Spitfire Mk IIa LR


Spitfire Mk. IIa LR by AZ Models
1/72 scale
Kit No. AZ 7290
Cost:
$28.00
Decals: Two versions - both RAF
Comments: Engraved panel lines, detailed cockpit, single-piece canopy, resin slipper tank

History
The Supermarine Spitfire, the first all-metal monoplane in the British Royal Air Force, was one of the outstanding fighter aircraft of World War II.  The brainchild of R.J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works, the Spitfire entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1938 and during World War II went on to serve in the air forces of the Commonwealth and Allied nations, including the United States and the Soviet Union. 


Together with the Hawker Hurricane, it met the German onslaught during the invasion of France, and later during the pivotal Battle of Britain.  The Mk. II Spitfire differed from late production Mk I's in two ways.  The Mk. II's powerplant was the Merlin XII engine, providing 1,150 hp, an increase of 120 hp over the version that powered the Mk. I.  The Merlin XII could be used with either the de Havilland or Rotol propellers.  The second main difference was that while the Mk. I was built by Supermarine at Southampton, the Mk. II was produced in a new giant factory at Castle Bromwich.  The decision was made to expand production facilities so that the Southhampton factory would not be the only one turning out the front-line fighter -- a wise decision, for in September 1940 the Southampton facility was bombed, and Spitfire production temporarily stopped.


The one major problem with the Spitfire was that, having been designed as a short range defensive fighter, it lacked range. This caused problems when the RAF went on to the offensive, and repeated attempts were made to extend the range of the aircraft.  In early 1941, 60 Mk IIas were converted to the long range version by having a 30-gallon fuel tank fixed under the port wing.  They were designated Mk. IIa LR (Long Range).  Three squadrons used this version (Nos. 66, 118 and 152) until it was phased out in March 1942. The extra fuel capacity gave the Spitfire the ability to escort bombers further into occupied Europe, but at the expense of performance – maximum speed came down from 357 mph to 344 mph.

Specifications

Wingspan: 36 ft. 10in.
Length: 29 ft. 11in.
Powerplant: Merlin XII
Rating: 1175hp (1050hp at 13,000 ft)
Maximum Speed: 357 mph at 17,000 ft. (344 mph Mk. IIa LR)
Range: 500 miles maximum, 395 in combat
Service Ceiling: 37,200 feet
Rate of climb: 2,995 feet/minute
Time to 20,000 feet: 7 minutes
Armament: Eight .303in. Browning machine guns with 300 rpg


The Kit
AZ Models Spitfire Mk. II LR is injection molded in grey plastic and consists of 42 parts, including a single-piece canopy and a resin 30-gallon slipper tank for the port wing.  The kit has engraved panel lines and the tiniest amount of flash on the leading edge of the wing but is otherwise crisply molded.  The cockpit is well detailed with meticulously molded detail on the instrument panel, complete cockpit floor, rear bulkhead, control yoke, and a plain bucket seat (seat straps will have to be added by the modeler, as the seat has no real detail).  For some reason, the instructions do not reference the control yoke at all, but it is present on the sprue.  There is a separately molded rudder and separate tailwheel, and inserts for the wheel wells for a boxed-in appearance, with a corresponding small amount of engraved detail on the inside surface of the upper wings. 

From this kit, it is possible to build either a Mk. I, Mk. I G, or Mk. IIa Spitfire.  Parts are provided for an early all-wood two-bladed propeller (Mk I), a three-bladed De Havilland propeller with (according to the illustrations in the instruction sheet), a slightly more pointed spinner, or a Rotol three-bladed propeller with a more blunt-nosed spinner.  The instructions reference parts for either the streamlined canopy of the early Mk. I, or the more bulbous canopy of later versions that offered the pilot better visibility-- but this kit contains only the latter canopy. 


The decals are thin, glossy and appear to be of above average quality, with very good color tone that rings true.  Only very close examination reveals a small amount of color bleed from the red on the smaller roundels (for the fuselage and underside of the wings) and on the fin flashes, but to the casual, naked eye they will pass muster.  The only obvious drawback to the kit is the so-called "Decal Position" schematic at the end of the instructions.  Here the outline of the Spitfire is so light as to be barely visible, almost ghostly.  The title is misleading since the only decals featured in this illustration are the stencils, which are provided on a separate sheet.  This is not a major flaw, since the box art includes a three-view color profile of both versions of markings provided, both with the "sand and brown" camouflage over Sky, or Duck Egg Green.  Markings are provided for either a Mk. II LR machine, serial no. P8077, call letters QV-I, of 19 Squadron , which was involved in fighter escort missions over Holland during August and September 1941; or for a second Mk. II LR, serial no. P8388, call letters UM-R, of 152 Squadron, 1941.

Conclusion
An extremely well-detailed kit of one of the early Spitfire variants.  Highly recommended.

Reference
www.historyofwar.org

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