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Spitfire Vc / Seafire III




S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: 05110
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: Modification of Airfix 1/48 Spitfire Vb/Vb trop with additional sprues
Price: AUD$25 (approx. USD$14)
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Lots of options and spare parts; first standard injection moulded Vc available; four marking options; engraved panel lines on new parts; great value for money.
Disadvantages: Based on 1979 Vb kit with raised panel lines on fuselage (panel line mismatch); thick sprue connectors; positionable flaps not helpful
Recommendation: Recommended


Reviewed by Richard Brodie

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Airfix’s mid 2002 release of Seafire Vc/Seafire L.III is the first release by any mainstream manufacturer of an injected styrene kit of the Spitfire Vc and Merlin engined Seafire. The mainstream manufacturer’s preference for many obscure and less deserving aircraft for kit subjects is somewhat surprising since no less than 4,298 examples of the Seafire Vc/Seafire were built or converted during WW2, seeing combat in every theatre of war by many Air Forces and Navies.





The Spitfire is one of the all time greats and I don’t want to rehash its history all over again as most modellers are familiar with it.

Briefly, the Spitfire Vc was introduced in late 1941. Compared to the Spitfire Vb, it featured a redesigned and strengthened airframe and other refinements plus the “universal” or “c” wing which had provision to accommodate 4 x 20mm cannon or 2 x 20mm cannon and 4 x 0.303” mg. Comparatively few were fitted with the 4 x 20mm cannon armament as the extra cannon imposed stresses on the wing . Instead, the extra space in the cannon bay was used to double the ammo for the 2 x 20mm cannon. As designed, it could also accommodate 8 x 0.303” mg but this feature was dropped from production aircraft. For the purists, the undercarriage legs of the Vc sloped forward 2’ further than the earlier versions. The Spitfire Vc saw widespread overseas service from 1942 onwards, forming the bulk of the Spitfires assigned to the defence of Malta. They also saw extensive service with the Desert Air Force in the North African, Italian and Balkans campaign. It also served with 5 RAF South East Asia Command Squadrons in the India-Burma theatre while nearly 250 were supplied to the RAAF for service in the defence of Northern Australia and operations in New Guinea and the South West Pacific. The USAAF was also a major user through reverse Lend Lease in North Africa and the Mediterranean theatre of operations (reference Ventura Classic Warbirs # 3 and 4, American Spitfire Camouflage and Markings Parts 1 and 2). Spitfire Vcs were also supplied to allied air arms including the Armee de’l Air, Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force, Yugoslav Partisan Air Force, Royal Hellenic Air Force, Turkish Air Force, Portuguese Air Force (a few) and Royal Egyptian Air Force. 2, 467 Spitfire Vc’s were built, 478 by Supermarine, 1,494 by Castle Bromwich Aircraft Factory and 495 by Westland.

The Seafire went a long way towards reducing the Royal Navy’s shortage of modern fighters although it was not very well suited for carrier operations. The Seafire IB and IIc entered service in June 1942. The Seafire IB’s were conversions from existing Spitfire Vb airframes. 112 were converted plus 48 “hooked” Spitfires. The Seafire IIc were not conversions but built as such and were the naval equivalent of the Spitfire Vc. 402 Seafire IIc’s were built. Both versions did not have folding wings. Since naval combat occurred at lower altitudes, most were built or later converted from F to L versions with RR Merlin 32 (4-blade prop) or RR Merlin 55M (3-blade prop) and the modeller will need to refer to actual photos to verify this point. The Seafire III was a major improvement as it featured manually folding and cleaner type “c” wings with the outboard cannon bays removed and a more streamlined Vokes Aerovee tropical filter. 100 were built as F.III’s with RR Merlin 55 engines. The rest were built as L.III’s or LR. III’s with RR Merlin 32 or 55M engines. All had 4-blade props.

The Seafire saw extensive service in the North Sea, Mediterranean and Pacific as well as acting as gunnery spotting aircraft for the naval bombardment off the Normandy beaches. Post WW2, it was also operated by the RCN (pending delivery of the Seafire XV), Aeronavale (including combat operations over Indo China making it a Vietnam War participant!) and in denavalised form by the Irish Air Corps.



Airfix 1/48 Scale Spitfire Vc / Seafire III


This Series 5 kit is a modification of Airfix’s 1/48 Spitfire Vb/Vb trop which was first issued in December 1979 as kit # 4100-1. It retains all the existing Spitfire Vb/Vb trop parts moulded in light grey styrene plus four new sprues moulded in a slightly darker grey styrene containing 44 additional parts for the Spitfire Vc and Seafire L.III.

New Sprues - click thumbnails below to view larger images:

This kit represents great value for the price, since the retention of the existing Spitfire Vb/Vb trop parts means that with the appropriate decal sheets and some minor surgery in the case of the recce versions, we can also make the Spitfire Vb, Seafire F.Ib, Seafire F.IIc, Seafire L.IIc, Seafire LR.IIc, Seafire F.III and Seafire LR.III. Incidentally, all Seafire III’s had a “c” wing so the “c” suffix is usually deleted.

The four new sprues feature recessed panel lines using the spark erosion process (reputedly in China). Compared to the original Spitfire Vb, the sprue runners are massive - more akin to that from some limited run injection kit manufacturers - and the sprue attachment points are quite substantial on a number of parts, requiring care with a pair of snippers or a heavy duty craft knife to remove them. However, once removed, the fit of the new parts are better than that of the original Spitfire Vb/Vb trop.

The new parts comprise a complete Vc wing (with inverted gull wing root shape). Airfix continues its love affair with separate flaps as per their Spitfire Mk 22/24 and Seafire 46/47. This is a little unfortunate as Spitfires/Seafire flaps could not be partially lowered and were not normally seen on the ground with extended flaps. This means that some sanding of the interior detail of the flaps is required to get a better flush fit with the wing. Having said this, Seafires, especially those operating from the smaller decks of escort carriers, usually had small blocks of wood shaped into 230 wedges inserted into their flaps to lower their flaps by 2” to provide additional lift when taking off. The wedges simply fell off once the flaps were fully extended in the air. We can therefore legitimately display Seafires with their flaps slightly lowered.

Optional gun panels are provided with narrow and wide blisters plus four versions of wing tips – the normal span, the production clipped wing, and the more rounded (wooden) clipped wing and the extended high flying wing produced by the RAF Maintenance Units in the Middle East (Egypt). An Aboukir filter and chin is also provided in addition to the normal European filter and chin /Vokes filter and chin and the from the Spitfire Vb/Vb trop.

Other parts include a new spinner and four-blade propeller, A-frame arrestor hook, strengthened undercarriage legs, disc wheels, six stack exhaust and longer carburettor with Vokes Aerovee filter for the Seafire III and four 20mm cannon barrels (which are much nicer than the cannon barrels from the Spitfire Vb). The Spitfire Vb fuselage has been modified internally to provide guides for cutting out the housing for the A-frame arrestor hook.

Not included are the spigots for the catapult spools and fuselage strengthening plates. However, these should not be difficult to fabricate for the average modeller and are in the case of the fuselage strengthening plates, are beyond current injection moulding capabilities. The tailplanes from the existing Spitfire Vb will have to be used. These lack the enlarged elevator horns normally seen on the Spitfire Vc/Seafire III but are easily fixed by engraving a new hinge line and puttying off the old hinge line. The foregoing omissions are not pointed out in the instructions. The instructions indicate that straight lines should be engraved by the modeller to simulate the wing fold for the Seafire III. This is wrong as the main hinge line for the Seafire III on the upper wing surface is not straight but has a small semi circle curved outwards in the centre of the wing above the wheel wells.

Box art is good and shows a Seafire L.III of Sqn, FAA approaching HMS Indefatigable in August1945.

An extensive decal sheet is provided, far superior to that in the original Spitfire Vb. Apart from better coverage of the common markings seen on Spitfires, the decals cover the following:

  1. Vc of 79 Sqn RAAF, Merauke, New Guinea, pacific Theatre, October 1944 in RAAF foliage green /sky blue camo with Vokes tropical filter and standard wing tips. Armament is the usual 2 x 20mm cannon and 4 x 0.303” mg. Expert opinion expressed in the Camouflage and Markings Pacific Spitfires website (http://spitfirecmraaf.tripod.com/) is that the markings are not accurate.

  2. Vc of 2 Sqn, 7 Wing, SAAF, Sicily, 1944 in dark earth/mid stone/azure blue camo with Vokes tropical filter, standard wing tips and the rare 4 x 20mm cannon armament.

  3. Vc of the Special Duties Flight, 103 Maintenance Unit, RAF, Aboukir, Egypt, September 1942. This represents one of the aircraft modified by 103 MU into a high flying interceptor to counter the high flying Ju 86P recce aircraft which were up to then flying over the Nile Delta and Suez Canal with impunity. This aircraft has locally fabricated extended wing tips, 2 x 0.5” mg armament and a four-blade prop. Camo is dark earth/mid stone/azure blue camo with aluminium to simulate bare metal along panel lines where the seams were smoothed over with putty and polished to streamline the aircraft. This aircraft is also illustrated as colour profile #40 (a very poor one) on pg. 42 of the Osprey Aircraft of the Aces # 16 Spitfire Mk V Aces 1941-45 raising the question whether the bare metal should be a dark grey colour. These extemporized Spitfire HF.Vc’s performed much better than the pressurised Spitfire HF.VI’s specifically designed for the role of high altitude fighter and available from Hasegawa as kit # 9507 (JT17). These aircraft had their radios removed to lighten them so the aerial mast should be omitted. This is not called out in the instructions.

  4. Seafire L.III of 887 NAS, FAA, HMS Indefatigable, BPF, August 1945 with Temperate Sea camo of extra dark sea grey/ dark slate grey/sky.



For the record, the parts from the Spitfire Vb/Vb trop comprises 53 parts, 48 molded in gray styrene and 5 transparencies. Cockpit detail is fair although it is arguable the raised ribwork and stringers are somewhat over emphasized. For its time (1979), interior detail was quite good, and certainly not based on the Otaki Spitfire VIII as claimed by some. Put the two fuselages together and you will see what I mean. There is a separate side access hatch. The front bulkhead does not have the lightening holes but nothing a drill can’t fix. The gunsight is in clear styrene. The fully blown sliding hood is integral with the rear cockpit clear section. A good pilot figure in European uniform is included although smaller overall compared to Tamiya’s pilot figures. The “B” wing is normal span without a “clipped” wing option or the later strengthening ribs over the wheel wells. The undercarriage is correctly sized with 5-spoked wheel hubs. Optional parts include two types of windscreens, the earlier version with external armoured glass, and the later version with internal armoured glass. A Vokes filter and deeper radiator is provided for the tropical version. Airfix engineers claim that tropical Spitfires had a slightly enlarged radiator which was a few inches deeper resulting in increased frontal area but this is not mentioned in the Pilot’s notes or included in any of the later Tamigawa versions. Undercarriage cover plates are also included if you prefer to model it with “undercarriage up”.

Original Mk. Vb Sprues - click thumbnails below to view larger images:

As mentioned before, Seafires F.Ib, F.IIc, L.IIc, LR.IIc, F.III and LR.III are also possible although not mentioned in the instructions and you don’t have to worry about scribing the wing fold lines for the Seafires I and II. If nothing else, the current availability of Aeromaster decal sheets 48- 441 to 48-443, Supermarine Seafires Parts I to III should tempt the Spitfire/Seafire aficionado to ring out the options.

When building Spitfire Vc’s, the availability of spare A-frame arrestor hooks simplifies conversion of Spitfire Vb kits to the Seafire Ib and of the Hobbycraft Seafire XV to the earlier A-frame arrestor hook version used by the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and Aeronavale. Decal sheets for the latter are available from Ventura (V4875) and Carpena. As a tip, if you are planning on building Spitfire Vc’s and have a stash of old Airfix Spitfire Vbs (these are often available at reasonable prices at swop meets), you should consider using the fuselages from the older kits with the new Vc wings to make your Spitfire Vc’s and save the fuselages from the new kit to use for Seafire Ib conversions since these fuselages are already scored inside and will simplify opening up the A-frame arrestor hook housing.

The availability of the Vc wing simplifies conversion to the Spitfire XII (both early production with fixed tailwheel or later production with retractable tailwheel) which was essentially a Spitfire Vc with a Griffon engine. Conversions can either utilise the nose from the Spifire XII fuselage from the Falcon Spitfire XI, XII and XVI triple conversion set or by cross kitting the fuselage from the Hobbycraft Seafire XV, fabricating the additional bulge above the engine and fitting a replacement rudder (widely available from the ICM kits). I have test fitted the Airfix Vc wing to the Hobbycraft fuselage and yes, folks, it is possible with some modification work to the wing roots.





It would have been preferable to have an all-new kit but the Airfix Spitfire Vb, despite its age, has always been one of the most accurate Spitfires with regard to outline and the new parts do nothing to detract from it. Some modellers may object to the raised panel lines on the older parts but there is nothing to stop them sanding them off and rescribing them. The Airfix Spitfire Vb comprised a mix of recessed and raised panel lines. In any case, the raised panel lines are very fine and not really objectionable (to me anyway). The options provided in this kit are excellent, so much so that some are unused such as the two different sets of clipped wing tips (perhaps pointing the way to other issues in new boxes a la Hasegawa). One is left with an embarrassment of high quality spare parts that can be used on other Spitfire kits.

No less than 4,298 examples, of the Seafire Vc/Seafire were built or converted during WW2 and extensively used in combat all over the various theatres of WW2 by a large number of Air Forces and Navies. Compare that to some of the Luftwaffe ’46 subjects kitted or more obscure “limited edition” subjects with less than distinguished service histories and you wonder why it took so long for it to materialise. Best of all, it just might inspire Tamigawa to dust off their Spitfire Vb moulds and do an Airfix. Let’s just hope Tamigawa doesn’t take 23 years to do so. For once, Airfix is leading the way.

I have started on the first of 5 Spitfire Vc kits I bought from Snowy Mountain Models and so far, am very happy with it.

To sum up, a wonderful value for money kit and long overdue.

Review and Images Copyright © 2002 by Richard Brodie
Page Created 19 July, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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