Supermarine Spitfire Mk. 18

by Phil Ludolph

 

 

Background

Regrettably, I had never built a Spitfire in 1/48th scale and I had always wanted a model of the Griffon engine version so the hunt was on for a suitable model.

My choice was the Spitfire F. Mk. 18, the so called "Super Spitfire" as it was the final Spitfire mark using the original elliptical wing. I ended up choosing the 1/48 Academy XIVe kit to convert into a Mk. 18 Spitfire as this seemed appropriate. This aircraft did not see W.W.II service but was used in the Anti-terrorist war activities in Malaya during the 1950's.

The aircraft's role was mostly support missions for ground troops where they conducted operation Firedog missions to raid terrorist camps. Aviation artist Jim Mitchell, produced a very dramatic painting of two (2) 60 Squadron Spits flying low & very fast over a village which was a major inspiration for this project.



Building the Model

The model that I chose to build the Super Spitfire FR MkXVIII was the Academy Spitfire XIVE in 1/48th scale as it was the only game in town.

Unfortunately, this kit has had a lot of bad press for being inaccurate in outline and shape etc... from many of the Spitfire buffs. But I found the kit an excellent build; challenging to say the least. When I viewed this model in the box it had finely engraved panel lines and it was molded in grey plastic. A very nice kit and it lends itself to correction work easily. The FR Mk 18 version of the Spitfire was the last Spitfire with the original classic elliptical wing and with the overall shape I was fairly pleased with Academy's representation.

 

 

However the fuselage looked a little tall, cowling/rocker covers incorrectly shaped and the spinner large........but I think with a little work eventually it looks like a Spitfire; what do you guys think?

To build the MkXVIII the Academy Spitfire was going to mean some sort of conversion/correction set was going to be needed to handle the kit corrections and enlarged rudder. At the time the only accessible conversion set was the KMC set (48-4021) for the Spitfire MkXIV c/e (regrettably no longer available) which does assist in the correction of the deficiencies of the original kit. Additionally, this Spitfire was to have a ground attack configuration to include a center line bomb rack, six (6) outer wing zero length rocket rails and smaller wing bomb racks.

To help me with the fabrication of these I called upon the assistance of the master modeler Roy Sutherland of Cooper Details fame, a highly experienced modeler who was very kind enough to help me with the resin molding of my bits and pieces for this project. THANKS ROY!

As fate would have it, at the end of my project, AeroMaster Decals just happened to release a decal sheet (48-527) with the markings for Number 60 Squadron in 1950's in particular Sqn. Ldr. W G Duncan Smith aircraft. This made my job a lot easier and another major motivation to complete this Spitfire project.

Fuselage

Firstly, I had to remove all the side wall detail from the Academy kit to allow the KMC cockpit side walls and floor to fit. I did have some problems with the fit of the floor but with a little persistence I managed to get it to fit snugly. Then the plastic above the exhausts to include the cowl and rocker covers was removed and plastic card used to make the exhaust stacks position deeper within the fuselage side wall; so as to match photographs.

 

 

The rudder was also sawn off to allow for the conversion into the Mk 18 and installation of KMC's new rubber. I did have to re-drill all the large rivets around the replacement cowl and fill the holes with punched plastic card discs to form rivets. These large rivets are very prominent and need to be shown. Once the fuselage was closed it started to look like a Rolls-Royce Griffon engine Spitfire.

 

 

Cockpit

The KMC cockpit required a lot of trimming and the side walls of the kit thinned down to allow the fuselage to close properly. Additionally, I used the Eduard photo-etch (48-179) for the spit MkXIVc set to help with some of the framing and instrument panel details. Sutton harness was made from scratch and very thin soldier and thick aluminum foil. The whole cockpit area was painted in British interior grey-green and highlights and dry brushed to bring out the details. A Squadron canopy was used to replace the kits one which really improves the look of this area.

Wings

The wings of the Academy kit were modified to provide for a much deeper appearance for the wheel well providing suitable recesses for the main wheels.

 

 

The outer wing guns were removed and the 20mm Hispano resin cannons and .50 cal flaring installed. Resin zero rocket rails, bomb rack parts and bumps under the main wing were all molded by Roy Sutherland from patterns made by me.

Undercarriage

The kit undercarriage was used and detailed with a little assistance from the Eduard photo-etch set. Brake lines were installed using copper and fixed to the beautiful three (3) spoke main wheels from Cooper Details.



Painting and Markings

The paints used were Testors Polly Scale the usual (sea grey/dark green/medium sea grey) mix and were all sprayed through the trusty old Badger 150. No spray mask was used for the camouflage pattern as I like the softer edge to the pattern. I could go on about the sharp edge of the camo pattern but I wana try and keep this article to a minimum. I don't care too much for the sharp edge but that's a personnel issue.

The decals from AeroMaster were satisfactory but I did have some trouble with the black & yellow bands around the nose. After repeated failures I choose not to use them and painted them on instead.

 



After the decals had time to dry I then weathered the aircraft with oils & pastels to bring out and represent a slightly used look. Personally, I don't care for the heavy pre-shaded look I guess................I seem to have much get better control with the oils. Then the model weathering was completed it was given a final coat of Future/Polly-Scale mix for a semi-gloss finish and I had a Spitfire FB Mk 18 for my collection. Hope you fokes like it!



References

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SPITFIRE - The history by Eric Morgan & Edward Shacklady

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The Supermarine SPITFIRE Part 2 by Robert Humphreys

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GRIFFON-POWERED SPITFIRES by Kev Darling

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SPITFIRE SPECIAL QSM by Neil Robinson

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Spitfire - Sixty Fabulous years by FlyPast (Special)
 

More Pictures

Click the thumbnails to view larger pictures:

Copyright 2003 by Phil Ludolph & The Testor Corporation