Oddly enough, before the change of the century, it wasn't easy to find a nicely detailed, accurately shaped 1/48th scale Spitfire. Many attempts had been made with few successes. With their initial release in 2001, the ICM Spitfires introduced an accurately shaped Spitfire with very fine panel lines. Admittedly they were a bit of a challenge to construct in places and had some injection mold issues, however the detail, complete with a decent Merlin engine, gave model makers the components to build a gem of a kit.
Notable Kit Features:
Full engine provided
All engine panels can be left off (although this will be a structural challenge) so an option for "some panels" is a better choice
Good cockpit detail (the control stick and pilot seat are a bit off)
Pilot door is able to be cut out (separate open door provided)
Rectangular and round rearview mirrors are present
Finely scribed panel lines with good surface details
Separate Rudder and ailerons (Tall tail option is also provided)
Open gun bays optional with wing guns provided Guns can be loaded into either inner or outer bays as both cover types are provided
Clipped, Standard and Extended wing tips are included in kit
Slipper tank provided and bomb
Optional canopies provided (Although you may want to opt for a replacement)
Good overall shape (for both the Mk. IX and Mk. VIII series)
Parts fit is typically good (post clean-up) with some exceptions
Low cost (Second hand they are typically very inexpensive)
I already have quite a few Spitfires in my collection, however I keep adding the occasional one to the group. It is usually to add a squadron aircraft that I don't have as yet, or to have a specific pilot's aircraft represented on the shelf here. This was the case with the addition of Jack Boyle's Spitfire aircraft. I added a RCAF 411 Squadron aircraft (as part of my attempt to get as many different RCAF squadron aircraft represented in my build collection) flown by Jack Boyle, whose aircraft bore the name of his baby daughter. Jack Boyle had a significant contribution to the squadron including the destruction of a couple of Luftwaffe Me262 aircraft.
These 1/48th ICM Spitfire Mk. IX kits require a fair bit of pre-build 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
Separate wingtips fit required sanding and filler
Underside engine panel required sanding and filler
Propeller blades are all separate from spinner (my prop blades also had sink marks that had to be repaired)
Kit Additions / Modifications:
Separated horizontal tail control surfaces and repositioned
Substituted a Falcon Vacuform canopy for the kit canopy as it was rather thick
Used 3rd party decals from BelcherBits.com
This Spitfire Mk. IX was finished in the standard later war Dark Green / Ocean Gray over Medium Sea Gray. the camouflage was sprayed over an aluminum base in order to later show wear the paint down to the metal, especially at the wing root where the pilot and crew often walk. This aircraft also had its "Sky" tail band over-painted, so I applied this in a non-faded paint tone to look a bit newer (although it is subtle and difficult to see in the photographs.) The spinner was also over-painted in a near black tone.
Standard gloss coat and remaining decalling 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 matte it down. Then came my least favourite bit (probably because the build is so close to finish and you just want it done) of adding all 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 1/48th ICM Spitfire Mk. IX 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 :)
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