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KIT REVIEW


Eduard #1188
Aussie Eight: Spitfire Mk.VIII in Australian Service Limited Edition Dual Combo
1:48 Scale

Eduard is often creative, both conceptually and thematically, when it comes to their special edition kits.  Perhaps the clearest example of this over the last year was their late 2015 release Aussie Eight: Spitfire Mk.VIII in Australian Service.  This dual kit combo contains two complete Spitfire Mk. VIII kits, resin and photoetched detail parts, a remarkably extensive set of decals, a lithograph, and Peter Malone’s book Aussie Eight.  While this came out about a year ago, Eduard recently shared a review sample of Aussie Eight with us, and this remarkable offering is most certainly worth a very close look.

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By 1943, Japanese bomber attacks on Darwin, Australia, drew acute attention towards the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)’s need for a high-flying interceptor.  The new Spitfire Mk. VIII, with its extended wingtips, supercharged Merlin 63 engine, and service ceiling of 43,000 feet was indeed the airplane to counter this threat.  The RAAF would eventually receive 410 Mk. VIIIs and represented about 25% of the entire production run of this Spitfire variant.  Many pilots, including Supermarine’s chief test pilot, commented that the Mk. VIII was finest handling Spitfire of all time.

In the hands of the RAAF, Spitfire Mk.VIIIs flew from Corsica and Italy, taking on the Italian and German air forces.  Most squadrons, however, operated far closer to home in the Pacific theater.  They participated on attacks on Borneo, Selaru Island, Portuguese Timor, and of course, patrolled Australian airspace.  By war’s end, the Spitfire Mk.VIII served as the air superiority backbone of the world’s sixth largest air force.  In late 1945, the RAAF rapidly disbanded its Spitfire squadrons and retired the airplanes as the P-51 Mustang was selected as the RAAF’s interim postwar fighter before jets came on the scene.  Many of the RAAFs Spitfires were either physically scrapped or simply left to rot in the open.  However, in 1948, Australia acquired its first aircraft carrier, and 14 surplus Mk.VIIIs were brought out of storage and used as ground trainers for the Royal Australian Navy in support of their carrier mission.

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Eduard’s dual kit combo starts out with some 422 dark grey plastic parts on eight sprues and 34 clear parts on two sprues (not all are used) split evenly between the two scale model kits.  Photoetch metal parts come on two identical frets of pre-painted photoetched brass.  Sixteen grey resin parts cover wheel hubs and tires.  Four decal sheets (including one very large sheet) cover 31 schemes and stencils for 29 different aircraft.  Canopy masks are also included.  The book Aussie Eight by Peter Malone (104 pp.) gives the box some additional weight.  The instructions are supplemented with a substantial 32 page-long markings guide, and finally, rolled up on the inside of the box is a full-color print of one of the Mk.VIIIs – the iconic shark mouth ‘Grey Nurse’ of No. 457 squadron and is most suitable for framing.  The markings include the following RAAF Mk. VIII Spitfires:

  • A58-484, CR-C, 80 Wing CO, G/C Clive Caldwell, Morotai, 1945
  • A58-411, QY-P, 452 Squadron, F/O Peter Bullock, Sattler Airstrip, 1944
  • A58-435, QY-T, 452 Squadron, F/L William Cundy, Sattler Airstrip, 1944
  • A58-477, ZP-Q, 457 Squadron, F/L Alf Glendenning, Sattler Airstrip, 1945
  • A58-513, UP-X, 79 Squadron CO, S/L Ron Susans, Morotai, 1945
  • A58-528, CRC, 80 Wing CO, G/C Clive Caldwell, Clark Field, 1945
  • A58-379, ZF-Z, 549 Squadron, F/L David Glaser, Strauss Airstrip, 1944
  • A58-482, TS-V, 548 Squadron SO, F/L David Glasser, Darwin, 1945
  • A58-429, QY-V, 452 Squadron CO, S/L Lou Spence, Sattler Airstrip, 1944
  • A58-457, ZP-Z, 457 Squadron CO, S/L Tom Trimble, Sattler Airstrip, 1944
  • A58-516, QY-T, 452 Squadron, F/L Des Cormack, Morotai, 1944
  • A58-504, QY-R, 452 Squadron, F/O Rex Watson, Borneo, 1945
  • A58-609, ZP-F, 457 Squadron, F/L Bill Cable, Morotai, 1945
  • A58-651, UP-Z, 79 Squadron CO, S/L Ken James, Morotai, 1945
  • A58-606, ZP-W, 457 Squadron CO, S/L Bruce Watson, Sattler Airstrip, 1945
  • A58-606, ZP-W, 457 Squadron CO, S/L Bruce Watson, Borneo, 1945
  • A58-517, UP-F, 79 Squadron, F/O Norm Turnbull, Morotai, 1945
  • A58-602, RG-V, 50 Wing CO, W/C Bobby Gibbes, Sattler Airstrip, 1944
  • JF630, FL-C, 81 Squadron, F/O Larry Cronon, Patel, India, 1944
  • A58-312, DL-R, 54 Squadron, F/L Gossland, Truscott Airstrip, 1944
  • A58-430, QY-V, 452 Squadron, F/O Jack King, Borneo, 1945
  • A58-518, CR-C, 452 Squadron, F/O Jack Pretty, Morotai, 1944
  • A58-522, UP-A, 79 Squadron, F/L Len Reid, Morotai, 1945
  • A58-631, ZP-V, 457 Squadron, F/L George Scrimgeour, Borneo, 1945
  • A58-303, -, 1 APU, Laverton, 1944
  • A58-370, DL-W, 54 Squadron, Darwin, 1945
  • MT687, BQ-C, 451 Squadron, Cuers Airfield, France, 1944
  • A58-526, UP-L, 79 Squadron, Morotai, 1945
  • A58-543, UP-?, 79 Squadron, W/O Hubert Eccleston, Morotai, 1945
  • A58-419, ZP-Y, 457 Squadron, F/O Fred Inger, Sattler Airstrip, 1944
  • A58-602, RG-V, 80 Wing CO, W/C Bobby Gibbes, Morotai, 1945

Strengths:  Simply said, this offering from Eduard is stunning.  It’s not just a kit (or two kits), but more of a complete scale modeling “experience” that awaits the scale modeler inside the box that combines exceptional models, detail parts, captivating historical reading, and more.

First, the baseline kits are outstanding.  Eduard’s Spitfires continue to be the best Spitfires in 1:48 scale since their Spitfire family was launched in 2013.  They are beautiful and virtually flawless, with delicately engraved surface details and great fit and engineering.  In this case, builders of these kits will find a very well-appointed cockpit enhanced by the pre-painted photoetched instrument panel and harnesses.  The cockpit entry door can be displayed open or closed, just as with the canopy.  Depending on the paint scheme/serial number, parts for two different wingtip configurations and the early and late rudder styles are included.  Ailerons, elevators, rudders, and radiator flaps are all separate parts and are positionable.  The Brassin resin tires and wheel hubs are beautiful and intricate resin castings and are meant to replace the plastic wheels in the kit.

The full-color instructions are impeccably rendered and easy to follow.  The 32 page-long markings guide is also in full color and provides detailed notes and four-view drawings of each airplane on the decal sheet along with detailed notes on the paint schemes.  The decal sheets together represent a tour-de-force of marking options.  Printed by Cartograf of Italy, decal printing quality does not get any better than this.  Color schemes range from natural metal finishes to various desert schemes, gray-and-green, and gray-brown-and-green camouflage schemes.

The decals were based on research provided by Peter Malone, who is also the author of the book included with the kit: Aussie Eight.  This is a limited edition volume made specifically for this kit and is not sold separately.  The book is in full color and printed on high-quality paper by Eduard.  It is divided into four chapters (Chapter 1: RAAF and the Spitfire VIII; Chapter 2: Camouflage and Markings; Chapter 3: Spitfire Pilots, and; Chapter 4: The Shootdowns).  The book is very well written and edited.  I also found it to be incredibly informative, especially given the fact that I had not known too much about the finer historical details of Mk.VIII in Australian service.  It’s an all-around excellent read and clearly a definitive reference on the Australian experience with the Spitfire.  Chapter 3 was a particularly interesting read, as the stories of particular pilots was particularly humanizing and brought back it all back to the experiences of the people involved, from the more colorful and famous RAAF Spitfire drivers to lesser known individuals.

Weaknesses:  I cannot identify any worthwhile critiques in this offering.

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This is an excellent offering from Eduard that is more like an experience in scale modeling.  I try to be on guard against being impressed by “shiny things in neat packaging,” and with that said, Eduard’s Aussie Eight is empirically awesome.  The base kits are the best Spits in 1:48 scale made only better by the photoetched and resin detail parts.  The decal sheets offer an unparalleled depth of markings options while the highly informative Aussie Eight book more than seals the deal.  Though I rarely build 1:48 scale props, this kit set is infectiously fantastic, and I don’t think I can avoid building a RAAF Spitfire Mk.VIIIs for much longer.

Sincere thanks are owed to Eduard for the review sample.  You visit them on the web at http://www.eduard.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EduardCompany/.

 

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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