Reviewed by Brett Green
I ordered Hasegawa's new 1/32 scale as soon as it was released recently. I was curious to see how Hasegawa would handle the new wing that was necessary if they were planning to re-tool their existing 1/32 scale Spitfire Mk.Vb. Would the new parts be of similar quality to Hasegawa's recent releases? Would the fuselage and minor parts be modified?
Considering the saturation of the 1/48 scale model market by most common (and many esoteric) aircraft subjects, it is not surprising to see a resurgence of 1/32 scale. The 1/32 scale A-10, MiG-15 and MiG-17 by Trumpeter; F-15 and F-4 Phantom family by Tamiya; Tornados, Hunters and more from Revell are all evidence of this new trend. What is surprising is the absence of WWII subjects considering their popularity in smaller scales.
Most 1/32 scale WWII models are relics of the 1970s. Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Spitfire Vb is in this category, but it is undoubtedly one of the better examples of the era. Surface detail is raised but petite, the outline is accurate, cockpit detail was good for its day and options for different styles of air filter, propellers and spinners are offered.
It was pretty obvious that Hasegawa's new 1/32 scale Spitfire Mk.I would be based on this old kit, and that is the case. The fuselage, cockpit, landing gear and minor parts are all lifted directly from the vintage plastic of the Mk.Vb complete with the redundant Aboukir and Vokes filters, slipper tank and later style prop and exhaust assemblies. Even so, the older parts stand up reasonably well today. The lightly raised panel lines are not a bad representation of the overlapping panels of the Spitfire. The features of the Mk.I and Mk.Vb fuselages are generally similar, but the small strakes behind the exhausts should be removed from the Mk.I kit.
The retooled parts are very nice. The wings have been scribed with the correct panel lines and shell ejector ports. The wings have the gull section moulded in place. A new set of exhausts are also supplied. Each exhaust is in two parts, permitting a hollow end in each stack. Other newly tooled parts are the propeller blades and (the unused) spinner cap. Click the thumbnails below to view pictures of the sprues full-size:
Two sets of markings are provided for similarly finished Spitfires. ZP*A flown by "Sailor" Malan and KL*B of P/O Alan Deere are the two subjects. Both aircraft are finished in Dark Earth / Dark Green on upper surfaces and black/white on the lower surfaces and black spinners.
The decals look suspiciously translucent on the backing - the blue of the paper clearly shows through the white of the roundels and fin flashes.
Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Spitfire is an interesting kit. I believe that 3200 yen (around USD$25) is a reasonable price for this large model, even considering the proportion of older parts in the box. This model will also form a nice basis for some of the 1/32 scale conversions available for the Mk.Vb kit. Paragon Designs have 1/32 scale conversions for Mk.VIII/IX and Mk.XIV (and possibly more). Using this Mk.I as the basis for these conversions should result in less cutting, filling and scribing.
The biggest problem with this kit will be the mismatching surface detail - engraved on the wings and raised elsewhere. The new and retooled parts are as good as Hasegawa's newest releases, but the other parts remain unaltered. The modeller will have to decide whether to break out the scribing tool or celebrate the diversity.
The large scale cockpit will also benefit from extra time and attention. Priority areas are the bogus solid floor and sidewall detail.
Hasegawa have now brought us a Focke-Wulf Fw 190D with recessed details on the fuselage and raised on the wings, and this Spitfire Mk.I with its recessed wings and raised fuselage. Maybe if we mate the fuselage of the Dora with the wing of the Spitfire...
Review Copyright © 2001 by Brett