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1:48 Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XII from Airfix

By Aaron Skinner
Published: August 10, 2011
Airfix Spitfire Mk.XII
Airfix Spitfire reverse
Airfix Spitfire belly
Product: The Spitfire Mk.XII marked the first installation of the powerful Rolls-Royce Griffon engine in Supermarine’s graceful fighter. Essentially an interim variant, it mated the Griffon with the Mk.VIII/XI airframe. One hundred were built, equipping two squadrons whose primary role was to intercept Luftwaffe hit-and-run raids.

The Mk.XII marks an important transition in Spitfire history, one that until now had only been available to modelers through conversion sets.

This terrific kit clearly demonstrates the capabilities of a revamped Airfix. Easy construction, balanced with smart engineering and a good level of detail, will satisfy most modelers and give superdetailers a good start. Engraved surface features are a little heavier than on Tamiya or Hasegawa kits, but the lines are sharp and look good under paint.

Assembly: I found the options particularly impressive: open or closed canopy and cockpit door; raised or lowered flaps; a choice of up or down landing gear; posable control surfaces; and a slipper fuel tank. Alternative parts are provided for all of these options, so there’s no need to adapt a part that’s optimized for one position to a different option.

The canopy is especially well done, with three parts for the closed option and a single part for the open option to represent the canopy slid back over the turtle-deck glass. Minor surgery is required if you choose this option (as I did), but the instructions are clear and the lines are scribed inside the fuselage. A separate hatch is included, so you don’t have to preserve the part removed from the port fuselage.

The cockpit is correctly represented as floorless, and is built up as two sections: the instrument panel with control stick and pedals, and the seat with two frames and some equipment for the area behind the pilot. There is an awkward ejector-pin mark in the bottom of the seat that is difficult to remove.

These assemblies snap into place in the fuselage halves (I used the tip of a knife to be sure they were seated just right) and the body closed up perfectly around them with no filler required.

The rest of the major parts were virtually trouble-free. The only area that required extra work was where the rear of the wing flared into the body. I carefully sanded to mating surfaces on both parts to get a clean fit and used a little super glue to fill minor gaps. I also trimmed the locating tabs for the wingtips for a better fit.

I added the control surfaces, putting just a little offset in the rudder and elevator. There are two shallow ejector-pin marks on the underside of the ailerons. I installed the flaps stowed because, unless they were being serviced, they were up when the aircraft was on the ground to prevent the engine from overheating (the flaps blocked airflow through the underwing radiator). I thinned the edges of the radiator scoop slightly for a better scale appearance.

After painting with Model Master enamels and a coat of Pledge Future floor finish, I applied the decals. Airfix has really improved its decals, and these laid down perfectly over the gloss and responded well to Micro Sol. I ran a sharp No. 11 blade along panel lines to ensure a perfect fit for the decals, then added the last bits and pieces.

Marketing: With the options, engineering and easy construction, I would recommend Airfix’s Spitfire Mk.XII to anyone. It’s a very popular subject and would appeal to any modeler interested in World War II Allied fighters.

This is an excellent step up from Airfix’s less expensive kits targeted at beginners. It affords builders a taste of finer details and a more complex build, but still at a very affordable price.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is plenty for the experienced modeler to enjoy too, with posable control surfaces and the chance for some modifications without buying aftermarket parts.

You could pair this kit as part of a sale combo with one of Airfix’s other 1:48-scale WWII models, such as the Bf 109E-1 (No. A05122) or Ju 87B (No. A05100). Or consider a similar pairing with Tamiya’s 1:48 Fw 190A-9 (No. 61037) which the Spitfire would have faced over Britain.

Product: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XII
Stock No.: A05117
Scale: 1:48
Maker: Airfix
MSRP: $21.99
Availability: Hornby USA

Fills important gap in Spitfire collection
Good fits; great decals; thoughtful engineering; separate control surfaces
A few ejection-pin marks in hard-to-hide areas; no harness