by: Jean-Luc Formery [ ]
HistoryThe Spitfire Mk IX was originally developed as a stopgap measure as a response to the appearance of the Focke-Wulf FW 190A. It used the Merlin 60/70 series engines in a slightly modified Mark Vc fuselage. This allowed for rapid development and production of the new model. The first test aircraft flew on 26 February 1942. It was so successful that it was ordered into full production. Progress was rapid, and full production began in June 1942. It entered service the next month with No.64 squadron at Hornchurch.
The Mk IX was a significant improvement on the Mk V. It had a top speed of 409 mph at 28,000 feet, an increase of 40 miles per hour. Its service ceiling rose from 36,200 feet to 43,000 feet. It could climb at 4,000 feet per minute. In July 1942 an early Mk IX was flown against a captured Fw 190A, and the two aircraft were discovered to have very similar capabilities. The RAF had its answer to the Fw 190 problem.
There were three main versions of the Mk IX. The standard F.IX used the Merlin 61, and was the only version produced until early 1943 (1,255 F.Mk IXs were produced). It was then joined by a version powered by the Merlin 66. This engine produced its best performance at slightly lower altitudes than the Merlin 61. Spitfires equipped with this engine were designated LF Mk IX. This was the most numerous version of the Mk IX, with 4,010 produced. Finally, 410 high altitude HF.Mk IXs were produced using the Merlin 70 engine, with an improved performance at high altitude.
The majority of Mk IXs of all types used the standard “c” wing, which could carry four 20mm cannon or two 20mm cannon and four .303in machine guns. From 1944 some were built with the “e” wing, which replaced the four .303in machine guns with two .50in heavy machine guns.
IntroductionEduard's Spitfire Mk.IX kit should have been in 1/32 scale in the first place. Back in 2010 the Czech manufacturer was working on this project when Tamiya, out of the blue, announced the release of their own Mk.IX kit. Given the high quality of the japanese release, there was no need for a second one on the market and the Eduard kit was cancelled. But the initial idea to add a Spitfire in their catalogue didn't vanish and now we have a superb 1/48 scale kit instead which puts all previous attempts in the same scale to shame.
The KitEduard's new Spitfire comes in their standard medium size top opening cardboard box. Inside there are five plastic sprues (four grey and one transparent), a small photo etched metal sheet, masks, two decals sheets and an instruction booklet.
The overall quality of the product is very much like what we can expect now from the Czech manufacturer: excellent moulding, superb surface rendering and a high level of detail with the parts provided in the box. Eduard is now a top plastic kit manufacturer and I dare to say that with this release they are on par with the best ones from Japan. It's amazing to watch this brand getting better and better with each new production.
The plastic parts provided in the kit will allow the builder to do a late Mk.IX but also an early one even if no markings for it are provided in this boxing. Plenty of optional parts are present and this is an indication of the various boxings we can expect in the future (including a Royal Class one) and the many variants to come. According to the people at Eduard the following types are ready: F.Mk.IXc (early production), LF/HF.Mk.IXc (late production) and Mk.IXe. Later a Mk.VIII will follow. Below is a list of what is included in this first boxing:
- Rudder: 2 variants (round/pointed).
- Elevator: 2 variants (early/late).
- Wing: 1 variant (Mk.IXc late).
- Wing tip: 2 variants (long tip/shortened).
- Upper engine housing: 2 variants (flat/bulged).
- Carburator intake: 2 variants (short/enlarged).
- Main landing gear legs: 2 variants (with/without scissors links).
- Landing gear bay interior: 2 variants (early/late).
- Landing gear doors: 2 variants (straight/modified).
- Tires: 2 variants (plain/pattern).
- Wheel discs: 3 variants (four/five spoked/flat disc cover PE).
- Wing/fuselage intersection: 2 variants (smooth/bulged).
- Gunsight: 2 variants (reflective/gyroscopic).
- Mirror: 2 variants (round/rectangular both PE).
- Tail wheel: 2 variants (single piece/three piece).
- Cockpit door: 2 variants (open/closed).
- Canopy: 2 variants (open/closed).
- Instrument panel: 2 variants (with/without relief detail).
- Underwing radiators: 2 variants (open/closed actuators).
- Fuselage formation light: 2 variants (with/without).
Some of the parts will end in the spare box either because they are optional depending on the paintsheme (like he pointed or rounded rudder), or because they can be replaced with PE parts (instrument panel) or because they represent open or closed items (canopy, wing radiator flaps, access door, etc...)
Overall, when opening the box, one has the feeling that Eduard wasn't stingy with this release and that one gets really something for his money. Likewise, the surface detail is very thoroughly done and this will allow the builder to do a very elaborate finish on his model. According to the manufacturer, this is the Eduard kit with the most rivets on it. However, they are very subtle and in my opinion just how they should look like on a 1:48 scale kit. But this is a matter of taste.
The fit of this kit is almost perfect and the only difficulties I can see are the very small parts and the breakdown of some sub-assemblies (wheel bays). But this should be considered more like attention to detail and accuracy on the part of the designers than unnecessary complications. The kit has a lot of highlights and it would be tedious to list them all so I will let the pictures accompanying this review speak for themselves. However, it is to note that the exhaust stacks and guns are hollowed out and that the ailerons, the rudder and the elevators are separate (don't forget to pose the cockpit controls if you pose the control surfaces).
The clear plastic parts are excellent as well and two canopies are included (open or closed). Masks are provided for easy painting. The fit of the transparent parts, especially the canopy over the fuselage, is very good and will allow the modeller to glue them at the very end of the build, even after painting.
The pre-painted photo etched fret is typical of Eduard and features a nice multi layer instrument panel, levers, seat belts, armor plates for the cockpit, wheel disc covers, etc… Masks are present for the clear parts of the canopy. The decals for the five marking options are spread over two sheets. Both have been printed by Eduard and the smaller one features all the service markings and stencils. Below are the five options of this first release:
A - Spitfire LF Mk.IXc, MH712, flown by W/O Henryk Dygala, No. 302 Squadron (Polish) RAF, Summer/Autumn, 1944.
B - Spitfire HF Mk.IXc, MJ296, flown by F/Lt Otto Smik, No. 312 Squadron (Czech) RAF, North Weald AB, Late August, 1944.
C - Spitfire LF Mk.IXc, MJ586, flown by Pierre Clostermann, No. 602 RAuxAF Squadron, Longues sur Mer airfield, july 7, 1944.
D - Spitfire LF Mk.IXc, MJ250, No. 601 Squadron RAuxAF, Italy, Summer, 1944.
E - Spitfire LF Mk.IXc, ML135, flown by Jerry Billing, No. 401 Squadron RCAF, Tangmere AB, June 7, 1944.
F - Same aircraft as above but one month later.
ConclusionThis review may appear a little overly praiseful but I stand by it. Searching for flaws would be nitpicking. Eduard's new Spitfire Mk.IX kit is really excellent and clearly the best in 1/48 scale now. I foresee that many Ocidental/Italeri, Hasegawa, ICM and Airfix Spitfires will end up in the second hand market soon. I also do like the fact that the kit comes without an engine (unlike the Bf109 E). Instead it has been designed to accommodate Brassin items so if one wishes to add an engine, open gun bays or an even better cockpit, it will be possible although optional. Apart from the absolute novice, I can recommend this kit to any kind of modeller.
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