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RAAF Spitfire Mk Vc A58-2 Colin Duncan


Grissom
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Hi everyone,

 

I'm building a RAAF Spitfire Mk Vc at present and have thought about modelling the 452 Squadron aircraft flown by Colin Duncan, machine A58-2, serial AR523, coded QY-F.   My research hasn't yielded much and so I'm a bit uncertain about the aircraft's colour scheme and markings.   My current way of thinking is to paint it in the 'standard' foliage green, dark earth and azure blue scheme.   I think it would have had RAAF light blue codes, medium sea grey A58 serial and a black spinner.    I know it had the wide cannon covers on top of the wings.   I don't know what size upper wing roundels it had.   Does anyone have any evidence that might help me?   Incidentally, I've only found two photos of the aircraft on 'the net' - one with Duncan sitting on the rear of the port wing and the second of the machine undergoing maintenance in the field.   Thanks in advance.

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I presume you want to model the aircraft that Sgt Duncan had to abandon on 30 June 1943. To call it his aircraft is not accurate. It was an aircraft shared with other NCO pilots in A Flight.

I have only ever seen one photo of this aircraft. She's the one in the rear.

 

472dd3b1-038d-4563-b53f-975f3903dc69.jpg

 

AR523 was one of nine early Westland built aircraft that were received by the RAAF in December 1942. This was after No. 1 Fighter Wing had been equipped and, most went to No. 7 Aircraft Depot at Tocumwal, to be held as reserve aircraft. AR523 was assigned to No. 2 OCU in February 1943 when a fighter flight was formed within the OCU for the defence of Sydney, following Japanese incursions in the area. Losses at No. 1 Fighter Wing then resulted in her being assigned as an attrition replacement. She was received by No. 452 Sqn on 14 May 1943, and was coded QY-F, replacing BS162, (QY-F), which had been lost on 2 May. She, in turn, was lost on 30 June when Sgt Duncan experienced serious engine problems and had to parachute from the aircraft.

 

As to the camouflage colours, I would agree with RAAF Foliage Green, RAF Dark Earth and RAF Azure Blue. The codes would have been RAAF Sky Blue. The serial is probably MSG. I can't give much help with the upper wing roundels size and proportions. The only shot I have of a Westland built AR series aircraft that shows the upper wing roundels is of the orphan AR562 that was assembled by No. 2 AD. On that aircraft they are quite small, about 32" dia. Other Spitfires, from Supermarine, that went through No. 1 AD at that time seem to have had the full size roundel with the diameter of the white section being about 2/5ths that of the blue, i.e just over-painting the original red with blue. One other thing to note is that these Westland built aircraft had dust covers fitted to the wheels. 

 

 

I think the shot that you have seen of Duncan sitting on the port wing is actually of this aircraft, which is BR537, QY-A. It was with No. 452 Sqn from August 1943 to March 1944, and was flown quite a bit by Duncan in that time. There are several photos of this aircraft available if that is the one you wish to model.

c165d4b9-9638-44a5-9184-ed444fb86adf.jpg

 

f3b099bc-b623-4406-8951-a9562bb8ba55.jpg

 

Hope the above is of some help,

Peter M

 

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Hi Peter,

 

Thank you, so much, for your very detailed reply.   I didn't realise this particular aircraft was a 'communal' fighter shared by various NCO's.  (I assume this is an example of 'rank has its privileges...  and NCO pilots have virtually none.)  In any event, I am keen to model this aircraft because of the amazing resilience Duncan displayed whilst marooned in the outback for days following the mishap on the 30th of May, 1943.   So, after all that, I shall model her as you have described.   Once again, thank you very much for sharing your knowledge about this subject matter.   You are a true asset to the hobby and modellers worldwide.

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Squadrons had more pilots than aircraft, so some such allocation was desirable.  It was normal that officers had their "own" aircraft, which they would usually fly, whereas junior pilots would fly whatever was available, which would include those allocated to officers when these individuals were not flying.  Exceptions in this and other matters were made in the case of NCOs who were successful and more experienced, and were recognised as particularly valuable members of the unit.

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1 hour ago, Graham Boak said:

Squadrons had more pilots than aircraft, so some such allocation was desirable.  It was normal that officers had their "own" aircraft, which they would usually fly, whereas junior pilots would fly whatever was available, which would include those allocated to officers when these individuals were not flying.  Exceptions in this and other matters were made in the case of NCOs who were successful and more experienced, and were recognised as particularly valuable members of the unit.

As Graham says, squadrons had more piot than A/C. In the RAAF, it was normal practice in the fighter squadrons to have two or three aircraft assigned to the NCO pilots in each flight. Sometimes, experienced NCO pilots got to call an aircraft their own. 

Peter M

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5 hours ago, Hornet133 said:

Hi PTM. Never noticed before but BR537 has an unusually tall aerial mast.

 

Steve Mackenzie

Steve,

Can't say that I see it myself. A 'noptical delusion' perhaps?

Peter

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  • 3 months later...

Hi Peter (Magpie 22),

I've finally arrived at the painting stage of my project and so it's 'crunch time' - time to commit to the markings this machine had at the time it was lost.    In your initial response, you said you have only seen one photo of this aircraft, being the one you posted of it in flight.   A couple of websites (Ozatwar and ADF Serials) record AR523 as being RAAF serial A58-2.   Is this correct?   The reason I ask is that I stumbled upon a photo of a RAAF spitfire undergoing maintenance in the field that appears to bear the serial A58-2.    It is simply coded 'T'.   This link takes you to that image: 

 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/9f/c7/8c/9fc78c36989bab2632c4991b9c620a85.jpg

 

If the Ozatwar and AD Serial websites are correct in identifying AR523 and A58-2 are one and same aircraft, I am now confused.   I always thought the RAAF overpainted an aircraft's factory-applied serial number prior to applying a RAAF serial number.   If this is the case, then the image of the aircraft undergoing maintenance in the field is the more recent photograph of the two.   The problem I have is that that photo does not depict the aircraft with its 'QY' code markings.   If the QY codes were applied after the 'maintenance' photo was taken, why does the Westland-applied serial number appear on the airframe when it's sporting its QY codes?    In other words, which serial number would the aircraft have been displaying at the time it was lost?

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Posted (edited)
On 5/23/2021 at 4:51 AM, Grissom said:

Hi Peter (Magpie 22),

I've finally arrived at the painting stage of my project and so it's 'crunch time' - time to commit to the markings this machine had at the time it was lost.    In your initial response, you said you have only seen one photo of this aircraft, being the one you posted of it in flight.   A couple of websites (Ozatwar and ADF Serials) record AR523 as being RAAF serial A58-2.   Is this correct?   The reason I ask is that I stumbled upon a photo of a RAAF spitfire undergoing maintenance in the field that appears to bear the serial A58-2.    It is simply coded 'T'.   This link takes you to that image: 

 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/9f/c7/8c/9fc78c36989bab2632c4991b9c620a85.jpg

 

If the Ozatwar and AD Serial websites are correct in identifying AR523 and A58-2 are one and same aircraft, I am now confused.   I always thought the RAAF overpainted an aircraft's factory-applied serial number prior to applying a RAAF serial number.   If this is the case, then the image of the aircraft undergoing maintenance in the field is the more recent photograph of the two.   The problem I have is that that photo does not depict the aircraft with its 'QY' code markings.   If the QY codes were applied after the 'maintenance' photo was taken, why does the Westland-applied serial number appear on the airframe when it's sporting its QY codes?    In other words, which serial number would the aircraft have been displaying at the time it was lost?

 

 

 

 Your link doesn't work for me. However, I think the photo to which you refer may be this one.

7b746346-4d82-4158-9d6b-c1dc1d285635.jpg

 

If this is the same as the pic you found, the aircraft in the foreground is not A58-2. If you look carefully at the photo you will note that it has the round mirror, narrow cannon bulges, and no ID light on the dorsal fuselage, typical of a late Castle Bromwich machine in the MA and MH series. These aircraft carried RAAF store ident from A58-231 on. This photo was taken near Perth in March 1944 when Nos 452 and 457 Squadrons made a rapid deployment to Perth, when a US submarine reported a Japanese invasion fleet approaching. (They were wrong). The squadron ID letters were over painted on that deployment for security reasons and, this probably accounts for the missing last two digits of the ident.

 

AR523 was assigned the RAAF stores number of A58-2, but it never carried it. Initially, Spitfire VC aircraft retained their individual aircraft serials within the RAAF A58 stores classification. In November 1943, they were all assigned an individual number within the A58 stores classification. The numbers were assigned in the sequence of the list of RAF Serials, (although there were some errors), even if an aircraft no longer existed. Thus AR510 became A58-1 and AR532 was allotted the stores ident A58-2. It was a posthumous allotment and It never carried that identity as it had been lost in June 1943. The first six Spitfire VC aircraft received by the RAAF became A58-22, 23, 25, 56, 57, 58. AR510, (A58-2), was about the 105th aircraft received. Probably all made sense to the bean counters but, has caused confusion among historians ever since.

 

Final word: The aircraft was serialled AR523 when it was lost.

 

Sorry to be a bit 'long winded' but I think it may help you understand my answer to your question.

 

Peter Malone

 

 

 

Edited by Magpie22
corrected an error
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Thank you, Peter, for clearing that issue up.   It's all totally understandable now.

 

Kind regards,


Wayne

Melbourne, Australia

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12 hours ago, Rod Blievers said:

"near Perth"?? Is this Guildford do you think Peter?

G'day Rod,

 

I believe that it is probably Guildford as both squadrons were stationed there during the deployment. I am unfamiliar with the area and that's whiy I was unwilling to commit. I got the original print from one of the No. 452 Squadron pilots and, his note on the back of the print is not very helpful. - "Some of our aircraft doing inspection while on 'the journey'". This could be interpreted to mean that it was one of the intermediate airfields that the squadron staged through on the flight from Strauss to Guildford. These were Derby, Port Headland and Carnarvon.

 

That was one hell of an epic trip, flown in foul weather and all nav by dead reckoning, on compass and watch and what few landmarks you could sight. The CO of No. 457 Sqn, later my boss at ARL, confided in me that he wished that he knew then what he later learned about the large iron ore deposits. The squadron left Port Headland in very bad weather, and he flew on compass. When he broke out of the weather he found he was hopelessly lost. He had flown over the iron ore deposits and that had tricked his compass. After stooging around for a half hour or so he spotted a T intersection in the telegraph lines - the only one for hundreds of square miles. He was well off course and they were unable to reach their destination, Carnarvon. He diverted to Pardoo Station, (ranch for any American readers). The owner must have been more than a little surprised when a squadron of Spitfires orbited his homestead then formed into line astern before breaking into a landing approach to his strip. He rose to the occassion, "killed the fatted calf", and the squadron dined well that night!

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

 

 

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452 Squadron deployment
9 March 1944 depart Strauss, arrive Wyndham, meant to fly to Derby.
10 March To Derby then Port Hedland
11 March to Carnarvon then Guildford.

24 March depart Guildford
25 March arrive Strauss
27 March (last of) ground crew depart Guildford
28 March (last of) ground crew arrive Strauss

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On 23/05/2021 at 05:38, Magpie22 said:

 

This photo was taken near Perth in March 1944 when Nos 452 and 457 Squadrons made a rapid deployment to Perth, when a US aircraft reported a Japanese invasion fleet approaching. (They were wrong). The squadron ID letters were over painted on that deployment for security reasons and, this probably accounts for the missing last two digits of the ident.

 

 

Thanks for this information. But I’m curious. Do you have a source for the false aircraft report?

 

I was looking at this period from the British side a few weeks ago, and didn’t realise there were also Australian redeployments, so something else to follow up on.

 

It was all connected to the arrival of the main Japanese fleet at Singapore from mid-Feb. Needless to say it caused a bit of a stir and resulted in both RN and RAF redeployments to India/Ceylon around this time. This was supposed to have been learned about from signals intelligence (including code breaking) and the Australian intelligence units were reportedly closely involved if not the initial source. Three Japanese cruisers also spent two weeks cruising the Indian Ocean at the start of March. So I wonder if that aircraft report was related to the latter or was a cover for intelligence work that needed to be kept secret.

 

TIA.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Peter:

 

Given the trees in the background the location is NOT Port Hedland or Carnarvon. Derby had two small dispersal areas amongst the trees not there either.

 

I don't know how to post images here, but I believe the photo is taken looking north, the aircraft in the foreground are parked next the taxiway leading to the the main dispersal area (now under the International Terminal) while the aircraft in the background are near the apex of Runways 24 and 11. There was an ORP built there to shorten the Spitfires taxying time because of overheating issues.

 

As you say, it must have been a hell of a trip through the least salubrious parts of WA!

 

Cheers, Rod.

Edited by Rod Blievers
missed capital letter
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3 hours ago, Rod Blievers said:

Hi Peter:

 

Given the trees in the background the location is NOT Port Hedland or Carnarvon. Derby had two small dispersal areas amongst the trees not there either.

 

As you say, it must have been a hell of a trip through the least salubrious parts of WA!

 

Cheers, Rod.

Rod,

That agrees with my assessment, but, I don't have the experience of having been to most of those locations. Good to have the feedback from one who has. Advantage of a flying career!!

Peter

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Just to add my two bobs worth as a born and bred Perthite, the trees in the background are known locally as Christmas trees (Nuytsia Floribunda - don't worry I had to Google that one) and they only grow in the South West corner of WA. I also lived briefly in Carnarvon in the fifties and the only decent trees there were along the Gascoyne River, a fair way from the airport.

TRF

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Actually fastferry I'm a Perth boy too!

 

Thanks for the confirmation. I learned to fly at Guildford in the early 1960's, and didn't then appreciate what I thought were roads meandering off for no apparent reason through the scrub were in fact wartime dispersal taxiways!

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Jeez Rod, you must be older than me. I earned pocket money during my junior high school xmas holidays ('61, '62 & '63) as a dogsbody at the Royal Aero Club at Guildford before they moved to Jandakot. My first real job was in the drawing office with MMA drawing up boring things like galley bits and pieces although I did get to draw up the new colour scheme for the ill fated Viscount aircraft that they briefly operated.

TRF

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Posted (edited)

A very small world indeed. I started with the RAC of WA in 1961 as a spotty-faced ATC cadet on a Flying Scholarship.

 

Message sent...

 

Edited by Rod Blievers
Added sentence.
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