Valiant Wings Publishing | Airframe & Miniature 13: The Supermarine Spitfire Part 2
Reviewed by Kevin Futter
UK publisher Valiant Wings Publishing has released Number 13 in its Airframe & Miniature series, entitled The Supermarine Spitfire Part 2 (Griffon-powered) including the Seafire: A Complete Guide to The Famous Fighter. The author is Richard Franks, and the illustrations are shared between Richard Caruana, Juraj Jankovic, and Wojciech Sankowski. The terrific cover art is by Jerry Boucher. This is a follow-up to Part 1, which covered the Merlin-powered variants.
The first thing that struck me when I picked up this book was how heavy it is; at a massive 272 pages plus a gatefold section of scale drawings, it is indeed a weighty tome—possibly the largest Valiant Wings has yet produced. It's extremely well printed on quality glossy paper, and the reproduction of all drawings and photographs is first-class.
The contents are broken up into nine separate chapters, grouped into two distinct sections:
- Airframe Chapters
- Evolution - Mk XII to Mk 24
- Evolution - Seafire Mk XV to FR Mk 47
- Spiteful and Seafang
- Camouflage and Markings and Colour Profiles
- Miniature Chapters
- Spitfire & Seafire (Griffon-powered) Kits
- Building a Selection
- Building a Collection
- In Detail: The Supermarine Spitfire & Seafire
There is also a preface, along with a collection of appendices at the rear of the book:
- Kit List
- Accessory & Mask List
- Decal List
The sample images below (courtesy Valiant Wings Publishing) should give a good indication of the nature and style of the book's contents:
While not mentioned in the table of contents, the Preface weighs in at a substantial 32 pages, and describes a potted history of the Griffon-engined Spitfire, which provides useful support for the subsequent technical information.
The sequence of chapters covering the evolution of the airframe also spans 32 pages, and consist of brief summaries supported by crisply-rendered greyscale profile drawings. They are clear and easy to follow, and form a handy guide for discerning what features distinguished which variants.
The Camouflage & Markings section covers 33 pages, and includes a four-view stencil placement guide, based on the Mk XIV & F Mk 21 airframes. Rather than a dedicated section for colour profiles, they are instead interspersed throughout the text as necessary. They are by Richard Caruana as usual, and are very nicely rendered indeed. A set of profiles for aircraft in foreign service is also provided.
Missing is the usual cross-referenced colour chart for modelling paints. This is a feature of nearly all Valiant Wings publications, so its exclusion here is puzzling.
Chapter 5 features a brief description of the commonly available Griffon-powered Spitfire and Seafire model kits. In 1/32 scale, only the ancient Matchbox (and more recently, Revell) kit is mentioned in passing but not discussed. Perhaps one day soon, one of the mainstream manufacturers will bless us with a new-tool LSP Griffon-engined Spitfire.
The modelling section features four kit builds, comprising 1/72 Fujimi FR Mk XIVe and Xtrakit/Special Hobby F Mk 22 by Libor Jekl, and 1/48 Airfix Mk XIV and Special Hobby Seafire Mk XV by Steve Evans. These builds are extremely well done, and will serve as inspiration and guidance for our own Spitfire builds when we get to them.
Chapter 7 is called Building a Collection, and features a series of annotated isometric 3D line drawings by Juraj Jankovic. These are designed to illustrate the salient differences between the various prototype and production airframes as the series developed, and form a perfect companion to the earlier 'evolution' chapters.
Chapter 8, In Detail, features an extensive selections of photographs and diagrams, including a series of walkaround detail photos of surviving airframes. The walkaround photos have been selected with a modeller's eye, which is not only welcome, but very handy.
The four appendices cover the usual list of available kits, aftermarket, decals, and mask sets, as well as a concise bibliography for further research.
Interestingly, the scale plans that are usually included at the very back of the book, have in this title been secured inside the front cover. They consist a set of 1/48 scale plans in gatefold format, and are printed on heavy, non-glossy plain stock, covering the following airframes:
- Spitfire F Mk 22
- Spitfire F Mk 24
- Spiteful F Mk 14
- Seafire F Mk XV
- Seafire Mk XVII
- Seafire FR Mk XVII
- Seafire F Mk 45
- Seafire FR Mk 46
- Seafire FR Mk 47
These are drawn by Richard Caruana and look very nicely done.
Not being a Spitfire expert, I can't give a considered evaluation of the accuracy or veracity of the text itself, and so will leave that to more knowledgeable readers. All other elements of the book ooze quality however, from the clear photography to the beautiful profiles and the detailed scale plans. Contemporary photographs are plentiful and very nicely reproduced. Overall it's an impressive attempt to be the Complete Guide the title alludes to. Recommended!
Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for the review copy.
© Kevin Futter 2019
This review was published on Friday, September 13 2019; Last modified on Friday, September 13 2019