Comparing 1/48 Spitfire Mk. Vb Kits: Picking A Winner- A Politician’s Answer

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In the last installment of this exciting and spine tingling comparison, I promised to “actually glue the wings on, add the tail planes, and examine some of the other bits and pieces.”

Oh well. Turns out I was being a bit optimistic in my estimation on the time I’d have to document the next steps. So, here’s a quick summary:

No drama.

When it comes to painting either kit- well, that’s on you. Both kits make a very nice palette for painting and weathering, especially the North African birds.

Both models were painted with Vallejo Model Air Azure Blue on the undersides, and Tamiya XF-72 and a mix of XF-59 and XF-60 for the uppers. Weathering was with Ammo of MiG Panel Line Washes, Tamiya Weathering Powders, pastel chalks, various airbrush fading and shading, and Prismacolor silver pencil.

Both decal sets were aftermarket- the Airfix kit with markings from a company called Third Group, and the Tamiya kit with markings from Victory Productions. (I have used the kit decals for both kits. Airfix’s are by Cartograph, and work wonderfully. Tamiya’s are OK- not Cartograph quality, but not a problem to use.)

Here’s an overview of what I thought of the entire process:

  • If accuracy is your thing, I believe the Airfix kit best captures the shape of the Spitfire Mk. Vb. Tamiya’s kit is a bit bulbous in the nose- though not egregiously so in my opinion. Both look the part, but give the edge to Airfix here.
  • From a cockpit detail standpoint, Airfix is superior by a reasonable margin. It’s a splendid cockpit- almost as good as Eduard’s Mk. IX. (Which I think is the market leader.) Tamiya’s cockpit is not bad- just not as detailed as Airfix’s.
  • Surface detail & casting goes clearly to Tamiya. Despite the kit’s age, the sharp definition Tamiya is known for really shows. Airfix suffers from slightly soft detail. (Although having seen their new P-40B in this scale, which is produced in Britain, and has much, much better definition, it would be interesting to see how this kit would look if produced by the same facility.)
  • Ease of assembly also goes to Tamiya. It could just about be a snap-tite model it fits so well together. Airfix is let down by a fiddly cockpit and those awful landing gear. And in general, the Airfix kit needed a bit more help in terms of closing small hairline gaps, minor sanding to get parts to fit, etc. I don’t want to overstate it- the kit isn’t hard to build, it’s just a bit frustrating in a few areas, and simply not as precise as Tamiya.

I suppose you’re expecting a conclusion? I guess I must give a politician’s answer.

It depends.

If you’re more into shape accuracy above all else, then go for the Airfix kit. While the Tamiya kit looks every bit the airplane it is supposed to model, the Airfix kit captures the shape better in my opinion.

However, if you’re more interested in ease of build- Tamiya is your choice. While Airfix’s Spitfire is not difficult to assemble, it clearly won’t fall together. The fiddliness of the cockpit assembly and those landing gear will require some jaw clenching for most builders. (Especially younger or new builders.)

Now- my choice is clear. I’ll opt for the Tamiya kit in the future. I strongly prefer ease of assembly over other aspects. To be honest, such a conclusion surprised me a bit. My most recent Spitfire Mk. Vb builds were of the Airfix kit, so the building of the Tamiya kit was not as fresh in my mind. But having built them side by side, I realized I just simply enjoy the Tamiya kit more.

Of course, you make your own choice.

The good news either kit will get you a really nice looking Spitfire Mk. Vb without too much fuss.

The Airfix kit:

The Tamiya kit:

And both together:

 

2 comments

  1. As always, they look great, Jon. Thank you for posting your conclusions, too. I am a big fan of the Tamiya Spitfires. Probably my favorite feature of them is the way the eings and fuselage lock together, making that part of the assembly almost foolproof.

  2. The problem with Tamiya kits for me is that I feel like I can only make them worse! They are so well made they amaze me. However, they do sometimes simplify things to achieve that so you have to accept that. I’m building two Tamiya Meteors now, to be followed by the Airfix F.8, and I’m sure I will see the same thing as you have on the Spitfire, Jon. And I have the same thoughts on the Airfix C-47 that is well underway. Very nice detail but the occasional miss in fits, nothing serious, just not as good as Tamiya.

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