In-Box Review
Sptifire Mk. I
Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I
  • move

by: Is a secret [ JESSIE_C ]


One of three aircraft types that stayed in continuous production from the first day of the war to the last, the Spitfire is perhaps the most renowned fighter aircraft in the world. At first not quite living up to its press, the Spitfire's ability to be constantly updated was a tribute to the brilliance of its designer, Reginald Mitchell. Even more than 70 years after its debut, the sight and sound of a Spitfire never fails to delight aviation enthusiasts the world over.

First Impressions

Moulded in Tamiya's signature medium grey hard smooth plastic, this is another gem. It needs no putty and the mouldings are first rate. There is absolutely no flash, and the panel lines are nicely engraved without either disappearing or being too obtrusive. It's a simple kit, having only 2 sprues of parts and a single small clear sprue for the canopy and gun sight. The kit has been well engineered to keep ejector pin marks out of sight.


The fuselage is two halves from nose to tail. The cockpit is nicely detailed and properly floorless. The only thing really necessary to dress it up is a new seat to replace the half-depth seat Tamiya chose to inflict on all its Spitfires. The instrument panel has no raised details in the instrument faces, and no decal faces are offered. They'll have to be sourced separately. The cockpit door is moulded closed, but Tamiya offers a separate part for those modellers who wish to pose it open. This is moulded with its characteristic emergency crowbar which is incorrect for an early production Spitfire. It will have to be ground off or replaced with an aftermarket part. There are multiple options for the canopy, Tamiya having chosen to use the same sprue for the Mk I and Mk V kits. There are flat-sided, partially blown and fully blown sliding canopies offered. The Mk I was usually seen with flat sided or partially blown canopies. The knock-out panel on the left side of the flat sided canopy was not surrounded by a metal frame, so avoid the temptation to paint it. The later style streamlined antenna mast is the only option. If you're doing a very early production spitfire, this will have to be changed to the pole type.


The wings are in 3 pieces; one lower wing half from wingtip to wingtip with one piece for upper right and left halves. The flaps are moulded shut, which is correct for a parked Spitfire. The flaps blocked airflow through the radiator and Squadron Engineering Officers would fine pilots who left the flaps down after landing. In any case, the flaps were held open by compressed air, which meant that as soon as the pressure bled off, the flaps would snap shut. The gun muzzles are moulded protruding from the leading edges. This is correct for early production Spitfires. Modellers wishing to produce a later machine may simply cut them off. The wheel wells are molded in a slight oval which is incorrect. They should be exactly circular with the top surface of the well slightly offset to the rear from the bottom so that the wheel well makes an angled cylinder through the thickness of the wing. Given that this is difficult to correct, I doubt many modellers will bother. Some people have complained that the curvature of the wing does not match published drawings, but the error is slight, and does not stop the model from looking properly like a Spitfire. The underwing radiator and oil cooler are separate parts, which will benefit from careful painting. Leave the pitot tube off until the last minute to prevent it from being damaged while handling.


The tailplanes are one piece mouldings. They are moulded in such a way as to prevent them from being glued the wrong way about. Parked Spitfires are always seen with their elevators drooped unless there was a control lock in place in the cockpit. They should be cut away and posed. Don't forget to push the stick forward in the cockpit.

Landing gear

The landing gear struts and wheels are finely moulded and nicely detailed. The struts are one piece with their mounting pins pre-set to give the gear its slightly raked forward stance. The wheels have separate outer hub faces which will make painting a little easier. The gear doors have nice detailing on their inside surfaces.


I don't compare models to drawings or published measurements. When assembled it will look like a Spitfire.

Decals and Markings

This kit offers two Battle of Britain Spitfires: L1043 from No. 610 Squadron with an overall sky undersurface and no underwing roundels and X4561 from No. 92 Squadron with a black starboard wing undersurface. Both aircraft are in the B disruptive scheme of Dark Green and Dark Earth. Tamiya gives you a 1/48 scale camouflage template which will be useful for placing the masking. Spitfires were usually masked with hard edges to the colours. Do not allow much overspray. There is a full set of white underlays to prevent any chance of the paint scheme showing through the decals. They are the typical Tamiya thickness which some modellers like to complain about. I've found them to be very responsive to Solvaset, and I've never had to worry about them curling up or tearing. Aftermarket schemes abound for those who want to do something a little different from the kit options.


There are shedloads of aftermarket options available for Spitfires. The only ones I would really recommend for this kit are Ultracast's wonderful wheels, seat and exhausts. The seat is a must to replace the woefully inadequate kit seat. If you wish to portray a very early Spitfire, Ultracast also offers the two bladed Weybridge propeller. The kit parts are very nice, but Ultracast replacements are a leap beyond nice. They'll really add to this wonderful kit. For those modellers who delight in etched brass, Eduard offers 3 different sets to dress up the exterior and cockpit.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Very nice mouldings and sufficient detail to be a winner right out of the box
Lows: Decals are too thick for some modellers. Desperately needs a new seat.
Verdict: This will be a relaxing and drama-free build. If you only have room for one Spitfire, make it this one.
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: 1/48 scale aircraft series No. 32
  Suggested Retail: C$34.99
  PUBLISHED: Jan 21, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

About Is a secret (Jessie_C)

Copyright 2021 text by Is a secret [ JESSIE_C ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Thanks for the pointers! Cheers, Guido
MAR 15, 2012 - 04:13 AM
Next question.. How does she compare to the Airfix 1:48th, early Spit? I've a yearn to build something made out of metal for a change. Just wonder which is a best base to start. Keith
MAR 15, 2012 - 06:39 AM
The Airfix has somewhat better shape (and its own handful of errors), but the plastic is softer, the detail is much less crisp but chunkier and the fit needs more tweaking. The flaps are separate, with associated fit problems if you want them up. The Airfix kit also offers the choice of Rotol, DeHavilland and Watts propellers, flat or blown hood, armoured or unarmoured windscreen, streamlined or pole antenna mast and markings for 19 Sqn's early Mk.Is at their 1938 Press Day or a Mk.II from 118 Sqn in 1941. Here's Mal's take on the kit. For sheer options the Airfix kit is the one to go for. For ease of build, choose Tamiya. For the non-Gastons among us, either one will be hugely enjoyable. If you want to go nuts with the aftermarket parts you can make an eye-popping marvel out of either of them.
MAR 15, 2012 - 07:55 AM
Somewhere in Hades, there is (or should be) a former civil servant, who quakes with fear whenever a modeller's soul comes near, since it was he who wrote "bakelite" in the Spitfire repair manual. Seats were never made from bakelite (they couldn't, since the material needs high temperature control and high pressure, which can't be done with something that large); the material was simply known as "plastic," and was a combination of paper, or flax, and resin. The plastic seat (which arrived in May, 1940, not March) was complimentary to the metal seat, and did not replace it, so any airframe could carry either type, right through the war (and beyond.) The Very cartridge rack, on the front of the seat, is fairly unlikely in early Spitfires, since the Very pistol stowage was deleted in September 1937, and it's a bit pointless carrying (explosive) cartridges, with nothing to fire them. Seafires saw the rack, and pistol, reintroduced. A downward-firing device was fitted from June, 1940, and was moved, to fire upwards, in April, 1941; this is the hole, sometimes covered by a red patch, seen halfway along the Spitfire's spine. The flash suppressors, sticking out of the leading edges, were deleted, by the introduction of more advanced Brownings, at the start of the war, so only pre-war airframes should have them. There was no armour, behind the seat, fitted before mid-May 1940; armour, behind the headrest, only appeared in January, 1940. Somewhere beside the pilot's left knee, Tamiya would have you instal an oblong box; we think that they measured AR213, at a time when she carried a multi-channel modern radio where the map case should be. The rudder pedals should have only a single crossbar; the second wasn't fitted, by the factory, until 1941, though some pilots, like Stanford Tuck, stole a march, and had them fitted privately during the Battle. Do not be tempted to fit an oxygen hose in the cockpit; it was actually attached to the pilot's facemask, and plugged into a bayonet fitting in the front right corner of the cockpit. The early system killed several pilots, who baled out, only to find that they were still attached to, and being strangled by, the aircraft. There were no mirrors factory-fitted until 24-9-40, though pilots are known to have "borrowed" examples from local car dealers. Aerials were stainless steel, so should not be painted black, and, of course, there were no IFF aerials, from fuselage to tailplane, until the end of 1940. Further to that (and a murderously difficult modification to the kit,) there were no explosive charges fitted, anywhere, so no firing buttons on the starboard cockpit wall. Edgar
MAR 15, 2012 - 08:25 AM
Here we have it folks, I defer to the Expert. The definitive Word has been spoken, much to the relief and enlightenment of all I fear though, that the phrase "Spitfire bakelite seat" is going to be as difficult to erase out of modellers' minds as "Sky Type S" has been And what am I going to do with that nifty seat with the fancy very pistol rack now that I don't need it? I guess I need a Seafire to put it in.
MAR 15, 2012 - 08:47 AM
"Ex" as in "has-been." Spurt as in "drip under pressure." Regarding the seat, you could always build AR213 as she was, in an OTU (I have a photo, somewhere, of her.) I've no idea when, but she collected a Very-type seat at some stage; it might be because she was built by Westland, who specialised in Seafires. Edgar
MAR 15, 2012 - 09:24 AM
Edgar, Thank you for your sharing of knowledge, I have two of these Mk.I's waiting for space on the bench and maybe they may find it after a Seafire III has been across it. Still need to pick up a Mk.Vb to turn into a hooked Spitfire though.
MAR 15, 2012 - 10:09 AM
Thanks Jessica and Edgar, more than a wealth of information to digest there. Lots of food for thought too. Once I finish this Rumpler then maybe time to dip my toes in the water. Ta keith
MAR 19, 2012 - 07:35 PM
thanks for that info edgar, very helpful. personally i think the tamiya kit is far better overall, i know the airfix has alot of options but i was disappointed with the soft moulding and detail of the kit.
MAR 20, 2012 - 02:41 AM

Click image to enlarge
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move
  • move