417 in the Desert: 1/48th ICM Spitfire Mk. VIII
Back before 2000, it wasn't easy to find a nicely detailed, accurately shaped 1/48th scale Spitfire. Many attempts, few successes. The ICM Spitfire releases starting in 2001 was the beginning of this change. Sure they were a bit of a challenge to construct and regularly had some injection issues but the detail, complete with a full engine, gave model makers the components to build a real gem.
Notable Kit Features:
Full engine detail (although it will take much time to build and fit)
All engine panels can be left off (although this will be a challenge) so an option for "some panels" is a better choice
Very good cockpit detail (the control stick is a bit off)
Pilot door is able to be cut out (separate open door provided)
Finely scribed panel lines with good surface details
Separate Rudder (Tall tail provided) and ailerons
Open gun bays optional with wing guns provided
Slipper tank provided
RAF Crew (8) as well as maintenance accessories provided in my kit version - a very nice bonus if you like diorama subject matter
Optional canopies provided (Although I will recommend a replacement)
One of the best shaped Spitfires on the market (for both the Mk. VIII and Mk. IX series)
Parts fit is typically good (post clean-up)
I wanted to build Squadron Leader Albert Ulrich "Bert" Houle's Spitfire when he was with RCAF 417 (City of Windsor) Squadron in Anzio Italy around 1943 -1944. Houle flew several Spitfires coded AN A including JG184. Included in the comments on Houle's second DFC were, "This officer has now completed 150 hours on his second tour and has commanded No.417 Canadian Squadron since November 21st 1943. Previous to this appointment he commanded a flight in the same squadron, and has fought throughout the Sicilian campaign and to date in the Italian invasion. He has proved himself a most aggressive and capable fighter pilot and an excellent leader. Since fighting in Italy he has destroyed five enemy aircraft and damaged three more, bringing his total score to nine enemy aircraft destroyed, one probably destroyed and six damaged."
Albert "Bert" Houle in his Spitfire coded AN-A (JF457) sporting a nice 20mm hole in his rear view mirror compliments of a Fw190 on 22 Jan 1944
These ICM Spitfire kits require a bit of parts clean-up and a lot of test fitting during construction. Patience and experience building one will be of benefit.
I have had kits with short-shot parts and sink-marks (Quality control was a bit of an issue for ICM back in those days)
The pilot seat appears to be a bit wide
The engine is a nice feature, but will require a whole load of time (and probably some trimming) getting it to actually fit (Optionally, you can leave it out of the build.)
Underwing shell ejector chutes are molded backwards (the cross-cut should be towards the leading edge as shown in the instructions)
Tail surfaces requires some sanding down and filler to get a smooth fit of the join
Propeller blades are all separate from spinner
Kit Additions / Modifications:
I borrowed the clipped wing from another ICM kit although typically you get Clipped, Regular and Long wing-tips in their kits, as well as options for wing-gun panels and tail configurations
Substituted a Falcon Vacuform canopy for the kit canopy as it was rather thick
Painted on the markings of RCAF 417 Squadron
I had to do a gear repair on this kit after snapping off a leg during the build process. I am getting more practice than I care to admit at this pin repair fix
I always thought this desert scheme was a great look on a Spitfire. After spraying the underside Azure blue , I masked that off to spray the upper tones. Variations in the paint shades were done "on the fly" using darkened tones near panel lines and places of repair. In hind-sight I should have added wear to the wing walk area and leading edges.
I sprayed on the Canadian squadron codes and serial number using masks cut from a plotter cutter. Standard gloss coat and remaining decaling was done, followed by a dark wash to highlight the panel lines and control surfaces. To finish it off I used a Model Master dull coat to seal everything in and matt it down. Then came my least favourite bit (probably because the build is so close to finish you just want it done) of adding on the fiddly parts and not breaking anything in this final process.
The After-Build Report:
Now that model makers have the Eduard Spitfires I wouldn't necessarily recommend this kit, unless you are on a budget. (I have picked up these kits for as little as $10, but do beware that these are not easy construction kits and require a good amount of patience fitting parts.) When these kits were released in the 2000s they were hailed as the best Spitfire kits for certain (typically later) Spitfire versions (Noted exception goes to Tamiya's Mk V and Airfix Mk. 22/24 which were also on the market at the time and both respected models.) The ICM kits had their day in the spotlight and their critics all along, however they do still build into a nice Spitfire replica so I am still building the ones in my stash :)
There is a helpful review of 1/48th Spitfire kits over at Jon Bius' scale model site which you may find a good read - check it out at: https://www.jonbius.com/brief-review-148-spitfire-kits/
Completed build #191 - December 2015 using the 1/48th scale ICM #48066 kit.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers