Building ICM's Spitfire MK.IX
I bought my ICM Spitfire Mk.IXc as one of the first boxings, and my initial reaction to the sight of the sprues was one of dismay! There was a great deal more flash than one might expect from a kit from the late ‘90s, and sinkmarks proliferated throughout the sprues. On the other hand, the level of detail was promising, and the design – if not the execution – of the kit showed a great deal of thought and ingenuity.
Within the box were parts to make an early production Mk.IXc, with a choice of rounded or broad-chord rudder, early or ‘universal’ carburettor intakes, ‘Mk.V’ style or extended horn-balance elevators, narrow or broad bulge cannon breech fairings and standard or clipped wingtips. Also to be found are an attempt to replicate a 60-series Merlin and displayable cannon bays. These latter features are far less successful. The Merlin has an undersized supercharger assembly, and appears to resemble a Spitfire Mk.V powerplant more than that of a Mk.IX; the cannon breeches supplied offer a drum feed (applicable to the ’B’ wing only) and provide what looks like a machine gun for the outer bay, which should, of course, be empty. However, an early decision to complete the model with the engine and gun bays closed up relegated these problems to irrelevance. Also included are underwing bomb carriers and braces, an underfuselage rack, two 250 lb bombs and one 500 lb bomb, a pair of 60 lb HE RP’s and what appears to be a 90 gallon slipper tank.
After consigning the non-essential parts to the spares box, an examination of what was left revealed the following:
· severe shrinkmarks in the propellor blades and wheels;
· shrinkmarks on the wing uppersurfaces ahead of the ailerons;
· shrinkmarks on the undersurfaces below the cannon bay bulkheads;
· shrinkmarks on the fuselage sides below the cockpit sills and around the tailwheel bay.
The wheels were discarded, as I had several pairs in the spares box. The remainder of the sinkmarks were filled with Greenstuff. (I know that I should go with the trend and use cyano, but I can’t get it to work for me!) One application sufficed for all but the prop blades, which needed a second coat.
The ICM Spitfire has received a 'bad press' over the fit, and the presence of shrinkmarks. These pictures indicate the amount of filling which is necessary - less than one might be led to believe!
Construction then started – as tradition demands – with the cockpit. If you’ve built a Tamiya Mk.I or Mk.V you’ll feel at home here! Basic structure is Grey-green (Humbrol 78) drybrushed with Sky (Humbrol 90) and washed with Payne’s Grey artist’s acrylic thinned with water and a drop of dish soap. Details were picked out in black, drybrushed with light grey, with fine details added using grey, silver and white Prisma pencils. The instrument panel was sprayed overall black (Humbrol 33) and vigorously drybrushed with medium grey. The instrument faces are then given a drop of pure black, the calibrations and needles picked out with white Prisma pencil, and any spots of colour (switches, warning lamps, control knobs, warning marks) added. The instruments are then given a coat of gloss finish (I used Humbrol Clear-Fix). The seat was painted red-brown (Humbrol 70) with a black leather backrest, and Airwaves etched-brass Sutton harness added. If these things matter to you, check your references – most Mk.IX aircraft probably had the later ‘Q’ harness installed.
Fuselage construction can be tricky. Here’s the method that I devised – and it works for me!
I’ve now built eleven ICM Spitfire kits, and find this method the most reliable way of obtaining a correctly aligned airframe with the minimum number of gaps to fill.
Construction continued with the addition of plastic card blanking plates to mount the exhaust stubs and a plastic rod through the nose bulkhead (part B25) to mount the prop. The best way to assemble the nose is to add the nose bulkhead to the sides, then add the undernose, with the upper cowling last. Try to get it all together while you still have some adjustment available.
A touch of filler on those joints that needed it, the cockpit canopy masked and installed and the Spitfire was ready to paint. It’s here that I have to reveal myself as a heretic. I never wash or degrease a model before painting it, and I never prime it. A quick wipe down with a dry rag, and it was on with a coat of white undercoat on the leading edges and prop tips. After 20 minutes or so, I overcoated that with yellow (Humbrol 24), and gave the rear fuselage and the spinner a coat of Sky (Humbrol 90). An hour or so later I masked off the fuselage band, the leading edge stripes and the prop tips, and gave the undersurfaces, wheel wells, undercarriage doors and undercarriage legs a coat of Medium Sea Grey (Humbrol 126) and the propeller blades a coat of matt black (Humbrol 33). After masking, the uppersurfaces were sprayed in Ocean Grey (Humbrol 106) and Dark Green (Humbrol 116), and all masking except that on the canopy removed. The undercarriage and propellor were added, and the whole airframe given a couple of brushed coats of Johnson’s ‘Klear’ (“What’s ‘Future’ called in your country?”). The decals (I used Aeromaster) were applied using ‘Klear’ as adhesive, lubricant and setting agent, and then the model was given a coat of Humbrol MattCote. Limited weathering and staining was applied to the airframe using Prisma pencils and pastel chalks and the canopy masking removed.
The final verdict? I like ICM’s Spitfires very much. In fact the more of them I build, the more I like them. The outline is extremely good, with only the profile of the upper fuselage behind the cockpit being suspect. I’ve always added a moveable canopy section from a Tamiya or Hasegawa Mk.V (they each come with several alternatives) slid back to conceal the rather strange cross-section. The model will benefit from having about 1mm removed from the undercarriage legs, as it sits a little high, and a few seconds’ work on the prop tips with a sanding board will produce a more elegant profile, but other than that it’s fine. If you’re a fan of aftermarket parts Ultracast and Airwaves have a wide range, but even for a parsimonious old git like me, the ICM Spitfire represents good value for money.
This site was last updated 11/23/05