Spitfire kits

Discussion in 'First Impressions Kit Reviews' started by Leif Oh, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    [This thread started as a review of the JSC 1/24 Spitfire, then branched out into other kits, so I changed the heading. Here's the original review that started it off:]

    The JSC kit of the Spitfire Vb is two or three years old now, but remains, as far as I have been able to find out, the only Spitfire kit in a reasonably large (1/24) scale, and remarkably seems to be the sole large paper model of this classic aircraft, at least the for the versions representing its most glorious period.

    (If anybody knows of a current high-quality Spitfire Mk. I-V kit in 1/33 or larger scale, please let me know. There is a Geli 1/33 model, which I don't believe in, and I have noticed a "tanie hobby" 1/33 model of a Mk.II, but do not know anything about the quality, level of detail, etc. I also notice that even the JSC model under review here has disappeared from Moduni; should still be available from other sources though; Spishop has it, for 8.90 euros.)

    The JSC kit comes in a handy, roughly A4-sized booklet with eight-plus pages of parts (half of them coloured, half formers, etc.), and two pages of instructional diagrams (plus some three pages of written instructions in Polish; be sure to get the English translation from the Parts Bin on this site!

    The method of construction for me is fairly unorthodox, but appealing, with no thick cardboard required, just backing up of certain parts on 0.5 mm card. This is one reason why you need the English instructions; the parts to be backed up are not distinguished by any special marks, asterixes or such, only refered to in the text of the instructions!.

    The main reason why you need the instructions, however, is the fairly complicated method of construction, with boxed frames for the wings, several inset boxes in the fuselage, etc. I still have to study the instructions more closely, but it appears that you will really have to do things in the correct order here!

    The quality of the print is very high. Extremely sharp printing, with fine black lines, and a lot of rivets. The good thing about this is that details and markings stand out very clearly. The not so good thing is that there is no shading. Rivets and seams are full black dots and lines (albeit very thin, which I appreciate). Likewise, no shading, ageing, or dirt anywhere. You are building a most pristine aircraft here.

    Choice of camouflage nuances could have been better, in my opinion - although I am not fully qualified to judge that in detail. What I do know, however, is that the choice of a blueish nuance for aircraft markings, fuselage roundel, as well as spinner, is dead wrong. It should be egg white. I know for sure, because I've just bought an expensive book with a 1941 colour photo of the particular aicraft modeled. (The assumption that these markings were bluish is not very educated, and must have come from the designer studying an aged colour photograph.)

    So, if you want to be at all true to the original, scan the kit, go into your computer, and recolour at least these parts. Use the cover of the kit for determining the correct colour, if nothing better is available (notably, the colouring on the cover is absolutely correct, which makes the disappointment when opening the kit even greater!)

    While you're at it, tone down the red on the exhaust stubs as well. Should probably be more like rust-coloured.

    The bubble canopy needs heat-shaping of a suitable acetate sheet (drawing, vacuum-forming, or otherwise shaping). No way you could get an acceptable result otherwise. Note that you need to get it bubbly, not only upwards, but also sideways.

    For me, this kit will form valuable raw material for the skin of an even larger (1/16) model, whenever I get to it. I've found no better raw material for that, and will be happy to use it. It remains to be seen how much of recolouring I will manage eventually. I know I will make some considerable redesigning of the nose, where the bulbuous underside is poorly represented. Likewise, the top of the engine cowling could do with some redesigning, although the method used in the kit certainly is ingenious in its own right (se instruction sketches for an idea how it is accomplished).

    With some minimum amendements (colour of markings) I don't hesitate to recommend the kit for a build "as is". It has a very nice and comfortable level of detail (full interior of cockpit, with pedals, levers and such, albeit not to the extreme that e.g. Halinski goes), and would make a very clean, reasonably true to scale, late Battle of Britain Spitfire. It would also be reasonably simple to increase the level of detail based on additional photography (which the builder of course will have to research on his/her own).

    As long as none other is available (in the nice 1/24 scale or possibly even in the reasonable 1/33), this is it. I also think you could scale down to 1/33 without problems, if you wish to keep to that scale. Details would be crisper, and the black lines might even be less protruding.

  2. cadwal

    cadwal Member

    Nice summary, Leif.

    Halinski promises a Spitfire Vb in January according to their homepage. (1:33 as always)
  3. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Wow, glorious news! Something to look forward to, indeed! I have wondered about why they don't have one, to go with their Hurricane, and now it comes. Great - I have pre-ordered a copy from my regular supplier already. Thanks for the tip! - L.
  4. tino

    tino Member

    Hi Leif,
    Nice review.
  5. cmdrted

    cmdrted Active Member

    Jsc spitfire

    Leif, I have the Tanie Mk2 Spit. It is medium detailed 1 page instructions, 4 pages of parts, 2 of the pages are for lamination. The cockpit is a tub with minimal detail, it does have very rudimentary wheelwells, the colours seem reasonably close. It is a Polish flown spit with those markings. I also have/had a Fly model MkV. This has a lot of parts and detail but it comes with some funky colours in the cockpit; dayglow green :!: The exterior colours are ok, I don't know enough yet about the subtle changes in marks and mods of the Spit so I can't tell you if they are acccurate enough. I got them both from Moduni a couple years back. (that's how long the wait list is for my builds).
  6. yaniv

    yaniv Active Member

  7. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Design problems with the Spitfire

    Ted, thanks for the info on the Tanie Spit, and the Fly model Spit, which I haven't been able to find. The terrible interior colour is common to all Fly models I've come across - has to be amended, of course. Fortunately, that is a reasonably simple process, once you've scanned it anyway.

    Yaniv, thanks for the photos of a most commendable build of the JSC Spitfire Mk Vb, and greetings to your friend. I think the photos show some of the problems with the JSC design. The camouflage colours are kind of "off", aren't they. Note also in the pictures the trouble with the top and bottom front parts of the cowling, they look kind of edgy, and very card-model like. This is not the fault of the builder, who in fact has succeeded pretty well in hiding the extra joints in the top cowling which come with the JSC design.

    The Spitfire is a most demanding aircraft to model properly, with its many subtle curves. Sensitive parts are the cowling (top is actually wider than the fuselage below, and curved inwards to house the big Merlin V-12 cylinders; bottom has a very pronounced, but soft, chin, difficult to model properly). Other problematic parts are the cabin hood, the elliptical wings and the very pronounced wing root fairing (both of which are discussed further in the recent thread about wing roots).

    Before I got wise to the upcoming Halinski model, I started some studies of the Spit with the intention to make a true framework of my own, and to adapt the skin of the JSC model to that (not having anything better to work with). Below is an image of how far I got in a couple of days, just to demonstrate some of the difficulties. Plans to work with can be had from the Russian Wunderwaffe site, for those interested.

    Now I guess I'll shelve this work and just wait for the Halinski model. It is bound to be another masterpiece, at least that's what I hoping for.

    Waiting for that, it would be interesting to get a similar review of the Fly Model Spitfire, in particular. If you can manage that, Ted, I'll change the heading of this thread to "Spitfire kits", adding a "Sticky" saying so. Then we can add the Halinski Spitfire when it arrives. And, by all means, feel free everyone to chip in with reviews of all those 1/50 Spitfires available as well!

  8. yaniv

    yaniv Active Member

    are u going to disghn a spit model?

    u can wait al so to the some model scam like the jsc for the hlinsky1
  9. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    You're nearing the ultimate model build, scratch frame and custom skins..., the kit serves only as a guide.

    One question of the spit-design.jpg. Is that from the kit or have you already started the framing for it?

    Quote from your first post: "I know I will make some considerable redesigning of the nose, where the bulbuous underside is poorly represented. Likewise, the top of the engine cowling could do with some redesigning...," started me thinking this would be a good foil under paper candidate. At least for those areas of the model.

    Best regards, Gil
  10. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Gil (& Yaniv)

    Yes, I was kind of playing with the idea, not of designing a model, but merely build a decent 1/16 version of the Spitfire. The method was supposed to be making a framework of very closely spaced 1 mm formers from the drawings on the Wunderwaffe site (25 formers no less), plus an inner framework of longitudinal support structure, to get a correct fuselage. The outline of this structure to be 0.5 mm thinner than the true contour, in order to allow for cap strips of 0.25 mm paper (ca 5 mm wide, covering the outside of all formers and longerons), plus the skin, printed likewise on 0.25 mm paper.

    I was playing with the idea of using the JSC kit skin pattern and to make parts from it, but cut the parts otherwise, more according to the true structure. As an example, I would have cut the cowling pieces along the original cut lines. And yes Gil, of course I was thinking about you and your remarkable progress on foil under paper there. Rest assured you would have got a request for advice on how to cut and shape those pieces.

    Likewise, I would have needed advice and possibly even physical help, Ted, on the canopy.

    I was also thinking about making the wing the same way, and possibly even to mount it to the fuselage and finish the entire framework before covering it, in order to get everything aligned perfectly once and for all, and adjust skin pieces to a correct framework instead of the other way around. That's why I jumped into the discussion of wing roots and elliptical wings.

    Also, that way of going about it would have enabled mounting and checking wiring for LEDs, switches, electric motor, etc., before covering.

    All of this because there wasn't any really good model of the Spitfire around, was there. That, of course, changed with the advent of the Halinski Spitfire Mk Vb. Will just have to wait for that now, no getting around it.

    The drawing above, Gil, is a composite I made from four drawings available at the Wunderwaffe site. In my original, it is a humongous 1/16 multilayered Photoshop file with several versions of the Spitfire I-Vb&c inlaid. I have just overlaid the JSC formers to check for their accuracy. There were several discrepancies which would have had to be amended.

    But I'll shelve all of that for now. Kind of pity, it was fun to play around with. Anybody interested to play along, I'll be happy to post the drawing above to another server. PM me about it and I'll give you a link in that case. But I warn you, it's 38 Mb zipped, and in 1/16 scale!

    Come to think about it, it might still not be such a bad idea. The Halinski skin and details are bound to be just marvellous, and much of the structure of that kit could probably be incorporated in such an independent effort. Perhaps the notion is worth playing with for a bit longer; I would be sure to want to amend the Halinski method of making rear fuselages anyway...

  11. Gil

    Gil Active Member


    Best to wait and see what the Halinski kit brings.

    I just received their P-51 and am toying with the all aluminum idea once again but after looking at the detail it's a little difficult to justify doing it in aluminum as the print detail is so very good. All that and more would need to be recreated..., but the trend in plastic scale is for 1:20 and larger fully scratchbuilt models so an enlargement to 1:16 isn't too far fetched. It would look spectacular...,

  12. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Preview of the Halinski Spitfire

    Robson have given us the links for a preview of the Halinski Spitfire in another thread. I thought it appropriate to supply them here as well and suggest that we continue the discussion here, since this thread has turned into a general discussion of Spitfire kits.

    The images provided (direct links below) are most interesting, because they illustrate that the designer has solved precisely the problems discussed above. Below you'll find one sample image from the links provided. From the image, you'll see how well the designer has solved the problem of the intricately curved upper engine cowling and the bulbuousness of the lower engine cowling (well, you'll see that even better from some other of the links provided below).

    Interestingly, you'll notice how closely the formers seem to be placed, particularly at the nose. I keep wondering wether or not the same drawing as posted above was used...

    Have a look at the way the wing fairing is executed: Two pieces to manage the angled connection to the wing. Also, the cockpit - no vacuumforming, but no less than four separate pieces to get it right. And the spinner - notice the prop mountings, and the tiny little petal part at the front, almost invisible.

    If ever a kit deserved enlarging, this one surely does, as Ron already pointed out in the thread Robson started.

    Note also, that the particular aircraft modeled in fact is identical (see markings) to the one in the JSC kit that started out this thread!


    So here are the direct links to the Halinski Spitfire preview, taken from the Konradus.com forum (scroll way down, to 23-12-04), as supplied by Robson.

    • General overview 1 (note the exexution of the elliptical wings)
    • General overview 2 (note moveable rudders, ailerons)
    • Closeup of the front (provided below as well)
    • Sideview (again, the elliptical wings...)
    • Closeup of the canopy/cockpit (note the construction of the canopy)
    • View from rear/below (note the curvature of the trailing edge of the wing root fairing)
    • Underside, closeup of landing gear (note that flaps are not moveable)
    • Cockpit under construction 1 (note intricate safety belt suspension)
    • Cockpit under construction 2 (... and of course the myriad of other details)
  13. lunarhighway

    lunarhighway Member

    that's an impressive spitfire:) they seem to have done a great design job on it, as all the joints seem to be in the place of real ones.

    wouldn't mind finding something like that under the christmass tree:)
  14. NOBI

    NOBI Active Member

  15. cmdrted

    cmdrted Active Member

    One word---WWWOOOOWWWWSSEEEERRRSSS :!: :!: :!: :!:
  16. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Film: Dark Blue World

    Waiting for the Halinski Spitfire Vb (which I'm told, by my German/Polish supplier, is in the mail), I've just got to share something I ran into by chance, namely the DVD of the film "Dark Blue World" (title from a contemporary song played in the film). It is a joint German-Chech project, only recently available on DVD, and you'll find it e.g. here if you are in Europe, or here if you're in the US (in the latter case unfortunately at a rather high price).

    In the film, you'll meet the Chechoslovakian pilots who fled their homeland to fight against nazism from Britain in Spitfires. It is thus a parallell to "Pearl Harbor", although - in my personal opinion - more truly capturing the spirit of their time. There are magnificent views of Spitfires (Vb and Vc's as far as I'm able to tell) taking off, fighting Messerschmidts, guarding straggling B25s and B17s, strafing trains in occupied France, crashing or landing safely again on British soil. These images are the best I've seen (and yes, I've seen all the classic Battle of Britain movies, although admittedly not the "Pearl Harbor" to the end, and I do love & cherish "Memphis Belle").

    But it's more than that. The story is told against the background of Chechoslovakian pilots who, when they returned to their liberated country after the war, were incarcerated by the new, communist, regime. They were released in 1951 - but not rehabilitated until 1991 (yes, not even 15 years ago, when most of them in all probability were dead; I'm not saying that I know what this is like, but we do share a staircase with the widow of a former Polish WWII pilot flying for the Russians, whom I unfortunatly talked to too little while he was still alive; he and his wife had to flee their country as late as the 60's since they were Jews).

    The lasting value of the film, in my view and from a European perspective, is that when the agony of the war was over and most people in my parents' generation went back to a life that got much better, there were those who had sacrificed or risked their lives to accomplish that, and their agony was just about to begin.

    Also, the film captures a love story, or rather conflict of love, which I leave it to you to find out about. Just take my word for it; it is quite believable, and I find it truly representing the frame of mind my own parents must have lived through, although they were spared the horror of being separated by war.

    Be that as it may, you will certainly find the best ever - again, in my opinion - footage of Spitfires in this little-known film. I keep wondering what sequences were of actual Spitfires, what were RC models, and what were computer-engineered. For the most of the time, I truly can't tell the difference, which is as high a praise as I can think of.

    Go get it, that is, if you are at all smitten by the Spitfire, the people who flew it, and the times that forced them to do it.

  17. mkchen

    mkchen New Member

    This movie came and went from our local theatres very quickly a couple of years ago. As I recall from the featurettes included on the DVD, they only had 2 flying Spitfires to film with. Some of the aerial footage was actually recycled from "Battle of Britain". They used some digital manipulation to change squadron codes and individual aircraft codes to make it look like there were more planes than were actually available. What I thought was really cool about this movie was, when the Spits were shown taking off, you could hear the "thunk" of the undercarriage hitting the up-stops in the wheel wells as the gear retracted! :)
  18. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    Interesting. Privately, I guessed at two aircraft, too (the featurette wasn't on my DVD, unfortunately), and then some digital multiplying (VERY well done), plus RC models (clearly distinguishable at times, but not too disturbing, and not too often).

    The best part in my opinion is the atmosphere in the mess hall, and some good close-ups of the aircraft. Plus the fact that correct languages are spoken throughout (English, Chechoslovakian, German, French). - L.
  19. mkchen

    mkchen New Member

    Ooh! Ooh! And then there's the scene where the fighter pilots in training are riding around the countryside in formation on bicycles trying to practice tactical coordination! It was like something out of Monty Python's Flying Circus, but I think this really happened.

    BTW, my wife has relatives in Sweden, I think around Torsas.

  20. Leif Oh

    Leif Oh Member

    That happens a lot - even more so the other way around I believe. When teaching, I regularly ask the class how many know of a relative in the U.S. The show of hand regularly amounts to slightly less than half of the class.

    Comes from our country not being able to support people through agriculture any longer at the end of the 19th, beginning of 20th century, and not having developed industry enough yet. As a result, some of the most resourceful emigrated.

    Today, in the world at large, there is even greater need of receiving people from the economic sector traditionally generating livelihoods, agriculture, in developing countries. Alas, no more "empty" continents left.

    But I'm rambling.


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