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Spitfire Mk. V belly tanks?


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SOO: Special Order Only (in other words, only a finite number to be so equipped)

Thanks Edgar, I was hoping you'd come along.

bob

EDIT: Darn it, once again I replied to the last post on ONE page, forgetting that there was another page!

Edited by gingerbob
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It has certainly been argued elsewhere that TLS was retained for overseas service until considerably later, and it was in use on Spitfires of 40 SAAF well into 1944.

If you have a copy of an instruction that fighters, bound for the Mediterranean in 1942, were to be painted in Temperate Land Scheme, I'd certainly like to see it, since I've never found one.

As far as I'm aware the South African Air Force did not fly Spitfires from Gibraltar to Malta at any time.

Edited by Edgar
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I don't have such a copy, nor see the need of one. My understanding was that Day Fighter was introduced by Fighter Command and hence restricted to the UK, so deliveries to overseas commands would continue according to the previous instructions. Which was for non-desert schemes to be in TLS. Deliveries to the Middle East were in Desert Scheme, and many of the deliveries to Malta continued to be in these colours. Is the aircraft thus in an exchanged-colour Desert Scheme? This was certainly common amongst the earliest deliveries of Spitfires to the island. Or perhaps the aircraft is in TSS, as Malta's fairly specific instruction on this point requires? However, deliveries in this scheme seem to have been restricted to the second delivery from the USS Wasp. In 1942, the serials show that aircraft were still delivered predominantly in Desert despite Malta's rejection of the scheme, and we see the continued use of Malta's own variants using EDSG to cover the desert colour(s). The phrase "predominantly" is chosen only to reflect the lack of photos of every individual example, or indeed of deck views of every delivery. Actual evidence of deliveries other than in Desert are lacking. Despite its apparent suitability, there is no recognised example of Day Fighter on the island in 1942. Even in 1943, Park's own Spitfire was repainted in TLS - not Day Fighter nor a Malta special.

Your comment on SAAF is irrelevant as the SAAF followed local RAF instructions on their camouflage. If they used TLS it is because that was what was instructed. There are other reports of the Middle Stone on Desert Scheme aircraft being repainted by Dark Green to return the aircraft to TLS, notably P-40s in 1943. It is possible to suggest (but no more) that this was restricted to fighter-bombers, 40 Sq SAAF linking to this by being in the FR role. Such repainting appears to be rare on DAF and USAAF Spitfires in the air superiority role (qualified by the shortage of photos in this period), which retained Desert Scheme long after leaving North Africa and were certainly not seen in Day Fighter until after arrival in Italy. This suggests the introduction of DFS in the Mediterranean no earlier than mid-1943.

When Day Fighter does appear in the Mediterranean it is with Fighter Command's Sky trim, if often covered by repainting. This isn't seen on Malta in 1942. You've been tremendously helpful with digging out appropriate documentation for the Wasp operations, but given the continued shortage of documentary evidence in this theatre, if you do have any rulings on local camouflage that override the evidence of actual use in this period then this would be equally welcomed.

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I'm sorry you took it that way, but in the past you have responded to discussions by assuming that they somehow denigrate the information you have come up with, and thus your own efforts. I was hoping to avoid that, but perhaps I did overstress the matter. Personalities aside, any documentation is only one factor amongst many, and where the evidence, such as it may be, shows something different then Air Ministry rulings must not be taken as Holy Writ. To quote from Cauchi page 117 regarding Hanks' BR498. "... temperate land scheme of Dark Green and Dark Earth over Azure Blue. This was not uncommon in Malta..."

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Just my five cents (or pennies, whatever):

Brian Cauchi's book is a beautiful effort (NOT being patronising), but it seems to me that at the time of writing he could not have been aware of the official directives Edgar unearthed in the National Archives, directives regarding the use of the Mediterranean blues for fighter deliveries to Malta and the exact date of introduction of the DFS overseas,

Most of Cauchi's opinions about colours seem to have been educated guesses based on the appearance and relative contrast of b/n photos and not always with an in-depth analysis of the possible combination of filters and different types of film, which, as we know, could have dramatically different sensibility to the chromatic spectrum (particularly in the UV range).

I would not, therefore, always regard his conclusions regarding the camouflage colours of the Spitfires based in Malta as incontrovertible.

Flavio

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It's a pity, too, that accusations about the way I do my research had to be tossed into the mix, without the courtesy of asking if I might actually have found something relevant.
Far from being obsessed with the "holy writ" of Air Ministry orders, I do read other files, especially inter-departmental types; at some stage Malta asked for their high-altitude Spitfires (Mk.VI?) to be over-painted blue, but received a Henry Ford-type reply from Middle East Command, saying they could have only green and brown, since they were the only colours they had.
So you have Malta still "obsessed" with having their fighters blue on top, but with the extra possibility that some might have been repainted with the "wrong" colours, rather than being delivered that way.

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I've been away from this thread for a couple of days and have not been idle. Thanks to my friend's Beeston Book Depositary..

According to Shacklady & Morgan's lists the Gib to Malta Spitfires arrived Gib 14/09/1942 convoy OG89 on ships Empire Cabot and Empire Franklin. The first is confirmed by an IWM interview with George Ernest Hope radio operator on the Cabot. Crated Spitfires carried as deck cargo were flown off to Malta while other crated Spitfires were damaged by drums of cement in the holds.

25 October the first two Spitfires arrive direct from Malta and the last 5 arrive Luqa 6 November. The totals given in different sources are 17 or 12. Which would be flight of 2 followed by two or three of five?

Grahams serials are for Spitfire Vcs built May to July 1942. Which leaves a minimum of 6 weeks for the modifications needed for Mod 657 6/6/42 170 gallon fuel tank and 14.5 gallon oil tank Vc only. The other mod 729 22/9/42 rear fuselage 29 gallon fuel tank for ferrying Vc only could have happened at Gib between the 14 September and 25 October.

Another mod 662 16/6/42 deleted the pilots headrest and the rather poor photo seems to tally with this. Which all leads to this....

In the Army the final part of overhaul and/or modification was (and still is I think) a repaint to current standard. Could it be that the Spitfires were repainted Day Fighter after being built in TLS? The MU would know the destination surely? That would leave the Light Mediterranean blue to be applied either at the modification MU or on Gib where I assume the 29 gallon fuel tank was fitted.

I also think that Cauchi's book is very good for the carrier Spitfires but maybe the direct flights aren't covered so deeply. It also seems that some were flown from England direct to Gib but lacked the range for the next leg hence the 29 gallon fuselage tank?

As I said before sorry if I open a can of worms. At least I have an ICM IXc on it's way so I can convert the Airfix Vb and finally build this model.

If this post is a loads of bobbins please let me know and I'll recant.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi,

I have the inspection record for AR464, 28/3/43. Could it offer any help on this thread? It is listed as a 5c and mentions removing the fuel tanks and "Made 's' ???? tanks". The aircraft was being prepped for flight to M/E from Kala.

Any other serials I should look for?

Stuart

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None were flown directly to Gib but arrived on ships, the names of which are given in Spitfire The History (as indeed is said in SleeperService's second paragraph). No name is given for AR464, but they are given for other fliers from Gib.

PS maybe PR variants flew directly to Gib?

Edited by Graham Boak
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