MPM's 1/72 Supermarine Spitfire PR. Mk. XI
Photo reconnaissance played a large part in World War Two and fighters from both sides were converted for this role. One of the most popular on the British side was the PR Spitfires. The PR. Mk. XI was developed from the Mk. IX Spitfire, but with the armament removed and additional fuel tanks added. This led to a top speed of 5mph faster than the Mk. IX version, which was very welcome for the PR pilots. The cameras were mounted in the same manner as earlier PR Spitfires, with an additional two cameras being carried obliquely in blisters under the wing. The PR. Mk. XI Spitfire became the one of the main photo reconnaissance birds of Coastal Command during 1943 and 1944, sharing the load with PR Mosquitos.
MPM's kit of the PR Mk. XI Spitfire is nicely done with two sprues of light gray parts, one sprue of clear parts, and a small bag of resin pieces. A nice decal sheet provides markings for three Spitfires. All the parts feature finely recessed panel lines and no flash is present. Some of the parts will need a little cleanup, and there are some ejector pins that will need to be trimmed off before assembly, but for the most part it looks like a pretty quick build.
The interior has a fair amount of detailing present, with all but the control stick being provided in injection plastic. Seat belts will need to be added, though, as well as some other small details. The canopy is one piece so not much will be seen, but if you like to detail out cockpits, this kit cries out for a nice resin set. While we're on the subject of the fuselage, the ports for the cameras are not opened up in this kit, instead being nothing more than engraved lines in the plastic. A step in the instructions have you drill out the lower fuselage holes and put clear plastic in (the clear parts not provided in the kit however), but no mention of the fuselage side camera port. There is a marking for it in the kit, but the box art doesn't show one there and the instructions fail to show it as well. No interior structure is provided for the cameras, but these can be easily made up out of a spare piece of sprue.
The wings are PR Spitfire wings and not rehashed Mk. IX wings, as there is no armament and no armament panel lines. The lower wing is one piece and incorporates the oblique camera bulges. The wheel well detailing is sparse, with only the upper wings having any details. Sidewalls will have to be added by the modeler. The landing gear is decent, with resin oleo scissors adding a nice bit of detail. Three different types of belly fuel tanks are included and two different chin scoops are provided out of resin. The wing radiators are separate pieces and will lend themselves well to thinning down the edges.
The decal sheet is very nicely done, with one American option and two RAF options. The American option is the boxtop choice from the 14th PS, 7th PG, Mount Farm airfield, England in late 1944, early 1945. Overall natural metal with an olive drab anti-glare panel, red bands on the nose, and a dark blue rudder and spinner. The RAF choices are both in overall PRU Blue, with one being based in India and incorporating the Far East markings of white bands on the wings and small roundels without the red centers. The decals are printed by Propagteam and are thin and in excellent register. A full set of stencilling is also included.
For a PR. Mk. XI Spitfire, this is an excellent kit. All the appropriate changes have been made and out of the box it should build up quite nicely. There is room for detailing, though, and the breakdown of the kit should make such tasks as lowering the flaps or opening the canopy simple, allowing for the superdetailers out there to go wild.
Distributed by MPM.
MPM 1/48 Pe-2