- Manufacturer: Tamiya
- Scale: 1:32
- Aircraft: Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII (Kit #60320)
- Markings: “Fargo Express” | Lt. Leland Molland – CO | 308th Fighter Squadron | 31st Fighter Group | 15th Air Force | Castel Volturno, Italy | February 1944
- Aftermarket: Eduard PE | Barracudacast Seat | Barracudacast Merlin Rocker Covers | Barracudacast Wheels | Barracudacast Cockpit Door | Scale Aircraft Conversions Landing Gear | Master Hispano 20mm cannons
The Spitfire Mk.VIII was originally conceived to replace the Spitfire Mk.V and counter the Luftwaffe’s fearsome new Focke Wulf Fw 190. When development took longer than expected, the British decided to field a stop-gap model by grafting the new Merlin 60-series engine onto a Mk.V airframe. The result was the Mk.IX, which confusingly entered service well before the Mk.VIII, performed very well, and quickly usurped the Mk.VIII as the RAF’s mainstay fighter. When the Mk.VIII finally reached production, it found itself dispatched to further flung theaters, including Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean, where it served with the RAAF, RNZAF, and USAAF, among others.
Yes, the USAAF flew Spitfires. It’s often overlooked today, but when the United States entered the war, its principal aircraft – the P-40 Warhawk, F4F Wildcat, etc – weren’t much of a match for the fast, agile fighters doing battle over Europe. And so, in a bit of reverse Lend-Lease, the USAAF flew Spitfires in North Africa and Italy until the P-51 became widely available in mid-1944.
But honestly, I didn’t build this kit because I have a thing for Spitfires. I built this kit to build this kit. It is very much a “journey” kit. And is it ever a journey. This has to be, far and away, the most ambitious, well engineered and precise model I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Things that shouldn’t fit do, and so well that you can’t even see a seam. Various pieces are held in place by magnets and screws. The detail on every single part is staggering. The screws have slots in them, for crying out loud.
If you want to build a big, late-Merlin Spitfire, buy this kit (or its siblings, the IXc and XVIe). If you want to experience the stunning craftsmanship of a premier model maker at the top of their game, buy this kit. Honestly, outside of Tamiya’s new P-51, I can’t think of a single kit that could top what this one brings to the table.
Most highly recommended
- On the Bench
- Build Report 1: Cockpit & Main Assembly
- Build Report 2: The Merlin
- Build Report 3: Paint
- Build Report 4: Decals & Details
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