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N3196 XT-L - "Stapme" Stapleton's Spitfire Mk1a, any references for the squadron code on this aircraft?


WLJayne
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Hi all!

 

As part of our 1/144 "Spitfire Mk1 Vs Bf109E" set, we're including markings for Stapme's N3196 XT-L and Franz Von Werra's "Black Chevron" as documented on their 5th September 1940 dogfight over Kent. However we're having some trouble deciding the most accurate squadron code on the spitfire. Here's our WIP profile (top image,) which shows the letters as per a few oil paintings and sketches, however other 603 spits photographed in the same week show a different config. Which do you think is correct? Are there any photos around? As always, we welcome corrections and constructive feedback 😀. Many thanks!

 

Will.

 

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Edited by WLJayne
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My references suggest 24" grey codes with a 25 inch or 30 inch under wing roundel near the tip for XT-M although the grey codes on other machines in the squadron could possibly be larger (27 or even 30 inch) so a good photo is needed which unfortunately I don't have. However there is a well known pic of XT-D/ X4260 which landed in Calais on the 6th September 1940 and its codes also appear to be quite small as well as in 24" so this would be my own personal 'best guess'.

 

Regards

Colin.

 

Ps. For me personally the code letters look too big on both these colour profiles.

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6 hours ago, WLJayne said:

however other 603 spits photographed in the same week show a different config. Which do you think is correct?

RAF Sq codes are the proverbial can of worms.    If you do not have a photo of N3196,  and there may well not be one, BoB photos are rare, photography was illegal on bases, and given the time,  thisis the era when photos are rarest.   If not,  then it's 'best guess' from other planes in the squadrons, which usually,  are similar in size and 'font'  by this, but as there was no specified 'font'  this did vary.  As did code running order, this was not specified, and did vary.   Offhand I don't know if the starboard running order was XT-M, or M-XT. 

EDIT this is earlier, but  lacking anything else,  codes likely to have run like this later.  I forgot some early Spitfire have 25" A type

9088534ec31af155b4589e2164606518.jpg

 

 

as N3196 is an older airframes, 

"N3196Ia437EAMIIIFF 27-11-39 27MU 2-1-40 41Sq 14-4-40 ASTH 5-5-40 603Sq 3-9-40 shot down by Bf109 force-landed P/O Stapleton safe 7-9-40 AST 57OTU 7-8-41 dived into ground Shotley Bridge Northumberland CE 9-4-43 SOC 25-4-43"

then as built would have had 35 inch A roundel on fuselage, and black/white undersides,   so the roundel may have been repainted to the 35" A1, or just had a yellow ring added to existing, these varied in width.   Again, the underside would be repainted into Sky, or 'sky mix' or a substitute. 

 

Note if the profile of XT-M/X4277 is supposed to be the based on the photo above this is another demonstration of my sig line on profiles... 

 

6 hours ago, WLJayne said:

Are there any photos around?

No idea.  

 

@lasermonkey has/had a photobucket with lots of Spitfire photos.   

I don't know if there was anything in the Wingleader photo Album. @Mark Postlethwaite  maybe able to help.

One chap who is not on here, but has a large archive is Dilip Sarkar,  @AndyL  knows him, and may know more.

 

If I find out any more, I'll add it in.

 

edit this is XT-D as mentioned by Colin,  these look to be 24 inch high codes in comparison to the roundel.  

Spitfire-MkIa-RAF-603Sqn-XTD-PO-J.R-Cais

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Indeed that profile of XT-M is wrong in just about every way as far as the codes and roundels go. I hope this is taken as "constructive feedback" as requested.

The X and T should go from the bottom of the yellow ring to the top of the white one. The top position is correct but they are too tall. The M should be quite stretched out and goes all the way to the serial - the photo is not good enough to say if it overlaps the serial. The roundel seems to be correct except the red dot is too large.

Edit - The posts below may be correct in that the yellow cutting ring is drawn too wide on the profile. I would fix the red dot first, then consider whether the yellow was in proportion. If it's wrong, it's not very wrong!

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The roundel on ZD-D definitely appears to differ from that on the two aircraft behind both in terms of size and proportions and the one on XT-D is different again suggesting a degree of variation even within an individual squadron. This may be due in part to older machines having their original roundels 'added to' (quite common) in order to meet the revised colour requirements with the yellow outer ring whilst new/fresh machines would have had the new standard applied at the factory therefore providing greater consistency.

 

Regards

Colin.

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11 hours ago, Ed Russell said:

Indeed that profile of XT-M is wrong in just about every way as far as the codes and roundels go. I hope this is taken as "constructive feedback" as requested.

The X and T should go from the bottom of the yellow ring to the top of the white one. The top position is correct but they are too tall. The M should be quite stretched out and goes all the way to the serial - the photo is not good enough to say if it overlaps the serial. The roundel seems to be correct except the red dot is too large.

Edit - The posts below may be correct in that the yellow cutting ring is drawn too wide on the profile. I would fix the red dot first, then consider whether the yellow was in proportion. If it's wrong, it's not very wrong!

Thanks Ed, I'm not sure who did the XT-M profile, our work in progress is the XT-L one but we know it's wrong as it currently stands 🙂. We're not doing XT-M at this time, in many ways it would be easier if we were however the Stapleton/Von Werra dogfight with XT-L will make for an interesting set.

 

Thanks for the info so far, everyone! I have to say, researching these schemes has been the most challenging part of the entire creative process. Info on this period is hard to find and digest indeed! But we would much rather engage the community and try to get it right than blag it and end up with something people aren't happy with, even at 1/144th.

 

So far then, as a preliminary spec: N3196 XT-L might had had:

 

- 24" codes as per XT-D photo

 

- 35" A1 roundel

 

- 24/30" roundels underwing near tips

 

It's possible that we might never know for sure, but at least this way it will be a plausible deduction based on evidence.

 

We have several other profiles in development and if you're willing, we could really use the help with those too! I devote as much time as I can to research, however I wear so many hats in this business at this stage that extra hands and eyes made the world of difference.

 

Will.

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3 minutes ago, WLJayne said:

We have several other profiles in development and if you're willing, we could really use the help with those too!

It's a good place to ask.

Just in case you don't have it this

.album.jpg?m=1608245641

is scanned here

https://boxartden.com/reference/gallery/index.php/Camouflage-Markings/Supermarine-Spitfire

 

you can find the bound set of all 12,  while old, circa 1970, it was the first really good reference,  using recently declassfied material. 

11 hours ago, Black Knight said:

Is it an illusion but is the yellow outer ring of the roundel on -M thinner than that on ZD-D and XT-D ?

I think it's an illusion, what ZD-D and XT-D have are the large 7 inch centre spot to the roundel, this was a factory mistake, but commonly seen.  It should be 5 inch, as seen on XT-M,  there are details of this in the booklet, though it carried on applied for quite some time.

 

16 minutes ago, WLJayne said:

I'm not sure who did the XT-M profile

Mark Styling,  another sausage machine profile "artist" like Richard Caruana,  lots and lots  of pretty pictures,  frequently wrong in detail.  

 

HTH

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19 minutes ago, Troy Smith said:

Mark Styling,  another sausage machine profile "artist" like Richard Caruana,  lots and lots  of pretty pictures,  frequently wrong in detail.  

😂 oh dear! I think what I might do is start a fresh thread when we've done some updates for critiques on our profiles. We have seventeen Spitfire profiles in development and almost as many for the 109, and all of them are going to have to be as carefully produced as we can. Antonis is a very good artist, but we can help him make really good profiles by supplying him with the best references possible. It would be such a shame to spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar - especially when the whole idea of the range is to collect interesting airframes in different marking schemes.

 

I do have Peter Schott and Gary Madgwick's BoB markings book and it seems good, but I don't want to rely on it completely of course. Photos are always the most useful reference!

 

We just finished updating our K9795 profile which had a lot of mistakes which we've been able to correct thanks to Mark Postlethwaite - but he's a busy chap and very generously advising us in his spare time so I don't want to ask too much of him. 

Edited by WLJayne
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24 minutes ago, WLJayne said:

Photos are always the most useful reference!

Indeed.   there are a fair few schemes whose provenance goes back to the 1960's Aircraft In Profile series,  which have been reproduced so often they have become fact,  quite a few got their most recent re-airing  in 2020 Valiant Wings Hurricane book. 

 

The best photo books that have come out in ages are the Wingleader Photo Archive,  but if you are in touch with @Mark Postlethwaite I expect you have those?

 

29 minutes ago, WLJayne said:

I think what I might do is start a fresh thread when we've done some updates for critiques on our profiles. We have seventeen Spitfire profiles in development and almost as many for the 109, and all of them are going to have to be as carefully produced as we can. Antonis is a very good artist, but we can help him make really good profiles by supplying him with the best references possible. It would be such a shame to spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar - especially when the whole idea of the range is to collect interesting airframes in different marking schemes.

Plenty of help available here from the hive mind. 

Again, the wingleader books do have some new images.   Some 'new' schemes are always good, I was less then impressed by say the options being offered by Eduard rebox dual combo Hurricane set for example.

At least in 1/144 there is the ease of doing say one from every squadron in a reasonable amount of space!

29 minutes ago, WLJayne said:

I do have Peter Schott and Gary Madgwick's BoB markings book and it seems good, but I don't want to rely on it completely of course.

which one?  is that one of the Model Alliance ones? 

 

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14 minutes ago, Troy Smith said:

Indeed.   there are a fair few schemes whose provenance goes back to the 1960's Aircraft In Profile series,  which have been reproduced so often they have become fact,  quite a few got their most recent re-airing  in 2020 Valiant Wings Hurricane book. 

 

The best photo books that have come out in ages are the Wingleader Photo Archive,  but if you are in touch with @Mark Postlethwaite I expect you have those?

 

Plenty of help available here from the hive mind. 

Again, the wingleader books do have some new images.   Some 'new' schemes are always good, I was less then impressed by say the options being offered by Eduard rebox dual combo Hurricane set for example.

At least in 1/144 there is the ease of doing say one from every squadron in a reasonable amount of space!

which one?  is that one of the Model Alliance ones? 

 

Yes I have the Spitrfire Mk1 and all the Bf109E WL books, they're a great help! I think we have a couple of schemes that haven't been done - I thin being able to make all three of the 610 Sqn schemes from that famous photo will be a good selling point. In addition to specific airframes schemes we'll also have generic BoB Spitfire /109 decal sheets with most of the major marking options covered so that people can make any aircraft they want though of course it might not be 100% accurate. 

 

The book I have is the On Target Special by the Aviation Workshop Publications. It does have lots of schemes in it though they'd all need to be checked against photos, but the one's I've done that with seem pretty solid.

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  • 10 months later...

Hi Everyone,

 

Long time since I updated this but I just wanted to thank everyone for their input on this. I've been working through all these profiles slowly and have been utilising the pile of books I now have on the subject including:

 

- Camouflage and Markings: Supermarine Spitfire 1936-45 (James Goulding)

 

- The Battle of Britain: Camoflage and Markings 1940 (Scott & Madgwick)

 

- Wingleader Photo Archive: Supermarine Spitfire MkI (Mark Postlethwaite) 

 

- Camoflage & Markings No.2: The Battle For Britain - RAF (Paul Lucas)

 

I have also been in touch with Paul to discuss some of the various points of detail and he's been of great help. A lot of it is still a best guess, where I've had to take what we know was standard(ish) in a particular timeframe during 1940, and modify it to reflect photos of other aircraft in the same unit. For example things like the size of the red dots and yellow bands in the A1 fuselage roundels, which varied quite a bit on the early airframes and serials. I've spotted a few things that other profiles and decals didn't get quite right (compared to good photos) and in some cases I've had to nail my colours to a particular post where no one really knows the truth, only what's plausible. I'm also working in 1/144, which adds its own challenges with the limitations of size!

 

Nonetheless I hope I'll have done justice to these aircraft when I'm finished, and I'll be uploading profiles to the website when they're finished so you can see exactly what you're getting in the boxes and in the bonus decal sets.

 

Will.

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Posted (edited)

I've completed a draft of this profile, based on research, photos of aircraft from the same squadron in the late summer period, best guesses and your very valuable suggestions, and I would welcome feedback on it 😃.

 

Features:

 

- A Pattern camouflage scheme (suggested because of even serial and early production date.)

- 7" stroke fin flashes (suggested as per May AM order)

- 35" A1 fuselage roundel (suggested factory applied 25" with 5" yellow band added as per other 603 spits.)

- 28" codes (suggested as per per other 603 spits - 24" seemed too small to me and code size varies a lot in this unit.)

- Stb side codes read "L-XT," port side codes read "XT-L" (as per photos of other 603 spits.)

- 25" underwing roundels (suggested because of photos of spifires post August AM order, but before 50" factory applied type A roundels appeared.)

 

So as you can see, it can hardly be called a definitive scheme, and is only what I believe is plausible given available evidence, but there may be room for improvement so please let me know if you have any thoughts. Please note, colours shown are approximate and will vary due to screens etc. Suggested underside colour will be of a "sky" variety as recommended by Paul Lucas.

 

Thanks chaps! Will.

 

 

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Edited by WLJayne
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Also I'm still on the fence abut the fuselage roundel. @Troy Smith's suggestion of a factory applied 35" roundel with the yellow band applied later is very plausible, and the only thing making me hesitant is that I can't find any other photos of spits from 603 with the large roundel in that period. 

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1 hour ago, WLJayne said:

and the only thing making me hesitant is that I can't find any other photos of spits from 603 with the large roundel in that period. 

ask @lasermonkey foe the Ted Hooton article from SAM 1982,  or if he has an 603 images

 

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1 hour ago, Troy Smith said:

ask @lasermonkey foe the Ted Hooton article from SAM 1982,  or if he has an 603 images

 

I did find the photobucket but unfortunately it was restricted. I have emailed Gary at SAM and maybe he will be able to help with this. But the more I'm thinking about it, the more I'm inclined to switch to a 49" Type A1 roundel (as seen on the 610 spits) and 29" codes. What do you think?

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Hallo there! I may be able to help on this! I have Stapme Stapleton's autobiography, and I am 90% certain from memory there is a picture of the crashed N3196 in it after the encounter with Von Werra. Again from memory it shows the starboard side and -I think- shows XT nearest the tail. I think it also shows the roundel. I don't think it shows the L though because that is just blocked by a bush or something similar.. In any case I  am on hols and returning on Saturday night, so can post a pic on Sunday if that's any help. Apologies in advance if my memory proves faulty!

Stapme's Spitfire from the Von Werra encounter is next but one on my BoB project list, so something I am v.interested in...and hence the purchase of a v.second hand copy at an airshow a couple of years back.

Cheers  Ralph

Edited by Ralph
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1 hour ago, Ralph said:

Hallo there! I may be able to help on this! I have Stapme Stapleton's autobiography, and I am 90% certain from memory there is a picture of the crashed N3196 in it after the encounter with Von Werra. Again from memory it shows the starboard side and -I think- shows XT nearest the tail. I think it also shows the roundel. I don't think it shows the L though because that is just blocked by a bush or something similar.. In any case I  am on hols and returning on Saturday night, so can post a pic on Sunday if that's any help. Apologies in advance if my memory proves faulty!

Stapme's Spitfire from the Von Werra encounter is next but one on my BoB project list, so something I am v.interested in...and hence the purchase of a v.second hand copy at an airshow a couple of years back.

Cheers  Ralph

 

Many thanks Ralph! Very kind offer but no need, I just picked up a copy on ebey for a princely three quid!! Hopefully it will have the photo in it, and if not, well it'll be a darned good read!

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N3196 was manufactured in late 1939, first flying on 27 November. May give you clues to the original roundel, and any changes.

 

(sorry, away from my own references at the moment)

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16 hours ago, Peter Roberts said:

N3196 was manufactured in late 1939, first flying on 27 November. May give you clues to the original roundel, and any changes.

 

(sorry, away from my own references at the moment)

 

Indeed so, many left the production lines with the larger roundel in that period, hopefully the photo in the autobiography will help, but if it isn't there then unless anyone knows of another photo I'll probably change it over to the larger type.

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35 minutes ago, WLJayne said:

- 28-30" ish codes

re codes.

 

Think imperial measurements, by this, it's a base 12 system,  1 ft = 12 inch,  so common divisors, half a foot ie 6 inches,    so "how big are the codes Bert"   "two foot six" ..., or 30 inch (6, 12, 18, 24. 30, 36, 42 sequence)  

 

the roundel looks to have been properly repainted (or was a 25 inch to start) so looks to be 35 inch, (roundels, unlike codes, were specified higher up) so the codes look to be 30 inch.

or two foot six......

 

If in doubt, get a larger scale kit, (or drawing) and sketch onto to it. 

 

@WLJayne  I am impressed that you have taken the time to engage with the BM community on this to 'get it right' ...  you may want to even consider scaling up you artwork for larger scale decals sheets,  as far too often they are not as well researched as this....   

 

cheers

T

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @Troy, that's high praise indeed. Many of you are far more knowledgeable about these aircraft than we are, and the help we've had here and elsewhere in gathering evidence and resources has been invaluable. As you say, it's important to get these right as best we can, they may be small models but it's a hugely significant period of history that means a lot to many modellers, we want these kits to set a benchmark in the scale so we're taking our time and being as thorough as possible. We definitely bit off a huge mouthful to chew with releasing 30 schemes out of the gate between main box schemes and extra decal sets, but we hope it'll increase the appeal to those what want to collect and model. I don't think we'll do as many with future releases though.

 

I agree with your assessment, two foot six codes seems right to me too. As for other decal sheets, it's something we can always get around to in future and I'm sure these threads will be good reference for other companies who dig around on this site for information. 

 

EDIT: Just looked again and 2'6 is far too tall compared to the photos. I'm pretty certain now that these were 2' codes, it a dead match for the photos.

Edited by WLJayne
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Good work finding the right edition of the book. The ex-library copy I looked in has no pictures!

If the roundel is a 24 inch with a yellow ring painted on (making it larger)  the codes are about the same 24 inches. The fin flash is not really decipherable in this picture.

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@Ed Russell thanks, I'm really happy I managed to get it! it's a little bit clearer in the actual photo and I'm pretty certain the fin flash is the standard 7" band one that goes from the stabs to the top of the rudder post about 3' in height, my phone's camera isn't that great sadly. I'm pretty sure the roundel would have been the previous AM standard of three concentric 5" bands, so there's only an inch difference between the codes and the roundel which seems to be what the photo shows. At 1/144 this is as I say "a gnat's chuff."

 

But it's all coming together now! Having put the final touches to Stapme's MkIa, I'm working on Marcin Machowiak's MkIIb scheme today.

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