Spitfire Mk.IXb Floatplane

Published: October 8th, 2016     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: Rob Benson - IPMS# 44038
Scale: 1/72
Company: Brengun
Price: $15.65
Product / Stock #: BRP72019
Product provided by: Brengun, Hauler

Thank you to the great folks at Hauler-Brengun for bringing a welcome and unique variant of the iconic Spitfire to the scale model world. Thank you also to the IPMS Reviewer Corps staff members who do the hard work in getting us kits to review.

I normally do not provide much historical background when reviewing a model kit. After all, the kit is the being reviewed, not the represented subject. But in this case the apparent contrast of a fighter to float variant is of interest. Both Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane float plane versions of the respective fighters were considered for forward-deployment in Norwegian fjords early in WWII. The rapid pace of the German invasion negated the need for the float-fitted fighters. Later the Spitfire floatplanes were suggested for deployment to the Dodecanese Islands in the Mediterranean, remotely supplied by submarines. Operational considerations made this idea unworkable. Finally operations in the Pacific were discussed and ultimately scrapped, leading to the Spitfire floatplane concept being abandoned.

Overall Summary

The Spitfire Mk.IXb Floatplane kit is a welcome addition to the scale modeling world, and represents an unusual subject. The Hauler-Brengun kit is a great value and fun to build for an intermediate-skill modeler.

Initial Impression in the Box

All parts in the small cardboard, end-opening, color-printed one-piece box were in a medium-sized clear poly bag. Clear parts, decals and a photo etch (PE) fret were enclosed in a separate smaller bag inside the main bag. Six sprues in molded in light brown and medium gray styrene had minor if any mold release. Clear canopy parts are slightly milky, but cleared up well after Future Floorwax "dip." Parts are finely engraved and other details crisply molded. Many of the parts are not used, as shown by large X's in the sprue map section of the A-4 size black-and-white instruction sheet. The base kit is for a different version of Spitfire, with extra parts included and modifications indicated to build the floatplane version.

Construction

Construction follows a logical and traditional progression from cockpit outward through fuselage assembly, wing assembly and attachment, and finishing with a pair of floats. Fit in general was fairly good, but all parts required some sanding and trimming. The plastic is somewhat brittle, so caution is needed when separating small parts from the sprue trees. Part numbers are not engraved on the sprues, but an excellent sprue diagram shows all of the part numbers and locations.

Some modifications are required. The wing tips must be slightly trimmed and replacement tips added. Trimming wing tips is a simple process. The overlap of the upper wing on the lower wing provides a helpful reference line. The lower wing does not need to be trimmed, but the tips of the upper wing do. I recommend using some brass wire to make locating pins and reinforce the joint. I am not happy with the fit of the wingtip replacements. The replacement tips are slightly thinner than the actual wings, requiring some ample filling. Plugs/plates for the unneeded undercarriage bays are provided, but no attachment points are present to hold the plates in position. The plugs fit, but will need much filling to be flush without gaps.

The cockpit assembly was made complicated by the absence of distinct locating points. I followed this order: 1) Cement the instrument panel into the right fuselage half, against and just forward of the cockpit framing, 2) glue the fuselage halves together, 3) install the pilot seat assembly from the bottom (there is plenty of room), the lastly 4) install the cockpit "floor" with the joystick, and rudder track. The cockpit is fairly well detailed, but is difficult to see in the assembled fuselage. The PE harnesses are a nice touch.

Some flash and a little bit of mismatch was found in some larger kit pieces. Results using Tenax were fairly good in most cases. No locating pins are present for fuselage halves or wing halves. No attachment points are present for floats and horizontal tail planes. Even though there are no locating pins, sometimes there are very small marks engraved on one of the mating surfaces that help with locates. I elected to add pins for the float pylon to wing join, and the tail plane to fuselage join. This was done with 0.52 mm brass rod, and a #75 drill bit. The PE grills and covers went on without difficulty, again without locates, but easily done. The small fairings for the wing cannons are positioned aft on the wing in line with the guns and in the middle of the inboard pair of access panels. The float pylons need quite a bit of sanding and filing to match the wing shape. Many joints required a bit of filler.

I appreciated the alternate PE parts included for the pitot mount and the antenna mast. PE rudder actuators on the floats are also a nice detail. The gun barrels fit snugly. I was able to add the antenna mast, the gun barrels, the pitot mount, the mirror on top of the windscreen, and exhaust pipes after airbrushing the entire aircraft.

Decals

Two decal sheets are provided, for stencils and national markings. The national markings went on quite nicely, responding well to Microscale solutions. The stencils were fragile and a little bit blurry. I was able to use the walkway lines, but elected to not use many of the stencils otherwise. I never found any visible stencils on any of the limited number of actual aircraft photographs in my research. National insignia placement is well illustrated on the kit box and a detailed stencil placement guide is included on the instruction sheet.

Finishing

The overall color scheme is shown on the back of the box and it is quite eye-catching. Only general colors are named, so a little bit of research will be required to get the right ones. I elected to use the following colors:

  • FS13538 Chrome Yellow
  • RAF Interior Green
  • RAF Dark Green
  • FS 36176 Dark Gray

Three-view color patterns match well enough between each view, so use caution when enlarging the patterns for templates. There is no right side profile view, so you'll need to use the color cover as a guide.

Aftermarket

I did not find any aftermarket products for this kit.

  • Wheel well plugs and surface engraving detail
    Wheel well plugs and surface engraving detail
  • Stencils and National Insignia
    Stencils and National Insignia
  • Fuselage assembled and pins needed for floats
    Fuselage assembled and pins needed for floats
  • Kit as packaged
    Kit as packaged
  • Photoetch fret
    Photoetch fret
  • Horizontal tail surface with pins added and vertical tail fin modifications
    Horizontal tail surface with pins added and vertical tail fin modifications
  • Spitfire PE rudder details
    Spitfire PE rudder details
  • Wing tip modifications after upper wing trimmed
    Wing tip modifications after upper wing trimmed
  • Finished underside
    Finished underside
  • Aft end view
    Aft end view
  • Nose on view
    Nose on view
  • Side view
    Side view

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