Wednesday, September 17

Review: 1/32nd scale Eagle Cals Spitfire Mk I & II's

Wow new spitfires! But not many decals to match them we thought – until Eagle Editions released their two new sets for the MkI and II machines. With some famous and well picked choices we thought it prudent to have a look at the new decal sheet and try to get some research done into the original kites. Lets “scramble” to take a look at what we found

Review: EagelCals new Spitfire MkI/II sets 

EagleCals #157
Spitfire Mk II.a
1/32nd scale
4 aircraft schemes

EagleCals #158
Spitfire Mk II.a
1/32nd scale
4 aircraft schemes

Both sheets are available from Eagle Editions directly for US$19.50 P&P

The Spitfire Mk.IIa was well known for its service to the RAF in the Battle of Britain. It was indeed the icon of that battle even though the Hurricanes were far more numerous. Now we have both  MkI and Mk II Spitfires in 2nd scale these sheets from Eagle should be very popular. The two new Eagle Cals decal sets capture four Spitfires in each set and the ones we have are 1/32nd scale although there are the same kites on their website for sale in 72nd and 48th sale. We thought we would take a look at them and see if they look like the markings on the original birds…
The Spitfire Mk II differed from late production Mk Is in two ways. The aircraft itself used the Merlin XII engine, providing 1,150 hp, which was an increase of 120 hp over the engines used in the Mk I.  This engine could be used with either the De-Havilland or Rotol propellers. The second main difference is that while the Mk I was built by Supermarine at Southampton, the Mk II was produced in a new giant factory at Castle Bromwich. The Mk.IIa became THE main spitfire variant used in the famous Battle of Britain and so it has a big place in a lot of people’s hearts.
Revell’s new kit in 32nd scale is a little winner – we have built it up here on TMN already and we will be building a second with these decals very soon. First of all we thought we would give you a look at these sheets in close up and try to tie you to the original aircraft with pictures and some history if we can.

There are four schemes on both of these decal sheets in 32nd scale. The two sheets come in each of these sets come in zip-loc bag with the cover sheet in a fold out A5 sized colour instruction sheet. 


The decals in both of these sets are very similar in their composition. Both enclose the markings for four aircraft each and both have the provisions for non-standard roundels as well as regular ones. This is really well thought out and I appreciate the option maybe other companies might have ignored or omitted. The decals are printed by Cartograf of Italy and they remind me of the Eagle Editions I have used in the past. Thick and tough enough to position and re-position and lacking in any carrier film that is not essential.

The first sheet contains the individual markings for the spitfires. Letter codes and artwork for the fuselage is here and each is separated into different sections.  There is a small extra section for the decals of “XR-D” which there has been some discussion about colours being slightly different and again thanks to Eagle Editions for supplying them. Decisions like these leave the others in second place as far as I am concerned.
The second sheet in each of these releases contains stencil data and the national markings again. The stencils are very sharply detailed and I can read them all pretty much with no optical enhancement (magnifying glass) and they are clear.
The colours are strong and the white is thick enough to not be opaque. Printing wise every line is in register and there were no errors that I could see.

So that is all we can really say about the decal sheets themselves. I have used their decals before and I am confident in their application, having to move them around without disintegrating them and the finish they give when finished.


The sheet folds out once to show profiles of each of these aircraft – profiles are skilfully illustrated by Thomas A Tullis - he chips and weathers them in his drawings just like a modeller might. Each of three large profiles has the correct placement for the decals on the sides of the aircraft and one or two examples get a look at both sides of the kite.
There is a small A5 size decal placement and colour camo guide for each of these aircraft so you have a view of them from every angle and you aren’t left guessing on camouflage or decal position. You know someone would point it out otherwise but this and the rest of the instructions left me in a confident enough place to know that I would be right 
The inside of the cover art paper see black and white stencil location profiles of each of the aircraft from both side views, below and above. Arrows point to the location and hint at some details that are aircraft specific and not known on some of these kites.
On the other side of the fold out cover sheet is a roundup of each of the aircraft on that sheet and the painting spec on that individual airframe. The colours, national insignia specifics and the curiosities of each aircraft in colour application.

Mr Mark Proulx has done the research on each of these aircraft and he has provided his research sources which are great for the modeller. The only thing these decal instruction sheets are missing would be a picture of each of the kites in real life service. We have the second best thing with the resources he has pointed out. These are what I used in finding each of these aircraft pictures I will present to you in the next part of our review.

Ok let’s have a look at the Spitfires individually now - First EC#157 then EC#158:
Spitfire Mk II.a

1/32nd scale
4 aircraft schemes
Available from Eagle Editions directly for US$19.50 P&P
Also available in  1/72nd 12.50 & 1/48th 16.00

Four Spitfires Ml.I & Mk.IIa’s are captured in this sheet – all featured in the Battle of Britain and this sheet is very similar in it’s make up to the following sister sheet:

“AZ-H” (N3277) “Dirty Dick” from 234 Sqn P/O Richard Hardy
“KL-B” (N3183) “Kiwi II” from 54 Sqn. Pilot Alan C. Deere
“QV-K” (9386) 19 Sqn Pilot S/L Brian Lane and F/L Walter Lawson
“DW-Q” (L1016) from 610 Sqn Pilot F/O Albert Medcalf

There are two separate decal sheets in this set. These four spitfire’s individual artwork features on the first sheet along with a few national markings.
Whilst the other features national markings with some stencils.
The detail on the stencils is again easy to read and finely printed in this scale – here is the ol’ massive coin from my large pocket to tell scale and detail.
Of course you get the instructions, the profiles and everything I have talked about in this set too – let’s get to the research on each of these aircraft and what we found out about them now..

Spitfire Ia “AZ-H” (N3277) “Dirty Dick” from 234 Sqn P/O Richard Hardy
Try looking up Dirty Dick on the internet without coming up with some odd search results! This aircraft “AZ-H” was flown by Pilot Officer Richard Hardy who flew with 234th Squadron which ended it’s RAF career after being brought down by Olt. Georg Claus of Jagdgeschwader 53 over Cherbourg on the15th of August in1940.
And one in colour…
Here are the individual decals on the sheet for this aircraft
There are a plethora of pictures of a later aircraft bearing the same code because it was photographed extensively. This was a Spitfire Mk.II. The main colour difference being the fuselage band in sky.

“KL-B” (N3183) “Kiwi II” from 54 Sqn. Pilot Alan C. Deere
One of the more well-known codes of Spitfires and an ace of the Battle of Britain. Alan Deere’s “KL-B” (N3183) “Kiwi II” is one of the iconic fighters of the battle being captured in artwork and many models of the fighter. It’ a natural choice for this sheet.

Now this could be Kiwi I - but the art is the same for Kiwi II
Alan Deere had three Spitfire Mk.IIA’s marked as “Kiwi” – this aircraft “Kiwi II” (N3183) is marked as Kiwi II and flew out of Hornchurch in 1940.
The black and silver decal for the Kiwi is there for both sides of the cockpit (Deere’s home country of New Zealand animal mascot) along with simple aircraft codes, serial number and roundels.

“QV-K” (9386) 19 Sqn Pilot S/L Brian Lane and F/L Walter Lawson
This is a fairly stock looking spitfire to be honest – regular Dark Earth/ Dark Green/ Sky undersides, flown by two pilots who were not overly well known aces, but the difference is in the propeller hub.
There is an argument whether it is a yellow or a sky colour – A lot of people have gone for the easy choice that it must be a sky or light colour - but in the profile here it is the yellow – but I’m not sure myself. Part of me thinks that the prop was indeed yellow as indicated was the fact that the Royal Air Force Operational Training Units (OTU) had yellow spinners and this was a relic of this aircraft’s service in that unit. Well picked up in research I think.

“DW-Q” (L1016) from 610 Sqn Pilot F/O Albert Medcalf
Albert Medcalf’s spitfire “DW-Q” (L1016) was again a fairly standard machine in Dark brown but with white and black undersides. The large DW-Q aircraft codes dominate the sides of the fuselage which I think with the black make for an attractive model.
Not many pictures of this aircraft exist to my knowledge – I have found a picture of DW-Q poking out in the middle of this formation  - though with the undersides looking like they are sky coloured it is either later than this is captured here in decals or another spit altogether. I think it was a later kite when you look at the pilot’s history.
Flying officer Albert Rupert John Medcalf was a Spitfire pilot who was shot down while providing fighter cover for the evacuation of Dunkirk, on 27 May 1940. With 19 other Spitfires and Hurricanes, he engaged a lone Heinkel 111 bomber which was trying to disrupt the British retreat. However, they were then attacked by up to 40 Messerschmitt Bf 110. The bomber and three German fighters were shot down, for the loss of two Spitfires, including F/O Medcalf's. His body was never found. He was 26.

Spitfire Mk II.a

1/32nd scale
4 aircraft schemes
Available from Eagle Editions directly for US$19.50 P&P
Also available in 1/72nd 12.50 & 1/48th 16.00

This sheet covers four spitfires from the Battle of Britain – all Mk II’s from the Bromwich factory:
Spitfire Mk IIa NK-K (P8088) “Just Jake” from 118 Sqn
Spitfire Mk IIa PK-K (P7833) “Krysia” No.315 “Polish” Sqn.  
QV-J (P7849) “Armagh” 19th Sqn - Pilot F/L Walter Lawson
“XR-D” (P7308) 71 Sqn. Flown by P/O Bill Dunn

Featuring heavily on this decal sheet are presentation aircraft – after a promotion to raise money from the public to raise money to purchase Spitfires for the RAF several were bought - In recognition of the contribution from Belfast Telegraph readers, the aircraft were all given Ulster names. The Belfast Telegraph Spitfires were:-

P7683 Londonderry
P7684 Belfast
P7685 Harlandic
P7823 Down
P7832 Enniskillen
P7833 Portadown
P7834 Mid-Ulster
P7835 Ballymena
P7838 Fermanagh
P7839 City Of Derry
P7840 Mountains of Mourne
P7841 Larne
P7842 Bangor
P7843 Aldergrove
P7849 Armagh

There are two decal sheets in EC#158 – the featured aircraft have all of their individual markings on one sheet:
Whilst the other features national markings with some stencils.
The detail on the stencils is again easy to read and finely printed in this scale – here is the ol’ massive coin from my large pocket to tell scale and detail.
Of course you get the instructions, the profiles and everything I have talked about in this set too.Again the work on the profiles is very nicely illustrated and handy as hell
The stencil placement, reference and vital specific of each aircraft again on the inside cover of the instructions are a massive help

As are the top and bottom placements and camo guides

– let’s get to the research on each of these aircraft and what we found out about them now..

Spitfire Mk IIa NK-K (P8088) “Just Jake” from 118 Sqn - Pilot P/O Alec Lumsden ‘Borough of Lambeth’
The first Spitfire captured in these decals was this Supermarine SpitfireMk IIA. Serial number P8088. With the war time ‘call sign’ of NK-K. This Spitfire was funded by a group who had raised funds in ‘The Walks own Spitfire fund’.  The Spitfire’s official name, therefore was ‘Borough of Lambeth’ but the pilot’s name for this ship was ‘Bette’.
NK-K (P8088) as pictured with Squadron 118 in May 1941.
By the time the photo above had been taken it had acquired both the nose art of the comic character “Captain A.R.P.Reilly-Ffoull” and the ‘Official’ name of Borough of Lambeth. Unofficially the aircraft was given the name ‘Bette’ by its then pilot Alec Lumbsden. “Bette” was the name of the girlfriend of the pilot – this was proved in research when a telegram from Bette which was sent to Alec wishing him and ‘Bette’ the Spitfire good luck.
The “Stap me”  nose art came from a character in a cartoon – “Captain A.R.P Reilly-Ffoull” was a creation from the wartime cartoon strip 'Just Jake' which ran for 14 years in the Daily Mirror newspaper from 1938 onwards and was illustrated by Bernard Graddon. This character’s catch phrase "Stap Me!" became the battle cry of the famous Battle of Britain pilot Squadron Leader Gerald Stapleton whom many pilots admired and followed, the catchphrase from which his knick name ‘Stap-me Stapleton’ came which also was his favourite comic strip.
There is a LOT more on this Spitfire on this page which gives you and exhaustive history of the machine and shows logbooks and other details.

Spitfire Mk IIa PK-K (P7833) “Krysia” No.315 “Polish” Sqn.  
Spitfire Mk.II.a “PK-K” (P7833) was another presentation aircraft named "Portadown". The Portadown Spitfire was named in honour of the people of the area, and one of 17 Spitfires purchased through the original Spitfire Fund during World War Two who all had their names emblazoned onto the fuselages of Spitfires in WWII. By the time that this aircraft was represented in these decals this writing had been painted over.
The Polish Airforce flag remained on the front cowling which easily identifies this bird as a Spitfire from 315 “polish” squadron from it’s time in 5 squadron. You see on the decals and the picture of this aircraft that the original “East India Squadron” plaque remained on this aircraft and the K from the aircraft recognition was made into “Krysia” which is a Polish girl’s name – we can only guess that she was special to someone – either the Pilot or one of the ground crew who looked after PK-K.
On the 5th of April 1941 PK-K was reported as missing being shot down and crashing at Biddenden, 11 miles SE of Maidstone 17.5.41 the pilot NZ401390 Sgt Erl Joseph KEAN 54 Sqn, RNZAF was killed in the crash.
This is another great thread on the history of this aircraft and the mystery around it’s fate when it has been mixed up with two other Spitfires from the same time frame.

QV-J (P7849) “Armagh” 19th Sqn - Pilot F/L Walter Lawson
Spitfire Mk IIa P7849 'Armagh' (another presentation aircraft) was flown by Flt Lt Walter 'Farmer' Lawson of No 19 Sqn, based at Fowlmere in June 1941. Lawson was flying this aircraft when he claimed a Bf-109E as destroyed and another Emil as a probable near St Omer on 27 June. Later this Spitfire was converted to the Mk V and in November 1942 it was delivered to the USAAF.
This dark earth/ dark green /Sky camouflaged Spitfire has the presentation name in RAF yellow on both sides of the outer cockpit fuselage while the rest of the aircraft is pretty standard apart from the smaller red dot in the side roundels. These are thoughtfully delivered on the sheet in the correct scale sizes.

“XR-D” (P7308) 71 Sqn. Flown by P/O Bill Dunn
Pilot officer Bill Dunn’s Spitfire Mk IIa “XR-D” (P7308) was one of the aircraft that wore the No 71 “Eagle” Squadron markings of an American Eagle on the nose and interestingly for us the aircraft isn’t brown and green – it is grey and green! Seriously it is a slight difference in choice but enough to set you part on the modelling table from your oh-so-drab competition.
 The “Eagle” Squadron was famous for having Ben Affleck to fly for them against the Germans in the Battle of Britain (Tom Cruise wasn’t available I suppose). Seriously a bunch of American pilots rose to the challenge before their own country could help and joined the RAF to fight in the air alongside many nationalities before the USA officially entered the war in Europe in 1942. Dunn was an “ace” with of his downing of five Luftwaffe aircraft between May and August 1941.  He was badly wounded in an accident in P7308 at North Weald on 27 August 1941. After recovering from his wounds he returned to the States as a trainer but was back in England by D-Day flying with the 406th FG and shot down 3 more enemy planes.
“XR-D” however lived on to fight another day as well – In August 1941 the aircraft was converted to MK V Standard (It wore the colours of Dark Green / Earth up to 27th and Dark Green / Grey after.) P7308 flew with the 133rd, 421st, 164th and 602 Squadrons in the RAF before being decommissioned in July 1943 

This aircraft has been re-created with another airframe used to stand in – the page showing it in full colour is here
These dacals in summary:
I am not really a spitfire fan – there I said it – and think what you might. But looking at the choices on these two sheets and checking on the research by Mr Proulx has made m much more aware of the history of these aircraft and the people who fought in them. I can tell from a few of these examples represented here like P7833 in which there was a lot of controversy about the markings that the checking of facts has been done thoroughly here and the decals are first class as are usual from Eagle and Cartograf combined.

A great set for your new spitfire and I cannot recommend these sheets enough.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the guys (and gals) at Eagle Editions for sending these out for review.