Yes, it has been a while hasn’t it? I’ve been busier than ever and finding time to write build articles has been at a premium since I began commission building. I must say I feel blessed to have met so many great people through my commission work. Only last month I dropped off a model at RAF Coningsby and got invited to the hangar of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial flight! Spending a morning surrounded by Spitfire’s and Hurricane’s was a dream come true! Again a huge thank you to Jonny and Diane for making it possible. I’ll post an article about my visit there at a later date.
A D-Day Spitfire!
With this year seeing the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and the liberation of Europe I thought it quite fitting to build a D-day subject. I have always had a soft spot for Spitfire Mk.IX’s with invasion stripes and when I began doing a little research on the subject I came across a great story.
In the lighter moments of World War II, the Spitfire was used in an unorthodox role-Bringing beer kegs to the men in Normandy.
During the war, the Heneger and Constable brewery donated free beer to the troops. After D-Day, supplying the invasion troops in Normandy with vital supplies was already a challenge. Obviously, there was no room in the logistics chain for such luxuries as beer or other types of refreshments. Some men, often called “sourcers”, were able to get wine or other niceties “from the land” or rather from the locals. RAF Spitfire pilots came up with an even better idea.
The Spitfire Mk IX was an evolved version of the Spitfire, with pylons under the wings for bombs or tanks. It was discovered that the bomb pylons could also be modified to carry beer kegs. According to pictures that can be found, various sizes of kegs were used. Whether the kegs could be jettisoned in case of emergency is unknown. If the Spitfire flew high enough, the cold air at altitude would even refresh the beer, making it ready for consumption upon arrival.
A variation of this was a long range fuel tank modified to carry beer instead of fuel. The modification even received the official designation Mod. XXX. Propaganda services were quick to pick up on this, which probably explains the “official” designation.
As a result, Spitfires equipped with Mod XXX or keg-carrying pylons were often sent back to Great-Britain for “maintenance” or “liaison” duties. They would then return to Normandy with full beer kegs fitted under the wings.
On top of this, I also discovered that one of my heroes, Wing Commander Johnnie Johnson actually flew with beer kegs fitted to his personal Spitfire Mk.IX. That was it then! I immediately set about sourcing a kit, markings and beer kegs!
Johnnie Johnson was the RAF top ace of World War Two and Commander of 127 Fighter Wing-Also known as the “Kenley Wing” As he was a Wing Commander he had the privilege of having his own markings on his aircraft, so all his Mk. IX’s bore his initals, JE-J as seen here:
In 1/48 scale the best game in town for a Spitfire Mk.IX is the new tool kit from Eduard. I chose the profi-pack boxing of the kit as it comes with masks, photo-etch brass and a comprehensive decal sheet.
To accompany the build I also picked up the 1/48 pilot with a beer keg from MAIM. This is a 3D printed resin figure that would look great next to my Spitfire.
For the beer kegs and decals I purchased the excellent set from Brengun models:
The Eduard kit is a pure joy to build and its excellent level of detail is well above rival manufacturers. Its not as easy to build as a Tamiya kit, but its well worth the extra work.
Here is the finished kit instrument panel:
The assembled airframe: Here you can see all that engraved detail.
Fixing the handle to the cockpit door. A nice little detail!
After painting the model and adding the decals, I decided to try a new weathering technique, using watercolour pencils. This set from AK Interactive was ideal and I got them for a great price! Using a combination of weathering pencils and enamel washes I was able to bring the model to life.
Here is the finished model. This is the Spitfire Mk.IX with the XXX modification as flown by Wng. Comm. Johnnie Johnson over Normandy during 1944.
Thanks for visiting!
All the best and Happy Modelling!