On Spitfire Mk IX carburetor intakes and other what-nots

It’s been probably two years since I’ve been able to devote any time to producing something usable on this blog for other modelers, so why not now.

Spitfire Mk IX’s have been the rage in recent months, what with the release first of Pacific Coast Models’ 1/32 early and late-mark Mk IX’s and then Tamiya’s 1/32 Mk IX. Both companies address the issue in this post’s title with representations of the first type of carb intake found on early production Mk IX’s. Depending on the sort of nomenclature you may find – Mk IXc, or Mk IXA or Mk IXB (The subtype letter is case sensitive in each designator) – you will probably find this early type of intake on an early Spitfire mark.

 I started beating my head against this particular issue about 10 years ago when I bought the Paragon Designs resin Mk IX conversion set for my Hasegawa Spitfire Mk V. At first, I thought I’d hit the mother lode and had an accurate Mk IX in my grasp.

Lest you think that all this was made moot by the latest PCM and Tamiya issues, I’m a cheap so-and-so and had already put some serious effort into the cockpit. Around that time, ICM had issued its 1/48 Spitfire Mk VII/VIII/IX/XVI series, and my examination of a Mk IX kit revealed some issues with Paragon’s resin.

Hasegawa’s molding of the underwing radiator – copied by Paragon for a symetrical replacement of the oil cooler housing – was designed for mold release ease. Thus, using the kit fairing and the Paragon fairing together would induce a double error. The solution? I measured the ICM Mk IX underwing radiator fairing, drew a new fairing planform and profile enlarged to 1/32 scale, built two new fairings and reworked the radiator/oil cooler/intercooler blocks accordingly.

But this is incidental to my then-main goal: to build an early Mk IX. That came from an article in Air Enthusiast (issue 95, Sept/Oct 2001, pp 14-31) and from a copy of Morgan and Shacklady’s Spitfire -The History. Both sources provide several fair pictures of the early carburetor intake – wider, deeper and shorter than the Mk V intake – but focus more on other Spitfire configuration issues. Up until Spit Mk IX’s got a better, more archaeological look from Robert Bracken and others in the 1990s, I think a lot of us pretty well assumed that Mk Ix’s first used a Mk I/II/V style carburetor intake until the Aero Vee filter unit was introduced from Mk VIII development.

A year after I got the Air Enthusiast article and Morgan-Shacklady book, I bought an Ultracast nose update for the ICM kit and began comprehending just what had been staring me in the face.

Recently, I was trolling for a little more information before carving a refined 1/32 carb intake for my stalled Hasegawa/Paragon project because I still felt I could make a decent F Mk IX. And there it was – Flight Magazine’s online archive with a series of press day photographs at Northolt with No. 306 Sqdn and Biggin Hill with No. 611 Sqdn in December 1942.

No. 611 Sqdn series: http://www.flightglobal.com/imagearchive/Image.aspx?GalleryName=Photo%20Archive/1939-1945&Image=FA_18353s

No. 611 Sqdn series: http://www.flightglobal.com/imagearchive/Image.aspx?GalleryName=Photo%20Archive/1939-1945&Image=FA_18386s

A few of these photos show up fairly frequently in print and on the web, but it’s amazing that they aren’t cited more often in popular modeling publications as firm evidence of details on the Mk IX.

Just a few examples: Early Mk IX’s were fitted with a port wingroot fuel cooler (cited nicely in Air Enthusiast Issue 95) to avoid problems with fuel system vapor lock in fast climbs. Flight Magazine detailed this quite well:

No. 306 Sqdn F Mk IX view of port wingroot oil cooler

Also note the carb intake shape, slipper tank, configuration of wheels and tires, the radiator and intercooler block faces and the main gear legs.

And another No. 306 photo shows other cowling details:

No. 306 Sqdn F Mk IX starboard side nose view

One can see the teardrop-shaped Coffman starter housing just aft of the propeller spinner, the geometry of the radiator housing, and a bit more of the carb intake shape. Also, in the cockpit area – despite popular knowledge that headrest padding had been deleted from service Spitfires as an escape safety measure – there appears a headrest.

I posted a few in-progress photos about three years ago and, as soon as I finish up the new carb intake and some wing cleanup, I’ll run a sequel.

And for the beginning of another series . . . . Miminalist Modeling

Yes folks, Miminalist Modeling.

As a call center worker/student, I don’t have much time at home for model building.  Ironically, at my place of employment, I can’t bring textbooks to read but I can build models.

As a matter of practicality, I can’t use a Dremel tool or paint because or noise concerns and because you can’t even do detail painting let alone any large surface painting because of intermittent calls.

But one can still do the basic grunt work of modeling – cutting, filing, sanding, shaping, assembling – with a relative minimum of tools.

My kit fits in a Plano tackle tray module:

  • X-acto and blades
  • pin vise
  • tube of drill bits
  • files
  • cement
  • mini-clamps
  • super glue
  • dental pick
  • tweezers
  • steel engineer’s ruler
  • scriber
  • sandpaper
  • wire

A few packets of Evergreen strip, rod and sheet styrene stock fit nicely in my cubicle drawer, and I rotate kits in and out as I complete whatever work can be done.

You can see one sample of what can be done with basic hand tools and ‘copious’ free time. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting little articles on a specific project that involved some one-off technique, intense application of some innocuous skill, or even something relevant on a new or old kit.

Feature: Revell Fokker Dr. I


I figured this would be the last Revell 1/28 Fokker Triplane I’d ever build when I started it back in 1998 (a thought reinforced with Roden’s 1/32 release of a Fokker Dr. I and the pre-production F. I).

 Actually, this particular kit got started back in the 1980’s by my friend J.E. Morris. He handed it off to me back in the early 1990’s after having done most of the interior and the engine. My focus centered on making the exterior as neat and presentable as possible.

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Filling out that nasty Spitfire fillet area . . .

As I mentioned before, one thing that really detracts from an opened-up large-scale Spitfire is a bell-shaped interior cross-section.

There are ways to correct it, since Hasegawa only did a partial job on its Mk V and Revell never saw fit to do so on its 1/32 classic.


 The best (or least worst) way (above photo) is to lay in your bulkheads and upper stringer and longeron detail and then cut to fit a couple of pieces of .010 sheet styrene for the space between the two bulkheads pictured above and for the space aft of those bulkheads. Pre-curl each section as part of the fitting.

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Notes on a 1/32 Spitfire Mk IX conversion

I keep hoping that 21st Century Toys will do a 1/32 Spitfire Mk IX kit but, until that time, one just has to start from the Hasegawa Spit Mk V or the old Revell Spitfire Mk. I if you want a Mk IX.

In the conversion kit route, there’s two main alternatives: Paragon and Warbird. Frankly, based on my experience using the Paragon set, I wish I’d known about the Warbird conversion first.

But since the Paragon set was all I had access to, you work with what you’ve got.

I’ll be maintaining a separate page here on progression (slow as it has been), but here’s a sample of the initial cockpit work.

As basically right the Hasegawa Mk. V kit was, it lacks some necessary features for a contest-quality open-cockpit Spit. The Hasegawa designers got one point almost right with the lower cockpit sidewall liners between the seat bulkhead and the instrument panel. If you’re going to go head to head with modelers at a contest, however, those liners need to extend back at least two frames behind the cockpit if you’re going to defeat the penlight-and-mirror judges.

I didn’t, but I did make liners on a Revell Spit Mk I kit that’s on the assembly line. I’ll include some pics later to show the basic configuration.

Also, the Hasegawa fuselage includes no frame detail aft of the seat bulkhead. Simple strip may suffice for the visual effect, but T-section longerons are more to scale. I made t-section longerons by cementing thin flat strips and capping them with square-section strip.

This photo shows the T-longerons to better effect. I had to extend the stringers further aft on the starboard side since I had opened the radio hatch and thus the view inside.

And the opening salvo . . . . the ES-3A Shadow


The ES-3A Shadow came and went faster than probably any other U.S. Navy carrier jet with the possible exception of the F7U Cutlass or F-11F Tiger.

As for kits of this delightfully ugly twin jet, AMT-Ertl managed to issue a 1/48 scale kit based on the old ESCI 1/48 S-3A Viking before deciding that die cast John Deere and plastic car kits were their bread and butter. That was a crying shame, as most longtime modelers will attest, since AMT had come out with some really nice 1/48 and 1/72 aircraft models – both original moldings and repops – that were affordable and well detailed.

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Welcome, and bring beer or soda

It’s another Frontier venture, and one where I get to live out my alter ego of model builder. When I finally get the miniature lathe and the giant homemade vacuform done and running, then I’ll adopt the title ‘model maker.’

What you’ll probably see at first will be a lot of mini-articles on prototype subjects, or the real thing. I don’t get to build as much as I like, but I sneak some time here and there to collect photos, articles and web links for those unbuilt kits that someday may feel the cut of my X-acto and the cool petroleum goodness from my airbrush.

At any rate, please feel free to comment, add input or ask questions.

FM (and that’s not Fonderie Miniature)