by [b]Mukul Krishna[/b]
My favorite scale is 1:72 but I have modeled in 1:144, 1:48 and 1:32. My previous projects have largely been WWII warbirds and I have made models of most of the famous aircraft of that era, but I have also done some modern jets (Jaguar, Hunter, Harrier, MiG 23 and 21, F-4 Phantom, F-14 Tomcat) and some WWI (Sopwith Camel and the Fokker Triplane).
My all time favorite has been the Spitfire. I regard it as the most elegant airplane to have taken to the skies. Around a year back I decided to make models of the more important combat aircraft flown by the Indian Air Force including those flown under British Rule in WWII. That was a good excuse to start on my favorite the Spitfire.
After a lot of research, especially on Bharat-Rakshak, I finally decided on two Spitfire Mks - the Mk VIII and Mk XIV. Hasegawa has a wonderful Mk VIII kit. I got that and started the project. One of the other reasons I like the Mk VIII was that it had the classic lines of the early Spitfire Mks and the pictures on BR with the nose art seemed to make a fun project for me.
Building the model itself was not a problem at all. Hasegawa kits are known for good fit among the parts and good detail. I was particularly impressed with the level of detail in the interior of the cockpit. I would have preferred a separated canopy like Italeri kits but that is something I can always work around. The only problem encountered while building the model was gluing the undercarriage to the wings. The joint is not very strong and I had to reinforce it with super glue.
The next problem was getting suitable nose art to closely reflect the pics on Bharat-Rakshak. I collect a lot of decals and went through my archives and found something very apt compared to the pics on BR. It is nose art from an Academy P-51 kit that I bought a couple of years back. The next challenge was getting the right serial numbers.
I sent an email off to Polly and he provided some very good feedback and suggestions about aircraft numbering for RIAF Spitfires of that era based on the pics posted on BR. Painting the aircraft itself was not a problem. I used both Model Master and Testor paints. For 1:72 WWII aircraft I usually brush paint, as the models are small enough to get an even finish. I used basic SEAC paint schemes; roundels and fin flashes, then applied the decals for the nose art and aircraft markings.
Apart from figuring out the right serial number and nose art, this was arguably one of the easier projects I have done. This is largely because of the excellent quality of Hasegawa kits.
Mukul is a management consultant based in Texas and has been making models for around 25 years. he hopes to continue to do so despite his wife's opposition to all the "clutter" as he puts it. He has been visiting Bharat-Rakshak since early 1998 can be reached at mukulk1ATyahoo.com.
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