|Airfix Spitfire F Mk.22 in 1/72
| Started: November / 2015
Finished: February / 2016
The 1/72 scale Airfix Spitfire F.22 is one kit of their new
line. Being disappointed by the PR.19, I was surprised to see a much
better kit in the F.22 - better panel lines, landing gear legs
separated from the well doors, good fit, and a finesse that is not in
any Airfix kit of the latest catalogs.
My fascination for the
F.22 dates way back to my teen years, right after Matchbox released
their F.22/24 in 1/32 scale. That particular kit had been in my want
list until not long ago, when I finally realized that it would need a
lot of work to be brought to a good standard. I needed a replacement in
my collection, so when Airfix released the F.22 in 1/72 I decided that
it would suffice. And a coincidence: since the F.22/24 was the last of
the line (not counting the FR.47, essentially a navalized F.22, and
neither the Spitful), I would end up with the first (K5054)
and the last Spitfires in my collection. Having covered the whole
family, I would not need to build any other Spitfire in my life. Ok,
that was a bad joke (with faint traces of truth, I must confess)...
Back to modeling, this is the boxart:
My sample had a serious problem, the wing gun
mounts were only partially molded. I opted for drilling openings
in the wing leading edges to receive new muzzels. I turned a
master in brass and made resin copies of it. Instead of making another
master for the short muzzle, I just scribed new lines on a long muzzle
resin copy and inserted it further inside the wing:
forgot to mention (and to take pictures): there is nothing fancy in the
cockpit. The kit parts are really nice and all I added were
seatbelts from an old PE set, a guitar string to play oxygen hose and a
Quickboost British gunsight which was glued in place only at the end
(the kit's one is really bad - part D1). My eyes are not what they
used to be, and I hope yours neiter (just kidding), because I'm a bit
tired of detailing 1/72 cockpits... I even used the control panel decal
of the kit:
wingtip lights were made using the traditional colored clear plastic
method. One item that must be prepared before attaching the wings to
the fuselage are the recognition lights, provided as a clear part
(part D3). The instructions call for red, orange and yellow colors
(front to back), but after a quick research I found amber, green and
red. I painted the inside of part D3 with these colors using Tamiya
clear paints, and once dry I top coated them with silver paint.
Worked like a charm. Before painting started, I masked the lights with
tape disks of the correct diameter:
you probably noted, I'm becoming a bit lazy in taking in-progress
photos of my latest models. It is true, and this one is no exception.
So, many of the photos you are going to see ahead were taken after the
model was finished, or about to be finished. I hope this can work as a
proof of my good will!
This was a quick project, and I didn't
have any serious trouble. The only problematic area was the top of the
cowling, where Airfix seems to have used slide molding, making the
fasteners inconsistent and sanding necessary to make ghost lines
The paint used was the (now defunct) Floquil Old Silver.
I cannot emphasize enough how I like these paints, and how I found them
superior to all those crap acrylic metalics around. The pigment is the
finest, it airbrushes perfectly - even in retouches, and they can be
mixed with other enamels for tonal variations. I honestly think
Old Silver and Bright Silver are on par with Alclad, except that they
are enamels, and therefore the protective coat before washes is
mandatory. And so I did, after applying the kit decals. And then
came the weathering.
ok. Slow down. Let me start by the decals. As I said, the decals
provided with the kit were used. Airfix decals are really great lately,
and you don't need aftermarket ones unless you dislike the versions in
the kit. I used the standard MicroSet/MicroSol method, and the decals
settled perfectly over the panel lines. You can even see the rivets
conformed under them. A protective clear coat was airbrushed to seal de
decals and prepare the model for the weathering stage, and you really
have to struggle to find traces of the clear film, even on the many
weathering consisted of selective oils wash along control surfaces,
engine panels and underside. I simulated fluid streaks using black and
brown oils, mostly on the belly, where Spitfires were notorious
for leak marks. The effect was also used aft trailing hinges and
other movable parts.
the basic weathering done, it was time to dull the shine down a tad.
This was done using an overall coat of Testors Acryl Semi-Gloss Clear.
I could not use different variations because the F.22s had their silver
painted - it is not natural metal. I did, however, mask the ammunition
covers on the wings before applying the varnish, just to add interest:
also used oils to simulate the stains on both sides of the fuselage
tank. The black anti-slip area under the cockpit is provided as decals,
but I preferred to paint it instead. Grey and silver Prismacolor
pencils did the paint chipping there. The flash supressors of the
guns were sliced off from the kit parts and glued at the end of my scratchuilt replacements:
wheels are beautifully molded, and include the weighted effect - nice
touch, Airfix. The landing gear doors (parts A6 & A7) are also very
nice, and fully detailed on the inner side. The landing gear legs
(parts A15 & A16), however, have very soft detail, and the locking
eyelets were missing. I made new ones from plastic card and glued them
in place. These things leave little doubt that the new Airfix line is
directed more to young and occasional modelers than serious hobbyists.
The brake lines were made from 0,2mm solder wire:
spinner is designed, like in aircraft models of many other
manufacturers, to be assembled sandwiching the propeller blades. I
don't like this approach because it prevents you from working on the
backplate/spinner joint. Usually, I remove the propeller blades and
re-install them individually once the work on the spinner assembly is
done, against the odds of misalignment. But five blades is too
many, and the statistics were against me, so I just followed the
instructions. I added missing panel lines and screws to the spinner
(part A12), though. The propeller blades (part B7) were painted but
weathered only in the final stages, using the sponge method to simulate
I said before, the worst area in the kit was the upper cowling. Not
only it had nasty mold marks, but the fit leaves something to be
desired. After sanding the area I spent a lot of time rescribing the
panel lines and re-engraving the rivets/fasteners. Two common detail in
all Spitfires are the oil filter/fuel caps in front of the windscreen.
Both are circular, the first is larger and slightly raised with the
latter smaller and recessed. The oil filter cap was simulated by
punching a disk out of a decal previously painted with the same silver
paint of the airframe and applied as a regular decal. The fuel opening
should be simple, but to make a cylinder slightly depressed in a trued
hole is not just a matter of making a shallow hole. I adapted a method
learned from John Alcorn's book Scratchbuilders,
used by the late Arlo Schroeder in his scratchbuilt 1/24 Grumman
Avenger. First, a hole is drilled all the way through the plastic.
Next, a rod of the same diameter of the bit used to drill is inserted.
It is important that the end of the rod is perfectly squared. If the
fit is tight, apply some pressure with an eraser just enough to make
the rod sit recessed instead of flush with the surface. I hope my
diagram below is clearer than my text. I call it depressed hole method, but it is essentially the same thing described by Paul Budzik when doing pin rivets, except that we don't want the pin raised, but recessed:
small air scoop on the top of the cowling was sanded off and replaced.
The kit's exhaust stacks were used, but I drilled each opening with an
appropriate bit, and painted them with a secret indian recipe:
last step was to apply the airwash (highly diluted black+brown mixture)
on selected places. I love to use this method to make false shadows and
simulate stressed skin, like in the spots below:
After gluing the main wheels, tailwheel and Pitot tube an interesting Spitfire model was born:
glad that I have chosen the silver finish. For some reason, late
marquee Spitfires just don't look good to me when camouflaged:
model showed two big lessons to me. First, modeling community was
already well served of products back in the 90's, so don't be dragged
by all this propaganda about new and suppposedly better products that
replaced them, because sometimes it is simply not true. Make your tests
and draw your own conclusions.
I forgot the second lesson...
I was thinking in the second misterious lesson, I prepared a display
base for the F.22. Just poured a mix of long (6 mm) and short (3 mm)
static grass over one of my standard wood bases and glued two or three
tufts of tall grass. After sifting some fine dirt and blowing off the
excess my base was done:
And here is my new model on its base, with a blue background:
really enjoyed the weathering I achieved on this model, and it was a
landmark of sorts to me (aha, I guess this was the second lesson!), for
it is too heavy not to be seen or regard the aircraft as new, and not
too light that couldn't be seen, neither (done that before). Like I
always say, in 1/72 scale the good weathering has a very gentle balance
- it is easy to go overboard, it is easy to make it invisible.
currently considering going back to my original scale, the 1/32. But
constantly building 1/72 models gave me an accuracy and control that
larger scales can't give. It is just a matter of picking a good model
and never using the excuse of the small scale to short cut challenges.
Overcoming modeling challenges is exactly what make us a better modeler
after each model...
there you have it. If there is a third lesson, I'd put it this way: do
your best to make a 1/72 model look like a larger scale
Uh? 1/48 scale? What the heck is that?
|- Airfix A02033
|- Quickboost British gunsights in 1/72
Eduard generic British seatbelts (out of production).
Primer: Acrylic automotive primer
- Interior green: Humbrol #78 RAF interior green
- Silver: Floqui Old Silver (F110100)
- Satin varnish: Testors Acryl Semi-Gloss Clear (#2016)
A few scratchbuilt details (see text).