“The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day; but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power..”
One of few silver linings that came with the pandemic, among the many familiar stories of misfortunes and challenges, was that modellers had suddenly found more time to build. For the diehard builders who found more time from not having to commute to work and the modellers who have stopped modelling for years and have themselves being cooped up at home with the kids for months. In many ways, this was a golden opportunity to finish the hangar queens that have been staring at us for the last decade or more.
In Singapore, the far east as we were known in the past, we were experiencing the same and with it, extra time in our hands. Most of us belong to the aviation industry in one form or the other. With the slowdown of air travels, some were hit with reduced workweek and some furloughed; at least during the initial stages of the pandemic.
Similar in spirit with Churchill’s speech above, albeit to a smaller scale (no pun intended), the group kept the flame of our passion alive and transferred our beloved hobby from face-to-face weekly meets to remote gatherings and remote competitions with pictures of completed models being submitted for judging. Needless to say, we were forced to innovate and innovate quickly in the face of the uncertain pandemic.
In all, the group of about 30 members have had 5-6 competitions in various themes. The weekly remote gathering through SKYPE had continued without missing a single session for 25 months. One of the unexpected advantages of having remote competitions and meetings is that there is no geographical restriction. For every event, we have had participants and judges from UK, Australia, Kuwait and from other various parts of the world. So advanced and affordable has IT technology evolved. The events were therapeutic to some and just good fun to the rest; certainly, it kept the group together; and added a few more international members to the group. Collectively has been known as ‘The Usual Suspects’.
Onto the main topic, the latest and more audacious competition was a Spitfire group build that was held recently in April 2022. Singapore is no short of self-professed Spitfire experts, making the event that much more interesting.
Participants were given three weeks to complete their iconic Airfix Spitfires and Seafires. Judges were nominated from within the group. No restriction was placed on the period and participants had the artistic and technical freedom to modify and add after-market as they wish. (Judges: Tony James, Mick Stephen, Kevin Khoo and Peter Chiang)
At closing, there were 13 entries and 15 aircraft on display (1 addition from the organizer and the other from previous build). Scale ranged from 1/72 to 1/24 and kit production era was from vintage to the newest of tooling.
During the three weeks of competition during the weekends, remote ‘skype’ calls were made with all participants together with ongoing ‘Whatsapp’ commentaries with pictures of various stages of construction. These activities had made the build feel more like a ‘Jamboree’ than a competition. To add to the fun and share interesting information, participants were invited to participate in Spitfire Trivia, to ask or to answer. Very interesting facts were shared, and even more hilarious answers were received. (IT Experts: Yee Soon Tuck, Foo Meng Sun)
Trivia included questions such as, why additional Perspex panel were installed on the early Spitfire canopies, how many types of propellers were on the Spitfires/ Seafires, wing types, Frise ailerons, Spitfire Knuckles etc. The challenge was to find questions that were not easily found through ‘google’; which proved to be difficult and keyboard champions always had the advantage.
In the tradition of Hobby Bounties model competition, realism and engineering accuracy were important components of the finished model. This is over and above the artistic rendering when it came to painting, aftermarket additions, weathering etc. Propeller pitch, flight control surface positions, landing gear angles were all critical to making a realistic model. ‘Gutsiness’ was another important aspect of scoring. Putting it all together, entries are scored more for ‘Adventurous Realism’ rather than on artistic prowess. In that spirit, we have a few extraordinary entries, namely Type 300, Prototype, registration K5054 modified from a Airfix Spitfire Mk.1a; the same modeller also completed a Seafire FR.47 completing his objective of building the First and the Last, leaving the rest of us to fill in between.
In conclusion, the mini group build had achieved its intended objectives and superseded expectations; particularly on an iconic subject that is so popular and so well researched. More importantly, all had fun participating, albeit remotely. From a very long time ago, we had heard model building teaches many skills including patient, systematic approach to problem solving, understand drawing, think in 3 dimension etc, this competition however had brought to the surface some of the ideals that were lesser known; keeping sanity during times of uncertainty, relieving stress on matter that is beyond our control and keeping in touch with friends thru a hobby that can be as affordable or as expensive as the builder would like it to be. In all, a fun and enjoyable hobby that produces completed models that are special in their own way and no two are the same; something to be called call our own.
Following are various entries with submission notes by the modellers explaining the subject and the journey of making a Spitfire / Seafire.
One of the members of the group, talented scratch builder M. Razali Ahmad has kindly agreed to share his very simple yet realistic technique of taking photos of models in hangar setting; as seen on the opening page of the article.
All it takes are a printout of the hangar background and hangar floor. Position lighting in the correct angle and snap away. The results are very convincing! Most of us have tried it and had good results on our first attempt. Hangar pictures can be easily found on the internet. Have a go and have fun.
I wanted to model one of the earliest operational Spitfires from Duxford. Although it is older, I chose kit 05115A because it includes the early straight canopy not available in most other Spitfire Mk.I kits. Looking at available photos, I decided to backdate the cockpit from its Mk.Vb heritage and add more detail including various levers. To make an accurate K9795, I scratch built the rudder balance guide horn, fuel cap, non-armoured fuel tank features, tail antenna attachment point, drilled holes for the starboard engine panel, and added the four visible outboard MG muzzles.
I also replaced the kit items with a tall antenna, early bead and ring sight, early “bi-fingered” pitot as well as a pilot figure with PE seatbelts from the spares box. Although challenging, it was enjoyable and I learnt a lot. I am now planning to build a Spitfire Mk.I from 1939 or the Battle of Britain using the newer Airfix kit A05126!
- Submission notes by Jonathan Kua
‘Dogsbody’ was the personal radio callsign of Douglas Bader, the famous legless RAF ace, Tangmere Wing Leader during the summer of 1941. He was flying this Spitfire Mk.Va, with serial W3185 when he was brought down over France and became a POW on 9 August 1941. Depending on which reference, it was claimed that he had collided with a Bf-109F or he was shot down in error by one of his own pilots. He only flew W3185 on three occasions, the last of which was on this fateful day, leading the Tangmere Wing on mission Circus 68, during which he claimed 2 kills over Bf-109Fs before going down. W3185 only joined 616 Sqn, one of the Wing's component squadrons barely two weeks prior, assigned to Bader as his personal Spitfire. As with privileges granted to Wing Leaders, his initials D-B were applied on it, plus his well-known “Hitler kicked in the butt&rdqou; personal artwork on its nose. W3185 was also a presentation Spitfire, named ‘Lord Lloyd I’.
I've used Airfix's new tooled Spitfire Mk.Ia as the base kit for my build. All the required parts needed to build it into a Mk.Va is available in the kit. Airfix did previously release a Bader Mk.Va from their 2010 tooling as part of their 'Help For Heroes' series. Main changes needed to build it from Mk.Ia into Mk.Va are :- Firstly, I used the later Mk.III type oil cooler with annular intake instead of the Mk.I type oil cooler with semi-circular intake. The later intake was adopted for use on Spitfire Mk.Vs due to the susceptibility of the Merlin 45 to overheat during ground idling. Secondly, I sanded off the fabric mouldings on the ailerons, then scribed back on panel lines to reflect the Mk.V's metal ailerons. The rest of the model is visually similar for both Marks. I used decals from Life Like and custom built the seat belts. Otherwise, the kit is built straight out of the box. Fit accuracy is good, and no putty or fillers were used. I very much enjoyed building this kit and will certainly build another one again as I have one more somewhere in my stash!”
- Submission notes by Linus Chan
Heavily modified from the new tool mk1a kit. Re-scribed the wing panel lines as K5054 had clinker type panels. filled up the gun ports and gun vents on the bottom of kit. Scratch build tail skid from kit tail wheel. main landing gear doors modified with additional covers using a second door.
I used epoxy and kit engine exhaust to make the indented shape of the 6 exhaust vents. Sanded down the windscreen and canopy to make the frameless flat shape of the prototype. Added pitot tube from plastic rod. hand drawn stencil of K5054 on fuselage and tail, in lieu of decals.
- Submission notes by Kevin Luo
NH926/P of RAF 28 Sqn, RAF Tengah Flown by Sen Ldr R. D. Yule ACSEA 13 Sept 1945 Out of the box other than photo-etch seatbelts from Special Hobby Seafire, Xtradecal X48130, AK Interactive 3rd Gen Acrylics
- Submission notes by Koh Tse Hsien
Built from the 1970's vintage Airfix Spitfire Mk.Vb kit. A tropical filter was used from the Heller Spitfire V kit. Otherwise mostly out-of-box. Model was rescribed and riveted. Markings are for RCAF 417 Squadron in Tunisia in early 1943. All markings are painted except for the aircraft serial number.
- Submission notes by John Wong
A crowd favourite at UK airshows today, SX336 was built by Westland at Yeovilton and first flew in April 1946. Believed to have served with 833 Naval Air Sqn, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve at RNAS Bramcote and with various units until retirement in 1953 when it went into storage. Acquired by ex- US Navy pilot Tim Manna in the mid-1970s, it was eventually restored to airworthy condition by Kennet Aviation at North Weald and flew again in 2006. Since November 2021, SX336 is owned and operated by the Navy Wings Heritage Centre based at RNAS Yeovilton, a mere 15 miles away from the factory where it was built. Resplendent in the markings of a RNAS Yeovilton-based 767 Naval Air Sqn aircraft, it is a frequent crowd pleaser at UK warbird airshows today.
I have built it straight out of the box and in a folded-wings configuration, a pose that many airshows visitors would have seen it at the flight line, this included me at Duxford which had inspired me to build this model. Add-ons are the custom-made seatbelts and decals from Kits World. Fit and shape accuracy are good, one of the best Spitfire/ Seafire in 1/48 scale from the Airfix stable and what a joy to build.”
- Submission notes by Linus Chan
Inspired by the box art! The diorama is still a work-in-progress. I am waiting for some vehicle kits to be delivered to populate the base (1/144 scale for a forced-perspective).
- Submission notes by Paul Gallagher
Mostly out of box. Scratch built wing-fold struts to support weight of wings. Weathered with chipping, pre and post shading and enamel wash. Exhaust and gun stains using airbrush to simulate war weary plane from Korean war 1950 detachment.
- Submission notes by Kevin Luo
I took around two weeks to complete the model. The entry is a straight-out-box unit. The model is glued together using cement glue. I painted it with acrylic paint. I mixed my own grey paint with 1:1 white and black paint. For the dirty green colour, it is a mixture of 2:1:01/2 green, brown and black paint.
- Submission notes by Atticus Tan Zhi Kai
Only aftermarket photoetch seat belts were added, and the rest is straight from box. The interior highlights and shadows were slightly exaggerated, since the smallish cockpit will be very dark after assembly. Griffon engine exhausts were individually drilled, and the British ‘Speed Silver’ was specially mixed to simulate a very bright silver, and the surface sheen to replicate this paint as much as possible. The model is kept ‘clean’, with little weathering, to show the beautiful lines of the Spitfire.
- Submission notes by Eric Chan T H