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.

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