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Battle of Kasserine Pass Group Build: 1/48 Spitfire Mk.Vb Trop

My additional entry for the Group Build is a MK.Vb Trop belonging to the RAF 601 Squadron. The 601 was an Auxiliary Squadron that dates back to the late 1920's. They represented the County of London, and were well know as the "Millionaires Squadron." They earned that nickname because their ranks were filled with aristocrats, sportsman, adventurer's and the elites of British society. They also were well know for their lack of military protocol and often wore red jackets or red scarves. Activated in 1939 they would see some action in France but are best know for their defensive operations during the Battle of Britain. Their most famous member was an American, William "Billy" Fiske III, who was the first American to joined the RAF. Fiske was a well educated American and had lived and studied in England as well as France. He also was a twice Gold Metal Winner in the Bobsleigh competition in 1928 and 1932. His first gold medal he earned was when he was at the ripe old age of 16. Later he would die from wounds received defending the Tangmere Airfield. Having received damaged from a German gunner he crashed landed his Hurricane fighter on the base in order to save the aircraft. The Squadron would lose 11 of it's 22 original members during the BoB and were replenished with more members of ,shall I say, from the ranks of the comman man.

The Squadron was refitted with MK.Vb Spitfires in March 1942 and were deployed to Egypt in June of that year. While there the Squadron would take part in the Battle of El Alamein. Their new Spits were also equipped with the new Vokes air filter for the carbureto. It was added to help over come the abrasive affects the sand had on moving parts. However, the new filter, because of it's mass, reduced the aircraft's air speed. Field modifications by maintenance personnel reduced that mass to overcome that short coming. Additionally, many of the Spits also used the clipped wing version to help with low altitude maneuverability. Low altitude operations were quite common in North Africa,

My model represents the Spitfire flown by Flying Officer R. B. "Bruce" Ingram as shown standing by his plane at El Nigra, Libya in December, 1942. The unit would be later transferred to Malta to help in it's defense. Officer Ingram is listed as having died in August, 1944, the cause of death I couldn't determine from my research.


This is the scale kit that I used and is part of their series of Spitfires they have produced. As usual the fit and detail were excellent. I did add a Ultracast replacement seat as I really do not like to work with PE belts or hardness. No putty was needed, the kit decals were used and I did get some silvering on the left side letters but I'm working on eliminating that hiccup. The middlestone, azure blue, and dark brown paints were all Model Master enamels shot with an airbrush. As usual the antenna is nylon thread. Fun and quick little build.

12 additional images. Click to enlarge.

29 responses

  1. Nice work, Tom. I still prefer that kit for Mk.Vs to the new Airfix kit because of that silly butt join landing gear arrangement. I just wish they would've done a Vc at some point.

  2. I really enjoyed your history lesson; I never knew of the Millionaires Squadron. In terms of the Spitfire, I think she's beautiful and the base shows the camo off fantastically. Perfect post really, terrific story, some learning, and a wonderful build of an iconic bird.

    The whole package; Tom, you are a man of quality.

    • Thanks for the kind remarks David. I've been watching your progress on the Enterprise, and enjoying it to the max. And about that man of quality remark, if you could pass that on to my wife it would be greatly appreciated.

      • It's a clinically proven fact that while inhaling Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK, otherwise known as polystyrene cement) enhances the creative qualities of the male, it has an inverse proportional effect on the species' partner in terms of their ability to discern quality. Sad but true, Tom. Sad but true.

  3. Beautiful all-around presentation, Tom...very nice indeed!

  4. Tom - That's a great looking Mk 5. I wasn't aware of the mods to the Vokes filter which are normally so typical of tropicalised Mk 5s.

    If anyone's interested in the story of the Millionaires Squadron there's an interesting book on them by Tom Moulson and there's a guy called Johnny Wheeler up in Troy, NY, who runs a re-enactment group (probably the wrong term) based on 601 as well as an associated website which has lots of personal histories of pilots in the unit. 601 suffered heavy losses in the BoB, not only Billy Fiske, but many others and were withdrawn from 11 Group just before the first day of the Blitz.


  5. That photo of the vic of 2 601 Spitfires is with Wing Commander Ian Gleed, an ace. Wing Commanders have the privledge of using their personal initials, rather than squadron codes with an individual aircraft within the unit letter. Douglas Bader used D-B, and Johnnie Johnson JE-J, for example. Also, there is a rank pennant under the cockpit. 601s insignia is a red winged sword, sometimes seen on the white bar of the tail insignia.

    Tamiyas Spit V is my favorite kit of the type. You can see why here. Well done.

  6. An excellent build, and a great narrative!

  7. Tom, you did it again my friend ! You hit another home run ...

    I really enjoyed reading the history behind the Group. I like the pictures provided and the build is perfect... I am going to have to build one of those desert display bases you have been using. They really add some life to the model and make them look even more realistic. They can be used for "Clankity clank" armor builds too.

    I like this one... a LOT ! Two thumbs up buddy. 🙂

  8. Once again, you've hit it out of the park, Tom. A remarkable post in all respects: great story, original photos and backstory, a (of course) a fantastic build. I agree wholeheartedly with the previous praise and add that as the GB coordinator I breathe a sigh of relief that the Spit is so well-represented. Really great stuff and very grateful.

    Now, where's that hat. All this perusing of Kasserine Pass posts has my appetite up...

  9. We are running out of superlatives for this group - turn off the electronic world for 24 hours and when you come back there are more and more fantastic builds! Yet another outstandingly well written history, accompanied by a wonderful Spitfire. Every one of these individual stories is coming together to develop a phenomenal picture of the African action. Congratulations, Tom!

  10. Tom, ahhh, the trusty and time proven Tamiya Spitfire ! and it still builds up to very nice model. I like the desert camo you did and the over all look. Nicely done !

  11. Tom - Great plane, Great build, Great narrative, Great Scot! - I can't say enough great things about this Mk.V !

    It really is a wonderful piece of work, Tom !

  12. Really is a beauty! I'm finally just now getting my Hurricane together and looking forward to the using this desert scheme for the first time. You did a marvelous job with yours - setting the bar high! Love the backstory as well - great post.

  13. As the millionaires might say, this is a "six" (the highest score you can get with one hit in cricket). A truly excellent posting, Tom, very enjoyable read, nice pictures and a first class model.

  14. sweet build well done...lovely bird

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