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"Hauptmann Tietzen, my Staffel commander alone has nineteen [sic] [aerial victories]! I witnessed most of his kills. It is fantastic, the way he shoots. He is the boss, he moves us into position and selects the victims, and we have to do little more than cover him...During the last few days the British have been getting weaker, though individuals continue to fight well. Often the Spitfires give beautiful displays of aerobatics. Recently I had to watch in admiration as one of them played a game with thirty Messerschmitts, without itself ever getting into danger; but such individuals are few. The Hurricanes are tired old 'puffers'." -- Leutnant Hans-Otto Lessing, II.JG/51, 17 August 1940 When they finally come to destroy the earth They'll have to go through you first I bet they won't be expecting that -- OK Go, "Invincible" On 18 August 1940, the Battle of Britain's hardest day, when the losses for both sides were heaviest, seven Hurricanes of 501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron and eight more from 32 Squadron attempted to break through German fighters escorting 58 Dornier 17s of KG2 over Herne Bay. It was an unequal contest. Four jagdgeschwaders of Bf 109s swept in to attack the RAF fighters as they climbed to meet the enemy; Flight Lieutenant George Stoney, leading 501 into action, was separated from his comrades and shot down and killed, one of nineteen members of 501 to lose their lives during the Battle of Britain, more casualties than any other participating squadron. Severely outnumbered, the other Hurricanes were unable to cut their way to the bombers. But they did not leave empty-handed. Pilot Officer Pawel Zenker, who had flown fighters in defence of Poland in 1939, where he had shot down a Henschel 126, headed straight for the escorting German fighters and got behind a Bf109. In his combat report, he wrote that the Messerschmitt "turned back towards France and I chased him as he climbed firing from 300 [yards] and closer ranges and about 10 miles over the sea I saw smoke and fire come from the fuselage and he rapidly lost height. The Me 109 did not adopt evasive action but flew straight on until it crashed into the water somewhere near the North Goodwin Lightship." Hauptmann Horst Tietzen, Staffelkapitan of 5./JG51, the fourth-highest scoring pilot in the Luftwaffe, with seven victories over Spain and twenty more claimed since the start of the war, was dead. Pilot Officer Stefan Witorzeńć, who had been a flying instructor in Poland in 1939, was flying as Red 2 on F/L Stoney's wing when he was bounced by two 109s. Throwing his Hurricane about the sky, he outmaneuvered both of them in a diving, turning fight that dropped in altitude from 14,000 feet to 10,000 feet. As he regained height, he found himself below and abeam a 109; he gave it a long burst of fire from the Hurricane's eight machine guns, at 150 yards. The 109 tried to turn away in a shallow dive, a fatal mistake against a Hurricane. Witorzenc followed hot on its heels and gave it another long burst from dead astern; it burst into flames and crashed near Wingham, where it exploded. Leutnant Hans-Otto Lessing, with four victory claims, had written a letter to his parents the day before, describing the RAF's Hurricanes as "tired old puffers". Now he was dead. Pawel Zenker was last seen chasing a an enemy aircraft out to sea on 24 August, 1940; aged twenty-five, he never returned to grow old. Perhaps he waits in Avalon with Arthur to this day. Stefan Witorzeńć survived the war and, after a period of imprisonment, served with the postwar Polish Air Force; he died in 1994. I'll be building three Hurricanes from 501 Squadron using the new kit from Arma. Unfortunately, decals for Zenker (possibly P3208/SD-T) and Witorzeńć's (L1868/SD-D) machines on the day aren't available, but there was a fair degree of mobility in the squadron, and it's likely that of the three decal options I have for 501 (two in the kit and one in the excellent set of Stanislaw Skalski decals), Zenker and Witorzeńć probably flew in at least one of them once. In any case, the aircraft in question have distinguished pedigrees regardless, having been flown by the Polish aces Stanislaw Skalski DSO DFC (18 victories and offficially Poland's highest-scoring ace) and Antoni "Toni" Głowacki DFC DFM (8 victories), who famously became an ace in a day after shooting down three 109s and two Ju88s on 24 August 1940. Skalski died in 2004 in Poland; Glowacki, in 1980 in New Zealand. It would perhaps be foolish to think that building what is after all a plastic toy could be in any way a meaningful tribute to the men and boys who flew the Hurricane in the Battle of Britain, whether they were a thousands miles or more from home or whether their parents saw them fight and die in the skies above their childhood homes. But howevermuch an act of love and admiration it can be, let this build be that. If you wish to hear George Stoney's voice seventy-nine years after his death, he gave a short talk for the BBC on 3 August 1940: He was twenty-nine and had fifteen days left to live. I just received my first order of kits from the mailroom here at work. Shall we begin?
No sooner had the new 1/72 fabric-winged Hurricane I hit the streets, then our very own Tony O'Toole was marrying it up with the wing from the old Hurricane I kit to provide a metal-wing Mk I. Unfortunately the associated B-M thread seems to have fallen down a crack in the time-space continuum: neither a site nor a Google search has found it. Can anyone provide a link please? I should like to tread the same path - or at least be reminded why I may not wish to. Thanks in advance.