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Special High Altitude Spitfires


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Well I think I have reached the end of my subject.  I will be adding a summary of the planes we have looked at and what I think about them.  I will conclude with a set of questions for things where I think we we can still find more answers.


When I started I had no idea there was so much to learn about such a small part of the Spitfire’s history, let alone the RAF’s.  It might seem that there were just a few special planes and a few special pilots but that sits at the end of a whole structure from design, development and production, through the delivery systems of ships, naval protection and ferry routes to the squadron structure and the logistics of keeping them running.  We have met pilots from all around the world each providing their own slice of history.

 

Oh, I haven’t forgotten I still have books in the post so I hope this subject isn’t closed! Maybe I’ll even get back to some modelling.

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Posted (edited)

I would add an honourable mention to some planes that might have been included but I felt didn’t quite match the description:

  • production VIs and VIIs. They are definitely high altitude and compared to the rest of the Spitfires they are special but then they are production standards 
  • PS852 see this discussion.  There are none more higher but I’m not aware of any special mods for this one
  • EN409, the PR XI used by Tony Martindale for high speed testing. Definitely special and high altitude but not used for interception
Edited by M20gull
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On 17/03/2021 at 21:25, M20gull said:

The next job was to form a view on the third IX that was supposed to join. I had hoped it would be as simple as it being BS274 which also suffered being mis-serialled as BF274 but I think there is another contender.  
 

I looked again at the database and found the following planes that had a connection to Northolt:

 

Mk V AB380 which joined SF Northolt on 23-10-42 but did not move to 124 squadron

Mk VIs BR318 and BR585 which left SF Northolt before the move to 124

Six Mk IXs that joined SF Northolt after the move to 124

 

There are two Mk IX contenders:

BS457 which joined SF Northolt 30-9-42 but moved to 316S 14-3-43

and

BR639 which joined HA Flt Northolt on 16-9-42 FA 21-9-42 HAL SS Sqdn Northolt 31-12-42 engine failed on takeoff struck BR181 CE 21-1-43

 

I’m suggesting BR639 which is another Hucknall conversion, joined at the right time but was damaged before it got the chance to move to 124.  I have no other evidence.  This link does however suggest a connection to 124 squadron at North Weald that might bear further investigation.

 

[Edit: see next post]

I'm not so confident about this suggestion now. I realised that I had overlooked the simple fact that BR639 flew with 64 Squadron in August before joining the SS Flight.  And while BS274 did not apparently go to Northolt I now know that the AAEE at Boscombe Down had a HA Flight and 274 did go to Boscombe Down.   Maybe BS274 was the right answer after all.

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17 hours ago, M20gull said:

I would add an honourable mention to some planes that might have been included but I felt didn’t quite match the description:

  • production VIs and VIIs. They are definitely high altitude and compared to the rest of the Spitfires they are special but then they are production standards 

And then I'm reading Alfred Price's The Spitfire Story and in respect of the VII it says that for operations at extreme altitudes the cannon, wing tanks and armour were removed!

 

The book also has photos of BS274 on its towing trials.

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I have been working on the summary but in the meantime came across some more detail on the use of the first Mk IXs in July 1943.  80 squadron were involved in the action on 2.7.43 that resulted in the destruction of a Ju 86.  I have discussed the use of the IXs by 80 squadron later in the year but I missed a scramble on 7.7.43 which elaborates on the relationship with 451 squadron.  

 

80 were then based at Savoia and the ORB summary says "A Spitfire IX working with us and four of our Spitfire Vc were scrambled".

The detailed record says "Blue and Green sections with 1 Spit IX (No. 16 SOR Pilot F/O Watts from No 451 Sqn) scrambled"

The combat report has "1 Spitfire IX of 451 Sqdn temporarily working with 80 Sqdn" 

 

Nowhere does it tell us which Spitfire IX.  Ken Watts flies both of these in the period and this forum post tells us the plane is JL228.  Pilots from 80 Squadron fly JL228 and JK980 in July; I had not spotted one of the references as it is listed as a Vc. 

 

The Ju 86 flies above 42,000ft and the Spit IX can not get above 40,000 (indicated).  In this operation JL228 only expends cannons shells suggesting it has had its machine guns removed; this is consistent with reports for the other IXs at this stage.

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The summary is taking longer than I expected.  Life has got in the way a bit and the Bing Cross book Straight and Level arrived to distract me and that has added some more data to the mix.

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I'm glad I bought the copy of Straight and Level.  For the period that we are interested in it is pretty well covered by Fighters over the Aegean but it helps to see it in context.  The book was published in 1993 so far from contemporary and some of the details might be expected to be a bit off.  The overall story is there: inability to reach the Ju86 with Hurricanes and Spitfires, modifications of the Spitfire Vs, use of the marker role, Genders' success.   So I thought I would just look at some of the details.

 

Cross quotes a controller as using 274 squadron's Hurricanes to try and intercept the first Ju86 flights.  There is no mention in their ORB and I think that is because they were based in Lbya during this period.  Now I just need to root around to see who it might have been.

 

There is reference to the Air Ministry ordering pressurised Spitfires but these would not be available for some time (we know that they arrived in the Middle East in October - incidentally I finally found the confirmation on its shipping log that Ripley arrived with the VIs in Takoradi on 3.10.42; the document from the National Archives ended in 1941 so I assumed it was incomplete but looked again and it was just copied out of order.)

 

Regarding the Mk Vs, Cross says "there were a few at Aboukir being modified for the DAF and two were allotted to us".  So "a few" or "two", not the three usually quoted.   At he time he was in command of 219 Group so I assume that is what he means by "us".  The Spitfires are flown by the Aboukir test pilots so he is talking about 103 MU interceptions.

 

There is nothing new about the modifications but it does suggest a sequence to them:

  1. Remove armour and machine guns, IFF and survival kit
  2. Replace cannon with machine guns and use a smaller battery
  3. Increase power by increasing compression ratio (with a caveat about throttle opening at take-off)
  4. Remove radio and use a Marker

Regarding this last one there is another point of detail.  The book is not overlong on dates but the introduction of the Marker is a few days before Reynolds' interception on 24 August, the date for which is given. The conventional narrative as per the Aeroplane Spotter article is that the Marker is after that date but we already know that the system was in use on 20 August with 145 Squadron.

 

The other detail relates to Genders' long swim home; Cross suggests he was rescued almost at once by an Egyptian felucca. 

 

 

 

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I'm not sure about the reference to 219 Group in the previous post. The relevant chapter of Cross's book starts "252 Wing ... had come up in the world by April 1942  ... It had been upgraded to a Group, No 219 with me in command" .  The internet suggests that 219 Group was not formed until December 1942.

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I'm now ready for a summary.  This concentrates on the modelling aspects, i.e. modifications and colour scheme, rather than operational as that was my original objective when I started.  I'm going to put each category in its own post as follows:

  • Modified Mk Vs
  • Mk V Markers
  • Mk VI Markers
  • 1943 Mk IXs in Middle East
  • 1943 Mk IXs in Italy
  • 1944 Mk IXs in Middle East
  • Northolt

I'm going to repeat a point from my first post:  "I'm no expert on modelling or Spitfires and will certainly update stuff when I'm challenged."

and this one: "I won't be posting photos but will link to them where appropriate."

 

I have covered a lot of ground and I am sure to make a mistake somewhere along the way.

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Modified Mk Vs

Mk Vs modified by 103 MU at Aboukir and used from June 1942 right the way through to June 1943.  They are variously used by 94, 123, 145, 451 and 601 Squadrons as well as the MU/Delta Defence Flight.

 

BR114 is the only one that appears in photographs and at three different stages.

 

Modifications:
This list is derived from various documents and photos plus the earlier really helpful post from @Dave Swindell.

  • Removal of all armour-plating, including the windscreen though frame retained
  • Removal of machine guns, followed by replacing the cannon with machine guns, probably 0.5” Brownings
  • Removal of the Vokes filter and replacement with an Aboukir filter
  • Increased compression ratio
  • Deep cowl over the oil tank
  • Gun heating pipes removed from the exhaust and additional piping from the exhaust, purpose unknown.
  • Extended wing tips of local design without navigation lights
  • Four blade prop (but not from a Mk VI as they are not in the Middle East at this stage)
  • Canopy does not look standard appearing very straight-sided
  • Radio removed when Markers introduced; including plating over the radio hatch
  • Oil cooler with enlarged outlet
  • Also suggested in the contemporary report that the rudder control was lightened and bolts shortened to save weight.

These modifications seem to have been made sequentially, may not all have been made to all examples and may have been changed back subsequently.  The Mk Vs in 1943 appear to have a much lower ceiling than in 1942 so I wonder if they resorted to a standard compression ratio for ease of maintenance when in squadron service.


Colour Scheme:
Photos of BR114 are all on this topic courtesy of @Magpie22: https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234951708-spitfire-mkvc-103-mu-at-aboukir/&do=findComment&comment=3602311


Photo 1 is the Aeroplane Spotter photo reproduced in the August 2009 Flypast. http://village.photos/images/user/81f74b86-49c1-40c0-922c-7b213cd5613f/932132ce-ac63-4687-994b-98daf9b54406.jpg

I think this suggests an overall pale colour scheme with B roundels.  Could be Sky, Sky Blue, Mediterranean Light Blue?

 

Photo set 2 is the accompaniment to the Mk VI Markers late in 1942 with aircraft letter “B”
https://www.asisbiz.com/il2/Spitfire/Spitfire/pages/Spitfire-MkVc-RAF-103-Maintenance-Unit-BR114-in-Aboukir-Eygpt-1943-web-01.html
This shows a camouflage in B pattern, presumably earth/stone over blue.  Hard to say which blue as it is all in deep shadow.  I commented that I was not expecting to see a V in B pattern as it should have stopped before the V production but I keep seeing them now.  If the earlier plane was BR114 then it must have been repainted by this time.  My guess is that the MU in Aboukir had both sets of masks and carried on using them.  There is a lot of filler/primer on this one – various colours proposed: brick red, white, silver.  It looks pale but not white, paler than stone, not much red in it. The size of the stripe by the fuel tank suggests paint to me rather than filler so maybe primer grey?  Light colour spinner. 
This image:

https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234951708-spitfire-mkvc-103-mu-at-aboukir/&do=findComment&comment=3605135 dated 1942 from http://www.joewillis.co.uk/JAWillis/1942.htm shows underside not so dark after all.  This also  shows the bare metal nose to the oil cooler.

 

And then thirdly at 451 Squadron in 1943
http://village.photos/images/user/81f74b86-49c1-40c0-922c-7b213cd5613f/217423a4-7c5a-44f2-9efa-7dff53adacbf.jpg
Repainted with the occasional stencil but still in B pattern, again presumed desert scheme but now with dark spinner, maybe dull red.


The other aircraft that I have identified are BP985, BR234, BR363 and BR487.  BP985 does get lot of mentions in histories but only occurs occasionally in the ORBs.  BR234 is the one lost by Genders in September.  BR363 keeps cropping up in various places, as does BR487 but not in any photos sadly.

 

Some have previous operational experience and presumably end up at Aboukir for repair. BR363 arrives from Malta with 601 Squadron.  BR234 and BR487 are Nigerstown diversions that should have gone to Australia.  These last two would presumably have to have been re-painted locally after the ferry flight from Takoradi anyway.

 

BR114 (from the second set of photos in desert scheme) and BR234 (in overall sky blue) are on the DK Decals Set https://www.scalemates.com/kits/dk-decals-72046-spitfire-mk-vi-vii-ix--1096910

 

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Mk V Markers

Mk Vs that are used to support the modified Strikers in the Marker role.  These may have no modifications at all but the ADF serials database suggests that BP981 had some performance modifications.  On some operations Hurricanes are used for the support role.

 

BP981, BP987 are probably included in this photo as this has to come from a period before J A Cox’s disappearance and the 451 Squadron ORB suggests only three Spitfires at this stage with all others being Hurricanes: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C50551

There is not much detail to see.  Main thing to note is the three-bladed props.

 

Other Mk V markers include BR586, EP192 and ER504 but no photos so no suggestion of colour schemes other than presumed to be fairly standard desert markings.

 

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Mk VI Markers

Six Mk VIs shipped to Egypt via Takoradi specifically for the High-altitude role, arriving in October 1942.  Three are subsequently used from February 1943 by 680 Squadron which is a PRU.  No trace of them after August 1943 when the last is returned to 103 MU.

 

BS124 (“A”) https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234951708-spitfire-mkvc-103-mu-at-aboukir/&do=findComment&comment=3602311 and

BS134 (“C”) https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235088896-special-high-altitude-spitfires/&do=findComment&comment=4010465 and https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234951708-spitfire-mkvc-103-mu-at-aboukir/&do=findComment&comment=3981373 are in photos at the same time as BR114, my suggestion is at Shandur as the photos are associated with 6 Squadron which had a training flight there and the Delta Defence Flight was also there.

 

BS106, BS133, BS149, BS427 are the other four.

 

BS106, BS133 and BS149 are the three used by 680 squadron.

 

Modifications

No machine guns, Vokes air filter (I suppose that these six planes could all have been tropicalised before leaving the UK so might already have the Vokes filter, bigger oil tank and pressurised fuel tank).

Colour scheme

Open to interpretation.  I would be happy with a standard desert scheme as are DK decals.  BS124 is on the DK Decals set https://www.scalemates.com/kits/dk-decals-72046-spitfire-mk-vi-vii-ix--1096910

 

There are no photos of them in their PRU role so any model would be speculative (which I am not above doing).  I can see a mixed Bosun Blue FR VI with machine guns deleted, oblique camera, Vokes filter, 90 gallon slipper tank, pale blue roundels, grey serial BS133, no fin flash.

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Posted (edited)

1943 Mk IXs in Middle East

Mk IXs used by 103 MU with 451 Squadron from June(ish) 1943 onwards and by 80 and 74 squadrons in 1943.  I can identify four special aircraft and one possible.

 

BS342 appears in two photos; one in the Ducimus book and this one https://www.alamy.com/supermarine-spitfire-mkixc-bs342-238-sqd-1943-image69929307.html

EN399 which I have yet to see (photo is in a book that is in the post) [update: book has now arrived.  photo identified by the pilot as being EN399 in a completely unpainted scheme with no serials either. It is in use as it is plugged in, with the cockpit open. The photo is from three-quarters behind so armament can not be confirmed.]

JK980 is in one photo that I have seen:

https://rnzaf.proboards.com/thread/23661/don-subritzky-photo-collection?page=5

http://www.cambridgeairforce.org.nz/WONZShow/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Spitfire.jpg

JL228 is not photographed but is used by 451 squadron in high altitude interceptions and later by 80 Squadron

BS354 possibly appears in one photo that I have not seen; “possibly” because the plane in question has no serial so is identified speculatively.  I have not seen BS354 in any of the ORBs in a special role.  From March 1944 it is flying with 213 Squadron and is included as a Mk IX (standard).

 

Modifications

Extended wing tips, BS342 and JK980 have Aboukir filter (cannot say on the others).  Combat reports for these planes all show cannon only so machine guns are assumed to be removed and holes covered.  I would assume that they lose armour too as that is consistent with the other specials but I have yet to see a definitive reference.  In December EN399 is flown by 74 Squadron for a R/T test suggesting they keep the radio but no mast is visible on the photos of BS342.  JK980 does however have a radio mast.

 

Colour scheme

BS342 is High Altitude Scheme in both photos, the Ducimus one with a dark spinner (black in the AZ model and the DK Decals but could presumably be red) and the second one with a light spinner, presumably Medium Sea Grey.

EN399 is interpreted as bare metal [update: no serials]

JK980 is High Altitude Scheme with light roundels, no aircraft letter, black serials, MSG spinner.

BS354 photo is interpreted as all over pale blue.

If all four of these aircraft were developed by 103 MU I’m at a loss to see why they would be in different colours but it is possible, and it is also possible that the colour scheme evolved over time.

 

These specials are supported by a cast who are not photographed in any special colours, nor specified as being modified:

IXs: JK641, MA399, MA455, MA456, MA478, MA504

Vs used after JK641 and MA504 are damaged: ES303, ES359, JG803, JK138

 

MA399 (“C”) plus one other is in the background of the Ducimus picture of BS342. They are in a camouflage scheme, with aircraft letters, but too poor quality to discern tones.  The second one seems to have “S” and I suspect is MA456.  MA456 is in a photo https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C275616 taken later when with 451 Squadron in what looks like desert, pale colour through the cockpit in similar tone to the yellow ring round the roundel, dark spinner, presumably dull red.

 

BS343 is shipped with BS342 but not mentioned anywhere that I have seen.

 

BS342 and JK980 (both In high altitude) are on the DK Decals set https://www.scalemates.com/kits/dk-decals-72046-spitfire-mk-vi-vii-ix--1096910

Edited by M20gull
Details for EN399
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1943 IXs in Italy

Six Mk IXs used by a High-Altitude Flight attached to 1 Squadron SAAF in Sicily and Italy between September and November 1943.  There are no photos that I have found so far.

 

Known serials:  MA251, MA565 (A/C “6”), so four unknown

 

Modifications

  • Machine guns removed
  • Armour removed
  • IFF removed

Colour scheme

Unknown.  Reference in a log book to “Blue baby”.  Could be anything: Light Mediterranean Blue? High Altitude Scheme?  The latter is in use in Italy at this time.  I’m expecting them to be numbered but with no squadron code.  As 1 SAAF has Vs and VIIIs together during this period the VIIIs have aircraft numbers instead of letters already but with a squadron code.

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Posted (edited)

1944 Mk IXs in Middle East

Mk IXs used by various Squadrons (94, 213, 9 SAAF, 10 SAAF, 41 SAAF) in the Eastern Med (Egypt, Palestine and Cyprus) between April and November 1944.  Five, possibly all six, are in photos.  Operated to the marker/striker combination.
Photos can be found here https://www.key.aero/forum/historic-aviation/84234-special-lightened-high-altitude-african-spitfires

 

Modifications

Strikers - MA504, MA792, MH931

  • Machine guns removed
  • Radio removed
  • Armour removed
  • IFF removed
  • Extended wing tips of local design

Markers - MH946, MH993, MJ227

  • Cannons removed
  • Armour removed
  • IFF removed
  • Extended wing tips of local design

 

Colour scheme

Natural Metal Finish all over, darker on the armoured panel over the fuel tank.  No markings other than serials.

 

MA504 and MH946 are on the DK Decals set https://www.scalemates.com/kits/dk-decals-72046-spitfire-mk-vi-vii-ix--1096910 
 

Edited by M20gull
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29 minutes ago, M20gull said:

My guess is that the MU in Aboukir had both sets of masks and carried on using them.

If they were using masks or patterns for marking out A & B scheme, they're the same masks/patterns used for both schemes - B scheme is a mirror of A scheme so a pattern with, for example, A scheme port wing labelled on one side would have B scheme stbd wing labelled on the other, it could simply be turned over and used on the opposite side of the aircraft

 

31 minutes ago, M20gull said:

The size of the stripe by the fuel tank suggests paint to me rather than filler so maybe primer grey?

More likely a mustard yellow? By this stage of the war Mr Surfacer 1000 would be impossible to get, what with Hobbylink restricted to supplying the away team; so Aboukir MU had to rely on infrequent supplies of Halfords filler/primer being shipped out from Blighty?:fool:

 

Excellent summary of some serious research, well done!

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Posted (edited)

Northolt SS Flight
Aircraft operated by the SS Flight at Northolt from August 1942 to January 1943 when they transferred to 124 Squadron at North Weald:  
VI - BR318, BR326, BR585
VII - AB450, BS121, BS142, EN285
IX - BR639, BS271, BS273
BR318 left the SS Flight and transferred to 616 Squadron 8.10.42
BR585 left the SS Flight and transferred to 124 Squadron 10.10.42
BR639 crashed at North Weald after moving from Northolt but before transferring to 124 Squadron.

 

I have only found three of the planes in photos: BS142, BS273 and AB450


BS142 (2nd production VII) in its delivery colours - Day Fighter Scheme with sky band
https://www.asisbiz.com/il2/Spitfire/Spitfire/pages/Factory-fresh-Spitfire-MkVII-RAF-BS142-England-Sep-1942-web-01.html

BS273 in its delivery colours - Day Fighter Scheme with sky band, incorrect serial BF273. http://www.spitfireperformance.com/spitfire-IX.html 
For the modified version of BS273 the details are:
Modifications

  • wooden propeller
  • armour removed
  • machine guns removed
  • special lightweight finish
  • normal wingtips.

Colour scheme

The flight were told to paint it PRU blue (and this is the colour specified by AZ Models) but Galitzine describes “a special lightweight finish, which gave it a colour rather like Cambridge blue” (hence DK opt for Sky blue).  Other details are unknown but we could assume B roundels consistent with these colours, PR fin flash, serials and no aircraft code but it all seems to be a guess.

 

AB450 is the prototype VII converted from a Mk V.
Photos in Day Fighter Scheme exist:
https://www.destinationsjourney.com/historical-military-photographs/supermarine-spitfire-mk-vii/?amp=1

https://i0.wp.com/www.destinationsjourney.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/AB450-Converted-from-a-V.jpg?w=750&ssl=1

https://i0.wp.com/www.destinationsjourney.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Spitfire-Mk.V-converted-to-prototype-Mk.VII-AB450.jpg?w=750&ssl=1

https://www.asisbiz.com/il2/Spitfire/Prototypes/pages/Spitfire-7-Proyotype-AB450-1942-01.html

and photos in apparently High Altitude Scheme exist:
https://royalaviationmuseum.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Col-Beverley-Christmas-640x250.jpg

Colourised: https://www.asisbiz.com/il2/Spitfire/Prototypes/pages/Spitfire-VII-prototype-converted-from-a-Spitfire-V-AB450-and-later-served-with-the-Special-Service.html
 

The fitting of the fin guard that is seen in the Day Fighter photos is on the database after the painting in the trial colours.  In the High Altitude scheme there is no fin guard and no cannons either.  The timescale of the modifications and paint schemes is therefore confused. But it does seem reasonable that at some stage it was painted:
•    Day Fighter Scheme (with the fin guard, no sky band or yellow leading edge, dark spinner)
•    High Altitude Scheme (no guard, no cannons, note fin flash with white stripe and pale spinner, possibly white, and under wing roundels)
•    PR blue upper/deep sky (No.2 pattern) under surfaces

 

AB450 (in high altitude scheme) and BS273 (as BF273 in sky blue) are on the DK Decals set https://www.scalemates.com/kits/dk-decals-72046-spitfire-mk-vi-vii-ix--1096910
 

Edited by M20gull
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A quick postscript.  Many of the aircraft had a life after their period as special high fliers. Some ended up in Squadron service. One went to the Armee de l’air, some to the REAF and some to the RHAF. One of the Northolt VIIs ended up on the Shoeburyness ranges for testing explosive decompression. Galitzines’s BS273 was shot down in France in the Summer of 1943.

 

I assume that they had most of the modifications removed!

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A couple of minor comments I missed earlier.

The straight-sided canopy was normal fit on Spitfires for longer than sometimes assumed.  It was introduced, I believe, at some time during the Mk,V production.  I don't think it was common on Mk.Vc (if at all) normally.

Exchanged colour schemes (not A and B schemes but perhaps A and C as originally planned?) are fairly common on desert-camouflage Spitfires.  This has been said to be due to the Dark Earth being the light colour on the drawings for the Temperate Land scheme, and the draughtsman simply changed the label Dark Green to Mid Stone, leaving a trap for painters taking the dark tone on the drawing to be the darker shade of paint.  If you are finding true B schemes in the desert then these are additional examples of alternatives, but I would consider checking for the simpler explanation.

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Hi @M20gull

 

Been meaning to commend you on this extraordinary quest: You get a very well done from here. 

 

Was always intrigued by BR114, but with your help, I now realise that there was much more to it.

 

/Finn

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6 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

A couple of minor comments I missed earlier.

The straight-sided canopy was normal fit on Spitfires for longer than sometimes assumed.  It was introduced, I believe, at some time during the Mk,V production.  I don't think it was common on Mk.Vc (if at all) normally.

Exchanged colour schemes (not A and B schemes but perhaps A and C as originally planned?) are fairly common on desert-camouflage Spitfires.  This has been said to be due to the Dark Earth being the light colour on the drawings for the Temperate Land scheme, and the draughtsman simply changed the label Dark Green to Mid Stone, leaving a trap for painters taking the dark tone on the drawing to be the darker shade of paint.  If you are finding true B schemes in the desert then these are additional examples of alternatives, but I would consider checking for the simpler explanation.

I will investigate canopies and I am definitely going to look at paint patterns for desert Spitfires. One I came across recently was this photo of AB326 which flew the first Spitfire operation in the desert and I think is an example of exchanged colours. This photo is during the training phase before operations started as it has no aircraft letter. 

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36 minutes ago, FinnAndersen said:

Hi @M20gull

 

Been meaning to commend you on this extraordinary quest: You get a very well done from here. 

 

Was always intrigued by BR114, but with your help, I now realise that there was much more to it.

 

/Finn

I would like to say I had finished but I still have a series of questions that I am going to think about.  See the next post.

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I promised some questions that remain to be considered.  I accept that there may not be answers to them!

  1. Are there any other flights that I have missed?
  2. What about the High Altitude Flight at Boscombe Down?
  3. And the one at Bari?
  4. Are there any aircraft I have missed?
  5. Or photos?
  6. Is there an additional data source for the 1943 Mk IXs in Italy?
  7. Were the Ju86s in the Middle East R1s or P2s?
  8. Is there an answer to the Bing Cross questions: 252 wing? 219 group? 274 squadron?
  9. Where does BS354 fit in?
  10. Did BS343 have a role? It seems a bit rough to ship it all that way for spares but they would have been needed.
  11. Were Mk VIIs ever modified in squadron service as suggested by Alfred Price? 124 Squadron did continue with “SS” flights after the move from Northolt.
  12. Is there any more biography for Reynolds or Gold?
  13. Is there any more information on Jimmy Nelson’s Mosquito accident?
  14. What is an FIXT?  MA399 is given this description in Spitfire the History along with 16 others.  Is it really a tropical F Mk IX?
  15. What did Crosby & Co do for the tropical Mk Vs?  The company is mentioned on 63 entries in the production database, all Malta or Middle East Vbs and Vcs.
  16. What is standard camo for Middle East from 1943?
  17. Which is the third Northolt IX?
  18. Were any of the other Northolt aircraft apart from BS273 modified?
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10 hours ago, Graham Boak said:

A couple of minor comments I missed earlier.

The straight-sided canopy was normal fit on Spitfires for longer than sometimes assumed.  It was introduced, I believe, at some time during the Mk,V production.  I don't think it was common on Mk.Vc (if at all) normally..

The mod for the balloon hood fit was dated (according to Spitfire the History) 20.10.41 which is about six months in to the Mk V production run.  Vc first production was 31.10.41 so presumably very few, if any, would have had the old hood. I cannot find any Mediterranean Spitfires (Malta or North Africa) that are that early so they all should have the later hood. I suppose that does not prevent asking for some to be shipped.

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