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“Spit and Polish” – Spitfire Mk. Vb, Jan Zumbach, No. 303 (Kościuszko) Squadron, RAF


TonyOD
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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:

 

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 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.

 

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Zumbach on the left:

 

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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:

 

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And a shot of the same aircraft during a different visit to Conigsby:

 

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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.

 

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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:

 

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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 by TonyOD
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4 minutes ago, Phoenix44 said:

Interesting that the close up shot has a smaller duck and the kill markings are higher up the fuselage too. In hhe other shots the duck's feet are below the fuel tank armour.


EN591 was the third “Donald Duck” Vb flown by Zumbach, the duck got bigger each time 🦆 

 

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15 minutes ago, bigbadbadge said:

It's a great aircraft to model Tony also the light on the fuselage spine is dark possibly black ?

Chris


Interesting! Looks possibly painted over in dark grey in the pic above.

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3 minutes ago, Biggles87 said:

You’ve chosen the old Airfix Vb, you must like a challenge.

 

Heavens no! It's the new tool 1/48. The pic of the old 1/72 box I just used for illustrative purposes, as the OOB scheme of that old kit happened to be EN951. It's 1/48 all the way for me now! 😁

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6 minutes ago, Biggles87 said:

Wrong scale for my aged eyesight and fingers but I’ll have a look. 

I think he's going for the 1/48 one John :) Unless even that is too small :D 

 

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Well, the kit looks, I suppose, like you would expect a new-tool Spitfire from a mainstream manufacturer to look. Nicely moulded, subtle surface detail although lacking the finesse of the Eduard kit, no issues with short shots. Transparencies look good. Apprently there is some issue with the undercarriage of the new Airfix kits that I need to read up on.

 

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I recently got hold of both volumes of Robert Humprey's Spitfire Modellers Guide and they come with excellent drawings of the various marque. The fuselage looks pretty good, perhaps a tiny bit shallow at the tail:

 

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Everything seems to be where it should be on the wings, but what are those parallel spars? They appear on the Mk I drawing but not the Mk V. (EDIT: done a bit of googling on these "strakes". they will need to come off.)

 

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I don't think I see them on this photo of EN951 while it was still with No. 133 Squadron:

 

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I'm itching to get started with this one now. I'm planning to make an attempt at some meaningful weathering on this build, we'll see how it goes.

 

 

Edited by TonyOD
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I think the Airfix Spitfire kits are lovely and very enjoyable, the undercarriage legs , you can glue the 2 sections of the legs together and then cut them apart so you have a straight cut and drill and pin the legs but don't glue back together until later in the build.  Also the tolerances are quite tight so clean the mating surfaces and when you add the cockpit module, it might be worth leaving loose until you get the fuel tank cover in place too.

Hope this helps

Chris

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18 minutes ago, bigbadbadge said:

I think the Airfix Spitfire kits are lovely and very enjoyable, the undercarriage legs , you can glue the 2 sections of the legs together and then cut them apart so you have a straight cut and drill and pin the legs but don't glue back together until later in the build.  Also the tolerances are quite tight so clean the mating surfaces and when you add the cockpit module, it might be worth leaving loose until you get the fuel tank cover in place too.

Hope this helps

Chris

 

Thanks for these tips. I tend to mask mating surfaces (fuselage halves, cockpit bits) before painting for that reason. The undercarriage sounds like a bit of a faff!

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5 minutes ago, TonyOD said:

 

Thanks for these tips. I tend to mask mating surfaces (fuselage halves, cockpit bits) before painting for that reason. The undercarriage sounds like a bit of a faff!

No worries,  yes the UC may be a faff, but it still builds into a lovely Spitfire. 

Chris

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Sunday morning shift starting to paint up cockpit parts. the jury is out on whether the canoipy will be open or closed, we'll see how the 'pit tub turns out. I'm not using etch on this one so it'll be a decal on the i/p and home-made seatbelts. Exhausts from the Mk I loitering in the background.

 

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An appreciative nod in the direction of Mt @Troy Smith - using lighter fluid instead of cheapo white spirit to thin my enamels is a revelation in terms of ease of application, coverage, speed of drying and smell. Cheers.

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On 12/11/2022 at 07:14, TonyOD said:

I recently got hold of both volumes of Robert Humprey's Spitfire Modellers Guide and they come with excellent drawings of the various marque. The fuselage looks pretty good, perhaps a tiny bit shallow at the tail:

 

 

AFAIK the drawings are wrong, and the kit is right.  It's noted for being very good dimensionally.   Note, the SAM guide has some absolute cobbeler in the kit reviews from memory.  Not to be trusted absolutely.

On 12/11/2022 at 07:14, TonyOD said:

Everything seems to be where it should be on the wings, but what are those parallel spars? They appear on the Mk I drawing but not the Mk V

Case in point, as your searches will have shwon they were a retro fit on an A and B wings. 

 

Re the Airfix kit,  the big issue folks have has is the cockpit tub and fuel tank cover not fitting later.  In short, don't glue the bottom of the tub together, add to the sidewalls, and make sure the tank cover fits, you may need to scrape it inside.  Do a serious taped together dry run of the tub/fuselage/bulkheads and fuel tanks to see what I mean.  And make sure every mould line and sprue nib is cleaned off, the fit is very precise.

similar thing to this

On 12/11/2022 at 09:05, bigbadbadge said:

the undercarriage legs , you can glue the 2 sections of the legs together and then cut them apart so you have a straight cut and drill and pin the legs but don't glue back together until later in the build.  Also the tolerances are quite tight so clean the mating surfaces and when you add the cockpit module, it might be worth leaving loose until you get the fuel tank cover in place too.

 

RE the UC legs, you need a fine drill, I suggest drilling from the top where the half round section is, down through the pivot, then glue the leg in, and then drill up into the leg from below,   when set, cut off leg,  as this will give you aligned holes for attaching the legs later.   A bit of a faff, but the forward planning will make for easy alignment and a strong join...

moulding pins are good for this, thinner and stronger than paper clip. 

I thought this was done in  this build, maybe it was the nest one,  but this thread is well worth a read.  

 

Ah, it was done in another build

20198834274_abea9b4f0f_c.jpg

 

they were glued on and then drilled up,  my suggested method, of drilling in from the top of the pivot is more fool proof,  eliminating drill wander...

from

https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234984612-two-148-mki-spitfires-tamiya-and-airfix-new-tool-finished-and-in-the-gallery-261015/page/8/#elControls_2079917_menu

 

Again, well worth a read for the detailed explanations, skilful modelling and clear photography. 

 

1 hour ago, TonyOD said:

using lighter fluid instead of cheapo white spirit to thin my enamels is a revelation in terms of ease of application, coverage, speed of drying and smell.

I'm pleased to know it works well with enamels, I use it for oil paint.    I do still have some enamels   ....some I was given, and some are from about 1981....

I did use oil paints this summer doing a neighbours attic window, that hadn't been painted since 1993, (I know this as I painted it back then)  and was down to bare weathered and wood...    reminded me how much I dislike the solvents and clean up. 

 

On 11/11/2022 at 15:34, TonyOD said:

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:

 

Note while the BBMF does a really superb job of keeping them flying,  they are not always so good on on the anorak detail.... note the grey-green wheel wells...  I have seen it on another BBMF spit as well. 

leading too...

bits.jpg

 

Spitfire internals, apart from the cockpit to the seat bulkhead, and engine bearers, until late 43 or later,(debated)  the rest was aluminium paint.

For your requirements, this is Inside of the wing in th UC leg area,  and  fuselage behind seat.

I'll  use of of @PlaStix  pics for clairity

20626668271_12a7157d23_c.jpg

 

some wartime colour, look closely as it's not really obvious, click the pic and you can get the enlargement on Flickr

 

6897888779_06e2d05685_b.jpgSpitfire Mk.V cockpit. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

46670737505_7250ff3b02_b.jpgSpitfire cockpit, 1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

Keith Park on Malta BTW

 

8602734232_02c9e7b3d2_b.jpgSpitfire L.F. mk.V,   6 August 1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

2527521628_b66bedd8c5_c.jpgSpitfire Mk.I by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

pre war...

16804377395_ef98bef002_b.jpgSpitfire Mk. IIA, 1941. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

5232312442_f9dc973939_b.jpgSpitfire PR XI   Nov. 1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

just visible here...when you know ;) 

50820325202_910763385f_b.jpgSpitfire Mk.Vb,  c1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

all from

Flickr Search

which is all the Spitfire pics in colour collated by @Etiennedup.... 

 

 

and the inside of wing in leg wheel well......

48992641552_39cc4f653c_b.jpgSpitfire Mk.I maintenance film UC well colour by losethekibble, on Flickr

 

It's not responding right now, but there are some fantastic images of a very carefully restored Vb cockpt here

http://spitfiresite.com/2010/07/anatomy-of-spitfire-cockpit.html

 

I probably posted some of the above before....

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Just now, Troy Smith said:

Spitfire internals, apart from the cockpit to the seat bulkhead, and engine bearers, until late 43 or later,(debated)  the rest was aluminium paint.

 

Thanks for that. I was aware of the inside of the fuselage aft of the green bit (was just waiting for the green to dry before painting it), but not forward it. Also, that internal frame with the at the very back of the canopy appears to be bare aluminium too - certainly was on Zumbach's kite, will need to do something with that (it's green on the Mk I I'm just finishing, aaargh) - also behind the pilot's headreast?

 

Some great pics, I need to spend some time with M. du Plessis' Flicker collection.

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27 minutes ago, TonyOD said:

bare aluminium

 Aluminium paint.   

bare metal was a rarity in UK production. 

41 minutes ago, TonyOD said:

but not forward it.

I'm not totally sure.  It's not very visible in period images.   a look here, which is a link to time,  seems to show that to be correct.   If you have time the whole film is worth a watch,  really gives a feel of the working machine.    Again, the use of aluminium paint on the internals is clear in many sections,  like at the 27.00 minute time with gun bays and ammo boxes,   here - https://youtu.be/F25-xKhGhbM?t=1621 and the inside of the engine panels,  and radio compartment here - 

https://youtu.be/F25-xKhGhbM?t=1833

41 minutes ago, TonyOD said:

Also, that internal frame with the at the very back of the canopy appears to be bare aluminium too - certainly was on Zumbach's kite, will need to do something with that (it's green on the Mk I I'm just finishing, aaargh) - also behind the pilot's headreast?

the armour plate would be grey-green, but the back of the seat bulkhead is aluminium paint.

see here https://youtu.be/F25-xKhGhbM?t=1810  shows it clearly. 

 

 

29 minutes ago, TonyOD said:

Some great pics, I need to spend some time with M. du Plessis' Flicker collection.

it's why I regularly use it, it's one of the reasons it's there as well,  to be used, @Etiennedup  has said so.    I'm very familiar with what is there,   so it's a lot easier for me to find the images,  as I know what is posted....   

 

I'm very image based,  the 'picture is worth a 1000 words' really works for me.   B/W are useful, but the limited range of colour images can really help to get a feel for the airframe,  getting a few stains and streaks and some subtle wear in the right place can really add depth to a model.  

 

a tip

the address bar in the link looks like (I've made this text, not a hyperlink) 

 

www.flickr.com/search/?w=8270787@N07&q=hurricane

 

the address bar looks like the above,  if you change just the name after  the = to another name, it searches that,  I find the Flickr search annoying,  this is really simple, and is how I navigate the photos.   If you cut and paste the above you'll get all the Hurricane pics. 

 

while were on a roll,  see the films here 

https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/235029913-spitfire-rearming-and-gun-muzzle-patch-application-films/

 

I know, I know, all a bit of a rabbit hole,  but how do you think I know all info I post up.... from reading on here and obsessive data collation...   right, I really have some other things to do now as well...

 

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Zumbach's aircraft are very popular box schemes, and with good reason.  The Poles were treated disgracefully after having fought the Nazis from exile throughout the war, and I've always felt that this is a bit of a stain on the character of the Allies.  When I was a kid we often used to pass the Polish war memorial at Northolt and my Mum told me the story of how they came here to continue the war even after the fall of their homeland, and it's stuck with me ever since.  I'll enjoy watching this build come together.

 

Cheers,

 

JRK

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On 13/11/2022 at 13:39, Troy Smith said:

AFAIK the drawings are wrong, and the kit is right.  It's noted for being very good dimensionally.   Note, the SAM guide has some absolute cobbeler in the kit reviews from memory.  Not to be trusted absolutely.

Case in point, as your searches will have shwon they were a retro fit on an A and B wings. 

 

Re the Airfix kit,  the big issue folks have has is the cockpit tub and fuel tank cover not fitting later.  In short, don't glue the bottom of the tub together, add to the sidewalls, and make sure the tank cover fits, you may need to scrape it inside.  Do a serious taped together dry run of the tub/fuselage/bulkheads and fuel tanks to see what I mean.  And make sure every mould line and sprue nib is cleaned off, the fit is very precise.

similar thing to this

 

RE the UC legs, you need a fine drill, I suggest drilling from the top where the half round section is, down through the pivot, then glue the leg in, and then drill up into the leg from below,   when set, cut off leg,  as this will give you aligned holes for attaching the legs later.   A bit of a faff, but the forward planning will make for easy alignment and a strong join...

moulding pins are good for this, thinner and stronger than paper clip. 

I thought this was done in  this build, maybe it was the nest one,  but this thread is well worth a read.  

 

Ah, it was done in another build

20198834274_abea9b4f0f_c.jpg

 

they were glued on and then drilled up,  my suggested method, of drilling in from the top of the pivot is more fool proof,  eliminating drill wander...

from

https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234984612-two-148-mki-spitfires-tamiya-and-airfix-new-tool-finished-and-in-the-gallery-261015/page/8/#elControls_2079917_menu

 

Again, well worth a read for the detailed explanations, skilful modelling and clear photography. 

 

I'm pleased to know it works well with enamels, I use it for oil paint.    I do still have some enamels   ....some I was given, and some are from about 1981....

I did use oil paints this summer doing a neighbours attic window, that hadn't been painted since 1993, (I know this as I painted it back then)  and was down to bare weathered and wood...    reminded me how much I dislike the solvents and clean up. 

 

 

Note while the BBMF does a really superb job of keeping them flying,  they are not always so good on on the anorak detail.... note the grey-green wheel wells...  I have seen it on another BBMF spit as well. 

leading too...

bits.jpg

 

Spitfire internals, apart from the cockpit to the seat bulkhead, and engine bearers, until late 43 or later,(debated)  the rest was aluminium paint.

For your requirements, this is Inside of the wing in th UC leg area,  and  fuselage behind seat.

I'll  use of of @PlaStix  pics for clairity

20626668271_12a7157d23_c.jpg

 

some wartime colour, look closely as it's not really obvious, click the pic and you can get the enlargement on Flickr

 

6897888779_06e2d05685_b.jpgSpitfire Mk.V cockpit. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

46670737505_7250ff3b02_b.jpgSpitfire cockpit, 1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

Keith Park on Malta BTW

 

8602734232_02c9e7b3d2_b.jpgSpitfire L.F. mk.V,   6 August 1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

2527521628_b66bedd8c5_c.jpgSpitfire Mk.I by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

pre war...

16804377395_ef98bef002_b.jpgSpitfire Mk. IIA, 1941. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

5232312442_f9dc973939_b.jpgSpitfire PR XI   Nov. 1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

just visible here...when you know ;) 

50820325202_910763385f_b.jpgSpitfire Mk.Vb,  c1943. by Etienne du Plessis, on Flickr

 

all from

Flickr Search

which is all the Spitfire pics in colour collated by @Etiennedup.... 

 

 

and the inside of wing in leg wheel well......

48992641552_39cc4f653c_b.jpgSpitfire Mk.I maintenance film UC well colour by losethekibble, on Flickr

 

It's not responding right now, but there are some fantastic images of a very carefully restored Vb cockpt here

http://spitfiresite.com/2010/07/anatomy-of-spitfire-cockpit.html

 

I probably posted some of the above before....

I'd noticed before that in that photo of Park's aircraft, the headrest had been removed so glanced at the others too. It looks like it's absent in the Vb photo of RF-D too.

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5 hours ago, Phoenix44 said:

I'd noticed before that in that photo of Park's aircraft, the headrest had been removed so glanced at the others too. It looks like it's absent in the Vb photo of RF-D too.

 

Well I never... I hadn't noticed that. I've managed to find a couple of close-ups of Zumbach in the cockpit but a member of ground crew is obscuring the area behind his head. It's clear enough from the in-flight photo there. That'll need to be taken off then.

 

On 11/13/2022 at 1:39 PM, Troy Smith said:

while the BBMF does a really superb job of keeping them flying,  they are not always so good on on the anorak detail.... note the grey-green wheel wells...  I have seen it on another BBMF spit as well. 

 

I've always thought that it was kind of accepted wisdom that wheel wells on British fighters would be grey-green. I guess it varies from one type to another and of course there are exceptions to every rule... but for a Spitfire in the absence of evidence to contrary: underside colour for the wheel bits, grey-green for the leg bits? Aluminium for the wheel bits, grey-green for the leg bits? Neither of the above?

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  • TonyOD changed the title to “Spit and Polish” – Spitfire Vb, Jan Zumbach, No. 303 Squadron, RAF
22 minutes ago, TonyOD said:

I've always thought that it was kind of accepted wisdom that wheel wells on British fighters would be grey-green.

Indeed.   Except it's wrong.   There are a few things that were accepted wisdom on things that have been proved to be wrong, or perhaps simplified is a better explanation.  Some things just get repeated so often that no-one questions the source, this applies more in the case of profiles without photos from the 60's for example, the best example is BE581 JX-E 'Night Reaper',  the profile markings faithfully reproduced by the BBMF on PZ865 for a few years...    

see https://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234976286-hurricane-mk-iic-flown-by-km-kuttlewascher/#elControls_1889582_menu

 

please note the comment on the replacement wing panel.   This should have raised questions, but didn't.   

22 minutes ago, TonyOD said:

I guess it varies from one type to another and of course there are exceptions to every rule...

As was the idea that the interior colour was always grey-green for everything.  Was the case when I was a teenager.   

 

It does vary from type to type, but also by date.    they built 22,000 Spitfires and Seafires over 10 years in various factories....   There is no one rule.

22 minutes ago, TonyOD said:

but for a Spitfire in the absence of evidence to contrary: underside colour for the wheel bits, grey-green for the leg bits? Aluminium for the wheel bits, grey-green for the leg bits? Neither of the above?

AFAIK

Start of production until late 43 or sometime in 1944

All internal areas aluminium paint except cockpit (as above and in links) and engine bearers.

There was a switch to all grey-green in late 43 or 44, possibly dependant on factory.   The changeover is debated.  An image of a Australian unrestored VIII was from early 44 production.

The wheel well depends on what is exterior and exterior.  The late Edgar Brooks posted on this, Supermarine mention the internal/external, but do not define it. 

From the photographic record,  eg the image of R6692 from the training film I posted, which is brand new factory fresh plane*, as images from that angle well lit do not seem to exist, the outer well, which is visible when UC is up, is external, thus surrounding external colour, which is the underside

the leg section, is not visible, therefore is internal, and the internal colour. 

 

Exception, which does 'follow the rule' the Mk.21/22/24,  have small external doors, so when shut entire well is internal, so well is now the  internal colour. 

 

The UC legs vary.

Either the underside colour or aluminium paint.   Refer to photos. 

 

Again, this is AFAIK,  but every photo, bar one (which is a real oddity) where the UC well is visible, bear this out.     

 

 

* this is R6692 later on from the training film, shot in June 1940, and has now has the undersides repainted into 'Sky' , check the film,  but you can see the roundel 'grinning' through, the white leg/hub and the repainted well.

50255159582_c8b0c9a315_b.jpgSpitfire Mk.I maintenance film Sky repaint reel 5 by losethekibble, on Flickr

 

Really what I do is cross reference  and collate data,  which is why I try to illustrate details with relevant images.  I'm still learning and finding out new bits of detail,  usually about Hurricanes, as that what my main interest is.....        

 

HTH

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  • TonyOD changed the title to “Spit and Polish” – Spitfire Mk. Vb, Jan Zumbach, No. 303 (Kościuszko) Squadron, RAF

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