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KIT REVIEW


Revell Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Vb -- 1:72 Scale



The legendary Supermarine Spitfire was one of the most consequential combat aircraft of the 20th century – and to many, it was one of the most elegant.  There are a good number of 1:72 scale kits of the Spitfire, and Revell has released a Spitfire Mk. Vb kit based on their 2016 new tool Spitfire kit.  Recently, this kit arrived on our review bench.  Let’s see what we’ve got.

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As the Battle of Britain shifted from its daylight phase, the defense of Great Britain’s airspace had rested on the shoulders of the valiant Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfire Mk. Is and Mk. IIs.  Yet, the Luftwaffe continued to develop improved variants of the Bf 109, and it would not be long until the early Spits would be outclassed.  The airframe and systems were quite sound, but greater speeds, higher service ceilings, and better acceleration was needed.  The Merlin 45 powerplant, rated at 1470 hp, was selected for the new Spitfire mark.  Externally, this new version started out identical on the outside to any Mk. I or Mk. II airframe, but interior longerons were beefed up to accommodate the bigger engine.  Thus, the Spitfire Mk. Va was born in early 1941.  By June of that year, the Spitfire Mk. Vb became the standard production version, fitted with the ‘b’ wing configuration that had four .303 cal. machine guns and two 20 mm Hispano cannons.  It became the most numerous of all Spitfires with nearly 6,500 aircraft produced and would outfit more than 100 RAF, American Eagle, and multiple Commonwealth air arm squadrons 

As they entered service, many modifications emerged as the Spitfire Mk. V began to assume its own distinct features.  A blown canopy was added to improve visibility.  Many mid- to late-production Mk. Vbs were fitted a modified windscreen with armored frames and bullet-resistant glass.  At least three different propeller designs were fitted, differing in width, length, chord.  Mk. Vb aircraft were the first Spitfires able to carry a “slipper” conformal drop tank underneath center of the fuselage.

By mid-1941, the Mk. Vb was the primary fighter operated by the RAF, and it was rather evenly matched if not in some ways superior to the Bf 109F.  The Mk. Vb took part in the first British counterattacks over France.  As the threat of invasion receded from the British Isles, Mk. Vbs started to make their way into other theaters of operations, serving as a fighter and fighter bomber from the Mediterranean to North Africa and Australia. The sun started to set on the Mk. Vb in September 1941 when the Fw 190 made its operational debut.  The Mk V was definitely outclassed to the point that the RAF was faced with the possible loss of air superiority.  This led to the development of the stopgap Spitfire Mk. VIII and Mk. IX, but the Mk. Vb continued on at the front lines until mid-1942 and in combat until it was completely withdrawn by 1944.

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Revell’s 1:72 scale Spitfire Mk. Vb contains 35 parts on four light gray sprues.  Four clear parts comes on one clear sprue.  The instructions guide the build over 20 steps.  The airframe markings are provided on a single decal sheet printed by Zanchetti.  A single set of markings are provided:

Strengths:  Revell’s 1:72 scale Spitfire Mk. Vb is a nice little kit.  It appears to be rather accurate in terms of shape, size, and exterior details.  The recessed panel lines, rivets, and fasteners are all very nicely done.  There’s some really nicely done and really subtle molded details with the ailerons and elevators that make them look like separate moving parts of the airframe (which they are not in the kit).  The cockpit is generally quite good, with nice integrally-molded sidewall details on the inside of the fuselage.  Instrument panel and shoulder harnesses/lap belts are provided as decals.  You also get nice optional parts for two styles of slipper tanks, a separate, positionable rudder, early/late windscreen options, and four spoke/five spoke tire hub options.  

Indeed, the low parts count means that one of the key strengths of this kit is that it is simple.  I mean that as a compliment - it will be a quick, no-frills build if that is what the scale modeler is looking for.  I also think the one markings option provided of Zumbach’s Spit in the one of the Polish RAF squadrons in Great Britain is one of the most classic Mk Vb schemes of all time.  Nice!    

Weaknesses: I think there are a few shortcoming and things to look out for in this kit.  None of them are deal-breakers, of course.  The raised rivets on the engine cowling are perhaps little overscale.  The pilot’s seat seems similarly thick and overscale, and the decal seatbelts strike me as a little simplified, even in 1:72 scale.  The surface details on the airframe, while quite accurate, are perhaps a bit simplified and the main gear wells are quite basic.  Also watch out for the a few big sprue gates attached to small parts. There’s a particularly big sprue gate attached to the delicate the tail wheel, so use caution when removing.  I would also argue that the clear parts are too thick and, in fact, distortive – particularly Part 28 (what appears to the armored windscreen). 

The most significant glitch here are found in a few sets of ambiguous steps in the directions.  The kit has several alternate parts for windscreens, wingtips, slipper tanks, and wheel hub configurations.  The instructions essentially state it’s up to the builder to use whichever ones you want!  Of course, this particular airframe had the full set of wingtips, and the markings guide is correct.  However, I’d need to do some more research to determine if this airplane had the armored windscreen, which wheel hubs were fitted, and so on.  

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Revell’s 1:72 scale Spitfire Mk. Vb is a fine little kit, and it represents great value for the price.  I would call it a very acceptable and well-detailed mid-range 1:72 scale Spitfire.  It certainly does not reach the level of the Eduard 1:72 scale Spitfire family, but that does not detract from its overall strengths and the fact that it should be a fun and fast build.   

Sincere thanks are owed to everyone at Revell for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at https://www.revell.de/en/home/

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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