Supermarine Spiteful F.MK.14

Published: August 7th, 2012     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: Michael Novosad - IPMS# 36721
Scale: 1/48
Company: Trumpeter
Price: $31.99
Product / Stock #: 02850
Product provided by: Stevens International

History

The Supermarine Spitfire series has often been described as the most aesthetically pleasing aircraft ever flown. During the course of its service life, the basic Spitfire design was progressively altered with heavier armament, camera installations and no armament, more powerful engines, canopy revisions, fixed and retracting tail wheel, larger vertical stabilizers and rudders, clipped wings and extended wingtips, propeller revisions, as well as several radiator revisions. In addition, the Spitfire was also modified for naval operations and was known as the "Seafire" with the fuselage reinforced and a tail hook added.

During its service life, about 22,750 Spitfires and Seafires were manufactured. Weight increased from 5,800 to over 11,000 lbs, with engine horsepower increasing from 1020 to 2050 HP, and speeds increasing from 364 to 452 MPH.

As early as 1942, the aerodynamic limitations of the famous elliptical wing were becoming obvious. The designers had realized that the Spitfire's wing at high Mach numbers might become a limiting factor in increasing the aircraft's high-speed performance. At high speeds, the light structure behind the leading edge torsion box would flex, altering the airflow and limiting the maximum safe diving speed to 480 mph. If the Spitfire was to be able to fly higher and faster, a radically new wing would be needed.

The design team was aware of a study on compressibility which described a new type of wing section; the maximum thickness and camber would be much nearer to the mid-chord than conventional airfoils, and the leading edge section of this airfoil would be close to an ellipse.

The new wing skins would be relatively thick, providing the necessary rigidity which was needed for aileron control at high speeds. Another change, to improve the ground-handling, was replacing the Spitfire's narrow-track, outward-retracting undercarriage with a wider-track, inward-retracting system. The Air Ministry were impressed by the proposal and issued a specification for a single-seat fighter with a laminar flow wing; there was also to be provision made for a wing folding scheme to meet possible FAA requirements.

The new wing was fitted to a modified Spitfire XIV in order to make a direct comparison with the earlier elliptical wing, and was first flown on 30 June, 1944, by Jeffrey Quill. Although the new Spitfire's speed performance was comfortably in excess of an unmodified Spitfire XIV, the new wing displayed some undesirable behavior at the stall which, although acceptable, did not come up to the high standards of the elliptical wing.

Meantime, the Spitfire's fuselage was redesigned, to improve the view over the nose and to eliminate a slight directional instability by using a larger fin and rudder. This instability was first made apparent with the introduction of the more powerful Griffon engine. The instability was exacerbated by the increase in propeller blade area due to the introduction of the four-bladed and subsequent five-bladed Rotol airscrews for the next aircraft. The updated design incorporated the new fuselage (although lacking the enlarged fin/rudder) and, as it was now quite different from a Spitfire, the aircraft was named "Spiteful".

The Spiteful was ordered into production as the Spiteful XIV, and 150 of the aircraft were ordered. However, with the advent of jet propulsion, the future of high-performance propeller-driven fighters was clearly limited due to the introduction of jet-powered aircraft, and so the order was later cancelled with only a handful of Spitefuls built. At the time, however, there was some uncertainty over whether jet aircraft would be able to operate from the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers, so it was decided to develop a naval version of the Spiteful, subsequently named Seafang. That's another story.

Box Contents

The model is comprised of three medium grey sprues, one set of clear parts, and a small PE fret providing the underwing radiator grills and the chin intake grill. A small decal sheet has markings for the RAF subject aircraft, plus a "what if" camouflaged Dutch and a natural metal finish Finnish Spiteful. The grey parts appear to be well molded and contain crisp engraved panel lines.

The instructions are an eight page booklet, with typical Trumpeter exploded views for the various construction steps.

Construction

Cockpit

The side wall details are molded as part of the fuselage sides, and the tub is built with the Spitfire-type spade control column and instrument panel before being fitted into mounting slots on the fuselage sides. A decal is used for the instrument panel face.

A photo recon version may be built by fitting an eight-part camera behind the pilot's seat. The camera opening must be cut out on the left side of the fuselage and a clear lens installed.

Fuselage

The fuselage will trap the painted cockpit between the two halves. The six stack exhausts should have each tube drilled out for added realism, and each bank of exhausts fits into a slot on either side of the forward fuselage. The kit is furnished with a blade antenna, while most vintage images appear to show a whip antenna.

The assembled propeller is shown being trapped between the fuselage halves. This installation is best done after the painting is completed. I carefully glued the mounting cap on the inner face of the nose to receive the finished propeller assembly once the model was painted.

The two-part canopy/windscreen may be posed open. These parts are quite thick, requiring the removal of a molding seam down the top of the canopy. I used progressively finer sanding films to eliminate the raised seam, and a bath in Future eliminated any fogging caused by the sanding process.

Wings

The two large radiators are made from plastic and PE parts. The PE parts are fitted into location and fixed with superglue. The PE grilles are quite thin and require some care to avoid unwanted bends. Once the PE grills are in place, the view though the radiators must be blanked off to eliminate see-through. I used plastic strips painted black to solve that problem. The four cannon are molded integral with the top wing halves. Each barrel could benefit by drilling out the ends. Flaps and ailerons may be posed other than in neutral.

The landing gear is comprised of several parts. The oleo knuckles are made from two small parts for each gear that must be carefully removed from the sprue, cleaned up, and glued in place. The kit main wheels are two-part assemblies and look a bit undersized.

Painting

The model was primed, pre-shaded, and finish-painted with Tamiya acrylic paints. A clear gloss coat was applied using Model Master Acryl Clear Gloss.

Decals

Here I was concerned with the appearance of the decals. The markings appear a bit too glossy, and the red is too bright for my taste, but I used them anyway, and the results were quite satisfactory.

Conclusion

The finished model appears like the result of an romantic liaison between a delicate Spitfire and a rough Mustang. Although is it a neat-looking aircraft, it just doesn't look quite correct. For those who build "normal" Spitfires, this model will make an interesting addition to any collection of Spitfires and may be considered as the "end of the line" for this most famous and popular aircraft.

When I first saw an announcement that Trumpeter was planning to offer a 1/48th scale Spiteful, I knew I needed to add one to my collection. When this kit was offered as a review selection I threw my hat into the ring and was awarded the kit. I was not disappointed.

This is not a difficult or complex kit to build, and the end result is a somewhat unique aircraft. I recommend this kit to modelers of any skill level. I enjoyed this project and the end result is a nice addition to my growing Spitfire family.

I with to thank Stevens International and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this product.

  • Left front
    Left front
  • Left rear
    Left rear
  • Right front
    Right front
  • Overhead
    Overhead
  • Spitfire comparison
    Spitfire comparison

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