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Spitfire LF XVIe

by Geoff McDonell


Supermarine Spitfire LF XVIe


Hasegawa's 1/72 scale Spitfire VIII is available online from Squadron.com




Inspiration struck me one day, while flipping through some of the recent excellent books about the Canadian participation in WW2 I’d picked up over the last year. I hadn’t completed a Spitfire model in some years, and wanted to build an example of one of the Canadian aircraft for which I’d hidden away some decals for a long time ago.

The Hasegawa 1/72 scale Spitfire Mk. VIII/IX kits were a good starting point for my late war Spitfire XVIe. My decal stash yielded a small set of markings for a Spitfire XVIe of 443 “Hornet” squadron, which were produced by Tally-Ho Decals in 1993.

My model project began by assembling the resources I’d need:

  • Decals

  • Hasegawa Spitfire VIII kit (Kit No. AP41:1200)

  • Heller Spitfire XVIe kit

  • Aeroclub vacuformed Spitfire wing set

  • Squadron vacuformed canopy set

  • Cooper Details resin Spitfire cockpit Detail set

  • “Spitfire-The Canadians” books by Robert Bracken

  • my file of Spitfire photos, magazine articles and drawings





I spent a couple evenings studying my references and intended to use the drawings in Robert Bracken’s book as my main reference. The first step was to remove the upper rear fuselage portions of the Hasegawa kit, cutting along a line straight back from the canopy rail to the panel line at the base of the fin. Similar cuts were made to the Heller kit fuselage halves to remove those sections for use on the Hasegawa kit.

The Heller fuselage parts were glued onto the Hasegawa fuselage halves with Zap-A-Gap and faired-in using a bit of Milliput and an evening of gentle sanding. I also rescribed and restored panel lines and the radio access panel using Dymo tape for a straightedge and some etched steel scribing templates.

At this point, my attention turned to decorating the interior of the kit. I’d already decided to display the model with the canopy open and the access door hung open, so rather than use the cockpit facsimiles provided in the Hasegawa kit, I chose to use the Cooper Details Set of cast resin parts. Relying on the instructions in the detail set, I separated, then glued in, the various parts, and detailed the instrument panel. Humbrol’s Interior Grey-Green was used as a base coat for all of the interior bits, and then a wash of dark grey water colour brought out some appearance of depth. A light dry-brush with some lightened Humbrol Grey-Green and a touch of aluminum powder rubbed onto worn areas completed the cockpit detailing. The seat was painted to simulate a worn brown bakelite material, as per my references.


Once the cockpit was done, the fuselage halves were glued together, then the instrument panel, and seat bulkhead were fitted through the bottom open area. At this point, the floor assembly was glued in place to complete the fuselage.

Attention then turned to the wings. These parts were assembled, leaving off the wing tips that Hasegawa provides. The Heller kit donated the clipped wing tips for the “LF” version of the Spitfire I was modelling, and in order to modify the wing to the universal “e” wing, the following modifications were made:

  • 20mm cannons cut off, and glued onto the outboard stubs

  • inboard stubs were drilled out to accept the 0.50 cal. gun barrels

  • upper wing blisters removed and replaced with new blisters donated from a set of Aeroclub brand vacuformed Spitfire wings.

  • Shell ejection chute openings were filled and new ones cut to match the “e” wing gun positions.

  • Filled in the outboard machine gun ports on the wing leading edges.

  • Filled in the short Mk.VIII ailerons and fill in some inaccurate panel lines on the Hasegawa wings.

The detail I added was to cut notches into the wingtips, into which chips of red and green clear plastic styrene were glued to represent the navigation lights. I’d prepared the clear red and clear green plastic chips by drilling in small pips to simulate the lamps inside the navigation lights. These were filed down, sanded, then polished into the wing.


An evening of test-fitting, shaving, trimming and test assembly runs were made to get a nice snug, flush fitting wing to fuselage joint. While the general fit of the Hasegawa kit was very good, I’ve learned that a little bit of test-fitting, with some careful checking, trimming or shimming will yield a very nice joint which should not need any filler.

The model built up quickly at this point, and was soon ready for paint. Small details at the head rest/armor plating were added, and all the seams and panel lines were given a last “once-over” to make sure there were no flaws. I checked the basic model against the drawings in Robert Bracken’s book “Spitfire-The Canadians” to make sure I’d got the details right. So far, so good. I’d glued the rudder on with a very small offset, just to make the model a little more animated.





The first paint colour to be airbrushed on was the light sea grey undersides. I stuck the landing gear doors to some rolled-up masking tape (rolled sticky side out), and mounted the landing gear legs in some alligator clips held in clothespins. The model itself was mounted on a small dowel stuck in the propeller hole in the nose.

I mixed up a 60% paint/30% thinner supply of Xtracolour’s X-3 (BS637) Sea Grey Medium, with a couple drops of Testor’s Model Master Gloss White, and shot it onto the model in 3-4 coats one weekend afternoon. I sat the model aside and let it dry for a week before going back to check out the results. A few small dust motes were removed with a careful slice of a new #11 X-Acto blade and a few small imperfections were polished out.


I masked off the undersides and fuselage belly, making sure that the tape edges along the fuselage were carefully pulled away from the surface to allow a fine feathered edge. The other delicate area of masking was the cockpit. I’d already glued on and blended in the vacuformed windshield so it could be painted into the model, so some careful masking was called for. Bare metal foil was used to mask off the exterior of the windscreen, while small strips of masking tape were applied along the inside edges of the cockpit opening. The tape then built up with more small strips to close off as much of the cockpit as possible, to the point where I could stuff some dampened tissue into the cockpit hole that was left.

Again, turning to my stash of Xtracolour paint, I thinned some X-6 Ocean Grey and shot it onto the model, misting it on for the initial coats, followed by a couple heavier coats to get a nice solid application, without being too thick. A week later, when that was dry, I again polished out the usual small “dusties” that seem to be attracted to wet paint.

The final step in paint application was to cut out masking mats made from stiff paper, to cover the grey areas on the upper surface. These were created by photocopying some Spitfire camouflage drawings onto some stiff paper, then cutting out the “grey” areas and sticking them onto the model with small bits of rolled over masking tape to hold the mask just off the surface, to create a scale sprayed edge camouflage pattern.

Xtracolour’s X-BS641 dark green was applied with my Badger 200 airbrush and then the model was put aside for another week before I dared touch it again. It’s not that the Xtracolour takes so long to dry, it’s just that the only time I can do any painting is on weekends, and during the weeknights, I turn to other activities while the paint dries good and hard.


Removing the masking mats resulted in a very nice fine feathered edge camouflage pattern. The rest of the masking tape, bare metal foil and cockpit “stuffing” was removed and the final paint step could then be completed. The model was to represent a post – VE day aircraft, which had the sky rear fuselage band painted out. Examination of many contemporary photos showed variations in lighter or darker colours of camouflage paint being applied to the aircraft to cover up this fuselage band. I chose to mask off the area where the rear fuselage band would have been, and sprayed on darkened shades of the green and grey upper surface colours to simulate this. The fabric control surfaces were dry-brushed with some lightened base camouflage colours to simulate a bit of fading.





The decal sheet produced by Tally Ho reminded me of the old Model Decals line from England – same type of appearance. Since the Xtracolour paint is a gloss finish, decaling could begin immediately, once the paint was dry. The upper wing roundels as produced by Tally-Ho seemed to be oversized at 66” diameter, compared to drawings and other references, so I substituted some scale 48” diameter type C-1 roundels from my spares box of misc. British markings. The rest of the Tally-Ho decals were used as is. They were just a tad on the “thickish” side and required a mix of white glue, diluted with water and Solveset to lay down and snuggle into the surface details. As a standard procedure, on any “new” decals I use (ones with which I’ve had no previous experience), I always use my white glue cocktail to make sure I don’t get any “silvering”.

I used some Arrow Graphics brand “Spitfire Scribbles” decals for the miscellaneous stenciling and wing walk demarcations, to add a bit more visual interest to the model.

After all the decals were dry, I applied a dark grey water colour wash to various panel lines to provide some detailing. A darker, near black, wash was applied to all the control surface lines to give them a bit more depth.

The windscreen was again masked off with Bare Metal foil in preparation for a shot of Dullcoat to seal the decals in and provide a dull sheen over the gloss paint. I used a mix of Testors Dullcote and Glosscote mixed with lacquer thinner, from the small glass bottles. I sprayed this mixture onto the model through my airbrush to achieve a thin, fine sheen.

At this point, additional weathering was added to the model by applying various shades of chalk pastels to give the model a bit more of a “worn look”. Wing roots and access panels were also picked out with some aluminum powder applied with the end of a sharpened wooden toothpick to create some more wear and tear.



Finishing Touches

Once the basic airframe was essentially done, attention turned to the final details – prop and spinner; landing gear, and the “fiddly bits”: antennas and pitot tube.

The landing gear was detailed by adding etched brass oleo scissors from Airwaves set No AC7221 and a fine wire brake line running along the rear of the inner gear door face. Tires and prop were painted a “faded black” mix of Gunship grey and flat black. The tires were further detailed with a wash of flat black run into the rims to give them some depth. The wheel hubs were painted with Humbrol’s “Steel” enamel.

The spiral effect on the prop spinner was created by first painting the spinner yellow (I had temporarily glued the front and back pieces of the spinner together with white glue so I could pop it apart to assemble it with the prop later on). I then cut a long curved strip of masking tape and wrapped it around the spinner and base plate. Semi-gloss black was sprayed on, then the masking removed to reveal the yellow spiral.


I further detailed the prop by adding the small yellow manufacturers marks at the prop blade roots and dry brushing a bit of gold/brass paint along the leading edges to represent the wear on the brass protective leading edge stripes on each blade.

The 0.50 cal. greens in the inner gun ports were added by glueing heat tempered hypodermic needle sections inside the hollowed out stubs in the wings.

The last step was to glue on the canopy and fix a length of stretched sprue into the rear upper fuselage deck to finish the model. Finally finished!





While not exactly a “straight from the box” project, using the resin cockpit details, doing the surgery and the conversion did not present any big challenges and it was a pretty quick build-up, all things considered.

Given the number of pretty good 1/72 scale kits of the Merlin and Griffon engined Spitfires available, there is ample opportunity for a lot of kit-bashing and parts swapping to create many interesting variations on the venerable Spitfire.



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2002 by Geoff Mc Donell
Page Created 02 May, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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