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Sean_M

Another Ed. Spitfire IX Late - Colin Gray?

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Feb up with double dogfights VB I started (real bad production and raised panel lines). I gave in and bought a descent kit (profipack IX). I am still keen to do a spit in desert camo however the sources are somewhat scare on desert mark IX's/ Yes I know it was over by the end of 1943 and the boys were moving up towards Italy. I have read the other post on Britmodeler. I though that I had hit the jackpot when I found a few pics of Mk IXc EN520, FL-A, 81 Sqn Tunisia April 1943. However these seem to be models and the one B/W pic of this aircraft seems to show early cannon blisters. Colin Gray then flew MA408 which seem to be a late production MkIX.

The Polish Spits of 145 sqn all seem to be of the Early C wing too.

I am open to suggestions? I am busy with the cockpit but my build seems to have stalled because I cant make up my mind on what to finish her in. Most of the kit options all have D-Day stripes and that is the last thing I want.

Looking forward to the replies.

Yours Aye

Sean

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Desert camouflaged Mk.IXs were indeed all early F.Mk.IX with the wide cannon blisters and lesser differences from later aircraft.

If you don't like the aircraft in D-Day stripes then do it without them. They existed in the same form without them up until June 5th.

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MA408 wasn't that late a build, since it was delivered to Casablanca 29-6-43, at a time when the orders, for aircraft for delivery to north Africa, were still that they should be painted in desert scheme with Azure Blue undersides. What happened (or might have happened) to it, before it was delivered to the NAAF on November 1st., is, of course open to conjecture; a 1943-built airframe pre-dates the incorporation of the pointed "Mk.XII" rudder and single/narrow blistered gun doors, and removal of the toe-straps, though it might have had the "outboard cannon front mounting casting" removed.

Edgar

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FL A does look great. However I think that his original machine had the lager cannon blisters. I have pre ordered a Early version from Hannetts due for relise in November. I am tempted to to the kit I have as his Wing Cmdr. Spit which I think was a later model IX. I was hoping for some confirmation on this from member on the forum. As I said above ..." Colin Gray then flew MA408 which seem to be a late production MkIX" perhaps the gurus out there can confirm this.

As I wrote this Edger put in a reply. Many thanks

Edited by Sean_M

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It's very likely that both EN520 and MA408 had the late style, narrow-blister cannon doors.

It seems that these doors were introduced fairy early in 1943, as there is an extensive photo shoot of F.IX EN464 on 12 February 1943 where it displays the narrow, single-blister cannon doors. EN526 and EN527, both from the same batch as EN520 and known from many photos taken at Northolt in spring/summer 1943, had the narrow-blister cannon doors.

MA304, CBAF-built in May 1943, was photographed on 24 June 1943 while in service with 303 Sqn at Northolt, with narrow-blister cannon doors.

Edited by VoyTech

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Hi Sean,

Since you're interested in building Eduard's Spitfire IX kit as Spitfire FIX EN520 FL-A as flown by the then Royal Air Force Squadron Leader (44184) Colin Falkland Gray DFC, the following may be of interest.

Spitfire EN520 was a Rolls-Royce Hucknall conversion of a Spitfire V to a Merlin 63 powered FIX that first flew during 11 February 1943. Consequently it features early elevators, raised rivets on the fuselage aft of the cockpit entry door. The rivets are also evidenced in a photograph of EN520 IWM CNA 814) as pictured with Gray. The upper wing cannon blisters on EN520 appear and probably are the earlier type (background clutter on the low res image I have seen prevents me from being certain). That said EN568 which first flew during 29 March 1943 was another Hucknall conversion (albeit from a V to an LFIX) that featured the later narrow cannon blisters. As photographed EN520 does not have a rear vision mirror or its post fitted atop the windscreen as evidenced in the previously cited IWM image CNA 814, instead the rectangle type mirror has been fitted internally .

There is another image of Gray circa 5 August 1943 following his promotion (2 June 1943) to Wing Commander Flying of No 322 Wing. That shows him sitting on what has been erroneously captioned in the past as EN520, he is in fact sitting upon EN530 another Hucknall Merlin 63 powered FIX conversion that first flew during 26 February 1943. Gray flew EN520 for the last time during 9 May 1943 and from then through 1 August 1943 only flew EN530.

For completeness it is also worth mentioning that Gray also flew EN356 twice during 8 May 1943. EN356 was another Hucknall Merlin 63 powered FIX conversion which first flew 23 January 1943, of interest is the fact that the placement of the mirror inside the windscreen is common to EN520, EN530 and MA408 a Castle Bromwich Merlin 63 powered FIX (probably featured narrow cannon blisters), as well. As to when MA408 appeared on the scene Gray first flew it from 10 August through to 17 August 1943 where he only flew it on two air tests and two escort sorties.

If you have or can access a 1997 edition of Spitfire The ANZACs by Malcolm Laird and Steve Mackenzie you will find EN520 (circa April 1943) on page 20, EN530 (circa late July early August 1943) on pages 18 plus 21 and MA408 (circa mid August 1943) on page 22. Please be wary of the captions however, since not all of the information provided is correct.

It is also with mentioning that Gray flew more than the Spitfire IX aircraft mentioned above when Commanding 81 Squadron (from 25 January 1943) and later 322 Wing (W/Cdr DFC, DSO), the breakdown of the Spitfire IX's he flew from March through August 1943 is as follows.

March

EN190 – Probably Destroyed 1 Me 109G, 2 March. Destroyed 1 Macchi 202, 23 March. Destroyed 1 Me 109, 25 March.

EN195

EN196

April

EN120

EN138

EN190 – Destroyed 1 Me 109G 3 April.

EN201

EN202

EN293

EN356 – Destroyed 1 Me 109 28 April.

EN520 – Probably Destroyed 1 Me 109, 18 April. Destroyed 1 Me 109, and shared 1 probable with Sgt Donald Wesley Rathwell (RCAF), 20 April. Destroyed 1 Me 109G-2, 23 April.

May

EN356

EN520 Hit by Flak “Cheeky sweethearts”, 7 May.

EN530

June

EN530 – Destroyed 1 Me 109G-2 Destroyed

EN534 – Macchi 202

July

EN530 – Destroyed 1 Me 109, 10 July. Destroyed 2 JU 52, 25 July.

August

EN530

MA408

I hope some of what I have shared with you is of some help to you.

Cheers,

Daniel.

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This may point to an earlier appearance of the narrow blisters than expected, but equally (if not more likely) it may reflect a replacement of earlier panels with later ones at some stage of the aircraft's existence.

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Wow Daniel (and Everyone else!)

Many Thanks for all the info. I am leaning towards EN520 FL A as that I now have the early wing. I will probably not worry too much about the issue of raised rivets, I do have a rivet maker but have found wondering down scribing and riveting a sticky slope. I have the e wing for my other MKIX that I want to do as a clipped wing Israeli fighter (decals on there way), I ordered the overtrees special today with some PE so when that arrives I think I can so the all famous JE-J. The spares I will the put away for another day. The Eduard kit is amazing and has done wonders for my modelling confidence. I also need to give my good mate Iain a run for his money on spits. I am off to do the seat and mix up some russet colour for the seat.

Yours Aye

Sean

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Wow Daniel (and Everyone else!)

Many Thanks for all the info. I am leaning towards EN520 FL A as that I now have the early wing. I will probably not worry too much about the issue of raised rivets, I do have a rivet maker but have found wondering down scribing and riveting a sticky slope. I have the e wing for my other MKIX that I want to do as a clipped wing Israeli fighter (decals on there way), I ordered the overtrees special today with some PE so when that arrives I think I can so the all famous JE-J. The spares I will the put away for another day. The Eduard kit is amazing and has done wonders for my modelling confidence. I also need to give my good mate Iain a run for his money on spits. I am off to do the seat and mix up some russet colour for the seat.

Yours Aye

Sean

Hi Sean,

You're welcome, one thing worth mentioning is that the carburettor intake is the earlier short version on all of the Spitfire IX aircraft as flown by Gray that I mentioned previously. As to not replicating the raised rivets as per EN520's Spitfire V origins, I understand not wanting to undertake that extraordinarily tedious task I doubt I would expend such effort either.

Sean

I've found this picture on IWM web - http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209214

Maybe I'm blind but as fas as I can see it has early cannon bay covers. I think it had mark Vc type covers.

Hi Dominik,

Spitfire EN445 as pictured was an Eastleigh built Merlin 61 powered Spitfire IX that first flew 8 January 1943, and is first mentioned in the 81 Sqn ORB for A/E & Gun Test during 5 April 1943. Unsurprisingly EN445 does indeed feature the broad cannon blisters, that said Gray pictured 5th from right in IWM CNA 629 did not fly EN445 at all on any occasion.

Cheers,

Daniel.

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Daniel thanks that you pointed out my mistake. I've just found a photo of his aircraft but of very poor quality, so we can't see such details. Maybe someone has better photo of whole Gray's Spitfire:

81sqdn-spitfire9-fla.jpg

The photo is taken from http://www.spitfireperformance.com/spit9v109g.html only for discussion. I might be wrong but I think I can see big blisters.

Edited by DominikS

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Hi Dominik,

I concur they look like they are and to reiterate. "The upper wing cannon blisters on EN520 appear and probably are the earlier type (background clutter on the low res image I have seen prevents me from being certain)." There is a portion of clutter above the blister and below the lower cowl in the background that blurs the edges having said that, at the back edge of the blister, it looks like the broad bulge due to the cessation of the darker camouflage area upon the wing.

So it looks like and is likely to be the broad bulge, however until I sight information that is conclusive to my satisfaction I am happy to use the caveats of probably or likely even while I consider it to be the case. Time and again our (informed) presumptions are proven false, for a time it was generally thought that Spitfires didn't feature torque/torsion link main oleo struts in operational use before 1944, yet I was able to prove that to be in error.

Cheers,

Daniel.

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That is most assuredly a large/wide blister. The smaller blister was nowhere near that tall. That squares with most other EN serials I've seen as well. Of course, the gun panel was a removable item, so it could feasibly have been replaced at some point later, although I can't fathom why it would have been unless the Luftwaffe put a hole through it.

Edited by Jennings Heilig

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There was a speed gain with the narrow blister; it wasn't much, maybe 1 or 2 mph, but every little helped.

Edgar

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Jennings: The panels would be regularly removed and not necessarily handled with as much care as they should. Fasteners would fail and rework be required. Ones that ended up too bashed and bent would not be suitable for re-fitting and have to be replaced.

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Hi all,

Daniel in your post you quote Gray flew EN530, but I always read he flew EN350 (Aces High....)

Flavio

Hi Flavio,

I suspect it would have been rather difficult for Gray to have flown EN350 since according to the available evidence EN350 never belonged to 81 Squadron.

I am not familiar with "Aces High", author publisher? if a book or url? if a website please.

The following below should provide some primary source (AIR/27/678 81 Squadron Operations Record Book, The National Archives, UK) evidence that EN530 was flown by Gray.

10047327366_fbb9ca8358_b.jpg

EN530

10047265644_a3fde01e6b_b.jpg

EN530

10047264304_36f3078a38_b.jpg

EN530

10047326186_3ff2386577_b.jpg

EN530

10047408653_a31cda9025_b.jpg

EN530

10047563546_9441620ae9_b.jpg

EN530

Entries for EN530 are consistent throughout the 81 Sqn ORB, at no point is EN350 mentioned in the 81 Sqn ORB at all. The only EN350 series Spitfires mentioned in the 81 Sqn ORB are EN352 and EN356 (which was flown by Gray).

10047410663_812ee91c5b_b.jpg

EN356

That is most assuredly a large/wide blister. The smaller blister was nowhere near that tall. That squares with most other EN serials I've seen as well. Of course, the gun panel was a removable item, so it could feasibly have been replaced at some point later, although I can't fathom why it would have been unless the Luftwaffe put a hole through it.

Hi Jennings,

I am loath to ascribe such certainty on the basis of a low resolution image, I consider it likely that the cannon blister as photographed on EN520 features the broader bulge.

No cannon blister on any Spitfire IX ever appeared as tall as it appears to be in "that" photograph. If one removes the background clutter as noted previously the type of blister remains ambiguous, which again points to the problem that the size of readily available published versions of the image shown below are of insufficient quality and resolution to be used to make any claims with certainty. Thus the caveats of "likely" and "probably" are I feel more reasonable.

10047263374_4662ee9e30_o.jpg

In this instance I agree with you on the type of blister seen, where we depart is in the absence of a better picture (considering the fact the narrow blisters where already in use at the time even on some EN serial Spitfire IX's) is certainty.

Cheers,

Daniel.

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Well I seem to have a way of open up a debate when I pose a question (Does that qualify me for Gold Member status :winkgrin: ) I am taking my time with this build. Interestingly enough I am reading Aces of Aces - Spitfire by Dilip Sarak and have just read when Gray became the CO of 616, replacing Burton . He was seen as a bit rough and ready. Don't have the exact text in front of me. Just thought I would throw that in.

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This may point to an earlier appearance of the narrow blisters than expected, but equally (if not more likely) it may reflect a replacement of earlier panels with later ones at some stage of the aircraft's existence.

While I agree with Daniel that the photo of EN520 is too poor to ascertain what kind of cannon panels the Spitfire had, it is beyond doubt that narrow-blister panels were fitted to Spitfire IXs (and photographed) no later than February 1943. Both EN464 and EN527 were photographed with these panels while in more or less factory-fresh condition. I suppose that, like it was with many other modifications, initially 'mixed' batches of aircraft were probably completed, fitted with either one or the other type of panels until the stock of the old ones was exhausted, so the presence of these modified panels on both EN464 and EN526/EN527 does not mean that every Spitfire in the serial range between these was similar.

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Daniel,

thank you very much for your post with extract from 81 Squadron Operations Record Book.

EN350 was quoted by C. Shores in his book " Aces High" vol2, as the plane flown by Gray on 14 June 1943 on charge at 322Wg. During this mission Gray shoot down a Bf109.

Unfortunately in your post there isn't the page with 14 June mission, able to confirm or not this info.

Regards

Flavio

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Daniel,

thank you very much for your post with extract from 81 Squadron Operations Record Book.

EN350 was quoted by C. Shores in his book " Aces High" vol2, as the plane flown by Gray on 14 June 1943 on charge at 322Wg. During this mission Gray shoot down a Bf109.

Unfortunately in your post there isn't the page with 14 June mission, able to confirm or not this info.

Regards

Flavio

Hi Flavio,

If Christopher Shores book states EN350, it is in error probably simply through a typo/transcribing mistake.

EN350 did not belong to 81 Squadron, all of the Spitfire IX aircraft flown by Gray as both S/Ldr 81 Sqn and W/Cdr 322 Wing were on the books of 81 Sqn.

During 14 June 1943, Gray flew EN530 (which was his aircraft at the time) once. "In the evening Squadron went on a Fighter sweep and a combat occured over Sicily in which W/Cdr. Gray further distinguished himself by being the first pilot of No.322 Wing to have a victory in Malta area. RESULT: W/Cdr. Gray - 1 M.E. 109G2 Destroyed. F/O. Barber – 1 Macchi 202 Damaged"*

10066842266_0d275476bf_b.jpg

10066752974_e0d250f011_b.jpg

Gray flew the following Spitfire aircraft from March through 15 August 1943; EN120, EN138, EN190, EN195, EN196, EN201, EN202, EN293, EN534, EN356, EN520, EN530 and MA408.

EN350 is not mentioned at all during June 1943 as belonging to 152, 154, 232 and 242** Squadrons which also made up 322 Wing.

For your interest I am trying to find EN350 since it was in that theatre at that time (Malta 1 June 1943) yet so far EN350 is again also not mentioned as belonging to any of the following units during June of 1943; 72 Sqn RAF, 92 Sqn RAF, 93 Sqn RAF, 111 Sqn RAF, 145 Sqn RAF, 243 Sqn RAF, 601 Sqn AAF & 417 Sqn RCAF. I have not examined the ORB's for 126 Sqn RAF and 1,2 & 4 Sqn SAAF.

Cheers,

Daniel.

P.S. Apologies for my original post.

* 81 Sqn ORB.

** 242 Sqn only uses the individual aircraft code instead of the serial in their ORB at the time.

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Well I seem to have a way of open up a debate when I pose a question (Does that qualify me for Gold Member status :winkgrin: ) I am taking my time with this build. Interestingly enough I am reading Aces of Aces - Spitfire by Dilip Sarak and have just read when Gray became the CO of 616, replacing Burton . He was seen as a bit rough and ready. Don't have the exact text in front of me. Just thought I would throw that in.

I don't know about Gold Member, but you become an Established Member when your post count reaches 200, so you're close.

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