Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spitfire HF VII in 1/72. Part 2 of 6

Resin floor, instrument bulkhead, stick and seat bracket are shown prepped and ready for paint.
The lower resin sidewalls installed in the fuselage halves. Note also the small parts added to the upper sidewalls.
Sidewalls painted and ready for assembly.
Note how careful painting and use of color adds visual interest to this very small area.

OK, guys, here it is. The long promised part 1 of 3 of the build article for the HF VII.

I have always liked the special HF versions of the Spitfire. They were produced to counter the perceived threat of German high altitude bombing attacks that were never to materialize. The real problem with high altitude bombing at that point in history the fact that you were lucky to get your bombs to land in the same county as your intended target! While there were some spotty very high altitude attacks by specially modified Ju-86Ps, it was soon dropped as a waste of resources and time.

The HF VI and HF VII were fitted with specially modified Merlin engines rated for high altitude, long span wingtips, and pressurized cockpits. After it became clear the threats would never materialize, the HF VIIs had their long span wingtips replaced with standard ones, and the attractive high altitude scheme was overpainted with standard camouflage and markings. They were eventually reassigned to the regular fighter role, and continued to serve until replaced or destroyed.

Modelling the HF VII in 1/72 scale

Modelling the HF VII in 1/72nd scale requires some conversion work, but using the Hasegawa 1/72nd scale Spitfire Mk. IX kit, it is not beyond the reach of modelers with some experience outside of building OOB. The biggest problem for building this particular aircraft will be finding a Hasegawa kit that has the pointed high altitude wingtips. The kit I started with was Hasegawa kit number 00692 Spitfire Mk VIII "Pointed Wing". If you can't find this, Ventura did a number of kits that had the necessary wingtips. Another option might be finding some aftermarket resin tips in 1/72nd scale. Failing that, they could be scratchbuilt from some plastic card and filler.

I have wanted to build this Spitfire HF VII in Operation Starkey markings since I first saw an illustration of it in the Ian Allen Publication Spitfire Special. Operation Starkey was the feigned invasion of Europe on September 9th, 1943. The plan was to convince the German High Command that a Normandy-style invasion force was going to land at Pas-de-Calais. The ruse was ignored by the Germans, who saw through it easily. For more information on this operation go to:

While a minor footnote in History, Starkey presents the modeller with some interesting markings. D-Day type markings (but reversed) were carried on the wings only for the day of the Operation. Recently unearthed documents detail the correct application of the Stripes. Note that the profiles in the attached article were done before the documents came to light.

Stripes were applied as follows: Black from the tip to the point where the wing chord is 5 feet. Then alternating 18"bands of white, black, white and black. Underwing national markings were overpainted. Speculation about upperwing markings is that they were also overpainted, being that the stripes were only going to be carried for a day or two. It would be a waste of time to carefully paint around the upperwing markings for such a short time. These markings look even more dramatic on a long span Spitfire. On the day of the operation, MB820 of 123 Squadron and flown by F/O Barritt shared a victory with another Spit VII, shooting down an Fw-190 at 31,000 feet, making this an interesting subject for a build.

The Hasegawa Spitfire Mk IX is a very nice kit. It has very finely scribed panel lines and some beautful detail parts. The canopy is superb in thinness, clarity, and shape. The wing is very good in shape in detail, and the landing gear is beautiful. Finally, we have a good 4 slot Spitfire wheel in 1/72nd scale. Hasegawa gives you alternate rudders, standard and clipped wingtips, carb intakes, exhausts, retractable and fixed tailwheels, and a conformal belly tank. The rear fixed portion of the canopy is molded clear down to the canopy rail, allowing Mk VIIs to be easily modelled. I wish Tamiya would have done this as well on their new Spit IX in 1/32nd scale

Now the downside. The fuselage is a little short and tapers too much to the rear in planview. This leaves it with a very thin fin and rudder, but this only shows in plan view. The prop and spinner are a little disappointing. The spinner is split in an odd place, instead of at the natural panel line at the backplate. Speaking of panel lines, Hasegawa has annoyingly scribed the wing rear spar into both the upper and lower wing surfaces. These need to be filled, and a couple of other missed wing panel lines added. The blades are thin and anemic looking. Finally, the cockpit is very spartan.

As with most models I build, work began on the cockpit. I dug out one of my old Cooper Details cockpit sets and began by cutting out the parts and cleaning them up. The instrument panel and seat mounting bulkhead were test fitted into the taped together fuselage halves, and adjusted to fit. The sidewalls were attached as shown below the main fuselage longeron. The upper sidewalls were detailed with boxes and fittings from the resin cockpit set. The seat, stick, gunsight, floor and bulkheads were mounted in preparation for painting.

All cockpit parts were airbrushed with custom mixed Interior Grey Green. The instrument panel was painted scale black, and the seat was painted Model Master Rust. A wash of scale black was applied to pop out the detail, followed by some careful drybrushing with light gray. Details were brush painted with black, white, red, yellow and silver. A clear satin coat ties it all together. I followed this by applying small drops of Future to the instrument dials.

The fuselage halves were then mated, and the cockpit bulkheads and floor were installed. This was then set aside to dry.

In the next installment, I will detail the corrections and conversions I did to bring this Mk IX up to HF VII standard. Decals for this aircraft are available in all 4 scales from BarracudaCals on the Spitfire Mk IX Series, Part 1 sheet. Hope you enjoy this build article.

Happy modelling! Roy

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