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Spitfire Armor plate question


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HI, Another Spifire MK.I question. Approximately when did armor back plate and headrest begin to be seen on squadron a/c? The other question is what color was this armor plate painted? I seem to recall it was a dark color, black? As always any information will be greatly appreciated. John R.

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That discussion concerned the windscreen; the (fixed) armour behind the pilot's head, and the (removable) behind the seat, were factory-fitted, under mods 140 & 146, from 6th. February, 1940. At first, the seat armour was the same width as the seat, and the handhold, later seen in the backrest, was cut into the plate; later, the plate was wider, and, from September 3rd. 1942, more armour was fitted under the seat, and behind the pilot's calves. As for colour, there was a story that the first (unofficial?) plates were unpainted steel, and there's a servicing film available, for a 609 Squadron Mk.I, with black/white undersides, which includes a quick shot of the armour, and it's black.

Edgar

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"That discussion concerned the windscreen; "

Edgar

And in post 12 of that discussion you stated:

"Mod 140 was "To provide rear armour protection (fixed.)" i.e on the seat bulkhead, and was implemented 6-2-40. Mod 146 "To provide rear armour protection (removable)" i.e. behind the seat, was implemented on the same day. Ministry approval, for those two mods, wasn't applied for until 10-11-39. And, before anyone quotes "Spitfire the History" (or some other source,) the information comes from Vickers' own ledger of all of the Spitfire mods, held in the RAF Museum, under their reference B3606.

Edgar "

Which is why I linked to it.

Edited by Troffa
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That discussion concerned the windscreen; the (fixed) armour behind the pilot's head, and the (removable) behind the seat, were factory-fitted, under mods 140 & 146, from 6th. February, 1940. At first, the seat armour was the same width as the seat, and the handhold, later seen in the backrest, was cut into the plate; later, the plate was wider, and, from September 3rd. 1942, more armour was fitted under the seat, and behind the pilot's calves. As for colour, there was a story that the first (unofficial?) plates were unpainted steel, and there's a servicing film available, for a 609 Squadron Mk.I, with black/white undersides, which includes a quick shot of the armour, and it's black.

Edgar

Thanks Edgar! It's good to know that I wasn't totally imagining the dark color on the armor plate in some early Spitfires. It would seem from all that I read here that by August 1940 the armor was most likely painted in the same interior grey-green as the rest of the cockpit. I am in the process of coverting a Tamiya MK.Vb back to a MK.I (cannon), R6776 QV*H, as flown by Flt. Sgt. George Unwin during August 1940 and the armor plate will be interior grey-green. Happy Modeling, John R.

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  • 10 years later...
On 9/26/2009 at 12:07 PM, Edgar said:

That discussion concerned the windscreen; the (fixed) armour behind the pilot's head, and the (removable) behind the seat, were factory-fitted, under mods 140 & 146, from 6th. February, 1940. At first, the seat armour was the same width as the seat,...

Edgar

Hi!

So Tamiya made a mistake in the 1/48 model ? There is no pilot's armor for P9495 DW-K No.610 Squadron (produced 16-4-40).

http://www.airhistory.org.uk/spitfire/p009.html

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Spitfire I P9374, "J", delivered to the RAF on 2 March and shot down on 24 May 1940, is known to have had the behind-the-seat armor (but not the head armor). This was found still in place in the cockpit on its recovery in 1980. The original plate now flies in the rebuilt aircraft.

Edited by Rolls-Royce
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A picture of N3200 in its current state, with the armor plate visible behind the pilot's left arm. It isn't the seat itself, as that can be glimpsed under his left elbow. Whether this means the aircraft had it when it was shot down, I don't know, but I suspect it was there.

jpeg

Edited by Rolls-Royce
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Thanks R-R. Yes, I've seen that pics and it so happens that I'm building the Tamiya Mk I as this very machine. The instructions say to leave out the armour and that's consistent with a number of statements by Edgar brooks posted here. One is  here:

 

 where he says "The head armour was added in February 1940, but, due to the Hurricanes in France getting priority, the Spitfires didn't get it behind the seat until after Dunkirk, with those airfields nearest the Channel first." Given N3200 went down 26 May 1940 during the Dunkirk actions, this statement, if true, would suggest no back armour. Interestingly, the restored airplane has no head armour. The pics of the beached airplane sadly don't show the seat.

Edited by Crimea River
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11 hours ago, Crimea River said:

Thanks R-R. Yes, I've seen that pics and it so happens that I'm building the Tamiya Mk I as this very machine. The instructions say to leave out the armour and that's consistent with a number of statements by Edgar brooks posted here. One is  here:

 

 where he says "The head armour was added in February 1940, but, due to the Hurricanes in France getting priority, the Spitfires didn't get it behind the seat until after Dunkirk, with those airfields nearest the Channel first." Given N3200 went down 26 May 1940 during the Dunkirk actions, this statement, if true, would suggest no back armour. Interestingly, the restored airplane has no head armour. The pics of the beached airplane sadly don't show the seat.

Pictures of the recovered aircraft that I've seen showed that there wasn't much remaining of the cockpit area, so if it was there originally, it has been lost to history. If it didn't have it while P9374 did, there may be another reason. P9374 was among 6 squadron aircraft selected to escort PM Winston Churchill on a flight to Paris to meet with the French government. For whatever reason, it did not make the flight and returned to its home base. The aircraft that made that trip had had their squadron code removed for security purposes, and this is felt to be the reason P9374 was photographed on the French beach wearing only its individual aircraft letter "J" after being brought down. It also might explain that aircraft having the seat armor earlier than is thought to be the case.

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I agree with you that pics of the beached N3200 are inconclusive with respect to the seat armour. However, contrary to the restored version's absence of head armour and Tamiya's instructions saying the same, it appears to me that the head armour was actually there. This colourized pic shows it though the head cushion has gone missing:

 

n3200-colour-png.575763capture-jpg.575764

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