Eduard's 1/72 Spitfire Mk. 21
The Spitfire 21 was the final variant
of the Spitfire to see wartime service. Reaching squadrons in March
of 1945, it never engaged in air to air combat; its use being limited
at this stage of the war against Germany to a few fighter sweeps over
Europe. The only actual combat recorded was when a pair of aircraft
from No 91 squadron strafed and disabled a German midget submarine
off of the coast of Holland. A few days later the war was over and
the massive orders for this aircraft were drastically cut (from the
original 3000 ordered, an eventual total of 120 were built)
As an aircraft the Spitfire 21 was sufficiently
different from preceding Spits that at one point a new name was planned
for the aircraft: Victor. From the side, the aircraft would be
easily confused with a Spitfire XIV. Only when viewed in plan do the
differences become very obvious -- this aircraft has a completely new
wing. Whilst retaining the beautiful elliptical shape of other Spitfire
wings, the tips were squared off in a manner similar to the Hawker
Tempest and new larger ailerons were fitted with a piano type hinge.
Armament for this wing was four 20mm Hispano cannons. Other changes
were a larger diameter propeller, though the engine generated the same
power as the Mk XIV, and deeper radiator housings. For the first time
on a production Spit the undercarriage was completely enclosed when
retracted. The aircraft was a star performer but the age of the jets
was nigh and it never really had a chance to shine. It could be said
that the 20-series Spits took the basic airframe to the very limits
of its growth; the later Spiteful/Seafang aircraft were in most respects
a profound disappointment, though the wing did find it's way onto the
Attacker jet for the FAA.
From the time Eduard announced their
Spitfire 21 in 1/72nd, I had eagerly awaited it. I had
given some thought to crosskitting the Airfix and Hobbycraft kits in
48th to make one (and may yet do so) but my main sphere of interest
is 1/72nd, so as soon as it was available I ordered three of them (A
common modellers problem: why have one when you can have three?).
The kit is in the "profi pack" series
and so contains limited run injection moulded components with details
in resin and etched brass. At some point Eduard usually release these
kits sans resin for a cheaper price so it may make another appearance
in the fullness of time (When I will no doubt have another three!).
The kit comes in a very attractive box
with a very atmospheric piece of art depicting the mini-sub attack.
I defy anyone to resist the huge smile that crossed my face upon opening
the box! Eduard's pretensions to the mainstream of modelling become
more and more obvious (and valid!) with each new kit they release.
This kit is GOOD! Two light
grey sprues contain the main airframe parts; in fact my earlier suspicions
are correct -- this model can be built without recourse to the resin
or etch at all. Sprue gates are not far short of mainstream manufacturers
and surface detail is delightfully engraved and very restrained. If
the fuselage halves were shown to me on their own they could almost
pass for Hasegawa -- they are that good! Options include a five blade
prop or the six blade contra-prop one or two 21's flew with, moulded
The clear sprue contains a one piece
and three piece canopy to give the modeller the option of open or closed,
along with the rear view mirror and gunsight. The transparencies are
easily up with the best in the mainstream and are thin and clear (also
packed separately to avoid scratching). As one would expect from Eduard,
the etched brass is a work of art; building the cockpit will be a major
challenge but should look great if done carefully, although if this
is too scary you can always fall back on the plastic parts in the main
kit.Rounding the kit off is a small bag of resin consisting of tail
control surfaces, seat, door, bulged wheels and some other small interior
parts. All look very well moulded and free of air bubbles.
Decals are very well done indeed and
contain options for four aircraft. Register in my sample was spot on
and it even includes a small supplement sheet with a couple of additional
C1 type roundels. Colours look good -- the sky codes being very nicely
done -- and if up to normal Propagteam standards will need care in
applying but once on will settle down a dream.
The final part of the kit is the instructions.
These are produced to a standard that shame many much larger manufacturers
and deserve special mention. They are clear and concise and suggest
a construction sequence that may even be worth following; they are
clearly the work of a modeller! Painting details are called out throughout
with reference to Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, Testors and Aeromaster paint
ranges, so most bases are covered! Two of the schemes are covered on
the main instruction sheet and two on a separate sheet along with a
stencil placement plan.
The Eduard Spitfire has all the hallmarks
of a standard injection moulded kit with the addition of aftermarket
parts to detail, i.e., the kit is complete and able to be built without
the additional detail parts. To this end it is necessary to remove
some of the moulded detail in order to incorporate the finer etched
and resin parts into the model.
I began by removing all the sidewall
detail from the cockpit areas. To do this I began with a small router
bit in my power tool to cut away the bulk of the detail before scraping
the fuselage side interiors with a fairly sharp (but not new) curved
knife blade. I find that using a blade that is not new gives me more
control over the scraping and has less chance of leaving unsightly
marks if the blade should slip or dig in. Once all the detail had been
removed, I sanded the areas with 400 grit wet&dry paper; this smoothes
it well but also provides a nice key for the etched sidewalls that
have to be added.
I used a combination of razor saw, files
and knife blade to remove the port side door for later replacement
in the open position with the resin piece included in the kit. After
the door had been cut away to size the fuselage around this area had
to be thinned from the inside to give a scale effect later.
The next job was to cut away the moulded
in rudder for later replacement with the lovely resin part included
for this purpose; this is literally a five minute job as not too much
care is needed to preserve the rudder since it is replaced completely
by resin. I chopped mine away quite brutally and then it was a simple
job to lightly sand the area and once again thin down the area where
the rudder sits from the inside. The final job in this stage was to
add the engine cowlings. Eduard have chosen to mould the rocker covers
in with the cowling halves in order to capture the shape; personally
I prefer the Academy/Airfix approach of separate covers, but in the
event after a little trimming the fit was good. The cowling halves
were each glued to their respective fuselage half with liquid poly
before reinforcing from the inside with a bead of superglue set with
accelerator. Any gaps present will be filled with putty thinned with
liquid glue and applied with a brush, to ensure neatness. The photo shows
one fuselage half prepared and with the cowling in place and the other
before it goes under the knife.
Now it is time to start building up
the interior from the etched brass and resin provided.
I am not a big user of resin and brass
but this kit really does make it about as easy as a job like this can
be! All parts appear to have been made to fit the kit and as a result
of this, whilst there is a multitude of parts to go in and some tricky
bending of brass to be done the end result fits into the fuselage perfectly.
I am more used to having to chop bits about and thin others to get
a fit (the likes of MPM kits for instance) so this was a major delight
to me; the satisfaction as the interior pops into place and the fuselage
joins perfectly has to be experienced!
I built up the cockpit in stages and
painted as I went along. The fuselage halves had all the detail added
along with the rear bulkhead, and the cockpit floor and instrument
panel were made and painted separately, and could be put in place after
the fuselage is joined. The interior was painted Humbrol 78 cockpit
green and after 12 hours or so was given a wash of raw umber oil paint.
Once this was dry the interior was drybrushed with Humbrol 120 (Israeli
green) to highlight detail prior to detail painting with Humbrol and
Extracolor. The instrument panel was painted black and highlighted
with a pale grey drybrush. Areas in front of and behind the cockpit
were painted matte black to ensure no plastic was visible through the
The end result is without a doubt the
best and busiest cockpit I have ever included in a 1/72nd model, and
I still like to look at it! With all interior painting done the fuselage
was joined with plastic weld and the floor and instrument panel were
superglued in place. Joints along the fuselage needed a spot of filler
and a light sanding to hide.
With the fuselage done attention was
turned to the wings and tailplanes. The wings are the usual Spitfire
affair of one piece lower and two piece upper, and went together with
no problems; they were just held together with finger pressure and
plastic weld was run around the seams -- after a few seconds the joints
are given a light squeeze and that's it!
A light sanding when dry and they were done. The only thing I would
say is that if I were to do this kit again (when!) I would perhaps
scrape the trailing edge interior to thin that a bit as due to the
limitations of limited run moulding they are perhaps a little thick,
but nothing too obtrusive.
With the wing joints dealt with they
were offered up to the fuselage. Fit was not great and in the end I
first glued the underside front in place, let that dry, glued the underside
rear in place, and finally once dry ran plastic weld along the wing
The front of the air intake was glued
in place and then the joints looked at. The rear half of the air intake
needed some fairly drastic carving to blend with the front and achieve
the correct profile-this I did with a new blade in my scalpel; the
rear joint would just need a light sanding and some filler. The wing
root fairing in the fuselage had quite a step at the rear, which was
dealt with using a couple of swipes with some 80 grit (yup! 80 grit)
sandpaper and the inevitable deep scratches filled and sanded. All
the joints around the wing were now filled as necessary. For this I
thinned Dr Microtools putty with liquid poly and brushed it in with
a small brush. This is a great method for filling, very controllable
and seems to avoid the pits and air bubbles you can get spreading this
kind of filler; since discovering it I use it for most jobs.
final job in this section was the tailplanes, and as with the rudder
they come with resin elevators to replace the moulded in items- simply
cut away the moulded-in items, glue the tailplanes in place -- fit
is good -- and finally add the resin items with superglue dropped or
raised as you see fit; very easy and looks great! All sanding was carried
out with 600 and 1200 grit wet and dry paper.
With the radiators glued in place the
model was given a coat of Halfords grey primer to highlight any imperfections-
these were dealt with and the model given another coat of primer and
finally a rub down with scotchbrite. Windscreen and rear of the canopy
were glued in place with a mixture of crystal clear, superglue and
liquid poly as needed and masked with Tamiya tape and crystal clear.
Almost time to paint!
The model was given a wipe over with
a kitchen towel moistened with white spirit to remove grease etc. and
painting could commence. First up the Sky fuselage band and spinner
were sprayed (all colours are Extracolor unless otherwise indicated)
and wing leading edges and propeller tips were sprayed insignia yellow
(maybe not exactly right but close enough and it's all I had at the
time) and the model was set aside to let these parts dry.
Once dry the rear fuselage band and
wing leading edges were masked with Tamiya tape and the undersides
sprayed medium sea grey. I only mask the fuselage demarcation
and undersides of the tailplanes prior to spraying the topsides of
my models; I rely on the angle I spray at to achieve a more predictable
and even line than I ever get with tape along wing leading edges. Try
it and see what I mean; just don't spray the model lying on something
as paint can tend to "bounce" back and hit the underside,
thus leaving a messy clean up job!
With the ocean grey done, the camouflage
could be applied. For this I use rolled up sausages of Blu-Tack to
outline the camouflage and fill the areas to be masked with a mixture
of Tamiya tape and masking fluid. The Blu-Tack gives a basically hard
edge with the merest hint of overspray and looks great; if you want
a larger overspray use larger diameter sausages -- totally predictable
and really suits RAF subjects. I had planned
to use Extracolor dark green for the camouflage but upon opening my
tin discovered that it had a curious gritty texture which meant it
was going nowhere near either my airbrush or the model! A pot of Humbrol
super enamel No. 163 Dark Green came to the rescue; it would just mean
a coat or two of Klear prior to decalling to gloss it up a little.
With this sprayed, all the masking (bar
the canopy) was removed and to my delight and surprise only a tiny
bit of paint needed attention: a bit of green had got onto the underside
of the model and was removed in seconds with a moistened rag. Two coats
of Klear applied with a wide flat brush and I was on to the decals.
The decals are beautifully printed but
very thin and require care to apply. I decided to use Klear to seal
them in place and pull them down rather than setting solutions due
to their thinness. This is a method I sometimes use with decals that
look like they may be a
challenge; the advantage is that it more or less guarantees no silvering
at all, as the decals are being sealed between two coats of wax.
After applying all the major decals
I decided only to use the most obvious stencils - many of them become
completely invisible when applied and so were a waste of time (not
a criticism of the decals - more a tribute to their finesse!).
When done, I applied a couple more coats
of Klear and I was ready for the final coat, for which I used a 50/50
mixture of Aeromaster acrylic matte and semi-matte varnishes airbrushed
on. This gives a basically matte finish with just an "edge" of
satin that to me looks just right. This done I was ready to move on
to the final assembly, and all masking was removed from the cockpit/canopy.
I had to drill out the location points
for the undercarriage legs before fitting them but this was no great
hardship. I then added the undercarriage and doors -- taking the usual Spitfire
care with alignment! -- and then the model was turned over and the
canopy and pre painted cockpit door were added with dabs of superglue.
Whilst the canopy is thin and clear it is still thick enough that it
sits a little high and is a prime candidate for replacement with a
With the addition of the prop and exhaust
stacks, the kit was basically finished. I applied just a few touches
of weathering with black and brown pastels, since at the time this
aircraft is depicted it was still new and thus was not yet "battle
weary." There you have it -- a beautiful model of one of my favourite
This kit represents the current state
of the art as far as limited run kits go. The plastic is getting
closer and closer to mainstream standards as are the instructions (in
fact the instructions are far superior to most mainstream efforts)
and the excellent brass, resin and decals all combine to make a superb
package. The small and fiddly but incredibly well detailed interior
will make for a challenge but one that you can be very proud of; as
far as overall looks go this will sit alongside the best in the mainstream
in terms of finesse and detail. You can probably tell I'm a fan of
this model -- I have a couple more and plenty of plans for them, not
the last of which is for a Seafire 45 conversion! Recommended to all!