, cannons and the propeller. The final act was to unmask the canopy, clean it and then pose the canopy open so you can see into the cockpit.


  1. Although more detail, which looks good, are you finding the scale and general fit better?

    1. I don't know whether it's a bit of OCD, but I have found that I have spent more time sanding and fettling the model to get it right. However, working on the larger scale definitely helps when handling the parts and there is a lot more visible detail :)

  2. This professional looking job looks fantastic. Can't wait to see all those details like wheel wells,pitot tubes,guns ,fuel caps and exhausts. Wheely good job, again, well done.


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Hi, thanks for looking and spending some of your time to see what I've been up to.