Spitfire Mk.IX Royal Class

Published: September 28th, 2013     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: Floyd S. Werner Jr. - IPMS# 26266
Scale: 1/48
Company: Eduard
Price: $125.00
Product / Stock #: R0008
Product provided by: Eduard

I won't go into the history of the Mk.IX Spitfire, but let's get right to the kit. It comes packaged in a sturdy large box with a flat black cove complete with a beautiful gold Spitfire sporting two beer barrels under the wings. On the sides are full color renditions of all the decal options. The box top itself is a piece of art that would look really good framed next to the Bf-109E box top.

Once I got the box top off, I was amazed at the amount of stuff in there. There is no wasted space. Everything is packaged individually to ensure there is no breakage. The first thing to look at is the absolutely beautiful light grey plastic sprues. All the parts are exquisitely done. The model features beautifully rendered rivets and fine recessed panel lines. There are nine sprues included, enough to build TWO Spitfires. What is really nice about the plastic parts is that you are treated to three types of wings - C early, C late, and E wing. This will allow you to build any version of the Mk.IX.

Two sprues of clear parts are included in a wheel-type sprue. The clear parts are thin and absolutely perfect. One thing you will notice is that the wingtips for the LF versions are included on these sprues. This will aid in painting them.

That is all the plastic parts. Now, onto the photo etch. One pre-painted fret of photo etch is included that covers the instrument panel and seatbelts for both aircraft. There is another fret of photo etch that has the armor plates, external details, and smaller parts. Two additional frets are included that have the flaps.

An Eduard Kabuki mask set is included for the canopy and wheels. If you haven't used these masks, they are a big time saver and easy enough to use.

No Royal Class release would be complete without some Brassin parts. Relatively speaking, this set has fewer Brassin parts than usual. It includes six wheels with six hubs. Two slipper tanks are included which have impressive detail. There are two beer barrels for the two marking options that require them. There is no Brassin cockpit set; it is available separately, as are many other parts, including the exhausts.

The instructions are typically printed in color on high quality, high gloss paper. The instructions are broken down in pictograph style. You will have to decide which version to build so you can include the correct parts. The marking options contain four-view drawings of the 14 aircraft. The final page has the stencil placement.

The decals are printed by Cartograf and Eduard on three sheets. One larger A4 sheet contains most of the markings. The smaller sheet, printed by Eduard, contains the code letters and aircraft serial numbers. There is a sheet of stencils printed by Eduard for two aircraft. I've used both sets before and have found them to perform flawlessly. British, Canadian, Polish, Czech, Australian, Russian, Israeli, United States, Norwegian, New Zealand, French, and Belgian aircraft markings are included. There is something there for everyone.

For most, that would be enough, but Eduard has a few more surprises. The first is the inclusion of a Pilsner beer glass. The glass is contained in a sturdy box with paper wrapping. This will ensure that the glass survives the shipping process. The glass has the same Spitfire as on the box cover, but in grey, flying through a full color ring of hops with a crown on top of the wreath (Royal Class, get it?). Well, if your significant other is like mine, you can't put the glass on the table top without a coaster. Eduard thought of that, too. Also included in a clear wrapper is a coaster with a profile painting of one of the subject aircraft. You don't know which one you'll get until you open it up. I got Johnnie Johnson's aircraft. There is also a collector sheet for those who want to collect all of the coasters, which are available separately from Eduard. That will add a nice touch to any man cave.

Let's Get Started

I wanted to see how the Brassin cockpit set fits and also how the kit cockpit fits. Since there are two kits, I bought a separate cockpit set and would build one out of the box. I also wanted to try the new cloth seatbelts, so they were ordered as well. Why not try the 500 lb bombs as well? Then I started building the model. WOW! is all I can say.

My Aircraft Selections

Since the first part of this construction is to decide what type of equipment was mounted, I needed to come up with two different aircraft. My two subject aircraft were going to be slightly different than what was offered in the box.

My first aircraft is the mount of Don Gentile. What's that? you say, Gentile and the Eagle Squadron never flew the Mk.IX. Well, that isn't true. On the last mission prior to the Eagle Squadron being integrated into the USAAF, 133 Squadron (Eagle) was given Mk.IXs. They were briefed on a Ramrod to Morlaix. Twelve aircraft took off with Gentile being used as the maintenance spare should someone develop trouble enroute to the target. At the pre-determined point, Gentile returned home. This is the only positive part of the mission. After Gentile was released back to England, one aircraft developed a fuel issue and was forced to turn around and actually crashed in England out of fuel. While the group was briefed on 35 knot headwinds from the south, they encountered winds of 100 knots from the north. Cloud cover prevented the B-17s and Spitfires from checking their ground speed and location. Once they broke out, it was determined that they were too far south, so the aircraft turned around and attempted to return to England. Flak and Focke Wulfs knocked all the remaining aircraft from the sky. Four pilots were killed, six taken prisoner and one pilot managed to evade capture. If it wasn't for the fact that no aircraft developed any maintenance issue, or if the one aircraft had developed its fuel trouble sooner, America would have lost one of its greatest air aces. While I haven't been able to find any pictures of the Eagle Squadron Mk.IXs, it can be asserted from the serial number and the hand-me-down nature of the RAF to the Eagles that they were probably early Mk.IXc's. I reasoned that while they had the MD codes, there probably wasn't any time to add any personal markings. After the raid, the Eagle's were transferred officially to the USAAF and given back their Mk.Vbs that they had and would use until they transitioned to P-47s.

The second aircraft I wanted to do was based on a gentleman I met while in the IPMS/Austin club. A charming guy named E.A.W. Smith came and talked to us. He told us of his exploits while flying with 127 Squadron in the 2nd TAF. He wrote a book, Spitfire Diary (ISBN 1-57168-046-2), which I bought and asked him to sign. He was the first Spitfire pilot I remember talking to and he had a handlebar mustache and a twinkle in his eye and as he told us humorous stories of his exploits. The book was a really nice read as well, so I've always wanted to pay homage to him and the often overlooked 2nd TAF. Besides, a Spitfire with bombs is kind of different. There were some pictures in the book and there was a copy of one of his logbook pages. That would be enough for me to do a representative model, which luckily for me was a late E wing model, or at least I think it is. Prove me wrong.

I usually don't build aircraft that I don't have actual photographs of, but this time I would be a little different. Now that I had my subjects, it was time to model.

Let the Fun Begin

I finally decided to build both kits out of the box. The Brassin cockpit is exquisite, but the kit cockpit is exceptional by itself, and I really liked the way it looked painted up. This has to be the best OOB cockpit I've ever built. The amount of photo etch is just right and appropriate for the scale. I can't say enough good things about this kit cockpit. The fit is perfect. All you need to do is ensure that all the parts are secure and the fit is tight. Add paint and weathering and you are golden. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process.

The instrument panel can either be a decal, photo etch, or a plastic piece. I elected to go with the pre-painted PE type. Pay attention to what version you are building as it matters which instrument panel to use. Once the assembly is together, a quick coat of Alclad Flat takes away the shine. I then add Krystal Klear in the instrument faces. This does two things - first, it gives the look of glass to the instrument. Then, as an added bonus, it helps bond the PE parts together.

Also be careful which gunsight you use. Since my two subjects are an early aircraft and a late one, I got to use both gunsights. It doesn't matter, really, as the fit is perfect, but you don't want to add the wrong type of gunsight.

One thing I would recommend in the cockpit is to add part PE21 BEFORE you add the floor to the sidewall. This will allow you to manipulate it and get a better fit. The sidewalls aid in aligning everything. If you do everything right, the cockpit will be square and in perfect alignment. Amazing engineering.

The fit of the cockpit into the fuselage was perfect. Get use to the word perfect - you will hear it often. Don't forget to install part F39, as it is easily missed. Since one of my subjects was a very early version, I had to open some holes in the right fuselage half, a hole for the clear light on top of the fuselage, and drill a hole in the wing leading edge. When I put the two fuselage halves together, the fit was...wait for it...perfect. Everything just fit absolutely amazingly. A quick swipe with a sanding stick and the fuselage was done. No filler, no fuss, and no muss.

The Wings

Again, you must decide which wing belongs to your aircraft. Gentile's aircraft would use the early C wing and the 2TAF would be an E wing. The big thing is to get the forward vertical piece (G76) in place properly. Everything else adjusts from its placement. The wheel wells look complicated, but once you follow the instructions they are a tight fit everywhere, which is a good thing. If you are going to use the bomb racks, don't forget to open the holes in the wings. The fit of the wings was perfect and, again, no filler was used.

More Fuselage

The exhausts have to be built up before the upper cowling can go on. They look complicated but the instructions really show how to do it, if you read and understand them. They worked perfecty for me. The exhausts themselves are gorgeous with the ends already hollowed out.

The two-piece upper cowling is easy enough to assemble. I took my time and aligned the pieces until I thought they were perfect. Once that was done, I let them dry overnight. Then some simple sanding to clean up the seam, and it was perfect. I didn't lose any rivet detail. Would it have been nice to have a single piece? Sure, but this part was not really an issue.

The horizontal tail planes were easy enough to assemble, and the joint is hidden on a panel line. They then fit to the fuselage perfectly. The elevators were added at that point. Since I had an early and late type, I used both types of elevators. Both types worked perfectly and the fit was secure.

The wings were attached to the fuselage and the fit was perfect. Literally, the parts click together. The fit is very tight, especially at the wing roots. Again, no filler. The wingtips have to be added, and since I was doing two different types of wings I got to try two different versions. The squared-off wing tips can either be plastic or clear. I chose clear and drilled a small hole in them on the back side to make the position lights. Tamiya clear red and green were added and the wing tips worked as advertised. The fit was, again, perfect. The ailerons were, again, perfect.

The E wing variant has the lower cowling and intake in two parts similar to the top cowling. This is the first time I needed a smidge of filler. I think it was my fault, but it was just a minimal amount of filler. The fit of the intake to the nose was again...well, you know. I added the Brassin slipper tank. It looked the part and was a unique addition to the belly. There is some photo etch to add to the belly, so make sure you don't forget them.

The underwing coolers are a six-piece affair. The side walls fit perfectly. I decided to do an open and closed version of the cooler doors to see how they fit. They fit perfectly as I expected, regardless of which one I used.

I opted to wait on the landing gear for a little bit. Some more bits and bobs were added to the wings, such as the guns.

Once that was done, it was time to mask the canopy. Thank God for the masks provided by Eduard in the kit. I hate masking canopies. The Kabuki tape masks fit perfectly as expected. I did have to use some Maskol on the sliding portion of the canopy. Adding the front and aft canopy portions allowed me to mask the cockpit area with Tamiya tape and a foam earplug. The whole model was then wiped down with Polly-S Plastic Prep. The canopy framing was painted British Interior Green. Then a coat of Alclad Grey Primer was used to check everything. Amazingly, or maybe not so amazingly, there was no area that needed clean up on either kit.

Tamiya Flat Black was used to pre-shade the model. Then Tamiya Flat Yellow was sprayed on the wing leading edges. Tamiya Sky was used on the fuselage band and the spinner. After letting them dry overnight, the areas were masked with Tamiya tape. The bottom was painted Medium Sea Grey. A couple of drops of flat white were added to the color and sprayed in a random pattern. I also use this color to 'fade' the fabric tail surfaces. After an overnight wait, those areas were masked off. The entire upper surface was then sprayed Tamiya Ocean Grey. The same procedure was used for the weathering effect. Now came the part that I really dreaded - the camouflage pattern. I couldn't decide if I liked a hard or soft edge. Well, I had two models, so I did both. Gentile's aircraft got the softer edge and the other got the hard edges. I used a copy of Tamiya's Spitfire Mk.Vb instructions from that kit. I made copies and cut them out, then applied them and kept the masks about 1mm off the surface with Blue Tack. Then I sprayed Gentile's model with Tamiya Dark Green. I had some overspray, as expected, so I touched this up with my Iwata airbrush. I was happy with the finish.

The other aircraft had the hard edge. I had the Steel Beach and the AML mask sets. I found the Steel Beach to be too cumbersome. The AML set was nicer and easier to use. There were some areas that needed a touch up to make the masks work, but it was significantly easier than cutting my own masks for the entire model. I'm sure that the Steel Beach set would work, but some of the masks were huge and just not worth my time to get them correct. The black and white stripes were added next. I did only the fuselage, as per the 2nd TAF reference book that indicated the wing stripes were removed in August or September. My aircraft was flown in October so, since I didn't have reference photos, I used my best guesstimate. I started this out by masking the area for the stripes, then sprayed the area with Alclad Grey Primer. This made the entire area one color. Then Alclad White Primer was added to the area. This stuff is great - it covers in one coat and it also dries fast. The stripes were masked off and Tamiya Flat Black was sprayed. All the masks were removed and I was very happy.

The models were sprayed with Alclad Aqua Gloss to prepare them for decaling. After they dried overnight, the decals were added.

I used the Eduard Spitfire stencils first. They worked perfectly, as expected. The markings were then added. The decals are printed by Cartograf, so all the decals reacted well with Solvaset and looked absolutely perfect. Since I was doing two aircraft that weren't included in the kit, I had to source some squadron codes. For Gentile's machine, I used a Tally-Ho sheet for the codes and serial number. They were flat and worked well enough, but there was some silvering that had to be taken care of with Solvaset and a new #11 X-Acto blade. Next time I will add Future as an undercoat on the decals as a setting solution.

For the second aircraft, I used an Xtradecal sheet which performed flawlessly. The Sky was lighter than my Tamiya Sky band but nothing objectionable. Besides, the Tamiya Sky is a little too dark anyhow and I should have lightened mine up.

A coat of Alclad Flat was added over both entire models to seal the decals and to prepare the kits for weathering.

Weathering

Weathering started back at the pre-shading, but now it was time to dirty the models up. A bunch of oil colors were used to filter the model. I used little dots of buff, white, blue, and greens. These were then swirled together with Turpenoid to blend the effects. A wash of Burnt Umber thinned with Turpenoid was added to the panel lines. Some silver chipping was added to the wing roots and various panels with a sponge and various Model Master metallic paints. A silver pencil added some newer scuffs. Mig Pigment Dry Mud and Dark Mud were added to the wheels and the wing roots to simulate the mud and dirt of the ground crew crawling on the airplane. Tamiya weathering powders were added to the exhaust stains and the prop blades to simulate wear. Some Sin Filters were sprayed off a brush onto the area for the mud splatter on the lower surfaces. The weathering was kept relatively light overall on both machines.

Once I was satisfied with the weathering, I started to add the small parts which, at this stage, weren't all that many. I added the lower recognition light after painting it Tamiya Clear Yellow. The pitot tube, antenna mast, and bombs were added. Gentile's aircraft had the early type of antenna, so I used some EZ Line to make them. They were attached with a very small drop of super glue to the fuselage lead-in connector and the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizers. The cockpit access doors were glued into place. The masks were removed from the canopy pieces and the glass was polished with Tamiya Polish. Once the sliding portion was attached with a couple of drops of white glue, the models were complete.

Conclusion

Have you ever totally enjoyed a model from the beginning to the end? Well, these kits did that for me. This is my new favorite kit. The fit was perfect. The level of detail was excellent, even out of the box. The Royal Class was special in that you could make any version of the Mk.IX. I built an early version and an extremely late version. Either way, there was no problem with fit anywhere. When photographing them, they look like totally different aircraft built from the same box.

Eduard has simply outdone itself yet again. I thought their Bf-109E was an excellent kit. This one is even better, simpler in construction, superior in execution, and just an excellent model. This kit is now the penultimate Spitfire, rivaling even the 1/32nd Tamiya kit, and at a fraction of the cost.

Of course, if you want to do more work to the kit you can add the Brassin engine, cockpit, radio compartment, and photo etch flaps. In all honesty, I completely forgot that there were photo etch flaps in the Royal Class kit. I'm glad I did because the kit with the flaps up retains the classic lines of this thoroughbred.

Again, this is the best kit of any Spitfire in any scale. It may be the best model in any scale. I can't praise it enough. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this kit. Whether you buy the Royal Class kit, Profipack, or Weekend Edition, these kits are awesome and you will enjoy the modeling process, especially the finished subject. I know I did. I already purchased another Royal Class kit for myself.

We have waited a long time to get a world-class Spitfire Mk.IX. That wait is over. With this kit, Eduard has surpassed the Japanese manufacturers, in my mind. They are producing the finest kits in the world with a perfect balance of quality and pricing. Also, they have designed plenty of aftermarket for those who want to go that route, or you can just build a world beater out of the box.

My hat is off to Eduard. I can't wait to see what they do with the 109 Gustav series. I'm sure it will be even better than this kit, if that is possible. Great job Eduard. Keep them coming.

Oh, and by the way, the glass and coaster come in handy drinking my Boddington's while I admire my handiwork. Soon Spitfire Ale will be available in the US. I'll have one or two of them as well when they are available. I'll be building more Spitfires, probably a lot more. Thanks Eduard for reminding me of how much fun modeling can be.

Super Highly Recommended.

Thanks to Eduard and IPMS/USA for the review kit.

Reference

  • Spitfire Mk.IX & XVI-Engineered; Paul. H Monforton, Monforton Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-9784001-0-1
  • Cockpit from right
    Cockpit from right
  • Cockpit from left
    Cockpit from left
  • On reference book 1
    On reference book 1
  • On reference book 2
    On reference book 2
  • On reference book 3
    On reference book 3
  • On reference book 4
    On reference book 4
  • Smith's Spit - bottom
    Smith's Spit - bottom
  • Smith's Spit 1
    Smith's Spit 1
  • Smith's Spit 2
    Smith's Spit 2
  • Smith's Spit 3
    Smith's Spit 3
  • Gentile's Spit 1
    Gentile's Spit 1
  • Gentile's Spit 2
    Gentile's Spit 2
  • Gentile's Spit 3
    Gentile's Spit 3
  • Paired up
    Paired up

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