Sunday, July 19, 2009
Time for the first installment of the Spitfire HF VII build in 1/72nd scale.
The subject is MB820, coded ON-E. This aircraft was attached to 124 Squadron, and was flown by Flying Officer Barrit. On September 9th, 1943, Barrit was flying MB820 when he intercepted and shot down an FW-190A at 31,000 feet. How they got an FW-190 to fly at that altitude, I can't imagine. The Wurger had notoriously poor performance at higher altitudes, and was already losing performance at 25,000 feet, the altitude at which the US Daylight bomber formations usually flew.
September 9th was the day of Operation Starkey, the feigned invasion of Europe by the allied forces. It was, in reality, little more than an exercise. The plan was to make the Germans think the invasion, which was inevitable, had started, and that the landing was to be at Pas de Calais. Long story short; The Germans did not buy it, and barely reacted. In the long view, however, the operation did succeed on one important level. It convinced the German High Command that the Invasion, when it did come, would be at Pas de Calais... which of course was not the case. Even days into the Normandy Invasion, the Germans were still waiting for the main thrust of the forces to land at Pas de Calais. In your face, Nazi intelligence dudes!
Operation Starkey markings have always been a bit of a mystery . A number of attempts to represent them in artwork and model form have been made in the past, but until we came out with the Barracudacals Spitfire Mk IX Series Part 1 sheets in all 4 major scales, they have never been accurately represented, due to a lack of good information.
Apparently, we took a break from the slipshod and half baked research we usually do, as was alluded to (not specifically) in a pair of rambling, self congratulatory, online by-invitation-only (huh?) videos from a certain seemingly pantless manufacturer of vastly superior decals. All I can say is that people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. People who who live in stone houses, shouldn't throw glass. People who live in concrete and steel houses can pretty much throw what they want, within reason, as long as they don't mind cleaning it up later. But seriously, building yourself up by running down the competition, while certainly not illegal, is just lacking in any kind of class. Our hobby is a very small world, and most of us aftermarket guys are friends, or at least treat each other with respect. Most of the time. Except that Obscureco guy... don't get me started about THAT necktie wearing weasel! :-)
Back to the topic at hand. Starkey markings. The key to unravelling the mystery was found in Chris Shores impressive 2nd Tactical Air Force volumes. That, and the 1.1 million dollar time machine I invented and patented... In volume 2 (IIRC) there is a official Ministry description of the application guidelines for the wing bands carried for this operation. As you will see, the black extends from the tips to a position on the wing where the chord is equal to 5 feet. Then, alternating 18" bands of white, black, white, and black. Ebony and Ivory...Living in perfect harmony. Unfortunately for us modelers, who love colorful and complex schemes, both the upper and lower roundels were to be overpainted when the bands were applied. You can leave yours uncovered, if you like. There is no proof that they were overpainted, but this one is going to be modeled compliant to the painting orders. The above diagram shows the upperwing roundels in place for those who want to show them unpainted-over.
Part 2 will follow shortly, and will deal with building, correcting, and converting the 1/72 Hasegawa Spit IX kit into an HF VII.
Happy modelling. Roy