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1/24 Airfix Spitfire 1a 

by Scott Brown (Ozgenie)

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  Australia Day 

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I built this kit to represent Spitfire X4277 XT-M as flown by Australian pilot FLg Off. Richard Hillary with No. 603 Squadron, Hornchurch during the Battle of Britain. Hillary had his first battle victory when, on 31 August 1940, he used this aircraft to down a Bf 109 over Dungeness. He had inadvertantly formed up with a formation of Emils thinking they were Hurricanes after he had become separated from his own unit. After downing one fighter he made a hasty retreat undetected. He scored three more kills over Emils, and claimed one as a probable and one damaged, all in X4277 before being shot down in flames, in this aircraft, off Margate on 3 September 1940 by Hauptmann Bode of Il.Jg 26. Badly burnt Hillary managed to bail out and was rescued by Margate lifeboat. He spent many months in hospital recovering from his facial burns and during this time he wrote the book The Last Enemy, describing his training, experience in combat and subsequent recovery. It was released in 1942 and became an instant classic. His victory score was 5 destroyed, 2 probables and 1 damaged, all in X4277 during the Battle of Britain. Hillary was killed in a Blenheim crash on 8 January 1943.

The first stage of the build was the cockpit area, starting with the instrument panel and cockpit sidewalls. Extra scratchbuilding was done inside the cockpit wall areas as the kit, being an older one, only had minimal details molded in which was disappointing for a kit of this scale. The fit of parts in this kit is poor and reshaping, shaving of parts and in some cases scratch built replacements were used in order to achieve an accurate look.

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The two photographs above show the cockpit side walls prior to closing the fuselage.

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The three photos above show 1) The amount of clamping required to hold the wings together when glueing them. These were warped and required this level of clamping to straighten them. Then to close the gap between the wing top halves and the fuselage it was necessary to place the glue and then apply upward pressure to the wings until the glue set. Once this was done the gap was closed and the correct dihedral was achieved, as well as sore hands from keeping the pressure on the wings for long enough to set the glue. 2) The model once the wings were set. 3) Pre-shading applied prior to painting. This was the first time I had attempted preshading.

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The above sequence of photos shows different steps in painting process. One and two are the plane after the application of the earth brown. Three shows the kit after application of the green. I used Gunze acrylics for the painting. The last picture shows the decals that I made for this kit. The original decals were that old that they had yellowed and would not seperate from the carrier. In order to fill the sheets I added additional decals required to finish pff a number of other kits. Another reason for new decals was that the aircraft being modellled was a different serial and codes to those provided. The decals were created using Adobe Photoshop, corel Draw 10 and were printed onto Testors Decal paper using an Epson Stylus Photo printer.

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This next sequence of photos shows the aircraft after the applications of decals. Prior to applying the decals I coated the aircraft with Pascoes Long Life Floor Polish, an Australian equivalent of Future. The decals were thern applied followed by another coat of Long Life. The first two photos show the high gloss that this process gives. The third photo is the aircraft after the application of a clear matt coat.

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These next two photos are of the finished kit. I added paint chipping to the wings, walkways and various access panels. Smoke stains above and below the wings for weapons staining and exhaust stains were added. The underside of the aircraft was painted with Gunze Duck Egg Green. The entire aircraft also received a wash of crushed and diluted dark grey chalk pastel in order to give the appearance of use and to highlight the panel lines.

Scott

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Photos and text by Scott Brown (Ozgenie)

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