Supermarine S.31 (PR.XIX – Type 390) – 1:72
Hello again and let me present my second model: Supermarine S.31. Why this version? Well, since I’d love to have some classics in my tiny collection, I thought Spit was a must, so I started reading and researching about various versions and came across an article in one of my old aviation magazines – it was Polish ‘Lotnictwo’ from 2005 and there I found quite an extensive article about the PR.XIX version and a lot was devoted to S.31 used in Sweden between 1948 and 1955. That interested me a lot and I was more than happy to find out that Airfix has this model in 1:72 scale and what’s more it was available in the local model store.
It was my second Airfix kit and again, easy to build, perfectly fitting parts and nicely detailed as for 1:72, a great kit for beginners, I think.
The model presents:
Supermarine S.31 (PR.XIX)(Type 390) 31040 ‘11/60’ of Division Flottilj 11, Flygvapnet based at Nykoping, July 1955
Some basic facts on S.31:
PR XIX, type 390 was the last photo reconnaissance variants of the Spitfire. It was unarmed and could carry two vertical cameras and one oblique camera. Compared to the previous type 389, 390 featured a pressurized cabin, increased fuel capacity and Griffon 66 engine considerably improving its performance. Later, the Swedish S.31 versions had also the sparkling plugs exchanged what increased the ceiling to 14500m.
In 1948 the Swedish Air Force ordered 70 renovated Spitfires (previously used in RAF) but finally they decided to buy 50 planes at a bargain price (At that time there were 100 PR.XIX Spirfires overall, so half went to Sweden). In Sweden they were marked S.31 (‘S’ from ‘spaning’ meaning ‘reconnaissance’). They were numbered 31001 – 31050.
The S.31 operations included reconnaissance over Latvia (Soviet Union), Esthonia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany. These operations were quite risky because they often involved trespassing territorial waters. What’s interesting, in many cases the area of operation was additionally supported by the Catalina to take up a rescue mission if needed. Because of the substantial risk, the Swedish versions had modified film boxes so that they could be easily destroyed in case of forced landing.
In 1950 the Swedish Air Force resigned from operations over the Soviet Union due to dangerous Soviet AA defense. S.31s were used until 1954 in Sweden and by 1955 all of them were withdrawn and cancelled. They were replaced with Saab S.29C.
I will appreciate your comments and advice. Thanks in advance.
2 additional images. Click to enlarge.