Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Here is another one I've made after Messerschmitt. It's Spitfire Mk IXc from Polish Fighting Team (also known as Skalski's Circus).

I decided that brush painting does not give me satisfying results so I've purchased an airbrush / compressor set.

Model has been preshaded with black dry pastel (I found this method better for me than airbrushing along panel lines).

It was then airbrushed with Vallejo Air paints. It was my first airbrush job ever and I had to do it twice on the bottom because I've applied too many layers and preshading disappeared. I've preshaded it again and painted it once more.

Finally it was weathered with pastels.

Again, some Photoshop work on diorama blending with background applied.

Hope you like it :)

68608929514932457373.jpg

15447745644253899596.jpg

11220803862231791441.jpg

15322322359675251458.jpg

13650901248515382206.jpg

95588615809171722420.jpg

28982569458577969898.jpg

40818465202476317030.jpg

98232127426003319435.jpg

  • Like 48
Link to post
Share on other sites

You've got quite a bit of talent! May I offer some observations and constructive criticism? I won't comment for the most part on the weathering and fading as that is a matter of taste, other than some things that stand out. Its nice to see you included the markings with the weathering, though.

1st, no red crowbars during the war, it was a post war thing. 2nd-It looks like there's chipping on the fabric surfaces? 3rd-streaking from the armament-the 20mm muzzles are quite a bit forward and what gasses there would have been would have dispersed by the time they got to the wings, and the ground crew would have wiped the wings clean when they serviced the guns-which they have since the .303 muzzles are taped over. 4th-thats a lot of chipping on the propeller. Considering the refuelling method here, you might have wanted to include some subtle fuel staining down from the filler?

The major problem is the rather pebbly finish in the closeups on the fuselage near the wing juncture. Possibly shot with too high pressure or not thinned enough paint or perhaps just paint from the fringes of the airbrush pattern. I've had this happen myself on occasion -stripped the Airfix ragwing Hurricane because of it, though mine was a lot worse. For a first or second try with the airbrush, rather nice, especially since Vallejo are not the easiest to airbrush. I prefer Lifecolor or even better Tamiya thinned with lacquer thinner.

The crew is nicely painted, and the groundwork very convincing. The tufts, are they commercially available or did you make them? Like the tarps. too. Difficult to get realistic draping in 72nd scale. Your chipping is very realistic looking, especially on the wing roots, even very close up. Bravo on that.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

You've got quite a bit of talent! May I offer some observations and constructive criticism? I won't comment for the most part on the weathering and fading as that is a matter of taste, other than some things that stand out. Its nice to see you included the markings with the weathering, though.

1st, no red crowbars during the war, it was a post war thing. 2nd-It looks like there's chipping on the fabric surfaces? 3rd-streaking from the armament-the 20mm muzzles are quite a bit forward and what gasses there would have been would have dispersed by the time they got to the wings, and the ground crew would have wiped the wings clean when they serviced the guns-which they have since the .303 muzzles are taped over. 4th-thats a lot of chipping on the propeller. Considering the refuelling method here, you might have wanted to include some subtle fuel staining down from the filler?

The major problem is the rather pebbly finish in the closeups on the fuselage near the wing juncture. Possibly shot with too high pressure or not thinned enough paint or perhaps just paint from the fringes of the airbrush pattern. I've had this happen myself on occasion -stripped the Airfix ragwing Hurricane because of it, though mine was a lot worse. For a first or second try with the airbrush, rather nice, especially since Vallejo are not the easiest to airbrush. I prefer Lifecolor or even better Tamiya thinned with lacquer thinner.

The crew is nicely painted, and the groundwork very convincing. The tufts, are they commercially available or did you make them? Like the tarps. too. Difficult to get realistic draping in 72nd scale. Your chipping is very realistic looking, especially on the wing roots, even very close up. Bravo on that.

A lot of chipping for a WOODEN bladed propeller too.

Link to post
Share on other sites

1st, no red crowbars during the war, it was a post war thing.

I didn't know that. Seen it on some other model photos so I assumed that's how it was.

2nd-It looks like there's chipping on the fabric surfaces?

It completely slipped my mind that some parts of the plane wasn't metal. I'll make more research on the next one.

3rd-streaking from the armament-the 20mm muzzles are quite a bit forward and what gasses there would have been would have dispersed by the time they got to the wings, and the ground crew would have wiped the wings clean when they serviced the guns-which they have since the .303 muzzles are taped over.

Fair point. I'll remember that.

4th-thats a lot of chipping on the propeller.

Yup, maybe too much.

A lot of chipping for a WOODEN bladed propeller too.

Yeah, got it first time ;)

The major problem is the rather pebbly finish in the closeups on the fuselage near the wing juncture. Possibly shot with too high pressure or not thinned enough paint or perhaps just paint from the fringes of the airbrush pattern. I've had this happen myself on occasion -stripped the Airfix ragwing Hurricane because of it, though mine was a lot worse. For a first or second try with the airbrush, rather nice, especially since Vallejo are not the easiest to airbrush. I prefer Lifecolor or even better Tamiya thinned with lacquer thinner.

I was experimenting with different pressures, paint/solvent proportions and apparently something went wrong. I was actually wondering what caused that.

The crew is nicely painted, and the groundwork very convincing. The tufts, are they commercially available or did you make them? Like the tarps. too. Difficult to get realistic draping in 72nd scale. Your chipping is very realistic looking, especially on the wing roots, even very close up. Bravo on that.

The small tufts are just static grass on droplets of PVA glue. The bigger ones are hand made from paint coloured jute string. The method described in this turorial.

Thanks for all the comments and tips.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Cromm Cuac,

OMG !! PHENOMENAL Diorama and A VERY SPECTACULAR build..

I don't think I have ever seen such a beautifully presented Diorama and Spitfire as this .. :Tasty: :clap::yikes:

Very artistic workmanship.... :wow:

I LOVE it... :heart: :heart::heart:

KUDOS... :worthy::worthy: :worthy: :worthy::worthy::worthy::worthy:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent diorama, could pass for a real scene on a period photo! Great work, congrats!

The paint job and weathering on the Spit are superb!

Cheers

Jaime

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this is amazing , as soon as I saw the red crowbar I knew someone would point it out. Sigh..... so what if its red there is so much about this project that is awesome that pointing out the crowbar the wrong colour seems a bit churlish.

Link to post
Share on other sites

A beautiful diorama, real inspiration. I have the airfix 1/72 and the eduard 1/48 of this subject. I will be really happy if I get such outcome from the 1/72.

One comment to the comments. Correct me if I am wrong. PFT Spitfires were a very early version. As far as I understood they were equipped with propellers with metal blades. So as much as amount of chipping might be discussed, technically the "dural" chipping is correct. I saw even somewhere a resin set for eduards Mk IXc early which stated clearly "metal propeller blades with rounded tips".

Link to post
Share on other sites

You are bound to get varying comment's on the level of weathering etc but I have to say that,s one of the best and most original presentation's of

a modelling diorama I have ever seen.I,m stunned seriously!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...

MY GRAND FATHER SERVICED SKALSKI,S SPITFIRE!

Hi Cromm,

Thought I would give you a little something in return for your hard work on that beautiful Kite. My Grandfather (in-law) Dennis (92 yrs) who is alive and in good health serviced Skalski,s Spitfire in North Africa. He worked with Skalski as his first posting to a front line fighter squadron. Dennis remembers the whole squadron arriving with the Spitfire MkV Trop at the very first front line airbase with the rotation pilots arriving by lorry - the rest they say is history! Sadley Dennis does not have any photos of this period

I would like to give you an extract from his memoirs I had the pleasure of listening too for the period March 1943 - May 1943. I then varfied the timeline of the PFT as best I could to get the airfields as they moved from strip to strip.

....Enjoy

""Aba Suwayr 104 Maintenance Unit(MU)(LG 205)(23.3.42 - March 1943

When Dennis arrived at the Port Ismalia just 60 miles East of Cairo he and his fellow ground crew personnel were greeted by a welcoming party from his next airbase Abu Suwayr or officially coded a LG-205 (Landing Ground). This was an established large British Empire RAF airbase from pre-was days and such was its size with multiple runways the base was chosen as a launch pad by 6 squadrons of the ninth USAF bomber squadrons late November 1942 to January 1943. Aba Suwayr is located just 50 miles from the Mediterranean Sea and still within the bombing and strafing range of any ambitious Luftwaffe attack but would be foolish to attempt such an attack such was the build up of military hardware at Helwan, Heliopolis and Abu Suwayr main bases not too mention the quick dispersal “fighter” satellite airbases occupying areas in between. This area was also the final destination of the famous Takoradi Run which was supplying hundreds of allied fighter and medium bomber aircraft from Ghana. The whole area of Giza, Minya and Suez regions of Egypt were relatively safe where allied squadrons could re-group, maintain sick aircraft, receive new ones rotate pilots and personnel ready to go West to forward operation airbases. Dennis and the other ground crew were quick to get to work initially maintaining the trusty and tough Hawker Hurricane11bs "Hurribombers" that were being rotated from the front line. Dennis chatted with the pilots about this aircraft and they loved it, it was tough, it got you home and the cannons when fired gave a right old kick you almost felt you were stopping in mid air! After spending just 7 months at Aba Suweyr with the (MU) unit his call came to join his new squadron in the Libyan desert. Little did Dennis know but he would eventually be joining PFT (Polish Fight Team) or also known as “Skalski,s circus” commanded by Stanisław Skalski DFC a Polish ace of Battle of Britain notoriety. The PFT where currently preparing themselves at RAF West Kirby just outside Liverpool, England ready to board their Gibraltar bound ship.

RAF 145 squadron PFT “Skalski,s circus” March 1943 - June 1943. Dennis was to travel North West the 140 miles by Lorry to Alexandra port on the Mediterranean Sea to board a troopship to just 8 miles from Libyan Tunisia border Abu Kammash. This port is a 1000 miles West and just 80 miles West of Tripoli to join newly formed "C flight" of RAF 145 squadron at a forward airbase at Bu Grara. This was another 80 miles West by lorry. The PFT was originally formed at RAF Northolt the previous November. The RAF wanted to utilise the tenacious Polish pilots that had proved themselves during the Battle of Britain and the defence of England. This new squadron would pool the talents of these airmen and the Polish ace Stanisław SKALSKI DFC would personally interview each pilot. From a group of seventy Polish candidates they were whittled down to thirty and from there down to fifteen airmen with which Sklaski the CO (Commanding Officer) would be the sixteenth pilot. The PFT would be attached to C Flight of 145 RAF squadron for organisational purposes as it was easier to attach it to an existing unit, than to form a new one. These airmen and their Spitfire Mk.Vb Trop aircraft travelled by ship to Gibraltar where bye they flew to Maison Blanche and then on to their forward airbase at Ben Gardane.

The PFT C Flight squadron arrived in early March at Ben Gardane Tunisia lead by the PFT CO Stanislaw SKALSKI. They were to become known as "Skalski,s Circus". The PFT were to cause the ground troops and Luftwaffe problems. They fought their own way, unorthodox, unconventional even dirty the opponent might say! Dennis was assigned to the CO, SKALSKI,s Spitfire (ZX-1) and his deputy KROWL (ZX-6). Skalski knew enough English to converse with the comms operator with no problems but Dennis could not speak Polish but a common bond was made with this partnership by hand signals, gestures with the odd English word! Dennis really enjoyed his time with these maverick Polish pilots and they were very relaxed about drill as long as the aircraft were good so they were too. Once a Polish pilot in his haste flew off with one of the ground crew hanging on the Spitfire tail, he realised and safely brought the aircraft back down such was the expanse of the large desert strips! Dennis only remembers one incident where one pilot did not come back as he had broken the cardinal rule and broke formation in his red "Polish" hot headed mist, he was pounced upon by three ME 109,s and crash landed. Dennis thought that was the end of him but recently I found out he survived and a photo of his aircraft bullet ridden, he became a prisoner and lived to a good age in Poland after the war..Dennis was chuffed about that. At the time SKALSKI was furious! Before March was out the PFT received their first Mk.1X

"Sklaski was a quiet man, he did,nt say much, very smart. His men were keen, Skalski quiet softly spoken but direct and as long as his Merlin was working ok he had no problems, he gave me two fingers once with a smile as he taxied...not swearing! but two ME109.s for the squadron."

Dennis remembers SKALSKI quiet softly spoken but direct and as long as his Merlin was working ok he had no problems". Desert life in a forward fighter squadron was usually very early starts. Four a.m. was not unheard of (if the pilots had a number of sorties planned). Get a hot cup of tea or coffee from the field canteen often shared with SKALSKI and the other PFT. Check over SKALSKI or KROW LS aircraft depending who was flying that morning. They were very keen to get airborne so I had to start and warm up the engine and run it at 1100rpm a little choke (not to much in the desert) or else the Merlin would produce a large backfire flame! "enough too soil your underwear" quote Dennis! I would sit in the pilots seat and check the instruments to make sure engine temperature, oil pressure was ok, quick glances off to the mess tent and my pilot would often be watching me start up, thumbs up from me and this would be acknowledged with a raised cup. By now the other six Spitfires had gone through the same procedure and all would be warming up as the sun broke on the horizon casting long shadows on the cool desert sand. When you hear six Merlins warming up at five am it stirs your soul.

Once out of the propeller wash I would often take a moment, I often cried with pride when that six harmony Merlin tone resonates and awakens you like no other sound.

The pilots would be briefed by the CO the night before and again in the morning if anything had changed and any last minutes chats between themselves at this stage would have to conducted shouting into each other's ears! The pilots would then board the aircraft and get strapped in. This would be Dennis,s first time he strapped in a operational front line fighter pilot. He did do this back at Abu Suwayr with the Hurri bomber pilots but now it was for real. Dennis would strap in SKALSKI and go through the standard drill, canopy pulled forward slightly but not closed, that was left to the pilot, then step off the wing . Once out of the propeller wash I would often take a moment, I often cried with pride when that six harmony Merlin tone resonates and awakens you like no other sound. Watching these fighter pilot gladiators, all in line, Merlin revs raised all in unison and off they taxi..then quietness! My job for that morning was done, now it was their turn. Sometime later the comms would inform the ground crew that the squadron was returning. We would be at the ready..listening, here they are, first a distant tone of one Merlin and a dot just above the horizon followed by another, then another in the circuit. The quiet of the desert was once again broken. One by one the Spitfires landed with revs dropping some cracked a loud backfire, this was all part of the Merlin Harmony. Dennis would be listening for any change in the engine tone, blowing exhaust things of this nature. In wetter muddy conditions sometimes the ground crew would be required to sit on the tail to keep it hugging the ground as the pilot requires more revs to get through it and this would lift the tail thus making it difficult to turn the aircraft. Once the aircraft was stationary and engine turned off then it was meet and greet the pilot. Sometimes you let him have a moment in the cockpit as body language and your intuition tells you so, such was the closeness you developed in the partnership. Once cockpit lid pulled back then eye contact made, sometimes you knew he had a rough time, sometimes the pilots clothing would be wet through. I was the last person to see my pilot off and the first to greet him. What happens to him and the aircraft was out of my control. The main thing was your pilot and your plane came back. Sometimes I would have a nice cup of coffee with his two sugars at the ready in a metal flask as he steps down from the aircraft so he can wind down from whatever he has just gone through!

SKALSKI never broke the tab, the tab is a seal to be broken when you "push through the gate" used as a last resort "get out of trouble" accelerator lever to rev the engine into the red line. If the tab was ever broken then the aircraft would have to have a full engine service, a job a forward airbase could well do without so preservation was the the key of aircraft and self in these extremes. The ground crew were mostly English with some Scottish and gelled extremely well. The aircraft assigned for 145 case 12 VTrop Spitfires allocated initially. The next batch of fighter aircraft the far superior Mk IXs followed on 23rd March, with six for PFT and six for 92 Sqn, and further four on 24th March for the PFT. Both batches were flown over by Polish and British pilots from Algiers, Maison Blanche base. Such was the progress of the allied advance these aircraft could be delivered to the front line directly via the mediterranean avoiding the long way around the coast of Africa and then the Ghana to Egypt Takoradi Run.

The 16 pilots of the PFT were split into 2 groups or flights, each flight of 6 doing a rotation in normal circumstances. We used to fill up the aircraft in the evening in the cooler air as it was far too hot in the afternoons to play around with 100 octane fuel in the desert heat. I used to keep busy in general even when their was nothing needed doing. "I actually sanded down in equal stages the leading edge of Skalski,s Spitfire wings. He told me it gave him 5 mph more." From here Dennis would travel and support his squadron in the following months at the following airfields. A pattern emerges with each forward airbase when a fighter squadrons pulls out of an airfield that has a sufficient length of airstrip the USAAF would evaluate it to occupy with their vast military hardware assets. If the base happens to be near the sea then all the better logistically. These bases would soon be occupied by troop carrying aircraft to medium to large bomber aircraft ready to launch North to Sicily and Italy.

March-April 1943: Bou Grara Airfield Tunisia. The PFT were on the move with other allied squadrons to squeeze the Germans back North and so to the Northern most Tunisian peninsula. All PFT personnel travelled the 103 miles North around the Gulf of Gabes to ready for the next forward airbase La Fauconnerie. Bou was shared with another Fighter squadron, the 57th Fighter Group flying P-40 Warhawks. It was a temporary airfield built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, used by the USAAF Ninth Air Force.

April 1943: La Fauconnerie, Tunisia. Located in the Sfax district, this base would see the PFT share with RAF 601 sqn the City of London squadron flying Spitfire Mk.V Trop. It was probably at this base when Stanisław SKALSKI would have met the 601 squadron personnel. Skalski would eventually go on to be the Commanding Officer of 601 sqn later in the Summer of this year. The next base awaits and PFT were on the move again North just 45 miles to Goubrine. Also with 601 squadron was newly decorated DFC RAF pilot William WHITAMORE who would later go on to be the CO of 81 squadron from Malta. He was awarded the DFC a month earlier for his part in fighting the Luftwaffe in Operation Torch.

April-May 1943: Goubrine, Goubrine Airfield, Tunisia. Located in the Monastir district, this was to be PFT,s last airbase they flew from in anger before the remaining Luftwaffe were either shot down or fled to Sicily and Italy. Such was the size of this airbase from the 25th June 1943 the USAAF Twelth Aire Force would use this base for C-47 Skytrain through to September. After the Americans moved out, the airfield was dismantled and abandoned.

May - June 1943: Hergla, Hergla Airfield, Tunisia. Located in the Sousse district and on the coastal Gulf of Hammamet . This was as far North as the PFT were going to go before flying South East to Ben Gardane. As an established very large base it would be later used after June by the USAAF 12th, 98th, 340th Bombardment Group using Liberators and B-25 Mitchells. Primary targets from Hergla were in Sicily and mainland Italy. Dennis at this stage would receive orders to leave the PFT at Hergla and his last memories of the PFT flights were when he saw them flying off from Hergla and they waived their wings a couple of times after they took off. They were to fly South East 200 miles to Ben Gardane ready for their eventual hop over to Malta. Dennis would travel by lorry to the port of Sousse just 30 miles South ready to embark a ship bound for Malta. Dennis was ordered to not speak to the locals and was issued with an American badge to put on his uniform as this was a French colonial country and politically it was easier for Allied personnel to disguise themselves as US personnel. Though Dennis did not know at this time the squadron he was to join RAF 81 squadron would be busy in this period operating protective sorties along the Tunisian peninsula and provide air protection for Winston Churchill's Victory parade day.""

The image (below) shows Dennis with the "fruits of success" a bunch of grapes each! whilst sat on a spare kite (ZX-8) ex PFT at Bari Foggia Italy sometime between July-August 1943. Dennis was with 81sqdn then and we think they had ZX 8 as a back up still in desert scheme and livery. Also we think that there is a Volkes filter on the deck at the front of kite,s prop.

Dennis%20edit_zpskahyvc15.jpg
Hope you and the members like enjoy this little bit of nostalgia!
Regards Ian
Edited by fizza65
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ian (fizza65), what a great story! Thanks for sharing that. People use to talk about pilots only, but tend to forget about the servicemen without whom the victory won't be possible. I hope your grandfather will remain in good health.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...