The Three Amigos
In the spring of 1948 when Soviet pressure on the allies re Berlin began to ramp up, seven squadrons of allied day fighters were in Germany, four RAF and three USAF.
The RAF units were:
135 Wing, including
1. 80 Squadron at Wunstorf, Germany, equipped with the Spitfire 24
2. 16, 26 and 33 Squadrons at Gutersloh, all equipped with the Tempest II
[I have done my best to nail down what base(s) the RAF fighters called home, but opinions differ. I used reference d]
The USAF fielded the 86th FG with three squadrons (525th, 526th and 527th) equipped with the P-47D-30 at Nordholz, Germany.
Part V of the Airlift project replicates aircraft from RAF 80 and 33 because they were briefly stationed in Berlin for a period at the beginning of the Blockade. The 86th flew escort missions in the corridors.
First involved was RAF 33, whose Tempest IIs moved to Gatow in response to the April 5, 1948 Vickers Viking MIG 3 midair collision addressed in Part III.
When the Big Lift got underway on June 25 and in anticipation of Soviet harassment in the corridors, 80 Squadron moved its Spitfires to Gatow. These were withdrawn when it appeared the Soviets were not going to actively interfere (past harassment) with the air traffic in and out of the city.
By 1948 the 86th represented the only US fighter assets belonging to the newly created United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE) in the entire theater. In addition to escorting transports, the 86th also provided aircraft for the movie The Big Lift wearing suitable Russian markings (photo in reference h).
Supermarine Spitfire Mk 24
The ultimate Spitfire variant in RAF squadron service. The Mk 24 was a minor change to the Mk 22, itself an upgrade of the Mk21, the most visible difference being an enlarged fin/rudder. The Mk 21 introduced an entirely new wing to the Spitfire series based on the observation that, all that Griffon horsepower made the Mk XIV hard to control at very high speeds. The wing, virtually unchanged since the prototype was rolled out nine years earlier and 22,000-odd aircraft later, was found no be longer up to the task.
80 Squadron got them in 1948, replacing Tempest Vs. After serving in the British Air Forces of Occupation (BAFO) 80 took its 24s to Hong Kong in 1949.
Retained as part of the occupation forces, it continued to operate Tempests until January 1948, when these were replaced by Spitfire F Mk 24s, which it then took to Honk Kong in July 1949. At this time a Communist revolution was taking place in nearby China, and No 80's task was to increase the air defences of colony. The Spitfires were replaced by Hornets in December 1951 and the squadron continued to serve in the colony until disbanding on 1 May 1955. Reference a
The subject of this project, PK682, was SOC. in Hong Kong 28-8-51.
Hawker Tempest II
The Penultimate Tempest. Centaurus-powered, this Tempest variant would serve in Europe and a variety of colonial locales typically frequented by the RAF into the early 50s. It remains IMHO the most beautiful radial engine fighter ever fielded anywhere in WW II by any combatant; clearly the integration of the Centaurus was inspired by the FW-190. As a bonus, it was a typical rugged Hawker product, but with range.
527th Squadron Aircraft Replicated in This Project
The D-30 was the last of the D production, less one block number, and most likely the last of the Ds to get overseas. References e says it was as the D-25, excepting zero length rocket stubs, however these, the dorsal fin and combat flaps introduced in the 40 were retrofitted to most or all of the 30s. The mighty Bolt was holding down the fort in occupied Germany at Nordholz, and among the last of its kind in active USAF squadron service. Said service ended in January 1950 when the 86th re-equipped with the F-84E. The draw down of USAFE fighter (and probably other) types beginning in 1947 gives evidence of similar forces reductions going on in all the US services at the time.
Supermarine Spitfire 24 The Pegasus kit (1020)
The kit is basic (13 injected parts) and crude but reasonably accurate as near as I can tell. (Note: Im not a measurer by habit unless photo evidence seems to demand it; if there are problems with this kit there is no lack of Spit folks out there to let us know.). White metal prop, cannon barrels, pitot tube and gear. The butt joints for all flying surfaces require a lot of seam work and careful alignment, but thats why we modelers get the big bucks. Landing gear doors in card stock using kit box templates. Kit decals for a post-war aluminum finish RAFVR squadron.
Painting and Markings
RAF fighter markings were in flux during this period- overall aluminum had been specified in 1947 but the change over took a while. Also changing over was the national insignia; diameters of the three circles headed toward a common stroke width. The unofficial RAF squadron site (reference a) shows 80 squadron Spit 24s in OG/DG/MSG, all done in MM enamels on the model. Reference i provides the codes and a serial for a typical airframe of the period (W2-L, PK682). The codes per the Bible were assigned in the BAFO prior to heading east and were done with dry transfers.
Hawker Tempest II The Special Hobby kit (SH72103)
Softer plastic, restrained recessed panel lines for the major components, prop/spinner, drop tanks, gear and gear doors. Resin leading edge intakes, wheel wells, cowling ring, and cockpit. P/E cockpit details. The cockpit, a little resin/PE/film jewel, is complete if mostly invisible once enclosed by the fuselage halves. . The resin wheel wells like others of the breed Ive encountered require removal of a lot of material to fit inside the wings. Same with the leading edge intakes, but the latter solution to this bit of fitment works well. Bring your filler: there are fit issues with the horizontal tail surfaces and the wing-to-fuselage joints. Very complete set of decals. Would that the numbered stencil references on the decal sheet matched those in the instructions
Painting and Markings
All the conventional wisdom says it was unlikely that this aircraft could be found in overall silver in the period and place chosen to replicate it. However, the word unlikely is not the same as never. As well, the kit decals depict an all-silver Tempest from another squadron in the same wing at the same time. So I did an all-silver scheme in MM Non-buffing Aluminum. Reference g gives a good number of 33 Squadron Tempest II serials (probably all of them), so I chose one (PR477); the kit decal sheet allowed replicating the chosen serial by taking pieces from the two natural metal options. The black codes (5R-D) were done in Power Point and went onto Testors decal paper and thence to the model. Kit roundels and fin flash.
Republic P-47D-30-RE The Revell kit (04155-0389)
The kit is a very nice and complete model of a late production Bolt, and would serve for all the bubbletop D-Ms. Kit options include the post-bubbletop-canopy dorsal fin, two 75 gal drops (plus a flat drop), optional wing pylons and 500 lb bombs. The cockpit is complete if mostly invisible once enclosed by the fuselage halves. Sway braces on the pylons and fuselage are a nice touch in this scale. Descriptions and drawings of late production P-47s speak of five zero length rocket pylon pairs per wing, but photos seem to indicate only the two pairs inside the pylons were installed on operational post-war aircraft. The kit does not provide these; sections of airfoil struts were used to replicate.
The kit is a relatively easy build with good component alignment, but take care to dry fit the cockpit to see how much needs to be ground off its periphery to allow the fuselage halves to be closed up. This will avoid having to request an excessive clamping pressure waiver from your local IPMS chapter. The kit offers serious gear-up and gear-down options for all three tire apparatus.
Painting and Markings
Camo was long gone from P-47s by the time the D-30s came along. MM Non-Buffing Aluminum was used overall, with MM metalizer Magnesium being used for the leading edges of the flying surfaces and the engine hot section. Testors YZC was used for the wheel wells and inside of the gear doors. Humbrol Deck Green (an RN ship color) for the cockpit interior less the black headrest. This seemingly inappropriate paint seems to me to best match the color photo of an unrestored D in reference f. MM Guards Red was used for the cowl and well as on the white tape used to replicate the red cheat line just under the MM Flat Black anti-glare pane. 527th squadron rudder color done in Humbrol White. The national insignia came from a sheet of same whose makers name has been lost over time. All other markings radio call number (489869) and squadron markings (ND28) are homemade decals. I Used Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating (1303A) spray over these decals for the first time (at least for me) with excellent results; there was no color running. Much better than Dullcote.
Mistake not reader, the allied fighter pilots must have had some interesting briefings as the Airlift got going. About 200 allied fighters versus 100s (1000s?) of Russian fighters just over the border. There had been discussions about forcing armored convoys into Berlin and other options that most likely would have led to a general war. In Part VI of this project, jet fighters and the Big Stick deterrence crosses the Atlantic in the form of F-80s and nuclear-armed B-29s. But were the Superforts so armed?
a. Beaumont, R: Reed, A (1974). Typhoon and Tempest at War. London: Ian Allan.
b. Davis, L (1984). P-47 Thunderbolt In Action. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/signal Publications.
c. Flintham, V (1990). Air Wars and Aircraft. New York: Facts on File.
d. Freeman, R. (1971). Republic Thunderbolt. London: Ducimus Books.
e. Kinsey, B. (1998). P-47 Thunderbolt in detail & scale. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/signal Publications.
f. Mason, F.K. (1992). The British Fighter Since 1912. Annapolis MD: Naval Institute Press.http://www.rafweb.org/Sqn076-80.htm
h. Mason, F.K. (1967). The Hawker Tempest I-VI Number 197. Leatherhead, Surrey, England: Profile Publications.
i. McDowell, E. (1968). Republic P-47 Thunderbolt in USAAF-RAF & Foreign Service. New York: Arco.
j. Morgan, E.; Shacklady, E. (1987). Spitfire The History. Stamford, Lincs, England: Key Publishing.
k. Oliver, D. (1987). British Combat Aircraft In Action Since 1945. London: Ian Allan.
Average Modeler and Builder of legacy kits Beyond the Pale. Proud builder of 3' "shelf" models for over half a century; 4' for Spits.