This view shows well the high altitude wingtips and the dramatic look of the Starkey stripes applied to them. Clicking on these images will give you much larger views, which is not necessarily a good thing with such a tiny model!
After the decals had dried overnight, the model was wiped down with a wet paper towel to remove excess decal adhesive that could later turn brown and stain the finished model. The airbrush was loaded with Future, and the decals were overcoated to blend them in with the rest of the models finish. This is an important step, as applying flat or satin coats over dissimilar finishes will not always lead to a uniform finish.
The panel lines were given a wash consisting of a dark grey mixed from Testors enamel and thinned with mineral spirits. This is left to dry for 20 minutes, then carefully removed with a tightly folded cotton cloth lightly moistened with thinner. This will take off the excess dried wash without harming the Future glosscoat or paint underneath. Undersurfaces were treated with a wash of medium grey, so as not to be too stark of a contrast.
Once the panel lines were completed, light exhaust and gunblast staining was airbrushed on with a thinned brownish black enamel paint. Enamel is used because it can be easily removed it it does not turn out well. Keep the exhaust staining on Spits to a minimum, unless you are depicting an aircraft just returned from a long mission. Real Spitfire cowlings seemed to have been wiped down after most ops.
The 1/72 Hasegawa Spit IX is not a perfect kit, but makes a pretty decent looking 2 stage Merlin Spitfire with minimum effort.
Fuel, oil and grease stains were added to logical points such as fuel fillers, access panels, hinge points, etc. at this point with a fine brush. After a few quick touchups, the model was given a light satin coat using Testors Dullcoat with some Glosscoat mixed in to give it a slight sheen. More subtle staining was added using pastel chalks, and sealed with another coat of Satin.
The cockpit was unmasked and final assembly begun. The prepainted seat, stick and gunsight were now installed. Adding them at this point prevents having them damaged during the building and finishing stages. The sliding canopy came from a Falcon Vac canopy set and was carefully cut out and sanded to shape.The frames were masked off and painted. It fit beautifully on my scratchbuilt canopy rails. I... uh, planned it that way. Yeah. It wasn't just dumb luck or anything.
The underside, showing the Starkey Stripes that cover the underwing roundels. Stripes were only applied for a day or two.
The gearlegs were added and the angles carefully checked with side and frontview photos of the real deal. They were also aligned with each other. The importance of getting the gearlegs on correctly cannot be overstated. I have seen many a beautiful model with the gearlegs installed with too little forward rake, especially on Fw-190s and P-51 Mustangs. The result is a model with the nose too high in the air. It ruins an otherwise nice build.
Wheels were then added and the angles carefully set. Geardoors and tailwheel came next. The exhausts were painted a very dark grey and stippled with a rust color. Earlier, the prop and spinner had been painted and assembled. The blade roots were drilled out and a .014" diameter wire was superglued into the drilled hole. the blade mounting holes in the spinner were drilled out to accept these wire pins. Pinning prop blades is a great way to add strength and ease assembly. When ready to add the blades, glue is placed on the wires, which are then slid into place. You have time to bend the mounting pin to set the correct blade pitch and alignment. Once the glue sets, it is unlikely that the props will be broken off in the future. Unless you have kids, cats, or other human beings that can get within pawing distance your models.
Resist the temptation to weather the stripes, as they were not carried long enough to get dirty and faded.
Pitot tube, antenna mast, and other small parts were added , and the project was pretty much completed. Minor touchups here and there addressed some minor finish flaws and she was done!
In reviewing the photos for this article, I realized two problems. First, the rearview mirror has gone missing, and second, that the belts stop at the top of the seat. I have to make a Y-strap that disappears through the slot in the head armor and is attached to the top of the shoulder harness straps. Oops! Gotta go back and fix those issues.
All in all, an enjoyable project. I was not feeling the Starkey stripes after unmasking. Even with the decals on, it looked a little strange to my eye. When I applied the panel wash and the weathering, suddenly it looked like part of the aircraft, and I have come to like the look quite a bit. It is certainly quite different looking from the average Spitfire, as the stripes really accentuate the long span wings.
Note the tightly sprayed freehand camouflage applied with a Paasche H airbrush. With practice, this is not beyond the skills of a moderately experienced modeler.
That completes this series on building the Spitfire HF VII in 1/72nd scale. I hope you enjoyed it, because with how much work it was to put together, you wont be seeing another build article here anytime soon! Who knows. Once I've forgotten what a pain it is, I will probably do another... then kick myself for doing it.
Next posts on this Blog will be more business related, with some announcements of new stuff. Yes, new stuff IS coming soon.
Happy modelling! Roy