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  • Writer's picture@PlaneThought41

Biggin Hill, Kent 1942: 1/48th Tamiya Spitfire Mk. Vb

Updated: Mar 9

For a kit that is more than a quarter century old, the 1/48th Tamiya Spitfire Mk. Vb certainly holds up well. The parts fit and engineering are still highly competitive and a number of options are provided to get you where you want to be with little fuss.


1/48th Tamiya Spitfire Mk. Vb

Notable Kit Features:


  • Straight-forward build with low parts count

  • Minimal ejector pin marks (and typically in places not seen)

  • Well detailed cockpit with excellent fit

  • Pilot figure included

  • Optional armored glass

  • Option to easily cut out cockpit door to display open

  • Excellent finely engraved surface detail

  • Option to build clipped-wing version or standard-wing

  • Two styles of rear view mirrors provided

1/48th Tamiya Spitfire Mk. Vb

Build Inspiration:


This is another of my RCAF Spitfire series of model builds. After acquiring Robert Braken's book "Spitfire The Canadians", I had plans to build a number of RCAF Spitfires. This one caught my attention as it had a modified paint job (which is fairly rare for British types during WWII). The aircraft was flown by Al Harley while he served with RCAF 401 Squadron. He had his personal markings added to this airframe with the letters "Do II" beneath the cockpit, named after his wife Dorothy.


Al Harley while serving with RCAF 401 Squadron in 1942

Interesting fact: Al Harley was Robert Stanford Tuck wingman on the "Rhubarb" mission that Tuck was shot down and taken POW on 28JA42. The Squadron pilots drew cards to see who would get to accompany Tuck, who was the leading RAF Ace on active duty at the time, on this rare mission. Harley's "King of Hearts" was the high card and he was the envy of the group to get this mission. They successfully attacked a convoy of trucks as well as an airfield without taking a scratch. Their main target at Hesdin was successfully attacked as well although they encountered some Flak this time. On the way back to England they attacked a power station and during this attack run Harley clipped a tree on the low level run in. At first Harley thought that was it for him however he managed to continue to fly his Spitfire despite the encounter. Their exit point took them a bit too close to Boulogne and that's when "all hell broke loose". Running a gauntlet of AA fire, Harley managed to come out the other side, however he was unable to make radio contact with Tuck and his search for him tuned up empty. Still dealing with the Flak it was time to exit the area and head for base while he still could. The Rhubarb mission ended up costing their Wing Commander and top Ace. Tuck survived the crash and remained a prisoner for the duration of the war. Both Harley and Tuck managed to survive the war and met again later in the early 1960's during a screening of "The Battle of Britain" film in Toronto, Ontario.


Kit Additions / Modifications:


  • Added seatbelts made of tape (heavy foil works very well too)

  • Removed small raised wing stiffeners as they weren't present on this aircraft frame

(as you'll note, I typically build out of the box, without all the addons)


1/48th Tamiya Spitfire Mk. Vb


Finishing:

The paint job is a non-standard Ocean Gray and Dark Earth upper surfaces with Medium Sea Gray lower surfaces. Each colour was varied somewhat in tone during the airbrush spray session to give the look of a weathered appearance. My standard gloss coat of Pledge (Floor Finish) was used in preparation for the decals, followed by dark washes to highlight the panel lines and control surfaces. Finishing it off I used a Model Master dull coat to seal everything in and matte it down. This finish stands out a bit from my other Spitfires and adds another scheme less often seen.


1/48th Tamiya Spitfire Mk. Vb

The After-Build Report:


If you prefer accuracy over ease of build, I believe the new (2014) Airfix kit reportedly best captures the cockpit detail and shape of the Spitfire Mk. Vb (Although I have no personal experience with the Airfix kit). The Tamiya’s kit is likely still the easiest 1/48th Spitfire Mk. V to build and certainly still looks the part, all at a reasonable price, therefore I still recommend this kit. You shouldn't be disappointed either way you go.


1/48th Tamiya Spitfire Mk. Vb

Completed build #189 - December 2015 using the 1/48th scale Tamiya #61033-1800 kit.


Feel free to ask any questions or post comments on the build - Keep on building what you want, how you want - Cheers


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