Airfix 1/48 Spitfire V/trop
|NOTES:||Victory Productions 48006 decals|
George Buzz or Screwball Beurling was born in Verdun, Quebec (Canada) on December 6th 1921.
Buzz lived to fly. He’d do anything and everything to pile up flying hours. He would clean the planes, fix them, help at the airport just to save every single dime and use the money to take flying lessons. Ted Hogan and'' Fizzy " Champagne, prewar bush pilots were his instructors.
He tried to join the RCAF but was rejected due to his lack of formal education in an Air Force that was still too small to accept anyone else but the ones considered noting but the best.
When the Soviets attacked Finland he tried to join the Finns but just before he had managed to do so their resistance ended. He also smuggled himself to the US trying to catch a ship to China to help them against the Japanese but was caught by the police and returned to Canada.
Correctly assessing that the hard pressed RAF would be more open to take him in he joined a Merchant trip and traveled to England in U boat infested waters. First thing he did when he got to Glasgow was to run to the closest RAF Recruitment Office. Everything was going well until he was asked for his Birth Certificate…which he had left back home. So back to the ship it was, across the Atlantic again, home to pick up the paper, onto the ship once more and then to the same Recruitment Office where the very same RAF officer was behind the desk!
His application was immediately accepted and George was finally able to join the RAF on September 20th 1940 at the height of the Battle of Britain.
After almost a year of training (and relearning things he already knew…probably better than his instructors) he was given his wings on September 9th 1941. Life during training was not as exciting as he wanted and he got in trouble more than enough hedgehopping, buzzing the airfield and even once diving on the airfield Control Tower where a startled guard got so scared that jumped 2 stories to the ground to avoid getting hit by Beurling’s plane.
He initially joined 403 RCAF Sqn as a Sergeant but his indiscipline and individuality added to his eagerness to tackle the Germans gained him the cold shoulder from his fellow squadron members.
George saw action first when he was put in the Arse Tail Charlie position during a sweep over France. Knowing that this was the most dangerous position he was extremely alert. He was singled out by Focke Wulfs even though he had warned his Leader that they were going to be bounced. He took off by himself, shot at a 190 using such big deflection that his target did not show in the cinegun. Nevertheless, the German was shot down. He managed to wriggled himself out of danger and return to the base where he was reprimanded for leaving the Squadron, and even more when he claimed a German shot down that was not showing in the film of his Spit (just clouds)
The following combat saw him in the same place and this time his plane was riddled and seriously damaged. As a last resort and being followed by 6 Focke Wulfs he climbed into the sun hoping they would lose him in the glare. They did and when they overshoot George was able to shot down one of the Germans with his two only working .303s from 50 ft away.
Not happy with the amount of action and the lack of understanding of air combat knowledge that he believed the rest had he volunteered to go to Malta trading places with another pilot who did not want to go there because he was married.
As we all know Malta is the place where George gained fame.
Malta – 1942
At the time the island was being bombed constantly by the Italians and Germans. They outnumbered the British Spitfires at times 10:1 or more. During one of the resupply of planes from HMS Eagle George arrived in Malta on June 9th to fly with 249 Sqn. As soon as he landed and had his plane moved to a blast pen he was pushed out of the Spit, another pilot took his place, the plane was loaded and refuelled and immediately took off. The Germans were attacking the airfields trying to catch the recently arrived planes. In the ensuing dogfights over the island the plane in which George arrived was shot down. This very well set the pace and he realized that this was the place he had always wanted to be.
Pilots in the island where flying up to 8 sorties per day! They were drained and also sick with dysentery (called Malta dog) which eventually caught up with him weakening him so much that he was unable to fly in spells of several days.
But at the same time his training and self-preparation (as he mastered deflection shooting with his own formulas and calculations) make an immediate mark in the air above the island.
To give an idea of his obsession with perfection and deflection on one occasion he hit a MC 202 with a few shots. As the plane flew away he believed that it had been damaged but not critically. But critically damaged it was and the pilot (Sgt. Gelli) made a forced landing in tiny Gozo island suffering injuries in the process. When Screwball was told that his MC 202 had indeed been shot down he asked where the plane had been hit. Upon learning that the bullets had not hit an area that he had targeted and thought to have damaged he was disappointed. This only increased his resolve to improve his skills.
During the time on the ground he would take pot shots with his revolver to lizards to practice deflection. He was also put corned beef on the floor and this would attract tens of flies. When these where on the food he would very carefully lift his boot and crush them at the same time exclaiming “The Screwballs!!” which earned him his nickname.
Spitfire Vc BR301
It was flown to Malta from HMS Eagle on May 9th 1942 and assigned to 601 Sqn. 67 Spits were flown to Malta from USS Wasp (17) and HMS Eagle (50). The planes arrived in the middle of a German raid and as soon as they had landed their pilots were pulled out of their mounts, the planes rearmed and refuelled and in some instances they were back in the air within minutes.
Victories for this particular machine are as follows:
June 26th: an attack by five Z1007bis of the Regia Aeronautica was heavily protected by MC202 and RE2001. In response the RAF scrambled six Spitfires from 601 Sqn (among them BR301) and 126 Sqn followed by ten more of 603 Sqn and eight of 185 Sqn. Pilot Officer McCurry (US) claimed one Me109 shot down (in fact it was a MC202). Other claims include two more 109s (again misidentified 202s) and a RE2001 shot down (for a total of 4 enemies show down and several others including bombers damaged). In turn the Spitfire pilots suffered two seriously damaged planes while the Italian pilots in fact lost only one MC202 shot down with the pilot killed (M.llo Runci) while claiming 3 Spits shot down and one probably. In short the Italians got the upper hand in terms of kills (2:1) while claiming less enemies shot down (3 against 4).
In July BR301 (UF-S) was transferred
to 249 Sqn.
July 7th: flown by Pilot Officer McElroy (RCAF) this particular Spit was credited with another victory during a series of very violent combats that took place during the morning when 12 JU88s escorted b y 24 Me109s and 30 MC202 bombed Luqa. The British defence consisted of 12 Spitifres from 249 Sqn and 6 from 185 Sqn. Claims for this combat were as follows: three 109s and one 202 (McElroy’s) shot down but in turn the defenders lost 3 Spitfires (one by friendly AA). Axis claims were 4 Spits shot down by the 109 pilots and one shared by two 202 pilots (the pilot being seeing to climb out and bail out and matching the actual events) in return for two 202 seriously damaged that managed to return to their base. Again in this combat there was a great overclaiming by the Malta pilots (no Axis plane shot down) while the Germans also overclaimed significantly with the Italians being on the mark claiming only one.
July 9th: Takali was raided by seven JU88s escorted by Me109s and MC202s. Spitfires from several squadrons took of to engage the raiders with P/O McElroy claiming a shared JU88 destroyed (along with P/O Rae (NZ)). Again the defenders suffered more losses than the Axis with 2 Spits shot down against one 202. German pilots claimed 4 Spits destroyed and the Italians 3 seriously damaged while the British claimed one 109 and one 202 with several probably destroyed. No JU88 was reported lost in this raid.
July 11th: a strong raid by 13 JU88 successfully escorted by masses of Axis fighters (47 in total!) that prevented most of the twelve Spitfires from 249 Sqn from reaching the bombers. In the exchange one 109 was shot down by F/L Daddo-Langlois with the pilot captured and another one was claimed shared destroyed by P/O Yates (RAAF) in BR301 and W/O Ramsay (but this claim does not match the actual Axis losses).
Another strong attack by JU88s with many MC202, RE2001 and Me109s as escorts
developed during the morning. The Spit jockeys claimed three JU88 and one type
of each fighter (including a 109 by P/O McElroy in BR301) with several more
damaged. Actual Axis losses were only two 202 with their pilots killed. The
Italians claimed 2 Spitfires shot down and the Germans one more but none was
lost. Therefore there was a significant overclaiming on both sides.
on this date the team BR301 – Beurling claimed the first victories. After a raid
of JU88s bombed with no problem Malta the German lost their 109 escorts on their
return trip. By then the Spitfires including some from 249 Sqn arrived on the
scene and the MC202s went to the defense of the bombers. Beurling saw four MC202
and attacked them aggressively. First he tackled the #4 with deflection
shooting. The 378 Sqn MC202 flown by S/M Gelli went into a spin after being hit
in the engine and radiator and the pilot force landed in the island of Gozo.
Immediately Beurling went for his next Italian: Italian ace Capt. Furio Niclot
from 151 Sqn in his Mc202 had misinterpreted the signs from his wingman who was
warning him about the approaching Spits. When he looked in the direction of the
attack he found himself staring at the guns of Beurling’s plane. The Macchi
caught the full blast of the Spitfires armament. When the 202 exploded the
highly respected ace died instantly. Niclot It was a shattering loss for the
Italians as this casted doubts about the result of their fight: if Niclot had
bought it then anyone could be next. Seeing two 109s below
Beurling he dove towards them, climbed to their bellies, claimed one shot down
on fire and damaged the tail and wings of the second one who managed to escape.
Other Spitfire pilots claimed 2 more Me109s. It seems that in fact they had also
engaged Macchi 202 from 20 Gruppo who only had, besides Niclot, two planes
damaged with one pilot injured. One Me109 claimed (wrongly) a Spitfire kill and
there were no losses to the Germans in this combat. In summary we have 5 Axis
fighters claimed when in fact two were shot down and 2 damaged and 1 Spit
claimed downed when no losses were sustained.
July 29th: 249 Sqn took off to intercept a raid of aprox 16 109s and 4 202s. The seven Spitfires engaged their adversaries and Beurling’s Spit (BR301) was hit by a 109 that blew his canopy away. Recovering from the initial surprise he attacked the plane he believed had damaged him and a short range aimed burst of cannon and machine guns shot down the plane flown by K-H Witzchke of 3/JG77 who bailed out but was killed when his parachute caught fire. Sgt. Budd’s Spitfire was heavily damaged and he force landed in Malta having first shot down a Me109 (in fact it was a Machi 202 whose pilot bailed out and was captured by the British). Two claims were submitted by Me109s pilots (Geisshardt for his 86th victory and Rollwage for his 28th). Thus it can be seen that in this combat the claims were for once quite close to reality (though Beurling’s plane was damaged and not shot down it seems that it never flew again as it is not mentioned from that moment onwards on any combat)
Beurling kept on fighting without respite and was finally shot down and wounded on October 14th. His victor was either Obfw Riker of 4/JG53 or Ltn Karl von Lieres of 2/JG27 (who was credited with his 26th). Of the seven Ju 88s claimed to have been shot down by the RAF in this combat only one did not return. This was the end of his career in the island. After recovering in hospital for 2 weeks he was sent back to the UK.
After a nearly miraculously escape from the B-24 that was taking him along many of his friends back to the UK (the plane crashed in the Mediterranean while trying to land in Gibraltar) he was sent on a tour to and Canada (which greatly bored him).
By mid 1943 he was posted as an gunnery instructor and on June 8th he was accidentally shot at during a mock dogfight, bailing out of his Spitfire. Finally his wish was granted and on September 1st 1943 he was transferred to the RCAF (403 Sqn) flying Spitfires IX. He shot down a Fw 190 of JG2 in September but found the fighter sweeps annoying. He started to have disciplinary issues again and his flying stunts on the Squadrons Tiger Moth finally got him transferred to 412 Sqn. He claimed another Fw190 on December 30th 1943 but the damage was done. He was not well liked here either due to his lack of discipline and team work and finally he was sent back to Canada and given an honourable discharge. His involvement in WWII was over.
This the old Airfix Spitfire Vb that was reissued a few years ago with parts to convert it into a Vc or a Seafire. Basically what you get is exactly the same old kit with all the old parts (raised panels) and a couple of spruces more that have the wings for the c version plus parts for the Seafire (these on a different quality of plastic and with recessed panel lines!)
As I decided not to have engraved panels on the wings and raised on the rest of the plane I tackled the tedious job of re scribing all the panel lines on the fuselage using Dymo tape and a couple of hobby knifes. This was done before putting both halves together. The newly engraved guide for the arrestor hook (Seafire) insert has weakened the area so I almost made a passing hole while scribing the panels.
The interior of the cockpit was painted with ModelMaster Acryl RAF Interior Green. The seat was painted with a mix of red and brown to deliver the bakelite colour. Seat harnesses were made with aluminum foil and painted in light brown (beige). These were passed behind the pilot seat/bulkehead and supported with a piece of plastic. Instrument panel and other details in the area were painted black with touches of aluminum to represent wear.
Once the halves of the fuselage were glued together I had to use some putty to fix some areas. The cap for the gas tank in front of the windshield has the union of the two fuselage halves very prominent. It is very hard to remove it using putty so what I did was to add two or three layers of white glue until the gap between halves disappeared.
Now came one of the most complicated parts of the build: attaching the wings for the C version. As mentioned above, these are part of the new sprue, have engraved lines and are made of a different plastic (both in texture and colour).
The fit of these wings leaves a lot to be desired with a 1 mm gap at wing root and a very large gap in the union below the fuselage in the trailing wing area. The central part of the bottom half is not curved as it should and therefore it does not touch the opening at the back of the fuselage.
I glued the wings structure firmly securing it at the wing roots and front of the fuselage. This left the gaps mentioned above.
The easiest part was to fix the gaps on the top of the wing roots. Just added strips of Evergreen, sanded and rescribed lines and it was done (easier said…)
The bottom of the fuselage was quite more complicated. It required a little bit of plastic blending, lots of instant glue, followed by plastic glue. Once this was dry I used copious amounts of putty and sandpaper to make the union smooth.
Radiator and oil cooler came from the original version of the kit. Some rescribing of panels was made (to remove the raised lines)
With the wings “under control” I glued the wingtips (not a very good fit…some filler needed), the gun covers (broad version chosen) and the external 20 mm guns (with the internal ones removed and covered like in the case of this plane) This modification was made in Malta to make the planes lighter.
Vokes filter attached (and again a nice gap that needed filling, in this case using acrylic paste that was wiped out flat using a damp cloth), underside light, cockpit, landing gear wells, the openings of the filter, oil cooler and radiator covered along with the internal side of the upper wing where the flaps fold into (the idea being to display the plane with the flaps dropped thanks to the addition of the internal ribs in the new wings supplied by Airfix…more about that later) and I was ready to start painting the Spit.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Spits supplied to Malta at this moment of the fight were brown, sandstone and azure blue. Good for a desert environment and good for Malta too had the air fighting had only taken place JUST above the tiny island. But of course that was not the case and the brown/sand planes stood out too clearly above the Med Sea. So then they were hurriedly painted in the plane carriers with whatever paint was available.
There are lots of articles (and debate) about the true colours that these planes were painted with. Apparently there are several that were used, and to that there were also lots of hues and paint density.
I have looked for the picture(s) based on which profiles of this particular Spit were made but to no avail. So I have followed those profiles (that sometimes don’t agree in some details among them due to the artist’s interpretation or mistakes?) and started with the Dark Earth MM Acryl 4846 and Sand 4711. I followed the pattern of the Spit cammo and then painted the undersides with a mix of blue, gray and white to deliver Azure Blue (as the kit was built almost a year ago I don’t recall exactly how I have achieved this colour). Using the multiple sources available in Internet (most of them are pure speculation I’d say) I decided to settle in these two USN colours: ModelMaster Acryl 4847 Navy Blue Grey and ModelMaster Acryl 4744 Intermediate blue.
The only areas left in the original cammo colours where the rudder and the area underneath the serial numbers in the fuselage (these were masked with Tamiya tape before the Navy colours were sprayed)
The same templates I had used to paint the desert colours were now re attached with rolls of Tamiya tape to spray very light coats of the above mentioned colours, building depth to a point where the original sandstone and brown are evident but the main colours now are the USN ones. One mistake it seems I have made though: these Navy colours seem to have been applied using the mirrored scheme in which the BR301 had been originally painted (a detail about this can be seen in the coloured profile of the instructions from Victory Decals)
The canopy/windshield frames were first pained in black, then desert and
finally USN colours. The propeller hub was painted in red and the blades in
black with yellow tips. With the legs painted and attached I gave the plane
several coats of Future in order to start the
Stencils came from the kit while letters and plane SN are from Victory
decals. They worked really well and reacted with no problem to Set and Sol.
After applying a coat of semi gloss varnish the last details were added
to the plane.
The only thing left to do was to glue
the main landing gear doors, wheels, antenna and pitot tube, gunsight,
windshield. Exhausts pipes were given a coat of Rust (ModelMaster Acryl) with
the holes painted in black and attached to the fuselage.
The position lights were given a drop of light grey, then silver and finally a couple of drops of clear read and green. Navigation light on rudder and behind antenna mast were painted with a drop of grey followed by silver.
I learnt at this stage that the flaps were used all up or all down…and practically there is no picture of a Spit with flaps down while on the ground. So all the internal work (ribs) of the new wings is pointless. With some extra work I was able to glue the flaps in the up position.
The canopy did not sit in place as it was prevented from touching fuselage by the frame behind the pilot. After dry fitting and sanding the frame many times (and then giving it a light brush of Interior Green as now the plastic was showing) I was able to place and glue the clear part.
Finally the rear mirror was attached to the top of the windshield (black for the structure itself, silver for the mirror).
A kit that shows two different eras of our hobby (raised and engraved panels) and as such, has trouble making parts fit properly.
Nevertheless I am quite happy with the result and I finally can display a Maltese blue Spitifire…and at that the one flown by the most famous pilot in the Island…and Canadian, eh?
· Spitfires Over Malta (Brian Cull, Frederick Galea)
· Malta Spitfire (Beurling)
· Buzz Beurling
· Canadian Aces Home Page
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