Supermarine Spitfire Mk IIa by Revell-Germany

1/72 scale
Cost: $8.00
Kit No. 03953
Decals: One version – Royal Air Force
Comments: 2016 release, new tooling

History

The Mk II Spitfire was first flown during the Summer of 1940 and began to arrive at front-line RAF squadrons as the Battle of Britian was reaching its climax. While Mk II’s participated in this epic struggle, the overwhelming bulk of the Spitfire force during the battle consisted of Mk I’s. The Mk II was externally identical to the Mk I but featured slightly better performance, having a somewhat improved powerplant. The Spitfire Mk IIA retained the eight .303 in. Browning machine gun armament of the Mk I, but also introduced a 1,175hp Merlin Mk XII engine driving a Rotol constant-speed airscrew. While the Mk I had armor added in the field, the Mk IIA left the factory with its armor already installed.

The Mk IIA had a maximum speed of 357 mph — 11 mph faster than some later versions of the Mk I. It could reach 20,000 feet in seven minutes, and had a climb rate of 2,620 feet per minute. While deliveries of the Mk II to Fighter Command squadrons began as early as June 1940, production was slow and full conversion to the Mk II took months, not being completed until the winter of 1940-41. To provide an idea of the ratio of Mk II’s in active service during the Battle of Britain, the first two squadrons converted to Spitfire Mk IIs in September 1940; RAF Fighter Command began the battle in July 1940 with a total of 19 Spitfire squadrons.

The Mk II was employed in the RAF’s first offensive fighter sweeps (called “Rhubarbs”) over Occupied Europe; the first such mission was flown out of Biggin Hill aerodrome on December 20, 1940 involving two aircraft of No. 66 Squadron. The Spitfire was primarily intended as a home defense fighter, with a fuel capacity of 85 gallons allowing just over 90 minutes cruising time and 15 minutes of combat with the throttle wide open. The RAF made efforts to increase its fuel capacity and therefore its offensive potential.

One such experiment involved the fitting of a slipper tank full of fuel under one wing and an oil tank under the other, just outboard of the wheel wells for the undercarriage (such tanks were later used on the DeHavilland Mosquito), and this was the Spitfire Mk II LR. Also attempted was a single 40-gallon long range tank under the port wing. A total of 920 Mk II Spitfires were built, including the Mk IIC, an air-sea rescue version fitted with a small rack for two smoke bombs under the port wing, and two flare chutes in the fuselage just aft of the cockpit, containing a small dinghy and a metal food container.

The Kit

Released in 2016, Revell’s Spitfire Mk IIA is injection molded in grey and consists of 40 parts, including clear plastic parts for a three-piece canopy, with a choice of two different types of windshield, one of which is clearly thicker and is meant to depict the heavier armored glass with which Mk IIs were fitted. The mold is similar to but somewhat more detailed than Revell-Germany’s earlier Spitfire Mk V, which was the next major derivative after the Mk II. The kit parts feature engraved panel lines and delicate raised detail on the control surfaces, small bumps and raised rivet detail only where appropriate, mostly around the engine cowling. The majority of the rivet detail is flush with the surface of the airframe.

The instructions are clear and well illustrated in color, and call out paint numbers for Revell-Germany’s acrylic Aqua Color series in the blue plastic box containers. The cockpit is quite well detailed for the scale, although the seat appears a bit thick; decals are provided for the seat straps, and the A-frame rear bulkhead and main instrument panel are extremely well detailed with raised relief. A separately mounted fire extinguisher rounds out the cockpit detail. Finally, there are parts for separately mounted wing tips, rudder, and oil cooler beneath the starboard wing.

Markings

The decals are of high quality and are printed in Italy.  They are perfectly in register and there is no evidence of color bleed on the fin flashes, as can often be the case.  Decals are provided for one version, to which two full pages of the instructions containing four-view color plates are devoted.  Markings match a Mk IIa Spitfire of the Air Fighting Development Unit, based at RAF Duxford, England in April 1942.

This is the most detailed Spitfire this modeler has seen in 1/72, surpassing what were until now the state-of-the-art Revell-Germany Mk V and Italeri Mk VB kits. Highly recommended.

References

  • The Battle of Britain by Richard Townshend Bickers; Copyright 1990 by Salamander Books, Ltd., London.
  • The Supermarine Spitfire I & II: Profile Publications No. 41 by P. J. R. Moyes; Copyright 1965 by Profile Publications, Ltd., Surrey.

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