Very sad in many ways, seeing so many graves and wrecked equipment, etc, against such a bleak background. Also noticed the pictures of similar Beaufighters in the 1941 and 1943 pictures - were there ANY Beaufighters in the Western Desert in 1941 - I would not have thought there were many? Perhaps a wrong date on the "1941" photo? Very interesting photos of British Lysanders, Hawker Hardys (yes, I checked, K4308 is a Hardy, one of several Army Co-op versions of the large Hart/Hind family), and Blenheims, Hurricanes, etc, with very early markings. David D
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 31, 2012 12:03:10 GMT 12
I have been corresponding with Spitfire guru Peter Arnold over the strange Spitfire photo, and he and Wojtek from Poland have concluded it is also mis-dated and it's actually a modified pressurised PR Mk IV or VI Spitfire, from 1943.
Dave, I reckon that Spitfire is very likely to be BR114, one of the Vbs modified by 103MU at Aboukir to combat high flying JU86 reconnaisance aircraft that the Luftwaffe was using to photograph the Nile delta area. There is some discussion & pictures here www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=234920292&st=20, the front 3/4 shot matches with regard to prop, aboukir filter & deeper oil tank. Don't let the discussion re X4942 throw you, I am refering to the 3 photos posted by Vanroon, all of BR114. Another give away is the armament, these were modified to have 1 x .50cal in each wing, which is what this looks like. Steve.
They are of course Spitfires rather than Hurricanes, but they are very special and it has taken some research to fathom out just what we have here.
The exhausts and 'short' Merlin engine would indicate Mk V but they have four blade propeller assemblies and the Mk V's had three blade assemblies.
They appear to have no armament fitted but have the 'Abouquir' filter conversion done in Egypt.
It would seem that these aircraft are from five Mk VI high altitude Spitfires sent to Egypt to combat the high flying Ju 86 threat. When the threat sub-sided the Spitfires were converted by 103 Maintenance Unit in Egypt for Photo Reconnaissance work which entailed fitting cameras and removing the armament. They were then operated by 680 Squadron in the Western Desert.This would be the condition when photographed by your father.
Peter, fwiw, in this shot pic20.picturetrail.com/VOL1620/1548565/13778149/403030628.jpg I believe it is possible to see the serial as BR114 or something very similar. In this picture from Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/8033935579/sizes/l/in/photostream/ the serial is plain to see as is the distinctive style of the code letter "B". The difference in some colouration could reasonably be explained away by the use of different negative film, the so called ortho film giving dark colours to yellow shades as in the outer roundel ring etc. Interestingly I believe this also gives the lie to the silver colour seen on models of this for the filling used on the panel joins though I won't try to guess what it might be. This aircraft supposedly came to Egyt via Malta which might explain the deeper cowl for the larger oil reservoir, this was typical of those planes which flew from Carriers or Gibralter with large auxilliary fuel tanks necessitating larger oil tanks as well. My apologies to Dave for taking this thread in this direction, they're a fascinating group of photos in so many ways. Steve.
Yes I agree BR114 can just be seen on the 'Vanroon' shot.
BR114, a stock Mk Vc Trop, was shipped out to Takoradi on the African West coast then ferried across to Egypt and the Western Desert. It was reported as BQ-B with 451 RAAF, significantly 'B'.
After just a couple of months it was 'cat. B' damaged in a Flying Battle in September 1942. It was repaired at 103 MU Abouqir and I suspect this is where and when the high altitude conversion was made. It looks to have gone back to 451 Sqn before being given to the French in July 1944.
That would bre good to have an ID on C, I wondered first if it was perhaps one of the other High altitude Vs but from the angle in Joe Willis photo it appears to have a Vokes filter & may therefore be one of the VIs that you mentioned above that were converted to PR. Van Roon mentioned in his contribution to the thread on Britmodeller that neither the other converted Vs have ever been revealed in photos. Steve.
In regard to the Spitfire C in the background of Joe Willis' "Hurricane" pic. I'd hazard a guess it is one of the Mk VIs taken to the middle east to do the job that was eventually done with the modified Vbs & later converted into PR Spitfires, though whether retaining armament or not I don't know. Rising decals did a set for mediterranean Spitfires which had decals for one of these BS124 A as seen here www.risingdecals.com/72-037/RD_72-037.htm. a little over half way down. The Spitfire C in the background of said photo seems to have several features which would indicate it may well be one of the other MK VIs, such as a 4 blade prop, possibly black as also appears to be in these photos of BS124 www.network54.com/Forum/149674/message/1280014186/Spitfire+Mk+VI+%28Trop & www.network54.com/Forum/149674/message/1280030366/Here+is+another+shot+of+the+Mk+VI+%28trop%29 as well as the horizontal strengthening bar in the clear section behind the domed part of the canopy which appears to be peculiar to this mark. The seriels of those I can find are BS106, BS124, BS134, BS149 plus at least one other. Steve.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jan 3, 2013 23:50:18 GMT 12
Regarding the Junkers Ju86 aircraft that the Aboukir Spitfires were chasing, two different Italy campaign veterans I have talked with, including my Great Uncle Ted, mentioned that as they were moving up from Taranto to cross the Sangro River, one of these was shot down in a dogfight so high up they were unaware. However they saw it come down and both the plane crashed very nearby the kiwis, and one of the crew also came down in his parachute and was captured by (I think) the kiwis. My uncle went for a cheeky look at the wreck. That was around November 1943.
Afaik, that might well have been one of the last use the Luftwaffe made of these, most sources say they were withdrwn in 1943. I guess by that time the RAF would have had Spitfire Mk VIIs available which would have been that much more capable of handling these high altitude intruders. Dave, surely Uncle ted being a Kiwi, going to look at the wreckage would have been totally natural, nothing cheeky about it. Steve