TonyOD Posted November 11, 2022 Share Posted November 11, 2022 (edited) As my early Mk I is nearing completion my thoughts are turning towards my next Spitfire build. I had thought to do a very late marque variant, probably the F Mk 22 or 24, but have decided instead that any self-respecting Spitfire collection needs a classic day fighter scheme, sky-spinner-and-band Mk V in its line-up. The airframe I have chosen is a fairly well known one – for 20 years or so it was the box star of Airfix’s 1/72 Vb, first tooled in the 1970s: Spitfire Mk Vb EN951/RF*D, flown by Squadron Leader Jan Zumbach during 1943. EN951 was originally issued to No. 133 “Eagle” Squadron in June 1942 and flown by Lt. Don Blakeslee, an American, before being transferred to No. 303 “Kosciuszko” Squadron in April 1943 to be flown by Zumbach, a Pole. This airframe was in fact the third Mk V to be flown by Zumbach, coded RF*D and painted with his personal “Donald Duck” emblem. It is a well photographed subject. Zumbach on the left: At one time the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight had their Mk Vb painted to represent this airframe, in fact I have a little bit of history with it, Ten or so years ago I went to a Spitfire “technical day” at RAF Coningsby. This was outside the flying season, so the BBMF planes were in various states of stripped-downness for winter maintenance, and I was able to get up close to them in the course of a very interesting day. Here’s me with said Spit on the day: And a shot of the same aircraft during a different visit to Conigsby: Zumbach himself was a colourful character. He began his military career as an infantryman, but qualified as a pilot in 1938; unfortunately he was unable to take part in the defence of Poland against German invasion due to a broken leg sustained in a flying accident, but his unit evacuated to France where he flew the Morane 406 and the Curtis Hawk. He was shot down in June 1940 but escaped unscathed. The following week he travelled to England by boat, and was one of the founding members of No. 303 Squadron in September of the same year. Flying Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain he chalked up eight kills and one probable. He was shot down again in May 1941, but again was unharmed. By May 1942 he was Squadron Leader of his unit, and was the first allied pilot to come up against the Fw 190. His war ended rather ignominiously when he spent a month as a prisoner of war, having accidentally landed the Auster he was piloting behind enemy lines due to a navigational error. After the war, under a Swiss passport (his Germanic surname comes from his Swiss grandfather) he made a living around Africa and the Middle East as a second-hand aircraft dealer, smuggler and mercenary. Zumbach died in slightly shady circumstances in France in 1986; an investigation into his death was closed by order of the French authorities without public explanation. No. 303 Squadron was one of the most storied units of the wartime RAF. Unlike squadrons made up of young, inexperienced, newly-trained British and Commonwealth pilots, 303’s Polish pilots with their combat experience and aggressiveness (it’s fair to say they had an axe to grind with the Germans over the invasion of their homeland) made them a formidable fighting group, and they scored the highest number of kills of any squadron during the Battle of Britain in their Hurricanes (despite joining the battle two months in), before converting to Spitfires in January 1941. Here they are with EN951: Anyway, that’s the background. The kit I’ll be using for this is the new-tool Airfix Mk Vb, which apart from the decals I’ll be building OOB. @stevej60 is very kindly sorting me out with decals, as the Techmod sheet I had in mind now seems to be discontinued. I'm going to have a look at the kit during the weekend. Thanks for looking in. Edited November 28, 2022 by TonyOD 20 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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