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X Trapnel

Spitfire N3192 GR*L Colour Scheme?

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A new DK Decals Spitfire Mk.i sheet (link below) includes an option for N3192, GR*L.  My due diligence internet search has failed to come up with any photos of the aircraft, and I wonder if any of my far more knowledgeable Britmodeller colleagues might have any further information on whether this scheme is accurate. 

I’m wondering if GR*L might be the largely obscured Spitfire in the photo link below of the the three Spitfires that escorted Churchill to Paris during the Battle of France.

Thanks as always for any insights on this, and please forgive the use of links - my phone does not seem to want to post any photos now.  

 

http://www.dkdecals.cz/48018%20SpitI_IIAces%201_48_ZS.jpg

 

https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235051650-92-squadron-spitfires-mk-is-pics/

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Links aren't working either.......

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I'll have a rummage through my things as 92 is a particular interest of mine. In terms of a "GR-L", off the top of my head the only photo I can think of is the one with GR-W and GR-U most probably from sometime in March and not long after the squadron codes were applied. Unfortunately in the photograph the serial number can not be seen. The aircraft are with the earlier red, white and blue roundel without the yellow outer ring, and obviously due to the date no underwing roundels.

 

In relation to the photo from the first Churchill escort (92 actually escorted Churchill twice, on the 16th May and again on the 19th) showing Tuck and Wright at Le Bourget, it's unlikely that the rearmost Spit would have been coded L as this was Blue Section of 92 and it's more probable the aircraft was coded with a letter later in the alphabet - at this stage 92's coding was "linear" in terms of order.

 

As I said I'll have a look through what I have later today when I'm at home and see if I can dig anything concrete up. I used DK Decals recently for a Spitfire Vb build from 485(NZ) Sqn - another unit I have an interest in - and I found that that sheet was absolutely riddled with inaccuracies and in some cases codes had been given without any supporting evidence. Saying that the decals were excellent in terms of quality and they went down a treat but it's probably wise to do a bit of digging like you are now if anyone is interested in portraying a historically accurate scheme. 

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Thanks very much for your responses.  I've finally managed to post the decal sheet in question.  Spitfire #7 is the one I'm interested in.  I hope this makes things a little more clear.

 

48018%20SpitI_IIAces%201_48_ZS.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The scheme would be correct for a date after the 4th June 1940 when the underwing roundels were reinstated. The thin yellow outer ring on the fuselage roundels was typical of 92 during this period and the lettering style looks acceptable too. However it will require some more digging to confirm that N3192 was coded L. As I mentioned I can only think of the one photo showing a 92 Spit coded GR-L and that's the one I mention above from March 1940, but I'll fossick around tonight in my 92 Sqn things and see if there's anything that might help.

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And it was even flown by Tuck as stated on DK's sheet. The real question though is whether it was coded L.

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Well I've had a poke through some of my things and so far I have no idea where DK Decals came up with the L code. N3192 was assigned to B Flight but I've found no photographs which support the fact she was coded L nor any documentation or published information which supports this, at least in what I've gone through so far. That's no to say that perhaps DK happen to have a private photograph which shows this or have access to a logbook where they have been able to pair a serial from the ORB with a code, but I'm sceptical and especially after my experience with their 485(NZ) Sqn sheet which has multiple inaccuracies and also where several airframes are attributed codes without any supporting evidence.

 

If I was going to do an early 92 Sqn Spitfire with GR codes for which there's historic evidence, personally I'd stick with one of the ones for which photographs exist.

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First of all, thanks for all the information, not mention all the effort, you've all put into answering my question.  Now I'm going to clean about the reason for my question.  I'm building the new Tamiya Spitfire and was planning on doing it in the well-known GR*U scheme, N3290.  Based on the picture below, I painted it in the "A scheme" camouflage pattern.  This is also in accord with what I understand was the prevailing general rule (though not always followed) of painting even number Spitfires in the "A scheme," and odd numbered ones in the "B scheme." 

 

3720e5_e28652904277c49abbc1a8f36656bfed.

BUT...Once I'd finished painting I noticed that in other pictures of GR-U, such as the one below, it clearly carried the "B scheme," and this is also reflected in various painting guides.  (Note that the camo demarcation on the left side of the aircraft cowling in the first picture is the same as the demarcation on the right side of the aircraft in the second picture.  Presumably the Spitfire in the first photo is not N3290, despite the "U" clearly visible on the underside of the cowling...???

 

gr-u_210.jpg

 

So now I have a Spitfire painted in the "A scheme" ready for decals that are apparently appropriate for the "B scheme."  (A real first world problem, I know.)  I'm now looking for a documented Spitfire in the same markings as GR*U -- underwing roundels, unusually proportioned fuselage roundels, etc.  (Thus my interest in the GR*L scheme.)  If anyone has any other 92 Squadron candidates to suggest I'd appreciate very much hearing from them.  Two possibilities that come to mind are Bushell's GR*Z, or Wright's GR*S, although I haven't found enough so far to draw any conclusions.

 

Anyway, excuse the rather long explanation, and thanks again.

 

 

 

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Allan Wright's GR-S (N3250) would fit the bill very nicely in that case!

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Just a thought (and I am no expert) but could both aircraft be GR*U.  For each aircraft the unique ID for the aircraft is the serial not the Sqadron Code and Aircraft ID letter.  N3290 / GR*U could have been replaced with another aircraft N3292 carrying the GR*U Squadron codes.

 

If ever a time machine were invented - can someone nip back in time and say to the people responsible for completing the detailed ORB that Serial & Code must be entered, with a colour photo of both left and right side of the aircraft and a close up of any specifically distinguishing markings.  It would make our lives much easier, however if you think the RAF is bad you should try the information relating to  BPF aircraft in '45..

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Grey Beema said:

 N3290 / GR*U could have been replaced with another aircraft

 

It most certainly was. N3290 was shot down on the 23rd May exactly a week after being photographed in Le Bourget on the first Churchill escort sortie.

 

The aircraft in the photos above are not the same airframe.

 

It's always terribly difficult to match codes to serials without clear photos or logbooks which can be cross referenced with the ORB.

Edited by Smithy

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All of this is extraordinarily helpful.  I continue to be amazed at the depth of knowledge of Britmodeller members.

 

One question for Grey Beema: Are you saying that the "second" GR*U likely carried the serial number N3292?

 

Thanks.

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14 hours ago, X Trapnel said:

All of this is extraordinarily helpful.  I continue to be amazed at the depth of knowledge of Britmodeller members.

 

One question for Grey Beema: Are you saying that the "second" GR*U likely carried the serial number N3292?

 

Thanks.

No not at all, I was using the Serial to illustrate my point (Serial numbers are unique whereas over time Sqn codes may appear on several aircraft). 

 

The only way you have of proving the aircraft that carried the GR°U code is to either find an official record that ties a serial number to the aircraft letter or one of the pilots log books (as said by Smithy) or a photograph (which is what you are trying to do) but do not assume, if you find two photos of GR°U, that they are the same aircraft unless you can read the serial number.

 

The ORBs often have only part of the information.  

I am trying to identify a 213 Sqn Hurricane flown by S/Lt Jeram on 11 & 12.08.40.  The ORB identifies the aircraft as AK°U but does not state the serial.  19 Sqn ORB gives serials by not aircraft code (which seems to be the norm).

I am also trying to identify any of the 29 Sqn Mosquito XIIIs flown by Lt D Price and SLt Armitage 06.44 - 09.44 but the ORB only gives 'Mosquito XIII' not a serial or aircraft letter....

 

Not much help I know but good luck with your search...

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GR&L is intriguing. I have on my collection two decal sheets including it: On Target On Target Decals MA-48114 Profile 4 and Xtradecal 48143 Battle of Britain 75th Aniversary Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia. Xtradecals sometimes presents the sources, but not in this case. On Target has an exquisite explanation of camouflage and markings, but no reference to any source. The last was based on the booklet Profile 4, edited by Neil Robinson. If anybody knows him, you could ask him. 

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53 minutes ago, NPL said:

GR&L is intriguing. I have on my collection two decal sheets including it: On Target On Target Decals MA-48114 Profile 4 and Xtradecal 48143 Battle of Britain 75th Aniversary Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Ia. Xtradecals sometimes presents the sources, but not in this case. On Target has an exquisite explanation of camouflage and markings, but no reference to any source. The last was based on the booklet Profile 4, edited by Neil Robinson. If anybody knows him, you could ask him. 

 

I just had a look online and unless I am missing something both of those sheets you quote depict GR-U (N3290) and not GR-L. N3290 can be substantiated as being coded U due to photographs existing of the airframe so these sheets include an historically accurate scheme.

 

But I still haven't been able to find a photo or documentation to match N3192 to being coded GR-L as DK Decals have depicted her which leads me more and more to think that it's pie in the sky.

 

For the record X Trapnel N3292 never served with 92.

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yes, of course. I must have been parking my head somewhere in the dark.

 

As to the pie ... I believe that you are right, and that they based their version on existing photos of 02 Sqn. Spits.

 

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Then we have the questio of who flew it. If you take the caption on Pinterest attached to a photo of GR&J, it says a lot:

 

Arriving at RAF Croydon on 6 March 1940, Spitfire MK I GR-J was flown by at least 8 pilots of No 92 Squadron RAF, including Sgt Stanley M "Michael" Barraclough, Sgt Peter R Eyles, Sgt Ronald H "Ronnie" Fokes, P/O John S "Butch" Bryson, P/O Cecil H "Fishy" Saunders and F/L Charles P "Paddy" Green, before P/O Desmond G "Bill" Williams blooded it in action on 23 May when he claimed an Me 110 destroyed and another 2 probably destroyed over the French coast.

Less.

 

By the way, I am not very impressed by the research behind this new sheet from DKDecals. If only fündecals way of doing it became standard.

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26 minutes ago, NPL said:

Then we have the questio of who flew it.

 

We know who flew N3192 as all of that is listed in the ORB but sadly that doesn't help tell us what she was coded as the ORB (like most) only lists serial numbers. We also know that she was assigned to B Flight and as 92 was using a linear coding system for flights at that stage she would almost certainly have been coded from L to Z minus those B Flight machines which we already know the individual code letter for. I actually wouldn't be surprised if DK picked L as Tuck famously flew an L coded machine with 65 Sqn of which quite a famous photograph exists. Considering that DK have used questionable coding and have been inaccurate on an earlier sheet (the 485(NZ) one) I'm inclined to think that the provenance for GR-L is shaky at best.

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone,

 

From research I did for a super-detailed 92 Sqn Airfix Spitfire Mk.1a in 1/24th scale I'm working on for SMW 2020, here could be your answer to the aircraft GR-U in the photo above. Don't panic, I'm not making GR-U!

 

My research is based on looking at all the photos and references of 92 Sqn Spitfires I can find (except the ORBs, as I haven't been to Kew yet!), plus Tuck's log book entries, Andy Saunders book Spitfire about P9374/J and Red Kite's Battle of Britain Combat Archive Vols 1-6. It all leads me to believe that the later GR-U in the photo is P9434. Here's my rationale...

 

 

Spitfire Mk.1a N3290 GR-U was shot down on 23 May 1940. Other photos show it with a similar style fuselage roundel to N3250 GR-S; not the larger roundel shown in this photo of the aircraft coded GR-U with P/O Bob Holland, Flt LT Robert Stanford Tuck and P/O Allan Wright. This photo was probably taken at RAF Hornchurch in early June 1940. If asked for a date, I'd say 7th* or 8th.

 

As shown in this photo, GR-U has type A camouflage upper surfaces with black/white/silver undersides. This scheme would have been carried by P9434 (as shown in many photos of its sister aircraft P9450 on an air text piloted by Jefferey Quill. Remember, the even numbered serials of this batch had Type A camouflage pattern, the odd numbers of this batch had Type B camouflage; see Scale Aircraft Modelling, Vol 5, No 2, November 1982 - "Spitfire Camouflage 1938-40" by Ted Hooton.

 

P9434 was delivered to 92 Sqn on 23 May and was used to July, being flown continually by Tuck from 7th* to 25th June, recorded as just 9434 in his log-book. He then flew log-book entry ID-letter U from 3-15 July almost continually. Why Tuck changed from serial number to aircraft code in his log book remains a mystery!

 

Therefore, it could be presumed that 9434 and U are the same aircraft. From around 6 June, at the earliest, probably a few days later, its undersides would have been painted ‘Sky’... not all aircraft got the new sky colours instantly; operations came first.

 

The ‘Spitfire Production’ website (http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/p009.html) records for P9434 state: “shot down in transit Flt Lt Robert Stanford Tuck safe 13-7-40”, after which it went to 1CRU, then 222 Sqn. Tuck’s log-book records ‘U’ being used for a standing patrol over Pembrey on 13 July and a  flight “For new c/s prop” from Pembrey to Hornchurch on 14 July.

 

The size of the yellow outer ring proves the overall fuselage roundel on this aircraft is larger than that on N3250 GR-S, but it doesn’t appear to be a 7” wide ring; maybe a 3” or 4” wide ring applied around the edge of the 35” diameter standard blue ring, rather than to overlap it as on N3248-50. 4” wide for the yellow is the most likely, the width applied on N3250; but nor overlapping the blue, so making it a 43" diameter roundel.

 

The aircraft has the headrest and seat-back armour-plate fitted. In Tuck’s biography ("Fly for Your Life" by Larry Forrester) the armour was not added until after 4 June on 92 Sqn.

 

There is a yellow outer to port under-wing roundel: the whole roundel appears to have been applied over the wing tip steadying trestle stencils. The insides of the undercarriage doors and legs and bays would have matched the wing under surface colour.

The fin stripes appear to be similar to N3194 GR-Z and narrower than on N3249 GR-P / QJ-P, so are probably 6” wide, with red leading.

The U under the nose is believed to be black.

 

 

I hope that helps, happy to be corrected on any of the above points.

If I was making a model of GR-U as in that photo, I'd apply the serial P9434 to it and challenge people to prove me wrong!
Good luck with the build!

 

Cheers

 

Nick

 

Edited by NG899

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It's a logical conclusion to make Nick and probably the most likely serial for the later U.

 

Just one thing though, if the photo was taken at Hornchurch it can't be the 7th or 8th June. Instructions from HQ 11 Group to move permanently from Northholt to Hornchurch were only received by 92 at noon on Saturday 8th June. A interesting little point of note is that around this time Tuck was actually using P9434 along with W/C George Stainforth for comparative testing against the 109E that the boffins at the RAE had reassembled at Farnborough.

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Good call Smithy on the date of the photo, push it back to 8th or 9th; maybe on arrival at the new base???

 

Yes, on the testing, I didn't mention it, or any of the other log-book entries - there are a lot of them!

 

Cheers

 

Nick

 

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On the dates, the photo of Allan Wright getting out of N3250 GR-S is credited as 2nd June at Hornchurch and in Alfred Price's Spitfire at War the photo of GR-U (P9434 tbc) is also located at Hornchurch but in May!

 

I'll need to check the log book again... but not tonight!

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26 minutes ago, NG899 said:

On the dates, the photo of Allan Wright getting out of N3250 GR-S is credited as 2nd June at Hornchurch and in Alfred Price's Spitfire at War the photo of GR-U (P9434 tbc) is also located at Hornchurch but in May!

 

Hi Nick,

 

The 2nd June date is incorrect. On that Sunday all of 92 regrouped at Martlesham Heath in preparation for a large offensive wing op to Calais. Afterwards they returned to Duxford and at 8:35pm flew back to Martlesham Heath.

 

92 spent three days based at Hornchurch in May from the 23rd to the 25th inclusive but you'd have to be a brave man to say that you can definitely narrow that photo of U down to that small window! They were also very busy over these days being on patrol and at readiness for most of it so my initial thoughts are that this photo is more likely from a time when they were released or available rather than being at readiness.

 

Tim

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