In comparison to the huge numbers of Spitfires of all types that were built, the Mk XII represents only a very small proportion, and only saw operational service with two squadrons. Nevertheless, it is an important branch of the Spitfire family tree as it was the first Griffon-powered variant to become operational, and was thus the precursor to the many Griffon-powered Spitfires that were to follow.
To a large extent, kit producers have overlooked the Spitfire Mk XII, but CMR has recently gone some way towards redressing this with the release of this offering. Cast in the company’s usual cream-coloured resin, CMR’s Mk XII features some beautiful recessed surface detail that is as good, if not better, as that found on many mainstream injection-moulded kits.
Following its usual practice, CMR provides two pages of clear drawings to illustrate the build sequence. As is customary, construction starts with the cockpit area, which consists of a rudimentary floor, rudder pedals, instrument panel, control column, seat and armour plating. A painting guide is included for the cockpit area, along with sidewall detail, which is cast integrally in each fuselage half. The cockpit is either sandwiched between the fuselage halves, or can be fitted from below as I did, after the fuselage halves have been brought together. The cockpit door is separately cast, and can be positioned either open or closed. The prominent rocker covers located above the exhaust manifolds are integrally cast, while the teardrop-shaped fairing located immediately behind the large spinner and between the rocker covers is positioned after fuselage assembly. The exhausts can also be fitted at this stage.
The type’s clipped wings, for operations at low altitude, are cast as a one-piece item, and are a work of art. Incorporating the correct dihedral and the characteristic ‘gull-wing’ feature on the lower centre-section area, their fit to the fuselage was such that only a small amount of filler was needed at their leading and trailing edge joint lines to tidy everything up. The cannon fairings and stubs can be positioned now, or left off until later in the build to avoid any potential accidental damage. The rudder and horizontal tail surfaces are also separately cast.
The last major stage of the build involves work on the undersides and the undercarriage. At this point the decision must be taken as to which of the aircraft depicted in the painting guide is to be modelled. The choice involves fitting a fixed tailwheel to an early Mk XII, or depicting a later aircraft with a retractable tailwheel. While discussing options, it is necessary to point out that two styles of mainwheels are also provided, so that an aircraft with or without the solid mainwheel hub-cover can be depicted. Items to be scratch-built are identified on the construction guide as the IFF aerials for an early aircraft, and the small aerial located slightly offset of the centreline on the aircraft’s centre section. The prominent, larger-style spinner is accurately represented, while the propeller blades are cast individually. I drilled out the location holes for the blades on the spinner (they are clearly marked) to make for a more positive and secure fit, and I used the drawing in the painting guide to fix them at their correct pitch. The crystal-clear vacform transparency comes as a one-piece item, and two examples are provided.
Four No. 41 Squadron aircraft are shown on the painting guide, while the decal sheet gives sufficient national markings for one complete aircraft to be produced.
The decal sheet is beautifully printed, with everything in register, and the decals are nice and thin. The decals on the review model were applied over a coat of Klear, and then treated with the usual setting solvents; they went on without any problems, complying nicely with the contours beneath and resulting in a very realistic look. Also included are several stencils as well as the doped patches to cover the machine-gun muzzles in the wing leading edges. Again, drawings are included to show exactly where everything goes.
The end result is a very attractive model of an important member of the Spitfire family. This kit is unreservedly recommended for the more experienced modeller.
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