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Czech Master Resin's 1/72 scale
Spitfire HF.Mk.VII

by Brett Green

 

Supermarine Spitfire HF.Mk.VII

 


CMR's 1/72 scale Spitfire F/HF Mk.VII is available online from Squadron.com


 

Introduction

 

Background

The Spitfire Mk.VII was a dedicated high altitude fighter which was fitted with the Rolls-Royce Merlin 60 series engine. This high performance powerplant was equipped with a two-stage supercharger. The Spitfire Mk.VII therefore required a longer nose than its predecessor, the Spitfire Mk.VI, to accommodate the new engine. This lengthened fuselage also applied to the Mk.VIII, Mk.IX (which actually preceded the Mk.VII into service), PR.X, PR.XI and the Mk.XVI.

 

 

Other changes compared to the Mk.V included pointed and extended wing tips, reduced span ailerons, fully retractable tail wheel, symmetrical radiator / cooler housings under the wings, increased fuel capacity, a narrow intake for the pressurised cockpit beneath the starboard exhausts and the introduction of a new style rudder during production. The Spitfire Mk.VII was fitted with the "C" wing as standard.



CMR's 1/72 scale Spitfire H/HF.VII in the Box

Czech Master Resin continues their relentless quest to produce every Spitfire variant known to man with their latest, the Supermarine Spitfire F/HF Mk.VII high altitude interceptor.

CMR's 1/72 scale Supermarine Spitfire F/HF Mk.VII comprises 56 resin parts, a pre-painted photo-etch fret, four vacformed canopies, canopy masks and markings for nine aircraft.

The resin parts are superbly cast with crisp, finely recessed surface detail.

The wing is particularly noteworthy, being a single-piece casting with ejector ports and deep wheel wells cast in place. This is the high altitude "C" type wing with pointed wing tips. Trailing edges are admirably thin, and the large castings are free of warpage. Cannon barrels, machine gun stubs and "C" wing gun blisters are all supplied as separate parts.

Smaller parts are packed securely in separate compartments of a plastic bag. These are as impressively cast and as well detailed as the wings and fuselage. Two options are supplied for the four-bladed propeller. One is cast with the spinner and prop blades in place, while the other provides separate parts for a more refined effect.

Control surfaces are cast in neutral positions except the alternate rudders, which are supplied separately. One of each of the standard rudder and the broad-chord pointed rudder are included. A choice of either the early "unkinked" or later "kinked" elevators is also provided. A slipper tank is another option.

 

 

A nice bonus in recent CMR kit releases is the inclusion of an Eduard colour photo-etched fret. These are not generic, but have been produced for the specific models. In this case, we are supplied with a fabulously detailed instrument panel and harness in full colour, with other important details such as the sidewalls, pilot's armour, undercarriage covers, radiator faces, wheel hubs, oleo scissors also being finely rendered. Two styles of canopy are included.

Markings are supplied for a whopping nine Spitfire F/HF Mk.VIIs. Five are in Dark Green and Ocean Grey over Medium Sea Grey, one is in an interesting early high altitude interceptor scheme of PRU Blue upper surfaces and Deep Sky lowers, while the remaining three are painted Medium Sea Grey on all upper surfaces and PRU Blue below. A number of marking options include the narrow invasion stripes used by high altitude fighters on and after 6 June 1944.

 

 

Construction

 

In common with most resin kits, the first and most important task is preparation of the parts.

The fuselage halves are already separated from their casting blocks, but some cleanup and thinning of the bottom fuselage was required. The wings were equally fast to remove from the their resin strips. A few more minutes cleaning the flash from the leading edge, and these major components were ready for assembly.

Remember, there are no locating pins on major parts, so some extra care will be required during assembly to ensure perfect alignment.

The remainder of the smaller parts were quickly cleaned up and packed into a re-sealable bag.

The resin areas of the cockpit were painted Xtracrylix XA1010 RAF Interior Grey/Green over a base coat of Flat Black. I thinned this acrylic paint with Windex and sprayed it through my Aztek airbrush fitted with the grey-coloured medium tip. Weathering was by way of a thin oil wash and "chipping" added with a dark brown artist's pencil. Coloured details were picked out with a fine brush.

Eduard's beautiful colour photo-etched parts were added once the painting and weathering of the cockpit was complete. I used Micro Krystal Kleer to secure the photo-etch to the resin sidewalls and bulkheads. This white glue is more than strong enough for these tiny, lightweight parts, and also permits the parts to be repositioned or even removed after they have been applied.

A steady hand and a magnifying glass were needed for this stage of construction!

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

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Test fitting of the painted cockpit floor with the fuselage halves and the wings suggested that the bottom of the bulkheads and the two lower cockpit rails would interfere with the inside of the wing. I really should have checked this before painting the cockpit. Nevertheless, I ground away some excess material from inside the centre section of the wing, and sanded the bottom of the resin bulkhead and rails. A good fit was eventually achieved.

The trailing edge of the fin appeared to be a bit thicker than the rudder hinge line, so the insides of the resin fin halves were thinned before the fuselage was assembled.

The balance of construction was blisteringly fast. The fit of the fuselage halves and the wing was almost perfect. Super glue was used for these large assemblies.

The only minor gaps were at the join of the empennage and the horizontal tailplanes. These were quickly dispatched using Milliput. A few faults of my own making (not taking sufficient care to align the parts) were also dealt with using this two-part epoxy putty.

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

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A few smaller details were now dealt with. The bases of the cannon barrels and machine gun stubs were drilled out with a pin vise and short lengths of fine copper wire were inserted. Holes were drilled into the corresponding areas of the wing leading edge to reinforce the join for these potentially delicate parts. The antenna mast received the same treatment.

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

I primed the entire airframe with Tamiya Grey Primer straight from the can. I like Tamiya primer, being fast drying and a good way to quickly check for any persistent gaps or other surface imperfections before the final colours are applied.

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

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All remaining painting was done with the Testor Aztek metal bodied airbrush fitted with the "Fine" tan tip.

CMR's kit markings looked fantastic, but I was doubtful that the supplied invasion stripes would conform to the high cannon blisters on the top and bottom of the wings. I therefore decided to initially paint the white areas of the stripes on the model. That way, if the decals could not be used, I would easily be able to mask and spray the black stripes. The white paint would also serve as a useful base for the white decals in case of opacity problems.

First, wide white sections were painted in roughly the areas of the invasion stripes. When the white paint was dry, these were masked to the exact width using Tamiya tape.

Next, the lower surface was sprayed with a mix of Tamiya paints to represent PRU Blue, as I did not have a stock paint available in that colour. The mix was around 80% Tamiya XF-18 Medium Blue and 20% XF-66 Light Grey.

The upper surface was painted using Xtracrylics Medium Sea Grey. This went on over the primer coat very smoothly, resulting in a glossy sheen when dry. I thinned the Xtracrylics with around 15-20% Windex.

A coat of Polly Scale Gloss prepared the kit for its markings.

 

 

The decals, produced by Tally Ho!, performed flawlessly in combination with Micro Set and Micro Sol. Even the invasion stripes worked well. I used the entire decal over the white painted band for the fuselage stripes. For the wings, I sliced the inboard white stripe from each decal. This is the area that would have had to conform to the large cannon bulge. The remaining 4/5ths of each decal were positioned over the white painted areas of the wings. I was very happy with the result.

At this point I realised that I had forgotten to paint the short wing walks. These were masked and carefully sprayed black.

A thin layer of Polly Scale Flat Clear was sprayed over the model before the airframe was shaded with a thin mix of Flat Black and Red Brown. This was sprayed along control surface hinge lines, selected panels, in a few random spots and streaks and along the demarcation lines between camouflage and the invasion stripes, walkways, the oily area behind the top of the engine cowling and along the demarcation between the Medium Sea Grey and PRU Blue. This slightly reduces the harshness of the sharply masked lines.

A finishing coat of Polly Scale Flat sealed the weathering.



Finishing Touches

The propeller, undercarriage, canopy and antenna mast were all painted and added to the model. These presented no real problems, although I did drill out the mounts for the main gear legs a little deeper to ensure a firm join.

The canopy masks worked very well, but I was unhappy with the join between the kit fuselage and the windscreen - my fault entirely though. I used white glue (Krystal Kleer) to fix the canopy and fill some minor gaps after the model was painted which resulted in a difference in gloss level (the Krystal Kleer dries shiny). Repainting the area did not completely eliminate the problem. Next time, I will dip the clear parts in Future and secure them using super glue before painting. That way, I can fill any gaps with Milliput and completely hide the repairs and the join line.

 

 

Conclusion

 

I have a number of these Czech Master Resin kits in my stash, but this is the first that I have actually built.

Czech Master Resin kits look fantastic in the box, and construction reinforces the good impression. Parts cleanup was not difficult at all. The detail, especially in the cockpit, is truly outstanding.

The only two challenging areas were thinning the bottom of the cockpit to fit on top of the wing, and obtaining a clean fit for the vacform windscreen.

 

 

The relatively simple parts breakdown and superb quality makes this kit an ideal candidate for the modeller who wants to try their first all-resin kit.

Czech Master Resin has delivered another gem with this 1/72 scale Spitfire H/HF Mk.VII.
 

Thanks to Czech Master Resin for the sample kit.

 

Photography

 

The model was photographed in HyperScale's studio using a Nikon D70 digital SLR. Illumination was via two studio flash units - one Bowens 250 and a generic 100 flash - on stands and illuminating from a high 45 angle from each side of the front of the photography table.

The camera was fitted with a Micro Nikkor 60mm lens.

ISO was set to 250, and the manual shooting settings were 1/100 of a second at f.29. The high aperture ensures good depth of field.

The model was photographed against a plain blue cardboard background.

For the scenic images, the model was placed on a base of static grass in front of an enlarged photograph of sky and a cardboard hangar. The model photo was merged with a photograph of foreground grass taken at Bankstown Airport in Sydney's south-western suburbs. The colour and tone of the grass in the airport photo and the model photo were matched with Photoshop's hue and saturation tool. The demarcation between the model static grass and the real grass in the foreground was merged using the Clone Stamp tool.

 

 

A number of additional photos were taken on plain blue cardboard.

All of the images were optimized (brightness and contrast) in Photoshop CS, resized to 700 pixels in width and saved as 75 dpi .jpg files using Photoshop's "Save for the Web" option.


Model, Images & Text Copyright 2007 by Brett Green
Page Created 21 July, 2007
Last Updated 24 December, 2007

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