During 1942, Germany finally had achieved a clear and precise advantage over the British Spitfire Vb as well as earlier British fighter aircraft, with their new fighter: the Focke Wulf Fw 190. The British needed to quickly counter this major issue, which they did with the matting of the Merlin two stage Supercharger model 61 engine to the Spifire Vc. By September 1941 the Spitfire Mk III prototype N3297 had been converted by Rolls-Royce ltd. with their Merlin 60 type engine.
The performance increase was described as "a quantum leap" over the Spitfire Mk Vb. The British Air Ministry made the logical decision that the Spitfire Mk VC verson should be converted with the Merlin 61 engine. Many of the early Mk IXs were in reality just converted Mk Vcs, which didn't have any of the other upgrades which appeared in the IX late version. The early version could be identified by the Type c wing, which had the double blisters over the inner cannon bays and the identification light on the fuselage spine just behind the aerial mast. The elevators were also smaller in size than that of the Mk IX's later versions.
The Merlin 61 was phased out early in 1943 in favour of the Merlin 63 and 63A engines. The new engines had increased power resulting from engine improvements. During the second half of 1943, production of the Merlin 63 powered F Mk IX was discontinued in favour of the Merlin 66 powered LF Mk IX. Early production Spitfire IXs suffered from vapour locks in the fuel lines resulting from fuel evaporating if the aircraft was parked in direct sunlight. As a result of this the gun-camera was moved from the port wing root to the starboard wing root and a fuel cooler, fed by a small round air-intake was fitted in its place.
Eduard first released the Spitfire IXc (late) in 2013. That kit has been generally recognized from most of the reviews I've read to be the most accurate 1/48 scale Spitfire IX. Their new IXc early version is certainly a new standard for other kit manufactures to follow, it's simply that good. Quality of the moulding is visually exceptional. Looking at the surface details of the fuselage and upper and lower wings, the recessed panel lines & rivets are very petite, yet deep enough to easily hold a pin wash. There just isn't any of that usual heavy handedness we've seen so often. There aren't any visible pin marks or flash anywhere. There are two complete upper and lower sets of wings, which gives you the option to build either of the C type wings. Early C wings are different from the standard C wing as there are large blisters over the cannons. The later C wing has a much narrower pair of blisters. There is also the option of either the early small carburetor intake or the later larger universal intake. The exhaust headers have to be one of the best I've seen in 1/48 scale. They're that good. Each header pipe is nicely hollowed out, as well as well nicely defined welds lines moulded on them. All the flying surfaces are separate, since there are differences in their shapes and sizes depending on which version you're building. Moulded on details are petite as well. Even the moulded plastic radiator grills are very petitely moulded, and should build up to a well scaled replica, not the usual heavy handed ones we've come to see way too often. The propeller and spinner are also separately moulded, making painting them that much easier. Having them as separate parts gives you the desired look where the blades go through the spinner, not attached to it as one piece units almost always look like.
Eduard's release has a lightly detailed injected moulded cockpit with the option of photoetch details, which include a coloured instrument panel and seat belts. Alternatively, you can use the injected plastic instrument panel with a well registered and colour decal. The two side cockpit walls are very nicely detailed, and with the addition of some wiring, should be outstanding. The cockpit floor is highly detailed rather then the usual piece of plastic with a few odds and ends just moulded on to breakup the flatness look. The Pilots seat and both bulkheads are highly detailed as well. The pilots door is a separate piece, and once again there that nasty crowbar. So do your homework, and decide if it belongs there or not.
As for the accuracy of the moulding by Eduard, I haven't bothered to scale it out. What I try to establish is how closely the model looks to the real life aircraft through pictures and scale drawing that I download. I've read several other reviews, and not one has pointed out any major errors in moulding or scale issues.
DECALS & MARKINGS
The decals are printed on two separate sheets. The main sheet with all the aircraft markings are printed by Cartograph, and the supplemental data sheet is done in house by Eduard. Both look perfectly in register, and are of a matte type finish.
Decals are provided for five different aircraft
- EN315, Flown by S/Ldr. Stanislav Skalski, Polish Combat Team, Northern Africa, Spring 1943
- EN568, Flown by W/Cdr. Alan C. Deere, CO of Biggin Hill Wing, Biggin Hill Air Base, June, 1943
- EN133, No. 611 Squadron, Biggin Hill, Early 1943
- EN354, flown by 1st Lt. Leonard V. Helton, 52nd FG, 4th FS, La Sebala Airfield, Tunisia, June, 1943
- BS392, Flown by S/Ldr. Bernard Dupérier, CO of No. 340 Squadron, Biggin Hill Airbase, Autumn 1942
Eduard has provided the builder with a 16 page instruction book on glossy high quality paper, which includes a full page for each depicted aircraft, plus a full page just for the stencilling. One additional nice touch is the concise paragraph on the history of each plane/pilot. Going through the booklet, the building process is laid out in a logical and easy to follow manner, with call outs for the various options including the PE with separate smaller pictures. All diagrams are drawn. No actual pictures are provided.