Spitfire Story: The Sweeps (Spitfire Mk.Vb)
Eduard, Dual Combo Limited Edition 1/48, Ref. 11153
After the launch of the Spitfire Mk.II in early 2021, it was only logical that the Mk.V version should follow and this was recently the case with a first box dedicated to the Spit Mk.V flown by American pilots in the RAF and USAF (Eagle’s Call box, dual combo, Ref. 11149). Eduard did not stop there, however, and in November came up with a new special edition, the subject of this review.
The Spitfire Mk.V was the successor to the Mk.I and II on the assembly lines. In fact, at the beginning, it was more a question of reconverting old Mk.I and II into Mk.V with essentially a new, more powerful engine, initially the Merlin 45. This version was mainly declined in three models distinguished by their armament: the Mk.Va with four Browning .30 (7.7 mm) machine guns per wing as on the Mk.I and IIa, the Mk.Vb with two machine guns and a 20 mm Hispano cannon and the Mk.Vc with two 20 mm cannons. Construction of the Mk.V began in early 1941 and did not end until November 1943 at Westland in Yeovil, the aircraft being used until almost the end of the war. Some 6.500 Mk.Vs were produced, of which more than 60% were Mk.Vb. During this rather long period, many modifications or improvements were made and incorporated on the assembly lines without changing the model designation, some improvements being retrofitted to older airframes.
Given the commonality of many parts with the Mk.II, it was to be expected that the Mk.V version would (quickly) follow. Thus, the A (transparent parts), C, P, R and S sprues are common to both releases (many parts will go into the spares box). Although it is not written on the box, it is a “ProfiPACK” production, so next to the injection-moulded plastic sprues, there is also a coloured photoetched wafer and a set of masks for the wheels, gun sight and cockpit glass parts. And this edition offers you enough to build two complete models!
No less than 10 options are proposed on the decal sheet covering the period from July 1941 to October 1943. Knowing that during this period a lot of modifications were made on the assembly lines, this means that Eduard planned many options. It is therefore almost imperative to make a choice very early in the process as to which aircraft you want to build. As far as options are concerned, one can choose between two different fuselages for the simple reason that Eduard supplies both the windscreen with armoured glass on the outside and the one where it is mounted on the inside; two different wing bottoms are also available, with the small, symmetrical blister for the 20 mm cannon on the early models and the same larger, non-symmetrical blister on the later versions. Other options include standard or clipped wingtips, different wheel rims, different canopies, different propellers and spinner… You will also note the separate ailerons, elevators and rudders (but not so in the case of the flaps), the choice of open or closed canopy, and the same choice for the small cockpit access door.
Three decal sheets are provided. The main one contains all the markings for the 10 liveries, while a smaller one, in double copy, contains everything needed for the service markings.
The first two aircraft still carry the Dark Green & Dark Earth camouflage (92 & 611 Sqn), the others being painted in Dark Green & Ocean Gray: 313 (Czechoslovak) Sqn, 602 Sqn, 340 (Free French) Sqn with the white stripes of the aborted Rutter Ops, 303 (Polish) Sqn, 453 Sqn RAAF, 132 Sqn and 401 Sqn RCAF, the last two being Mk.Vs with the windscreen armour fitted internally.
And Eduard did not forget us Belgians with the Mk.Vb serial BM564 MN•J of the 350 (Belgian) Sqn at RAF Redhill in the summer-autumn of 1942. This aircraft is a “Presentation Spitfire” which was paid for by a fund-raising campaign in the Belgian colony and bears, as a sign of recognition, the name “LÉOPOLDVILLE” on the left engine cowling.
Well done! What a magnificent model. One is in awe of the research work that has been done when one sees the very subtle differences between the proposed liveries.
Note: on p. 8 of the manual, there is a typo regarding the choice of the half fuselages. This has since been corrected in the manual available on the Eduard website at http://www.eduard.com/out/media/11153.pdf .
Review by Didier Waelkens; pictures by Didier Waelkens & Eduard.