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BIG X

The Great Escape - the last of the fifty

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NOTE FOR NEW VIEWERS OF THIS THREAD...

 

Please note - before reading further - this thread 'stalled badly' as I inadvertently 'overstretched myself' - due to a massive attack of over optimism.  Hopefully it still makes for an interesting read as it has turned into the 'true' story of The Great Escape - but it is no longer a WIP thread... 

 

This month sees the 75th anniversary of THE GREAT ESCAPE.  Not the movie – but the actual escape of seventy six men from Stalag Luft III located near the Polish town of Sagan.  Of the seventy six only three men made it home safely.  Twenty three were captured and sent back to camp and notoriously fifty men were murdered on the direct orders of Hitler.

 

BUSH001.jpg

 

Most people became aware of the escape from the 1963 movie, with its all-star cast and tense storyline.  In more recent years many documentaries and books have emerged and the full story is well known.

 

BUSH003.jpg  BUSH002.jpg

 

The phrase ‘For you the war is over’ was reputed to be a common statement made by Germans to captured flyers, however it was the sworn duty of all captured military personnel to continue to fight the enemy by trying to escape.

 

Many of the prisoners at Stalag Luft III were re-captured escapees. The Germans believed that the security at the new camp was so tight that it would be impossible for anyone to escape and so they ‘put all their rotten eggs in one basket’.

 

It was realised early on that for any escape attempt to succeed it had to be well planned and organised. The Prisoners at Sagan therefore established an escape committee. The chief escape officer was Squadron Leader Roger Joyce Bushell, a former escapee who had been recaptured several times. He was known as ‘BIG X’.

 

BUSH004.jpg

 

BIG X had been shot down over France in the early days of the war.  He was the Squadron Leader of 92SQN.  There are only two pictures that I could find that show his Spitfire N3194 - GR-Z.

 

BUSH005.jpg

 

BUSH006.jpg

 

This month it is my aim to build 3 versions of this aircraft, as a small tribute to a great man – who was killed on 29th March 1944 – along with forty nine other brave men – who dared to challenge the might of the third Reich – from the inside.

 

BUSH007.jpg

 

I will be using three of these kits - as they depict the same squadron in the same time frame - with the black / white / silver underside and the older GR code for 92 Sqn.

 

BUSH009.jpg

 

I also chose them over some starter kits with B/W schemes - as they had no stencil details and the white ones look great on the black wing side.

 

BUSH008.jpg

 

I will be changing the code letters to Z's and cobbling together new serial numbers.  My plan is to do 1 grounded / 1 in flight / 1 crashed.  Having taken a closer look at the crashed one it might be a bit of a 'challenge' as I've never done 'crash damage' - but hopefully it will be fun and I've only got 4 weeks to get all three finished - so wish me luck.

 

I'll keep the thread updated - Steve

 

 

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Good luck with these builds, Steve.

Three in four weeks? you'll not be sleeping then?

There was a lot of fire damage on the crashed one, and a fair number of cannon shell holes.

:poppy:

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30 minutes ago, Pete in Lincs said:

Good luck with these builds, Steve.

Three in four weeks? you'll not be sleeping then?

There was a lot of fire damage on the crashed one, and a fair number of cannon shell holes.

:poppy:

Bushell - or BIG X - claimed he had set fire to the cockpit, with a flare I think.  Judging from the prop damage I would guess it wasn't turning upon landing - as the bottom 2 blades are bent - but the top one looks intact.

 

BUSH006.jpg

 

Also those 'Jerries' look like they may have taken a few 'trophies' - so mine just be a 'bit burnt' - with a few holes for good measure. ;)

 

BUSH005.jpg

 

 

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Hi Steve,

 

If you are making holes in your plane, I suggest heating a sewing needle and pushing it through whichever part of the aircraft you want perforated. I have experimented with it before and it works quite well, so long as you don't get carried away. One thing to remember with this technique is that a small plastic mound will appear on the side you first stuck the needle in, imitating 'swollen' metal. As such it is important to make sure you are starting to pierce in the right place.

 

Cheers,

 

Yvan

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2 hours ago, Yvan S said:

Hi Steve,

 

If you are making holes in your plane, I suggest heating a sewing needle and pushing it through whichever part of the aircraft you want perforated. I have experimented with it before and it works quite well, so long as you don't get carried away. One thing to remember with this technique is that a small plastic mound will appear on the side you first stuck the needle in, imitating 'swollen' metal. As such it is important to make sure you are starting to pierce in the right place.

 

Cheers,

 

Yvan

Thanks Yvan - I think I'll need to 'practice' on one of my 'mules' first - to perfect a technique before I commit myself to the 'real thing'.

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Looks like a rather interesting but daunting project timeline. To me, making the bullet/ cannon holes isn't the problem, it'll be the scale thickness of plastic for all that ripped metalwork!

Best of luck.

 

Stuart

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8 minutes ago, Courageous said:

Looks like a rather interesting but daunting project timeline. To me, making the bullet/ cannon holes isn't the problem, it'll be the scale thickness of plastic for all that ripped metalwork!

Best of luck.

 

Stuart

OOH Beggar Stuart - I hadn't considered that - I'm a 'battle damage virgin' - guess who is looking nervous... :worry:

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As you know its ‘traditional’ to start a WIP with some sprue shots – but this build is a little different – it’s more of a story and a remembrance of a man – than the building of three ‘toy planes’.  So let’s talk a little more about BIG X himself…

 

  • Unit : 92 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
  • Service No. : 90120
  • POW No. : 621
  • Prison Camps : Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft III
  • Died : 29th March 1944

 

Roger was born in South Africa on the 30th November 1910. His father, a mining engineer, had emigrated to the country from England and he used his wealth to ensure that Roger received a first class education.

 

BUSH010.jpg

 

He was first schooled in Johannesburg but was later moved to Wellington, in England, and in 1929 he spent his first year at Cambridge University, where he studied law.  However, his talents extended far beyond a promising career in the legal profession. He was also a profound athlete and had the honour of representing the University, both as a skier and rugby player. He excelled at skiing and during the early 1930's he was declared the fastest Briton in the downhill category. He became a member of the Kandahar Club, at Mürren, and had a black run at St Moritz named after him in recognition of his setting of the fastest time down it.

 

BUSH011.jpg

 

BUSH012.jpg

 

During an event in Canada, however, he had suffered a fall which came within a whisker of tragedy when the tip of one of his skis narrowly missed his right eye and opened a gash in the corner of it. The resulting stitches left him with a slight droop in that eye, which proved to be a feature that he could use to sinister effect whenever the need came.  In the movie – The Great Escape the character of BIG X was played by Richard Attenborough and though his name was changed to Roger Bartlett, Attenborough sported a scarred eye that echoed the look of the real man.

 

BUSH013.jpg

 

All in all Roger was quite a guy - perhaps even the right man in the right place at the right time - even if it ultimately cost him his life.

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35 minutes ago, BIG X said:

OOH Beggar Stuart - I hadn't considered that - I'm a 'battle damage virgin' - guess who is looking nervous... :worry:

Not done it myself but apparently aluminium foil is good for replicating aircraft skin battle damage. Take away metal foil containers are a bit thicker and they might be just about okay if you would rather use something more substantial. I'm thinking of doing a downed plane myself in the future, using one of my early builds that I was never very happy with – it's either that or the bin.

Looking forward to this build.

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14 minutes ago, Gorby said:

Not done it myself but apparently aluminium foil is good for replicating aircraft skin battle damage. Take away metal foil containers are a bit thicker and they might be just about okay if you would rather use something more substantial. I'm thinking of doing a downed plane myself in the future, using one of my early builds that I was never very happy with – it's either that or the bin.

Looking forward to this build.

Cheers mate - good to have some support - especially if I wee-wee it up :whistle:

 

Anyway - let's have a look at the bits...

 

BUSH014.jpg

 

the bags with 3 more of those pesky 'air miles' thingies...

 

BUSH015.jpg

 

Spues and decals of course...

 

BUSH016.jpg

 

...somehow I seem t have 4 sets - which could come in handy....

 

BUSH017.jpg

 

I fished out the Xtradcals for the 'customisation' work...

 

BUSH020.jpg 

 

BUSH021.jpg

 

I've got plenty of numbers for the serials and the 'Z' under the nose - but I'm a tad concerned about the 'Z' in the code...

 

BUSH022.jpg

 

I only have 2 and need 6 - but also they look a bit 'thick'...

 

BUSH023.jpg

 

I reckon I can 'get away with it' - but if anyone has any spare 'Z's floating about - please feel free to 'get in touch'.  I suppose I should measure them if that helps...

 

ANYONE FEELING HELPFUL???

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Gorby beat me to it, but yep take-away tin foil is ideal ... I seem to have quite a lot of it at hand for some reason. I also use beer can foil which is a little thicker, but will retain its shape and form following folding and twisting. Again, for some strange reason, I seem to have an abundance of this stuff at hand :P

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I am keen to get on with these builds - but let’s talk a little more about Roger – because this thread is really about him after all.

 

Roger initially made a name for himself in the RAF at weekends with 601 Auxiliary Sqn – also known as 'the millionaires squadron’ and in 1938 he was chosen to fly with the national aerobatics team for the Empire Day air display at Hendon.

 

His first “combat” of the war was not as a pilot though, but as a lawyer, defending two pilots involved in a friendly fire incident in the first hours of the war in which a British aircraft was shot down and its pilot killed.  Bushell helped to win the case – known as the Battle of Barking Creek – in his first telling contribution to the war effort: the courts martial exposed weaknesses in British radar that were corrected in time for the Battle of Britain.

 

Shortly afterwards, he was promoted to Squadron Leader and given command of 92 Squadron, which had been disbanded after the First World War, at Tangmere in Sussex.  The 92 Squadron logbook records his arrival:

 

“Bushell was posted to command the squadron with effect from 10 October 1939. This officer came from No 601 Fighter Squadron Auxiliary Air Force and is the first AAF officer to be posted to command and form a new squadron ….”

 

The logbook continued: “The commanding officer was tonight very hospitably entertained at Tangmere Cottage by Lord and Lady Willoughby de Broke and other members of No 65 Squadron and retired to his bed at a late hour, feeling that Tangmere was the best station to be found in the best country in the best of all possible wars!”

 

He imbued No 92 Squadron with an aggressive fighting spirit – it would become the most successful squadron in Fighter Command, destroying more than three hundred enemy aircraft during the course of the war … but Bushell, leading his unit against overwhelming odds, was shot down on his second mission – on the afternoon of his first day of combat …May 23, 1940 – covering the retreating Allied armies, over northern France.

 

The squadron logbook records the events of the day:

 

“The whole squadron left at dawn for Hornchurch where they commenced patrol flying over the French coast. At about 8.30 hours they ran into six Messerchmitts and a dogfight ensued. The result was a great victory for 92 Squadron and all six German machines – Me 109s – were brought down with only one loss to us. It is with great regret that we lost Pilot Officer P.A. G. Learmond in this fight. He was seen to come down in flames over Dunkirk.

 

In the afternoon, the squadron went out again on patrol and this time encountered at least 40 Messerschmitts flying in close formation. The result of this fight was that another 17 German machines – Me 110s – were brought down – and also 92 Squadron Leader R.J. Bushell – the commanding officer – and Flying Officer J. Gillies and Sergeant Pilot P. Klipsch. Flight Lieutenant C.P. Green was wounded in the leg ….

 

The remainder of the squadron returned to Hornchurch badly shot up with seven Spitfires unserviceable.

 

It has been a glorious day for the squadron, with 23 German machines brought down, but the loss of the commanding officer and the three others has been a very severe blow to us all, and to the squadron which was created and trained last October by our late squadron leader.”

 

The late squadron leader though was very much alive...

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Apart from prattling on all night I have been doing some chopping and sanding...

 

BUSH019.jpg

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Construction has begun - we have no time to waist...

 

The underside - trimmed...

 

BUSH024.jpg

 

and the main vents added...

 

BUSH025.jpg

 

I still have to add the central intakes - which I always find 'fiddly' - I'll sort them in the morning though.

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Great progress and an excellent idea.

 

Looking forward to watching this progress.

 

All the best

Ben

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Just now, badger said:

Great progress and an excellent idea.

 

Looking forward to watching this progress.

 

All the best

Ben

Cheers mate - it will be great to have you along for the ride - I'm going to need some support at some point and I know I can count on you ;)

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A fascinating subject. How they managed to tunnel in that soil is a miracle in itself, it just crumbles in your hand.

I never knew Roly Beamont was imprisoned there.

Keep up the good work.

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15 minutes ago, BIG X said:

Cheers mate - it will be great to have you along for the ride - I'm going to need some support at some point and I know I can count on you ;)

Afraid it'll just have to be moral support this time - don't know a lot about wingy things I'm afraid :whistle:

 

All the best

Ben

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7 minutes ago, bentwaters81tfw said:

A fascinating subject. How they managed to tunnel in that soil is a miracle in itself, it just crumbles in your hand.

I never knew Roly Beamont was imprisoned there.

Keep up the good work.

Fighter pilot Roland Beamont, later to fly the English Electric Canberra and English Electric Lightning as a test pilot, arrived at Stalag Luft III just after the "Great Escape", having been shot down in his Hawker Tempest by ground fire, while attacking a troop train near Bocholt while on his 492nd operational sortie.  In some ways this may have been a blessing as the odds were - if he had been apart of the escape he may well have been murdered in the aftermath. :poppy:

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Happy Saturday Folks.  The sun is out and Man City face Bournemouth - so everything is looking good - famous last words eh... :whistle:

 

Some progress this morning - I cobbled together the cockpit detail...

 

BUSH026.jpg

 

BUSH027.jpg

 

BUSH030.jpg

 

BUSH031.jpg

 

Those ejectors on the instrument panel will need a bit of a sanding.  Believe it or not I didn't notice them until I posted this picture - I really am going blind.  Still there is an IP decal to cover it up too.  Mustn't forget to put the control stick in too. 

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Overnight I have been 'pondering' the condition of the crashed aircraft.  I decided the obvious thing to do was to ask the man himself so the following are extracts from his biography - The Great Escaper...

 

BUSH032.jpg

 

In a bit more 'close up'...

 

BUSH033.jpg

 

So at the point of the crash and before it burnt out and was doubtless looted for trophies - it was split in two pieces just behind the cockpit.  From an inside detail point of view this is good as the back of the seat will be visible in the front section and there are struts behind the cockpit to add some interest to the rear section interior.

 

I had previously read on Roger's Wikipedia page that he was shot down by Gunther Specht of ZG26 - rather than Fw Karl Langenberg of ZG76.  The 'fog of war' means we will never know for sure - but I had a quick google for Karl.  There isn't much on the tinterwebs but I did find the following information...

 

He flew a BF-110 for 5/ZG76 and had 7 'kills' to his name as follows...

  • His 1st was a Morane on 12 May, 1940, no location.
  • His 2nd & 3rd, both Spitfires on 23 May, 1940, no location.
  • His 4th & 5th a Spitfire and a Hurricane in the Portland area on 15 August, 1940.
  • His 6th, a Spitfire at London on 11 September, 1940.
  • His 7th, a Spitfire SE of London on 15 September, 1940

Also of note from this small extract is the downing of John Gillies - whose aircraft is the one depicted in the Airfix kit.

 

The next extract is of interest too...

 

BUSH034.jpg

 

This helps in that I need to show damage in and around the engine area.  It also confirms my hunch that the prop wasn't turning upon impact and that is why the top prop isn't bent.

The final extract shows that he went down with the wheels up and the added detail of a German Motorcycle could add some interest to the scene.  I know 'someone' does German motorbikes with sidecars in 1/72 - I'll have to see if I can find one - if they are any good.

 

BUSH035.jpg

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Here you go Steve. All the interior and structural pictures  you will ever need:

Just keep scrolling down.

 

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16 hours ago, BIG X said:

His first “combat” of the war was not as a pilot though, but as a lawyer, defending two pilots involved in a friendly fire incident in the first hours of the war in which a British aircraft was shot down and its pilot killed.  Bushell helped to win the case – known as the Battle of Barking Creek – in his first telling contribution to the war effort: the courts martial exposed weaknesses in British radar that were corrected in time for the Battle of Britain.

 The pilot he defended, Paddy Byrne, was in fact also in Stalag Lift III, though he made it back to the UK in 1944 by taking insanity. The other pilot, John Freeborn, was defended by another lawyer (I had the privilege of meeting John a few times before his death, an interesting chap.)

 

Interesting idea for a build. I'm afraid I have no experience of the kit or of modelling battle damage so I cannot give any more than encouragement from the sidelines!

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Hi Steve

 

Try this for the motorcycle - comes with a couple of half decent figures too

 

https://www.kingkit.co.uk/product/zvezda-military-1-72-6142-german-motorcycle-r-12

 

All in all these are a pretty decent range of inexpensive figures in 1/72, shame the tanks are 1/100.

 

Hope this helps 

 

All the best

Ben

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