Hasegawa 1/48 Spitfire XIV (conversion)
|KIT #:||Any Hasegawa Spit will do|
|NOTES:||Planet Models Spitfire 21 fuselage used|
Development of the Spitfire to use the more powerful Rolls-Royce Griffon engine began in late 1940, with what was first known as the Spitfire IV, which was to use the Griffon II and was known as the Type 337. The airframe involved extensive modification to absorb the additional power; at one time it flew with a mockup of no less than three 20mm cannon in each wing. Before the prototype DP845 flew, it was designated the Spitfire XX to distinguish it from the P.R. Mk. IV. Plans that all XX-series Spitfires would be Griffon-powered were changed when the interim Mk. XII and Mk. XIV types were introduced.
The Mk. XII was an emergency creation to deal with the low-level “tip-and run” raids by Fw-190s and involved mating the Griffon II engine to a Mk. Vc airframe. The more detailed development utilized DP851, which was used to develop the Griffon 61 series. DP851 was further developed into the Spitfire XXI. In order to gain further experience with the Griffon-61, six Mk. VIII airframes, JF316 to JF321 were modified to take the Griffon engine. Experience with these airplanes showed it would be possible to create a Griffon-powered high-altitude air superiority fighter in a faster timeframe than envisioned with the Spitfire XXI by mating the Griffon to the Mk. VIII airframe the way the Merlin-61 had been mated to the Spitfire Vc. Thus, third major development of the Spitfire saw the “interim” type produced in larger numbers and used more widely than the version developed specifically to use the engine change.
The Spitfire XIV, utilizing a “beefed-up” Mk. VIII airframe with larger radiators, first appeared with the “C” wing, and the first squadron to equip with the new type was 610, a former RAuxAF squadron which had been among to equip with the original Spitfire. The Mk. XIVs arrived in January 1945. And the squadron entered a long work-up period to get used to this very different Spitfire, in which the prop rotated the opposite of all previous Spitfires and required judicious application of throttle and rudder on takeoff to avoid a torque roll on takeoff, not to mention the new type was far more nose-heavy than the Spitfires the pilots were used to. 610 gave a public display of their new mounts in mid-May 1944 and managed a few fighter sweeps before D-Day.
The Spitfire XIV was intended to provide high altitude air superiority, to complement the medium-altitude Tempest V. Both these types delayed their entry into air combat over the Continent following D-Day by the deployment by the Germans of the Fi-103, the first of which exploded in England two days after the invasion. It was quickly ascertained that the best defense against these robots were standing patrols by the fastest Allied fighters. Over the course of the anti-diver campaign, which only ended when the launch sites in Belgium were overrun by the Allied armies in September 1944, the Spitfire XIV emerged as the most successful of all Spitfire types in destroying the “buzz bombs,” being flown by two wings at the time, with a third re-equipping just at the end of the campaign.
The Mk. XIV arrived on the Continent at about the same time the Jagdflieger were re-equipping with the Langnasen Dora, the Fw-190D-9. The Spitfire XIV had superior performance above 25,000 feet, but unfortunately, most fights over the Western Front were occurring at lower altitudes. Thus, as had been the case with the Spitfire since the first introduction of the Fw-190, the new version just maintained superiority over the latest Wurger, with pilot quality (which was declining for the Germans) being the deciding element.
By V-E Day, 20 RAF squadrons were equipped with the Spitfire XIV in Europe, and
the type had arrived in the Southeast Asia Theater.
While Spitfire squadrons quickly re-equipped with the
new airplane, the Pacific War came to a fast end before they could enter combat.
I decided to mate the cowling and the tail to the Hasegawa kit. This was not that difficult for someone who came of modeling age when we had to kit bash three different 1/72 Spitfire kits (Airfix Spit IX and Spit V and Matchbox Spit IX) to get something approximating an accurate Spitfire IX 35 years ago.
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