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Daniel Cox

Help please, Spitfire drop tanks!

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Hello All,

I am trying to find dimensions/drawings detail photos etc that show the 'cigar' shaped drop tank and its carrier assembly as fitted centreline beneath the Spitfire Mk.IX. If anyone can help it would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Daniel.

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Will look but don't think I have anything, Edgar is your man.

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This is all that I have on the "torpedo" tank, and I can find no firm evidence that it was fitted during the war. In 1946/7 a mod, to fit a 50gal torpedo tank was embodied, but the drawing is next to this one (and, of course, I don't have it.) Every drawing, that I can find, shows the IX having a slipper tank fitted, so there would appear to be the possibility that any wartime use was a cobbled-together makeshift, using non-standard tanks, with the more usual bomb-carrier. Sorry, at the moment, I can't help further.

34965SHT45DFuelTank.jpg

Edgar

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I think Daniel may mean the 44-gallon under wing tank that was designed for the Hurricane and was also used on the Typhoon; it was adapted for use on Spitfire centre-line and much used during the Normandy period.

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Hi All,

Thanks Tony for your input, Edgar I do appreciate you posting the 'Torpedo' tank unfortunately, Chris is correct I am after the tank that was used on the Hurricane and the Typhoon as carried by the Spitfire. It appears that a considerable quantity of these tanks were carried by Spitfires it is a shame that so little information regarding them is available.

Thanks Colin that first picture is the best I have seen of the carrier for the drop tank I am after I have only seen part of the forward edge of the carrier so this is new to me, looking at the rack it makes me wonder if this item was jettisonable at all?

Cheers,

Daniel.

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Hi Daniel,

I'm not sure whether that is the "normal" attach setup shown with the beer, but in either case I believe that the rack would be jettisonable because it fitted the slipper tank mountings on the airplane. Whether the tank could be dropped without throwing away the mounting frame I don't know offhand. Seems to me there's a drawing recently posted somewhere- I'll be back if I can find it. I guess what I mean is, I'm not sure whether the tank was made to fit the (removable) bomb carrier, or whether it had its own mount that mated direct to the airplane's points instead of the carrier.

bob

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Hi All,

Bob, the 44 gallon auxiliary fuel tank is not compatible with the fuselage Mark III Bomb Carrier since there appear to be no compatible suspension points between them. I have included a just completed rough sketch plus a pic of the real thing on a Spitfire. If you look carefully at the Spit pic you can see that the suspension points of the auxiliary fuel tank carrier (for want of a better term) has different attachment points front and back. My sketch shows better the attachment points for the tank carrier and notes they are compatible with the attachment points for the bomb carrier see Figure 20 as posted by Edgar.

cigar2.jpg

cigar1.jpg

Note:The depiction of the fuel line and its entry point in the auxiliary tank is depicted very roughly since as you can see on the other I have posted above is a bit indistinct due to shadow.

I have now seen three pics from different units showing the auxiliary fuel tank carrier, all carriers shown are identical (2 forward & 1 rear suspension points) to the one shown above in this and Colin S-K's post.

Thanks Colin the heads up is appreciated, it is great you do these tanks unfortunately for me regarding the modelling side of things I am solely interested in tweaking the Tamiya 1/32nd scale kit.

If anyone comes up with something further, better pics, documents or even what was written on the two side labels shown on the sketch please do share.

Cheers,

Daniel.

Edited by Daniel Cox

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Good stuff. The point that springs to my mind is that this tank is supposed to be the Hurricane tank, which was carried on the same suspension points as the 250lb bomb. Granted, this was on the Hurricane wing rather than the centre-line carrier, but I'd supposed that the Hurricane installation was just a buried carrier with an aerodynamic fairing. Does anyone know why what was compatible on a Hurricane wing was not so on the Spitfire fuselage?

I would suggest that the carrier shown looks to be less draggy than the Mk.III carrier, or possibly gave more ground clearance?

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That's the drawing I was thinking of, Edgar- for a bomb, but at least it gives us that to compare to.

So I agree that it uses the 'fixed fittings' as the mod would put it, which means that rack and all would be droppable. Seems slightly wasteful, but I don't know that they could keep the rack and drop the tank. Are there any photos of Spits sitting with empty fuel rack, as opposed to Mk.III bomb carrier? And what's the point of that forward section on the bomb carrier that the drawing says can be cut away? The photo that Colin posted with the tank sitting on the ground shows the mounting framework fairly well (except for the usual body that just has to get in the way when you're trying to document something!)

Graham, perhaps the Hurricane manual might shed some light on your question- can't access mine this moment...

Interesting conversation!

bob

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The Hurricane manual, as published, is the last edition so the only reference to bomb carriage is specifically Mk.IV. I suggest it was the same, however, and describes a carrier "modified to Hurricane standards" and then covered by an aerodynamic fairing. The modifications appear to apply to the fitting to the aircraft, rather than the store carriage. The fixed tank carriage is shown in the main body of the text, but the description of the jettisonable tanks does not include the carrier. It does mention support straps, which presumably are present on the Spitfire installation but are not clear in the photos.

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Just had a thought: If the cigar tank does NOT use the bomb carrier, and instead uses the attach points already built into the airplane for the slipper tank, why did they not just keep using the slipper tank!? There must have been some change that made it advantageous.

bob

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Hello Bob, Graham and All,

I also looked at the "Hurricane Manual" the support straps noted in Para 18 are marked in red on the incomplete drawing below. The straps are similar to the type used to suspend the German 300 litre auxiliary fuel tanks during the same conflict. I will post a complete more accurate drawing at some point next week (busy at the moment working on a Swordfish painting) with details of the carrier more accurately rendered.

Note the forward sway braces do not rest upon the forward strap as erroneously drawn in the sketch I posted earlier (corrected below).

45_Gal_Tank_and_Carrier.jpg

Regarding the use of the 45 Gallon Jettisonable Tank over Slipper types, RNZAF Spitfire unit personnel claim the Cigar tank separated better on release compared to the Slipper types.

Cheers,

Daniel.

Edited by Daniel Cox

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I'm just reading (again) "Spitfire strikes" by Johnnie Houlton. In it he has a pic of his usual mount OU-V ML407 with just such a tank as this mounted underneath. If these mounted to the slipper tank mounts, am I right in assuming that the tank & supprt frame dropped away as a unit when the tanks were released?

Steve.

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The slipper tank gave problems when jettisoned, in that it would slide back along the fuselage rather than dropping away cleanly. However, this is said to have been solved by the fitting of two forward facing hooks onto the Spitfire fuselage. If the tank moved rearward on release its tail would snag on these hooks, the front would then drop and thereafter the tank drop away cleanly. However, in any case it would have a much less predictable trajectory than the more aerodynamic "torpedo" tank.

One other problem with the slipper tank, which seems to have been intrinsic to the design, was confirming the quality of the fuel connections. Once fitted this was unable to be checked other than in flight.

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Tom Neil tells how the tank would often hang up, on his XII's hooks, only to eventually break free, much to the consternation of the rest of his Squadron, behind him; changing the hooks had no effect. Possibly a minor consideration, but the slipper tank covered the downward recognition lamp; although this seems to have had little attention paid to it, the lamp was moved back, down the fuselage, on the VIII & XIV (even further back on the XVIII.)

Edgar

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This is the "sketch" out of the MK 14 manual showing the torpedo tank mounting they used, any good?

_MG_5785mk14drawing.jpg

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