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In-Box Review
Supermarine Seafire F.XVII
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Originally published on:

The Seafire F Mk XVII was essentially a modified Mk XV; the most important change was the reinforced main undercarriage which used longer oleos and a lower rebound ratio. This went some way towards taming the deck behaviour of the Mk XV, reduced the propensity of the propeller tips "pecking" the deck during an arrested landing, and the softer oleos stopped the aircraft from occasionally bouncing over the arrestor wires and into the crash barrier. Most production XVIIs had the cut down rear fuselage and teardrop canopy (the windscreen was modified to a rounded section, with narrow quarter windows, rather than the flat windscreen used on Spitfires) and an extra 33 gallon fuel tank fitted in the rear fuselage. While the bubble canopy gave greatly improved visibilty, the cut-down rear fuselage caused instability problems and pilots were instructed to use the rear fuel tank on take off (as incorrect use of fuel could cause the CG to fluctuate), and were forbidden to make any violent manoevres until it was empty. In addition the wings were reinforced, with a stronger mainspar necessitated by the new undercarriage, and they were able to carry heavier underwing loads than previous Seafire variants. 232 of this variant were built by Westland (212) and Cunliffe-Owen(20).
Sources: Wikipedia and AMI's Spitfire Special.

The kit
The first surprise on seeing the new Seafire in my local model shop was the size of the box; it's half as big again as Airfix's earlier Spitfire Mk.XII, and a couple of quid more expensive too. The reason soon becomes clear when you open it; there are two complete sets of wings to cater for folded and unfolded options. But more of that later, getting back to basics, everything is well packed in a very solid box, with the clear parts bagged separately from the main sprues, and a nice big sheet of decals is at the bottom protected by the instructions booklet. The kit comprises:

128 x grey styrene parts
6 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes

The Seafire is moulded in India, and the look and feel of styrene used is quite different to recent Airfix kit's I've seen. If anything, the detail seems a little crisper, although this may just be an illusion. The moulding is good and free of flash or sink marks in my kit, but the parts display a slightly textured satin external finish that could benefit from a bit of polishing in places, and there are a few faint marks along the fuselage joint that appear to be from mould inserts. Panel lines are very neatly engraved perhaps a little heavy for some tastes, but they'll serve well as a basis for washes. The fabric effect on the rudder is nice and subtle.

A test fit is very good, although there are a few ejector pin marks toward the wing tips that need to be sanded down before assembly. Overall, the basic airframe seems excellent, but the trailing edges of the ailerons and wingtips are quite blunt and will definitely look better thinned down.

When I reviewed the Spit Mk.XII, I commented that the rear fuselage seemed a little deep. Well, the Seafire's is identical at the base of the fin, but I must admit it matches online photos of the restored s/n SX336 very precisely (recognising all the perils of trying match anything against photos on a computer monitor that may not be calibrated correctly), so I think any problem (if indeed there ever was one) is even smaller than I thought.

I really like the way Airfix have tackled the folding wings. Whereas many kits use the same parts for both folded and un-folded configurations and are criticised for the consequent poor fit, Airfix's designers have solved the problem by supplying two complete sets of parts for the wings one for full-span and one for folded. Both fit really neatly at the wing roots but, as with the Spit Mk.XII, I'll refine the joint under the rear fuselage a little for a cleaner fit.

The new fuselage halves feature some decent internal sidewall detail (not identical to the Spit), and another nice touch is that most ejector pin marks have been kept clear of the cockpit including the separate pilot's door, the only one I could find being on the seat, which will be hidden if you use the pilot figure supplied, or add your own harness.

The undercarriage can be built raised or lowered, and there are optional weighted tyres. One point to note is that the boxtop depicts treaded tyres, whereas those in the kit are bald. Modern restorations are usually seen with treaded tyres, but I'll leave it to the experts to decide what's appropriate for a Seafire in service.

Airfix provide a selection of external stores a 50 Gallon centre-line tank, and underwing rockets and 22.5 Gallon blister tanks. The tail fins of the rockets are pretty thick, so you may want to replace them for a better scale appearance.

The canopy is designed to be displayed open or closed, and Airfix have learned the lesson from their old Spit Mk.22/24 and Seafire Mk.47 kits where the sliding section sat too high in the open position. This time there are optional parts provided, and both sit perfectly. The curved windscreen features the internal armoured glass. The shape of the Spit/Seafire bubble canopy is often a bone of contention, seeming to have more of a "kink" in some shots than others; I'll leave it to the experts to argue the toss, but Airfix's looks a close enough match to pics of that fitted to s/n SX336 to satisfy me.

Instructions and Decals
The assembly guide is printed as a 16-page A4 booklet, with construction broken down into no less than 60 stages. That sounds an awful lot, but in truth the assembly isn't nearly as complicated as the number may suggest. It's just that Airfix like to break things down into a lot of little "bit sized chunks" rather than have cluttered and confusing diagrams trying to show too much at once.

The actual construction looks pretty straightforward and the sequence is mostly logical the only point where I'd take issue is assembling the folding wings completely before attaching them to the fuselage, something which will make cleaning up the wing roots very awkward (not to mention painting).

Matches for Humbrol paints are included throughout and the kit provides decals for three colour schemes:

A. Seafire F.XVII s/n SX358, No. 800 NAS, HMS Triumph and Hal Far, Malta, 1947
B. Seafire F.XVII s/n SX273, No. 714 NAS, OFTU, Air Warfare School, St. Merryn, 1947
C. Seafire F.XVII s/n SP343, No. 1832 NAS, RNVR, Southern Air Division, Culham, 1950

The decals are custom printed by Cartograf with a satin finish. The colours look excellent and the registration is perfect on my sheet. Along with the main markings, there's a generous selection of servicing stencils whose positions are clearly noted in the full-colour painting guide.

Airfix's new Seafire looks an excellent kit and is good value for money. It should be simple enough for less experienced modellers, while still providing enough detail to keep the experts happy. The results should be excellent straight from the box, and the kit deserves a place in any quarterscale collection of Spits and Seafires or naval aircraft. Recommended.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: Neatly moulded and nicely detailed. Plenty of options. Clever design for the wings and canopy. Excellent decals.
Lows: A few faint mould marks to clean up. Trailing edges could be a bit thinner.
Verdict: Airfix's Seafire is very nice indeed. It's well priced, not too complicated, and should build into a really attractive model.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: A06102
  Suggested Retail: 18.99
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 10, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright 2021 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Wrong on both counts Gaston, and the XII as well Do you mean you're poor butchered lump of styrene? I'm not all that surprised! Yeah, the spinner is within a fraction of a mm of being perfect in both diameter and length... Either that or Roy Sutherland and the Airfix 22/24 kit are wrong... I'd call it vandalism personally but YMMV... Now I don't find that in the least surprising Gaston, neither of you are correct! See above, I'll go with you and Tamiya being wrong... But wait, aren't Tamiya wrong about everything Gaston? No, no there isn't any issue Gaston, the only issue is that you should have gone to Specsavers! There are a few, minor, improvements worth making to both the XII and the XVII. The props on both kits don't bear much resembelance to the real things, the XII prop is pretty poor and the XVII prop is identical when the blades should be much closer in shape and profile to a XIV blade, I've found that cutting down some spare Aeroclub 21 blades will do the job with a little refinement. The radiators are pretty thick and clunky and can use some thinning and fettling to improve the appearance and fit. You might also want to replace the radiator flaps while you are at it. As the review mentions the trailing edges of the ailerons and wing flaps could use some work to give a sharper edge. Drill out the exhausts and add a set of decent seat belts and it looks like you'll end up with a gem of a model. I might put some of Ultracasts block-tread mainwheels on mine but I'm still looking for a clear 'in service' picture to confirm they were used on XVIIs. More power to Airfix on both these kits, now, lets have a Mk.XIV and a nice new Tempest please!
JUL 03, 2011 - 07:26 AM
Hi Les I quite agree about the prop. I didn't notice when I reviewed the kit, but I can't say I'm very convinced by it now I've had a chance to start building the beastie. Even thinned down heavily it doesn't seem right. All the best Rowan
JUL 03, 2011 - 11:54 AM
Well I've gone and placed an order for one, faults or not as this is the only game in town unless you use the Aeroclub conversion. At the end of the day it looks like a Seafire.
JUL 03, 2011 - 12:04 PM
Its about the only real 'flaw' in the kit, it looks like Airfix simply used the same CAD pattern for both the XII and XVII, in this case it definitely isn't right and is well worth correcting if you can. Having had a look at the wings as I'm working on the kit I've also noticed that the outer .303 ejection port seems kind of large in comparison to its inboard neighbour, not difficult to correct as I think lining the opening all round with some thin strip before joining the surfaces will take care of the matter. As is his wont Gaston is, as usual, talking complete rubbish from a position of utter ignorance about the subject at hand, where he gets his ideas from is anyones guess, Google I suppose, and I've taken to ignoring him lately. The fact that he seems bent on making things up about both the XII and XVII kits just tests my patience. It'd be something if he'd even bother to present something impirical, like a verifiable measurement, but he doesn't, for that alone I consider his 'opinions' simply worthless noise.
JUL 03, 2011 - 12:27 PM
I've hesitated to include this drawing, since it's for the XIV & 20-series airframes, so is a little too long, but you'll see that the "crappy, droopy nose" goes as far as Supermarine's own drawings. One should not use the drawing for scale purposes, but the figures included should enable the true expert to check how far out the Airfix kits really are. Edgar
JUL 03, 2011 - 11:49 PM
Rowan Do any aftermarket corrections exist for the prop blades for the Mk XII and this kit?
JUL 04, 2011 - 12:01 AM
The blades of the Mk.XII are quite unique and I'm not aware of any AM you could use to replace them. Dave Gibson improved his Mk.XII by re-working some spare Academy XIV blades. As I said I'm modifying some spare Aeroclub Mk.21 blades for my Seafire but Cooper Details (Roy Sutherland) used to produce a Mk.XIV prop and spinner if you can find one, Quickboost make a replacement prop for the Academy XIV but given that its matched to the oversized nose of that kit I think the blades will be too short to be correct, the o/a dia of the Mk.XII and Mk.XVII props is 10' 5" or 66mm in 1/48th. It might be worth making an enquiry with John Adams of Aeroclub, he has a forum on the BritModeller board. HTH.
JUL 04, 2011 - 12:50 AM
Sorry about the confusion; this really is the cowling lines for the XII:- Edgar
JUL 04, 2011 - 07:25 AM
Hi there Sorry, but I'm going to lock this thread in case it descends to the level we sadly witnessed over the Spitfire Mk.XII. Lively debate is to be encouraged in the pursuit of accuracy, but personal slagging matches have no place on Aeroscale. All the best Rowan
JUL 25, 2011 - 02:42 AM

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