BackgroundDesignated the Mk.21, the new design Spitfire was powered by a two-stage supercharged Rolls-Royce Griffon 61 engine and featured stronger airframe and newly designed wings. The first true Mk.21 prototype, PP139, first flew in July 1943, while the first production aircraft, LA187, took off on 15 March 1944. These prototypes utilised "high-altitude" wing shape with pointed wing tips.
At a later stage of its development the PP139 became the F Mk.23 prototype (which was intended to be a Spitfire Mk.22 incorporating a revised high-speed wing), featuring an extended fin, but the new wing gave less than perfect handling characteristics and so the anticipated order for more than 400 Mk.23s never materialised.
The robust top opening box features an excellent illustration of the two types of Spitfire that can be built from this kit. CMR has also provided the option with the F.23 of depicting the later enlarged fin. Inside the box there is:
-Pre coloured photo etched parts for the cockpit.
-2 x sets of vac formed canopies.
-Decal Set, including airframe stencils.
-Assembly and Painting Instructions.
All the resin parts are well protected in pouches. The PE and vac formed parts are individually packed as are the decals.
The inside walls of the fuselage has some well defined raised detail. The seat, rear bulkhead, control column, fire extinguisher, gun sight mount and cable duct are resin. The pre coloured photo etched instrument panel provides a real focus for the eye. Other PE parts include a three part harness and rudder pedals. Incidentally there is a resin instrument panel with some excellent detail that is just crying out for some careful painting and highlighting. An excellent alternative to the photo etched parts.
There are two styles of vac formed canopies with this kit. The windscreen of PP139 has an extra frame. The quality is very good indeed and there is a spare for each style of canopy. Very handy if you are of a nervous disposition when it comes to cutting vac formed canopies. There is a resin mirror for LA187.
The two part fuselage displays some impressive fine, crisp, recessed detail. The fuselage halves are attached by four contact points and should present no problems removing them. There is a little thin flash to remove as well, again this should present no problems. There is the option of portraying the Mk.23 with the later extended tail surface. This will require you to cut out the existing leading edge of the tail and replacing it with the alternative part. The five blade prop is made up from seven parts, the separate five blades look very impressive in shape and thinness. Interestingly the contra rotating prop used on some Mk21's is also included but not used with this release. A very useful item for your spares box. Also supplied are two types of exhaust pipes: rounded and flattened.
The wings are a one piece item and like the fuselage has excellent recessed detail and really capture their beautiful shape. The wings are attached to their block via five small contact points, four of which are situated where the separate cannon fairings are located. An example of the thought that has gone into minimising any possible damage whilst removing the casting blocks. The navigation lights are clear resin parts that fit into the slots on the leading edge close to the wing tips. The interior of the separate super charger intake has a good depth to it. The two large radiators have separate resin grill faces. Each radiator fairing is marked so there should be no excuses for attaching them incorrectly to the wing. The four cannon covers are separate parts. The raised detail in the undercarriage bay is very nicely done. The depth of the bay looks good too.
The undercarriage includes both three and four spoked wheels. Only the four spoked wheels are used so again there are some useful spares to be had. The torque links are cast onto the oleo. The rear wheel and oleo is one piece as are the tail wheel doors. If you depicting your Spit with gear down, then the doors need separating.
Marking options include:
-Spitfire F MK.21 'Victor' prototype – PP139 — A&AEE, Boscombe Down, 1944
-Spitfire F Mk.21 'Victor' prototype – LA187 — A&AEE, Boscombe Down, 1945
-Spitfire F Mk.23 'Valiant' prototype – PP139 — A&AEE, Boscombe Down, 1945
The F.21 has PR blue upper surfaces and deep sky under surfaces. The F.23 Victor with its yellow under surfaces will certainly make an interesting contrast to any Spitfires in your collection. The disruption camouflage on the upper surfaces is dark green and ocean grey.
The decals look beautifully printed. The stencils look pretty well defined and colours are spot on. Each decal is numbered which helps enormously particularly with the wing walkways and stencils.
Instructions are typical CMR with well drawn diagrams providing precise information on what goes where and the colour of parts. The paint guide does not provide references to any paint manufactures, but more importantly Federal Standard [FS] references are provided.
This is a superb looking kit and CMR have captured the lovely lines of the prototypes very, very well. CMR has used resin to it's fullest potential which translates to fewer parts and exquisite detail. Thrown in are some of the best vac formed canopies around, not to mention the pre coloured photo etched parts from Eduard. All in all remarkable value for the price. The small number of parts and the one piece wing means this would be an ideal resin kit if you fancy trying one for the first time. Some scratch building is required eg. whip aerial and rudder pedal push rods and the bending of photo etched parts. Highly recommended.