Prior to US involvement in the war (1940-41 and early 42), several American pilots, by means of skullduggery, worked their way to England to fly with the RAF. This was usually accomplished by first going to Canada then to England without US knowledge or approval. The American pilots who flew for the RAF were placed in a unit dubbed the "Eagle Squadron." A lot of the great 8th Air force aces, such as Don Gentile, Bill Dunn and Don Blakeslee, all initially flew with the Eagle Squadron in Spits or Hurrricanes prior to transitioning into P-51's and P-47's upon America's inevitable involvement. I was happy to find out that the later mentioned, Don Blakeslee, was originally from Fairport Harbor, Ohio, which is not far from my hometown outside of Cleveland. Blakeslee would go on to finish the war with 15.5 kills and become the leader of the fourth Fighter group in the 8th Air Force, flying the fabled P-51.
I was able to get my hands on Aeromaster sheet #48-577 "Yanks in the RAF" which has 5 Spitfires and 2 Hurrricanes, all out of RAF Eagle Squadron or RCAF. Wouldn't you know it, Don Blakeslee's Spitfire Mark V from May of 1942 was represented. Apparently this plane was unique because this is his only mount to display a non-military marking of "Leota," his wife. I now had to build this bird!!
It so happened that I had Hasegawa's Spitfire Mark V waiting to be built. Armed with this decal sheet, I jumped in. The kit cockpit showed to be sparse if not disappointing. Being somewhat gun shy of resin cockpits, I finally opted to dive in and try one out (after all, this is my beloved Spit!). I obtained True Details MK V example and was impressed with the detail and instructions. These were even printed in color to show how it should be painted! Ibroke out the Dremel tool and began carving off the interior sidewall detail to the kit. The resin showed to be very brittle and easily broke with too much pressure. I ended up having to use some of the kit parts to replace the resinpieces I broke. After painting and assembling the cockpit, I was surprised on how easily it fit in place of the kit parts. The instrument panel was awesome in detail. It was painted in flat black then drybrushed with Flat white to bring out the detail. Each dial received a drop of Future to simulate glass.The cockpit waspainted inModel Masters RAF interior green, washed,then drybrushed to simulate wear. After all, Blakeslee was an ace and the machine got much use. I made seat belts out of masking tape and closed the fuselage halves. Prior to joining the wings together, I inserted small needle tubing to simulate the four Browning 303's in the wings. The Cannons were also substituted with fine needles. Its unfortunate these would eventually be covered up by the "red tape" that was commonly placed over the machine gun holes in the field. To this day, I'm not sure why they did this?? Any help out there? I then cut out the pilot's door to be displayed open. True Details was nice enough to include this door as an extra add on.
The rest of the assembly went without a hitch for this is an excellent kit, however, I had a gap on the port side wing root. I feared running liquid glue down the seam and closing it would throw off the plane's natural dipheral. No form of adjustment wouldmake itgo away. It was probably operator error and I likely glued the fuselage halves together too narrow at the cockpit. Said gap was eventually filled with putty and sanded.
Now on to paint. I did my usual preshading of the panel lines with Model Masters flat black prior to painting the scheme. The object of this technique is to apply the camo paint panel by panel over the preshading until the black is "almost" gone. If done right, there should be a ghostly image of the panel lines under the camo, creating a weather effect.After preshading the fuselage band was painted in the same manner with Model Masters Sky "Type S". The "1941 onwards" camo scheme of Dark Green FS34079 and Ocean Gray FS36152, over Sea Gray FS36270 was applied.Instead ofusing paper to mask off the camouflage, I tried a different technique I read about. After spraying the first color (Ocean Gray) panel by panel, I rolled up sections of "Blue Tac" till it looked like a gummie worm (use the gray type for it is less tacky) and I laid it on the wing marking off the pattern (See photos). Carefully spray the color on the edge at a 90 degree angle. The result will be finely feathered edge lines which appears very realistic. The final touch to the weathering effect was taking the original color and adding a little white to lighten it. The Camo was then shaded with this to simulate sun bleached panels on the wings (See photos).
The Spit was sprayed with Future to await decals. Unfortunately I was having a bad decal day. For some dumb reason, I thought the fuselage roundels that came with the kit looked more opaque and realistic. I opted to use one. Bad idea. These decals arestubborn and paperlike. Micro Sol made itwrinkle up and refused to lay back down. From this point on, I returned to the Aeromaster decals. With the exception of the top wing roundels which were also stubborn, they went on beautifully.
After decals, the Spit was weathered with some very diluted Tamiya NATO Black. I tend to use acrylics for my weathering. The exhaust stacks were first sprayed with Tamiya Red Brown then a custom mixture of blues and grays for the tips to simulate extreme heat. They were then drybrushed with Model Masters Steel. The exhaust stains were then made with Raw Umber, Nato Black and a mixture of grays.The Gun streaks wereairbrushed with NATO Black after some holes were poked into the decal red tape to expose the machine guns (I had to do it,like popping the plastic bubbles in packing sheets). I think it leaves the impression the plane just returned from a sortie over the channel. The canopy, landing gear, and other fragiles were installed in this final stage. The antenna wires were strungwith smoke colored invisible thread.
This kit was very enjoyable and I now understand why modelers love resin upgrades. This was pretty painless and will use more in the future. Enjoy the photos and stay tuned for my Tamiya Mark 1 which will be built soon in Battle of Britain Markings. Now if I can only find the decals for an ace in that plane.