Xtrakit 1/72 Spitfire XII

KIT: Xtrakit 1/72 Spitfire XII
KIT #: XK72006
PRICE:  $18.85 at GreatModels
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run kit


The first Rolls Royce Griffon-engined Mk XII flew on August 1942, but only five had reached service status by the end of the year. This mark could nudge 400 mph in level flight and climb to an altitude of 30,000 feet (10,000 m) in under eight minutes. Although the Spitfire continued to improve in speed and armament, range and fuel capacity were major issues: it remained "short-legged" throughout its life except in the dedicated photo-reconnaissance role, when its guns were replaced by extra fuel tanks.

Newer Griffon-engined Spitfires were being introduced as home-defence interceptors, where limited range was not an impediment. These faster Spitfires were used to defend against incursions by high-speed "tip-and-run" German fighter-bombers and V-1 flying bombs over Great Britain. The Mark XII was perfect for this for it optimized as a low level interceptor; its performance was no better than the current Merlin powered Mark IX variant over 20,000 feet.

In any case, only two squadrons were fully equipped with the Mark XII; 41 and 91 squadron, with 41 squadron doing decidedly better with the aircraft.  Both units finally converted to the much superior Mark XIV. Remaining planes were used as hacks or with fighter training units or broken up due to airframe fatigue.


This is not the first time the Mark XII has been kitted in 1/72. Merlin Models and a few others have given it a try, but I think this one is the class of the field. Molded by Sword in the Czech Republic, they seem to have pretty well gotten things right with this one. First I should mention that the kit comes in a zip bag, a trend of which I approve. The clear canopy is in its own little bag to keep it from being scratched. The molding is very good with finely engraved panel lines as one expects in a modern model. Since this is basically a short run kit, I found a few items that need attention. One is that on one upper wing, the landing gear attachment hole was filled solid. There are also some ejector towers present though some of mine had been cut down already. Opposite one of these on the lower wing I found a large sink hole that will need filled.

Interior parts consist of a floor section, seat, armor plating, control stick, instrument panel, and an aft bulkhead to name a few. The inside of the cockpit walls are also nicely detailed though a bit on the 'flat' side. Still quite nice and there are even the oxygen bottles for the left side. One thing we always check is for the proper 'gull' to the lower wing and it seems to be the right shape and depth. Because of all the contours, the upper cowling in molded in two parts. Tailplanes are the earlier type and there is an option to have either tail wheel doors or the fixed version. I though all Mark XIIs had tail wheel doors, but apparently not as the second markings option has a fixed gear.

Radiator faces are separate as are the gun barrels/recoil section and the upper wing fairings for the wider wheels. The only other option is for either spoked or solid wheels and again, the solid wheels are listed for only one option. An unusual item for a Spitfire kit is that the section of the wheel wells that houses the oleo portion when the gear is up are separate pieces. The circular bit is molded into the lower wing. The dreaded separate prop blades are part of this kit without any sort of alignment pegs so one will have to be careful to get the blades all at the same angle. All this is capped with a nicely molded one-piece canopy.

Instructions are very nicely done with 9 well drawn construction steps and color references with Xtracolor or Xtracrylic paints (of course). A generic name is also provided for those who do not have access to these paints. There are four marking options, all from 41 Squadron and all in the mid/late war camouflage scheme. All the various bands and ID markings will have to be painted. The decals are very nicely done and provide a full set of stencils as well. The instruction sheet offers a page of stencil placements so that is covered.


As has been said before about other kits, this one pretty well makes the other obsolete. Same with the myriad of conversion sets. No need to fuss with poor fit, or carving for a conversion, as we finally have a good one right from the box. It is also 'competitively priced', so one won't break the bank to add a quality Spit 12 to the collection.



July 2008

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